October 20, 2018

Saturday Brunch, Year-end Extravaganza

Hello friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready for some Saturday Brunch Year-end Extravaganza?

Image result for year end brunch

Well, too bad. The title lies. This really isn’t an extravaganza. I don’t know how to do extravaganzas. Heck, I had to look up how to spell extravaganza. I’m Norwegian, man! To us, toast is extravagant.

But Chaplain Mike suggested the title, and I have learned it is never a good idea to disobey someone who takes Luther so seriously; the last time I did I found my door marked with 95 feces.

So, here we go; Let’s take a look back at 2017. It may not be an extravaganza, but it will hopefully be an above-average-vaganza.

Let’s start with the fact that 2017 was the weirdest year that I can remember. It was like an over-eager waiter at aBrazilian Steak house, who keeps serving you more weirdness before you’ve had a chance to chew on the previous weirdness. . A bizarre event would occur, and it would be all over the news, but before we could wrap our minds around it, another bizarre event would occur, then another and another. How are we supposed to remember the weirdness???

  • Did Evangelicals really help elect a foul-mouthed, thrice-married Casino owner, even after he bragged about sexually assaulting women?
  • Were there really thousands of people marching around Washington wearing vagina hats?
  • Did we really almost start a new civil war about whether football players should have to stand for the national anthem?
  • Did the sitting Secretary of State really call the sitting President of the United Sate a “moron?
  • Did Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway really announce the wrong winner for the most important Oscar?
  • Did the sitting president of the United States actually tweet out a video clip in which he body-slams a wrestler with a CNN logo superimposed over the wrestler’s head?

And who can forget Covfefe? The golden shower dossier? Alternative facts? Scaramucci? Antifa battling the Alt-right for violent-totalitarian bragging rights? Fidget spinners?

Yeah, what a year. Let’s at least start off with some satire.

Top Headlines of the Year from the Babylon Bee:

What are the top challenges today’s church faces as we move into 2018? Here is the (condensed) take of the Gospel Coalition leadership on that question:

The challenges facing the church and the world today are many and multifaceted, but which of them represent, from the perspective of The Gospel Coalition’s leadership, the most troubling threats to the church’s health and the most significant obstacles to the gospel’s advancement? Here are five:

1. Sin

“The most significant obstacles are the ones we’ve always faced,” said Kevin DeYoung, of the issue (sin) behind every issue. “The world is worldly. Sinners and sinful. And the heart is deceitful. Which is to say, God is not surprised by what we face, and the gospel is not impotent to make all the difference.”

2. Division in the Church

Following the larger culture’s media-intensified polarization along every imaginable line—from guns to marriage to kneeling NFL players—the Christian church is replete with internal division at the close of 2017. “It can feel as if we are more divided than we have been in a long time—divided by race, by politics, and by our approach to a changing culture,” DeYoung said.

3. ‘Evangelical’ Identity Crisis

What does “evangelical” actually mean in 2017? Is it a political voting bloc or a theological coalition? Tim Keller wrote recently in the New Yorker about this debate, observing, “In many parts of the country, Evangelicalism serves as the civil or folk religion accepted by default as part of one’s social and political identity. So, in many cases, it means that the political is more defining than theological beliefs, which has not been the case historically.”

4. Poorly Formed Christians

Behind the evangelical identity crisis is a crisis of formation. Largely cut off from history, biblically illiterate, and catechized more by cable news than by the creeds, today’s evangelical Christians are naturally being shaped more by the ideological zeitgeist than by theological orthodoxy.

5. Extremes of Pietism and Partisanship

Keller sees two tendencies among evangelicals that pull in different unhealthy directions. One is pietism, which is a “completely inward” Christianity oriented toward “Jesus just wants you to be happy” prosperity.

“Pietism says my Christianity is fully inward and has nothing to do with the way I live in the world,” Keller said. It tends to retreat into the self and make no difference in the world. But the other extreme, partisanship, errs by politicizing Christianity according to rigid partisan categories that demand “package” deal alignment: you cannot be a true Christian conservative or progressive unless you tow the party line on every issue. This partisanship tends to shoehorn Scripture and Christian practice into one or the other political boxes.

“It’s not easy, because if you resist the partisanship, you look pietistic, as if you think Christianity has nothing to do with the world and is completely other-worldly,” Keller said. “But if you resist pietism, then you look like you’re basically trying to be a culture warrior, to impose your values on people.”

Legit question: what would you label as the top five challenges facing the church?

Here is 2017 as seen by our cartoonists:

Dec. 28, 2017

Editorial cartoon on Hillary Clinton and 2016 presidential election

Editorial cartoon on Berkeley protests and freedom of speech

Dec. 28, 2017

Editorial cartoon on Sean Spicer

Editorial cartoon on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the DNC

 

Editorial cartoon on House Republicans and health care

 

Editorial cartoon on United Airlines

Editorial cartoon on Wisconsin and congressional districts and Republican Party

Editorial cartoon on CIA and technology and privacy

Dec. 28, 2017

 

Editorial cartoon on hackers and Equifax and cybersecurity

Editorial cartoon on Civil War and Confederate monuments

 

Editorial cartoon on sexual assault

Editorial cartoon on Jerusalem and Israel

Political Cartoons by Tom Stiglich

In spite of all the weirdness there was a LOT of good news in 2017, which mainly continued the good news of the last 10 years:

As far as the economy is concerned, just about everything has continued to get better in 2017 at just about the same rate things have gotten better since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Job growth has continued at a slightly slower pace, gross domestic product growth and Wall Street profits at a slightly faster pace, wage growth at approximately the same pace. The trade deficit that Trump has vowed to erase has grown, too, but that’s also a sign of prosperity: It’s growing because Americans have more money to spend on imports.

And it’s not just the economy:

  • Scientists have found a way to successfully rebreed sections of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The snow leopard has been taken off the endangered species list.
  • The teen pregnancy rate is at an all-time low.
  • Abortion rates also continue to decline, and are now lower than when Roe V. Wade was decided.
  • Crime has decreased by 2.7% this year. Today’s violent crime rate is less than half it was in 1991.
  • The number of people facing hunger in the U.S. declined last year to the lowest since 2007 as unemployment fell and some states strengthened child-nutrition programs.
  • Child labor rates have declined over 40 percent since the year 2,000.
  • Honey bee populations have increased in 2017

So this raises the obvious question: Why on earth are Americans so pessimistic and negative about the world we live in?

The National Geographic just released its collection of the top nature photographs of 2017. Here are some of my favorites. You can see more, and get the story on them all, here.

Well, that’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Comments

  1. Daniel, this is GREAT stuff! Love your sense of humor.
    About this:
    “Did Evangelicals really help elect a foul-mouthed, thrice-married Casino owner, even after he bragged about sexually assaulting women?”

    I was thinking how strange these evangelicals were because they seem so easily offended by those they consider ‘sinners’ (gay people, trans people, Muslims, Catholics, ‘liberals’, Democrats, women, anyone not of their tribe, and the list goes on and on)

    ‘Strange’ is a mild term for what seems a kind mental disturbance compounded when over eighty percent of those who voted for Joe Moore in Alabama were ‘evangelicals’ . . . . more of the crazy, yes.

    So these evangelicals can support the likes of Trump and Moore but just let a nice gay couple come into one of their bakeries and ask for a cake and oh my goodness, it’s too much for these pharisees to handle. All I can think of is that it must be to do with ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ . . . illogical? in the case of Trump, Moore, and the Cake lady, YES!

    I can’t sort it out. It’s a little like seeing one of them accuse same-sex attracted people of being pedophiles . . . and yet the accusers don’t recognize how high they do score on the Westboro Affinity Scale where labeling a gay person the same as a pedophile will get you at least close to the top. Oh no, these evangelicals are NOT to be called ‘intolerant’. That offends them even more. They can’t own their own mess. A bum lot, yes. Fortunately not all evangelical people are involved in the craziness, but those voting stats for Trump and for Moore were very troubling indeed.
    Thanks for a fun post, Daniel. 🙂

    • john barry says:

      Christiane, Joe Moore got 0 percent of the evangelical vote in Alabama trailing even Gary Moore. Terry Moore and Dinty Moore. ,Of course Gary Moore Had a secret and a relationship with Durwood Kirby. Sorry I am 70 and have flashbacks.. It seems the dreaded , easily led evangelicals in Alabama did not leave their moorings and voted the way Edgar Allen Poe urged them to do in the great poem The Raven, now aka known better as the Baltimore Ravens who will bow to no one except to protest. It is refreshing that the simple minded , never ever stereotyped by the media “evangelicals” did not have the wisdom of the people of NY who voted for the much maligned Anthony Weiner, who I call Tony Weiner or just A. Weiner. Maybe it was the “Catholics” in NYC or the “Jews” or the elite” atheist” who voted for A. Weiner. I vaguely remember from distant history when the non evangelicals in the USA voted for a serial womanizer who preyed on women while in various high elected public positions of trust. The non and pro evangelicals who voted for this person also did not care that he was a draft dodger, a liar and condoned an attack campaign to smear the women who reported his actions but again it was “old” news dating back from the 70’s to the 1990’s, we should not go back to the past , was the old talking point We had a President who was unsure what the meaning of is , is. We had a President who did not meet the standard to be a member of the Lawyers Bar, which most Americans hold lawyers n high ethical esteem. I believe Clinton wanted to stimulate more than the economy even though Paula Jones pulled in 800k for her public service. I hear some of the crazy evangelicals think that Muslims, atheist and others who do not believe in the truth of John 3.16 should be at least given the message of Christian belief or beheaded. If the 29 percent of Americans who get Identified as evangelicals had such influence , how in the world did the dreaded President B.H. Obama get elected twice? Evangelicals would never vote for a Muslim (joke, do not get excited)who smoked and went to a church where his Pastor called for God to damn America. I did not know the evangelical vote was so strong in Mi, Wi, and Pa. where the Democrat usually won, and who says prayers are not answered. Is the Westboro Affinity Scale similar to the Myers & Briggs personality test? On the Brigg Meyer test I came back personality type NUTS, perhaps based on one question , did you vote for Trump. Did a plurality of Americans vote for a person to be President who ran the Bimbo war room on her husbands behalf, come our of public life with net assets over 240 million dollars , approved selling 20 percent of America uranium to Russia, keep a secret insecure internet connection hacked by ? and who could not even beat the hapless non smoker, non drinker D.J. Trump even spending twice the money and with the active support of the media? Some of my evangelical friends think that the sexual abusive Catholic Church Priest and leaders represented and were condoned by the Catholic Church, I tell them that is as wrong and un Christian as using Westboro Baptist Church to measure evangelical actions. No one would do that would they? Relying on the Gospel Coalition to review the “evangelical” population is liking CNN to explain and empathize Trump voters. Great article and great pictures, very funny.

      • Christiane says:

        LOL, this is great!
        John, there actually is no ‘Westboro Affinity Scale’. I made the term up. I was trying to sort out how close some evangelical/fundamentalists come to the Westboro mess, while still trying to get away with ‘oh, we are nothing like Westboro’;
        and I thought about maybe a ‘continuum’ with ‘nothing like Westboro’ at one end and ‘Fred Phelps Clone’ at the other end,
        but ‘Westboro Affinity Scale’ just sounds better.

        I think there are a LOT of folks who are very ‘homophobic’ because they have been living in a bubble among their own tribe for so long, they use lingo that is over-the-top, almost hyperbole at times. But if you say to one of these people: ‘that sounds like something Westboro would preach’, they really would deny the comparison completely.

        Soooooo, I thought:
        what would a ‘scale’ created with statements made by fundamentalist-evangelical people look like IF their words were arranged to see how close they got to the real Westboro mess, in short a scale to measure the degree of homophobic beliefs as to how closely aligned they are to something Fred Phelps might have advocated . . .

        If someone wants to use the term ‘Westboro Affinity Scale’ and create a working model of a scale to test out, I say ‘go for it’.

        • “I think there are a LOT of folks who are very ‘homophobic’ because they have been living in a bubble among their own tribe for so long, they use lingo that is over-the-top, almost hyperbole at times. But if you say to one of these people: ‘that sounds like something Westboro would preach’, they really would deny the comparison completely.”

          One (hopefully subconscious?) way they use WBC symbiotically, is that WBC is so batguano crazy and over the top that it makes their everyday discrimination and prejudice look “reasonable” by comparison.

          • Hello Eeyore,
            I think you are right about this . . . . . but somewhere, sometime, somehow, the right took a strange turn towards another reality and common sense has gone out of fashion for a season or two (or more)

            the phrase ‘the new norm’ is a sign of the right’s acceptance of ‘their everyday discrimination and prejudice’ . . . . and I suppose inside their bubble, among their ‘tribe’, what approaches close, very close to extremist language is now seen as ‘reasonable’

            Good analysis, Eeyore.

            But how can the right be held accountable for their ‘new normal’? It’s NOT normal, some of what is said is inflammatory . . . . which, when there IS a reaction, the right hollers ‘unfair’, and acts ‘offended’.

            Some real accountability for what is said might be therapeutic . . . . unless it’s too late to help them. I mean if Charlottesville didn’t jar the conscience of the ‘right’, is it a ‘sign’ that it is too late, the same ‘too late’ as the right’s response to the massacre of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary: attacks on the families in the form of ‘conspiracy theories’ . . . .

            ‘alternate facts’????
            good grief

            (note to self: no ‘ranting’ in the New Year) 🙂

            • Burro [Mule] says:

              This is normal. It is also pretty close to hate speech these days.

              You may say that the world has moved on from this. I say it has decayed from this. I will to the grave.

              “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’” St. Anthony of Egypt.

              • You think it is normal, and even an ideal, because you are far away from it. If you existed in the midst of it, as the peasant that you would likely be, or even as the mule doing the work of a beast of burden, you would have no choice but to consider it normal, you wouldn’t be much enamored of it. Remember, the vast majority of those alive in those times never saw the inside of a castle or court; and even many of those inside didn’t have such a good time of it. The haziness that comes with distance makes things look better; the same goes for many of the idealized Saints.

                • Better to lop off a man’s genitals and call him a gender-queer who identifies as xe/xyr/xym, right? We’re ever progressing toward humxnity’s zenith. Only a matter of time now. It’s just around the next switchback.

                  • Just like going back to patriarchal heteronormalcy will bring back the Kingdom, eh?

                    • Nothing will bring about the Kingdom that comes of its own accord. However, allowing people to ‘call a thing what it is’ is certainly better than the alternative.

                    • Depends on who’s defining what is, and by what criteria.

                    • @William of Lyons– Should we then be allowed to call you an anachronism?

                    • @Eeyore– Tao.

                      @Robert F– Only a boomer caught in the grips of the weird, pretty hands of modernity would think I’m an anachronism.

                    • Tranlation: Yes, Robert F, you should be allowed to call me an anachronism.

                    • Translation: only those, who virtue signal about how awesome genital mutilation is, are on the right side of history.

                    • Burro [Mule] says:

                      It will not bring the Kingdom. Nothing we do or don’t do will bring the Kingdom.

                      It will waste fewer surgical resources.

                    • What’s the difference between saying that is a “waste of surgical resources” and saying reconstructive cosmetic surgery after an accident is “a waste of surgical resources”?

                      Just how important to you are biological sexual organs? Given what Paul and Jesus said about singleness, and the ambiguity about sexuality post-resurrection, i think you guys are a bit too attached to the old way of things.

                    • @Eeyore

                      I can’t tell if you’re being ironic. Is that a genuine argument? Because we use surgery to make post-accident cosmetic fixes we, therefore, should praise people who mangle their own genitals, sans accident?

                      Too attached to the old way of things? You mean the physical world is evil and old, and the spiritual world is good and new. I think I’ve heard that one before…

                    • Burro [Mule] says:

                      The reconstructive surgery is the restoration of a given image that was marred. The second is the establishment of a fantasy as reality. Sex is given, not constructed. If you know of any reassigned individual who sought God deeply in repentance and acsesis prior to his or her switch, I’d like to hear the story. Really. EVERYTHING I’ve read comes out of the same pleasure-mad, rebellious up-yours-God-and-my-parents-I-WILL-have-things-my-way media madhouse we’re all suspended in.

                      I’m surprised anyone should have to explain this to you, Nominalist. How important are any of our body parts, then? Are you saying our Lady is no longer a Woman?

                      I think you are befuddled by too much strange wine. It was laid down by William of Ockham, rotated by Descartes and Kant. Put it down. You’ll be the better when your head clears up.

                    • Partially ironic. I assume no one has any problem with surgery whose primary function is to provide psychological healing – at least where physical appearance is concerned.

                      But I was *dead serious* about traditional Christianity being hung up over patterns of sexuality that in all likelihood will NOT carry over into the life of Resurrection. And even if it is so, even if Christianity is by definition patriarchal and heteronormative (which I do NOT concede) – what the hell business is it of ours what non-Christians do with their bodies? (I Cor 5:12-13)

                    • Contrary to what you may think, Eeyore, I know many trans individuals, and I care deeply about them. If I thought surgery would help them psychologically or otherwise, I would support it. There is no evidence for that. Mule is right–it is an attempt to set up a false reality. And that never helped anyone.

                    • Burro [Mule] says:

                      “What business is it ours what non-Christians do with their bodies?”

                      None. Just don’t expect me to applaud it, or call it a Good Thing, when it is not. If it is an exteriorization of someone’s pathology (read concupiscence), I’ll have to live with it, I suppose. I’ll be gone soon enough. Y’all can turn yourselves into starfish if you want.

                      You really are more Gnostic than I thought. Psychology, indeed.

                    • We ALL set up false realities – it’s the human condition. Perhaps it would be better if we Christians spent a bit of time contemplating the planks in our own eyes before obsessing over others’ specks.

                    • We certainly all set up false realities. But, for some reason, you keep making an illogical move as a result of that truth. It goes like this:

                      A) All humans set up false realities
                      B) ??
                      C) Therefore, no one should make any claim on what Reality really is–least of all, Christians.

                      It doesn’t follow, Eeyore. If it did, then I could just as easily say that your claim about all people setting up false realities is itself an attempt to obsess over others’ specks.

                      Congratulating people for their false realities is morally reprehensible. Kyrie eleison.

                    • Brianthegrandad says:

                      That escalated quickly…

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                    xe/xyr/xym/chugaroon-flubba-flubba?

                    Take it from an old SF litfan:
                    For decades in various fandoms (especially Furry), there have been many attempts to give English a gender-neutral/gender-indeterminate/neuter animate pronoun — s/he, hir, Sahn…

                    Some defended and prosletyzed by their creators with near-religious fervor.

                    NONE of them has ever caught on.

      • Susan Dumbrell says:

        John and Christiane,
        do you ever sleep?
        Love your work, as you know, and how would this blog be without you? but do rest.
        Sweet dreams, Angels visit us in dreams.
        I know, I recognise their presence. They guide my way
        Christ be with you..

        Susan

        • john barry says:

          Susan, the only trait I share with Einstein is that I sleep when needed in small increments. I am not sure I agree with Einstein Theory of Relativity but I cannot get my work published even though I have two years of business math in high school, the teacher liked me so much she brought me back a second year. My theory of relativity is to avoid two of cousins and only see relatives at certain holidays. Plus now I have a minor health issue with some limited mobility so I have a weird schedule or perhaps I am on Aussie time. As usual your some soothing calmness and perspective is always welcome because as you know there is plenty of red meat here for the comments grinder. Best to you and God Bless.

      • We had a President who was unsure what the meaning of is , is.

        BTW, it was Evangelicals and their minions who coined the phrase, “character matters” back then…

        • john barry says:

          Tom aka Volkmar, Good point, I guess the “evangelicals” finally agreed with the Democrats and majority media and agree that character does not matter. See, “evangelicals” are open minded and can change their position. You will know Trump’s impeachment Is drawing near when the Democrats completely throw W. Clinton under the campaign bus and cannot tolerate un presidential behavior in the White House. Actually the impeachment of Clinton was just a big fund raiser for the Republican establishment, the people did not want Clinton impeached.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          BTW, it was Evangelicals and their minions who coined the phrase, “character matters” back then…

          That was when they were on the outs.
          “Character matters” was just a weapon to be used against their opponents, nothing more.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I hear some of the crazy evangelicals think that Muslims, atheist and others who do not believe in the truth of John 3.16 should be at least given the message of Christian belief or beheaded.

        i.e. The same choice ISIS gave those 21 Copts.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Did a plurality of Americans vote for a person to be President who ran the Bimbo war room on her husbands behalf, come our of public life with net assets over 240 million dollars , approved selling 20 percent of America uranium to Russia, keep a secret insecure internet connection hacked by ? and who could not even beat the hapless non smoker, non drinker D.J. Trump even spending twice the money and with the active support of the media?

        Note:
        Every time I hear a rant about “THE CLINTONS!!! THE CLINTONS!!! THE CLINTONS!!!!”, it is normally followed by “Donald Trump Can Do No Wrong — Trump Is LORD!!!!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      ‘Strange’ is a mild term for what seems a kind mental disturbance compounded when over eighty percent of those who voted for Joe Moore in Alabama were ‘evangelicals’ . . . . more of the crazy, yes.

      80% is the threshold where Groupthink locks in and ALL Traitors and Thought-criminals are Purged. By any means necessary.

  2. Susan Dumbrell says:

    Hi from Australia,
    A very good and happy New Year to all.

    We know how to celebrate. Fireworks at midnight over Sydney Harbour, great shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Do look for the news clips.The Bridge fireworks display is always spectacular.

    Then nursing hangovers we front up for lunch,
    BBQ steaks, lamb chops and sausages not forgetting the famous prawns (shrimps). Prawns are our specialty.
    All served with various styles of breads, cool salads and beer and wine.
    Dessert of Pavlova, a toothfull creation of meringue base topped with whipped cream and then further topped with fresh chopped summer fruits and drizzled with passion fruit.
    Of course, more beer and ‘champers’
    Come to Aust, we do New Year very well.

    Happy New Year to all,

    Susan

  3. senecagriggs says:

    From Tim Bayly

    No fan of Pres. Trump’s tweets, Miss World, Mar-a-Lago, Henry VIII wives, casinos, hotels, hair, or bluster. Yet very thankful he’s our prez. He’s Samson setting pagans’ tails on fire & pulling down their temple. You know a man by his enemies. #TrumpSamson

    • “You know a man by his enemies.”

      Basically, anyone who is not a white conservative evangelical and/or white nationalist and/or rich renter class billionaire.

      Yep. You DO know a man by his enemies.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Exactly.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Remember that bit about loving one’s enemies, and blessing those that curse you? Yep.

          • Franklin Graham said God elected him because he offends everybody. Funny, I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where pagans are honored as true prophets. I see Trump as their Shabbes goy. Trump says and does things they wish they could but can’t because it is patently unbiblical. So they make the snowballs so he can throw them.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              Franklin Graham is sucking up to POWER, pure and simple.
              Court Evangelical, flattering His Majesty.

              • Franklin Graham is NOT a man like his father. The difference is positively terrifying.

                • P.S. (I’m allowing myself one more day of hyperbole before I settle down next year; and I’m enjoying it too.) 🙂

          • Oh, come on now. We all know that Jesus wasn’t serious about that loving your enemy stuff, or turning the other cheek; he was only serious in the things he said about sexuality (Though he didn’t say much about that, did he?), and winning the culture wars (What? He didn’t say anything about that? Stop joshing! Next you’ll be telling me he didn’t say that God helps those who help themselves! Such a kidder.).

    • I wouldn’t typify the Tweetster as a “Samson setting pagans’ tails on fire & pulling down their temple”, rather something more like an Ahab disturbed by the unfortunate reality that he can’t legitimately have Naboth’s vineyard.

      • “I wouldn’t typify the Tweetster as a “Samson setting pagans’ tails on fire & pulling down their temple””

        It’s projection/wishful thinking on Bayly’s part.

    • Samson? He’d have to have courage to be Samson.

      • But, he “projects” courage…

        • You mean he rejects courage? President Bone-Spur.

          • Robert F. Again we got over dodging the draft issue with the election twice of” I will go to Canada “Clinton who was not lucky or rich enough to have bone spurs.

            • Why are you bringing up Clinton? I didn’t vote for him either time, and I’m not over the draft-dodger issue. It seems to me that if you are the supreme leader of the military, you should have the courage and integrity to at least be willing to do what you are asking of those you command. But at least many of those who went to Canada were willing to be cut-off from kith an kin, and the life they had known, in support of their beliefs; our POTUS sacrificed exactly nothing for his beliefs, because he had none, other than making sure he kept his rich hide off the battle field, and kept rich.

              • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                > Why are you bringing up Clinton?

                The term you are looking for is “deflection”.

              • Robert F , Adam, Why is it not relevant to bring up Clinton as the inference was you disapproved of Trumps bone spur deferral ? My point was just what I stated that for the first time since WW 2 the American voter elected a person who was not only not a veteran but was on record that he would dodge the draft. With the election of Clinton I just assumed that that issue was settled but I guess it can be selectively applied which is okay.Is stating an opinion backed up by fact a deflection? So’s your Mama is a deflection I think. Comparing the willingness to go to Canada rather than be drafted is just old 1960/1970 college rhetoric . I have been in Quang Tri Province, Dong Ha, uang Nam Province and other many other places in 1969 to 1970, I would have rather been in Toronto, Montreal or even Quebec and have my family visit me. I have been to Canada several times and was never scared , sick or mad at the crazy war. My worst experience in Canada was some French Canadians were rude to me causing me great trauma, it is all perspective. Saigon use to be called the Paris of Asia, I should have gone to the real Paris. I go with the St. Crispin Day speech, the Band of Brothers speech from Henry the V play to sum up how I personally feel about people like Clinton and Trump, check it on you tube from the 1980’s movie, I think by Kenneth Baranugh. It is good that Trump can still play golf even with his bone spurs, now that is heroic.

                • You were wrong in your assumption that it’s a settled matter. I repeat, I never voted for a Clinton, and I’m not selectively applying criteria. Courage and character do matter in a POTUS. Clinton should’ve been removed from office for lying under oath. But he wasn’t, and history can’t be changed. I’m looking at the present, and the current POTUS, and everything I’ve seen directly from him screams COWARD! Most bullies are, you know?

                  • Robert F. I think it is a settled matter for most Americans of course you may not agree but the people have spoken with their votes. Your history cannot be change argument will be the basis for going after Trump because Clinton is history not a double standard ruse to get rid of legally elected Trump

                    • Actually, if most Americans is the criteria, then it is not settled, because most Americans did not vote for Trump, or Clinton for that matter. But it’s not the criteria for me; I’m not most Americans.

                    • This idea that because someone’s elected any controversial issue that came up during their campaign is no longer relevant is completely absurd, and a talking point taken directly from the White House. I’d never heard it before the WH started using it as an apologia.

                    • john barry says:

                      Robert F. I thought President Obama coined the phrase elections have consequences but maybe that does not apply anymore because it is after all Trump.

                    • Of course they have consequences. The elected individual gets to hold office, and is put in a position to advance their political, and as a result social, agendas. That’s what the election is about, not issuing a free pass on every controversy, indiscretion or crime the winner of the election has heretofore been involved in. That is a ridiculous idea being floated by the current White House to deflect from issues that are still relevant. If you wanted, for instance, to find out what the will of the American people, as it works itself out in the American political system, has to say about Trump showing us his tax returns, you’d have to have a plebiscite on that issue; his election to POTUS cannot tell you the answer to that question. Same holds true for any elected official.

                  • john barry says:

                    Robert F. Luckily we never had the problem with President Obama as Kenya did not have a draft when he was of age. I am making a joke or perhaps we should not make jokes about the President or be disrespectful. Also President Obama would have needed a legal birth certificate to be in USA military and it was hard to get .

            • Anyway, the point is, our POTUS cannot be compared to Samson (for that matter, neither could President Clinton, but nobody actually compared him with Samson on this thread), who had actual physical courage, and a willingness to die as well as kill.

              • Burro [Mule] says:

                In the IT world, there are two major paradigms. The Linux paradigm is that you can be trusted to know what you are doing. The Windows paradigm is that you are so ignorant you can’t be trusted to know what you’re doing, so we’ll do it all for you behind the curtain.

                The Linux paradigm is perfectly satisfied to let you bollocks things up on your own. The Windows paradigm will gladly bollocks things up for you and not inform you.

                Most of the hatred of Trump, other than he isn’t a handsome, well-spoken empty suit like our last President, is that he is proceeding to govern the country on the Linux paradigm, that is to say he is bolloxing things up on his own, rather than according to the Windows paradigm by which we have been governed at least since the departure of Nixon, where things are bollocksed up for us behind the scenes, and we aren’t informed of it.

                • That’s a hypothesis. I’m not buying it, at least, not as a total explanation. It only accounts for part of the picture, but not the entire enchilada.

                  • ‘the entire enchilada’

                    Spotted the boomer.

                  • Burro [Mule] says:

                    You think he is doing the Will of Vlad?

                    I wish.

                    Well, OK, but only obliquely. Reducing America’s footprint in the world, in my view, is a Good Thing. Never blame conspiracy when like-mindedness will suffice.

                    • I think he has been helping Russian interests to launder money through real estate transactions since the 1980s. His pal Vlad has the goods on him, and has his testicles in a vice-grip; at the same time, Vlad is smart enough to know (unlike our POTUS, who is a slow learner; fortunately his pre-conscious instincts show him just how and where to go for the jugular when he’s backed into a corner, and he’s shoulders above the rest in this unlearned talent) that our chief executive is not all-powerful to do his bidding, that Congress and the intelligence agencies have much influence in how the US deals with Russia, and so he has cut our boy plenty of slack. That doesn’t mean our boy isn’t sweating up a storm about exactly what Mueller is finding, and at the same time anxious to sweet-talk his rough boy counterpart at every point possible.

                      The problem with your theory is that it’s overly intellectual, just like your brand of Orthodoxy, which is only natural since you continue to be a Protestant evangelical at heart. Never put much stock in long term conspiracy theories, involving hundreds, thousand or even millions of people; but conspiracies involving just a few, drawn together exactly by like-mindedness, with sufficient power and instincts to make a few others go along with their plans, that happens every day in many places. It’s all too human, and usual.

                    • Burro (Mule) says:

                      So, you agree with me.

                      Just dirty men helping each other do dirty things. Nothing the Orthodox Church hasn’t seen before. If Mueller finds something illegal then by all means prosecute. I just hope it is more substantial than Ken Starr’s falderol.

                      For some reason Vlad having the goods on Donnie doesn’t upset me too badly. A less aggressive America, especially in the Balkans and Ukraine is probably all Vlad wants. I would like that too. Noriega had the goods on the Bushes, for all the good it did him. I doubt Donnie wants to invade Russia.

                    • Clinton should’ve been removed from office for lying under oath.

                      In this case both of the dirty men are empowering ideological white nationalism to achieve their dirty, non-ideological goals, one in Europe, the other here. They are feeding a monster more dangerous than either can deal with. Internecine European violence will revive under their careless hands.

                    • Vlad doesn’t just want a less aggressive America; he wants room to be more aggressive himself , especially in the Balkans and Ukraine, but Western Europe as well (not to mention everywhere else). I don’t doubt that Vlad would invade countries to his west and south, and I do doubt that Donnie would try to stop him (to the the degree that it would be up to Donnie alone to make that decision).

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                      You think he is doing the Will of Vlad?
                      I wish.

                      Is that because the Will of Vlad would spread Orthodoxy?

                • john barry says:

                  Burro, Mule I am buying it. Sounds right to me. I cringe when I see a G.W. Bush operative speaking well of GW’s terrible foreign policy , well actually his whole terms . The experts, professionals got us N. Korea, Iran, the incredible Middle East mess I, including ISIS. Bush was so bad people voted for Obama, Bush incompetence gave us Obama. I have lived my life operating under the Linux paradigm and did not know it.

              • Robert F. Agree plus Trump would not let an untrained barber cut his complex hair style nor Clinton for that matter. As Tom Jones wailed Why oh Why Delilah? great song .

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Yet very thankful he’s our prez. He’s Samson setting pagans’ tails on fire & pulling down their temple. You know a man by his enemies. #TrumpSamson

      “I give Donald Trump praise and adoration.”
      — “ChapmanEd”, Defender-of-the-Faith commenter at Wondering Eagle

      And a lot of what I’m seeing in Evangelicals goes way beyond even that.
      “Trump is LORD” in all but those exact words.
      It’s like they’ve taken The Mark on forehead and right hand in a bad Christian Apocalyptic movie.

  4. “Why on earth are Americans so pessimistic and negative about the world we live in?”

    Well, let’s see…

    Climate change is still happening, and accelerating.

    Non-upper class incomes are still stagnant.

    Resource depletion (topsoil, fisheries, rare metals) is still happening.

    The debt is still skyrocketing.

    Nuclear weapons are still proliferating.

    The partisan divide is getting sharper.

    Shall I go on, or do I have to go full Archdruid on your glutes? :-/

    • Also: White nationalists are out in full force, here and in Europe, and they are gaining major cultural and political traction.

      • Patriciamc says:

        Did you see the White House intern in the group photo with God Don giving the white power hand sign? Apparently it’s the OK sign with the other three fingers fully extended to form a W.

        Tim Bayle is utter crackers. Read some of his stuff and spray yourself down with Lysol afterwards.

        Love the Babylon Bee headlines! I really love the one about the single woman who got married and was promoted to real Christian. That’s what good snark is: skating dangerously close to reality.

        • john barry says:

          Patriciamc, Remember when Laura Ingram gave the Nazi salute at the Republican Convention and then tried to say she was pointed to the crowd. Who would believe that. If that is the white power sign , my “Grandma did it of years to us think it meant ok but she did use bleach a lot to get things white, it all ties in.

          • Patriciamc says:

            Hey, you’ve got to watch those grandmas! Apparently, this is with the other fingers hyper-extended, or so they say on the interwebs. I’m not a fan of Ingram, but I doubt she’s a Nazi. In this current climate, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a white supremist working in the WH.

            • I haven’t followed the story closely, but the intern that is said to have given the white nationalist salute (which is a real thing) claims to be Jewish, which would make it highly unlikely that it was intended as such. As you say, the current climate is such that I wouldn’t be surprised if more than one white supremacist was working in the WH, but it’s also a climate in which progressive culture monitors are prone to seeing things that may not actually be there.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Actually, the Nazi Salute is the old Roman Army salute — “AVE CAESAR!”

            The German Fascists swiped it from the Italian Fascisti whose Il Duce was a fanboy of All Things Roman Empire.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      But the pessimism is self-defeating. That is what drives me batty. We both (a) know the solutions to nearly all the above (b) have the institutions and systems to institute those solutions.

      I increasingly believe that America has a Failure Fetish. We kinda want to fail; or we’d rather failure than have that other guy benefits. There is something deeply self-loathing about America’s zeitgeist.

      Only a fraction of people participate. Even a fraction of the non-participants could rise up and overwhelm the participants. They are restrained only by despair.

  5. “what would you label as the top five challenges facing the church?”

    This is, of course, limited to the American church, I cannot speak for problems elsewhere…

    1) cultural captivity – a foundational conflation/confusion of the Kingdom with the USA

    2) wealth – we’re too comfortable for our own good

    3) biblical illiteracy – not only the specifics (books, chapters and verses) but a lack of grasp of the total story and priorities of the Bible)

    4) segregation – not only do we not go to church with people who aren’t like ourselves, we break church activities up by demographic categories as well.

    5) a focus on rules and behavior rather than the mercy and hierarchy-shattering gospel of Christ Himself. He did NOT incarnate, die and resurrect to put a stamp of approval on the way we’ve always done things…

    • Good observations, Eeyore. Especially #5.

    • john barry says:

      Eeyore, what is your definition of the church?

      your points do bear examination.\

      #1 point, I read and hear this a lot. As a conservative Christian attending many churches I do not see the confusion that American Christians have on what it means to be a Christian. the first allegiance is to Christ alone. The dreaded “evangelicals” for example are usually very steeped in America patriotism but know that it is Christ alone who they have the true faith in for salvation not a country.

      2. #2 point, Majority of Americans are two paychecks away from financial collapse. As a nation we are 20 trillion in debt plus absolutely trillions in unfunded liability payments such as SS, government pensions and entitlement programs. If most Americans are comfortable it is because they do not know even their own finances much less the governments.

      3. #3 point, Right on target and I agree. As religion and faith education was historically left up to the family coupled with some government province that Is now disappeared do not know the remedy.

      4. point #4 my solution split up existing “majority” congregations and dispense them to join minority churches if the mountain will not come to etc.

      5. point #5, people cannot even have a meeting on feeding the poor without Roberts bringing his rules. I agree with you in heart but this ties in with your #3. I do not think a lot of good people would give up their traditions and historic base of teachings. I do share your sentiment though.

      All good points and keen observations as stated.

      • Ok, let me try to clarify some of my points…

        1) if American Christians’ allegiance is to Christ alone, why is the American flag so prominently stationed next to or near the altar of so many of our churches? Why did the church I used to attend sing The Star Spangled Banner as the closing hymn of their 4th of July service? Why are David Barton’s patently false misreadings of “America as a Christian Nation” so popular?

        2) True. So then why is a patently too expensive and unsustainable model of church life – the megachurch – held up as the role model? Why is the prosperity gospel, in forms both blatant and subtle, so popular? And why are many conservative evangelicals so unsympathetic to those in need?

        3)-5) I don’t know the remedy either. 🙁

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I wonder if the reason Trump Can Do No Wrong to Evangelicals is he’s acting just like a Megachurch Lead Pastor/Apostle, and they’re so conditioned to that Godly(TM) behavior that it’s become PROOF of God’s Anointing.

          • Beyond the Supreme Court thing, I think it’s because deep down many E’s intuit that Life As They Have Known It is coming up emptier and emptier for various reasons, and bluster is very good at screening out vacuity, at least temporarily.

            Dana

        • john barry says:

          Eeyore, they display the American flag as they are patriotic , really that simple. they do thank God that they are Americans as they consider it a blessing for many reasons. Sing Star Spangled Banner on the Fourth of July, they are totally out of control, next they will be sing God Bless America instead of God Bless the World. Your number 2 point is answered very well by Adam at his 10:56 leadership post. I guess it depends on what your definition of unsympathetic is and how you define need. I need a new car and a Blooming Onion , no one will help me. Good thoughts to ponder.

          • Patriotism is fine, but the church is supposed to transcend that.

            • I call into question that patriotism “is fine” for followers of Jesus. When push comes to shove the State will always demand total allegiance.

              “Shall we carry a flag? It is a rival to Christ.”

              —Tertullian (160 – 220AD)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          1) if American Christians’ allegiance is to Christ alone, why is the American flag so prominently stationed next to or near the altar of so many of our churches? Why did the church I used to attend sing The Star Spangled Banner as the closing hymn of their 4th of July service? Why are David Barton’s patently false misreadings of “America as a Christian Nation” so popular?

          Which has come under scrutiny many times here at Internet Monk.
          Pull down the category dropdown and select “American Idolatry”.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > ..I do not see the confusion..

        Which I suspect is one of the roots of the problem. The two are so entangled the division is invisible.

  6. Amazing brunch, Daniel. Gracias!

  7. Announcing the moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem does nothing positive for the situation. However, it’s a symbolic gift to the Tweetster’s base of Premillennial Dispensationalist heretics.

    • I don’t like seeing the word “heresy” applied to anything other than anti-Trinitarian, anti-incarnation theologies. Dispensationalism is in error, I believe, and has consequences, but does not rise to the level of “heresy” IMHO.

      • Agree. But when churches make Premillennial Dispensationalism an essential plank in their belief statements, along with and equal to the Trinity, the Incarnation, and other creedal essentials, they have started down the path of heterodoxy.

        • “Heterodoxy”, that term I can get behind 😉

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Don’t forget Premillenial Dispensationalism’s conjoined twin, Young Earth Creationism. Where you find one, you’ll find the other.

          And during my time in-country in the Seventies, Premillenial Dispensationalism WAS Inerrant SCRIPTURE. Until I got out, I heard NOTHING else. (Any Minute Now… Any Minute Now… tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick…)

      • I use the word in its original sense; to have/hold to an opinion. Granted, my usage is inflammatory…

        • And I rarely us it.

          A possible consequence of the American Pre-Mil Disp “heterodoxy” could be a nuclear exchange with no positive benefits AND no parousia…

          • “use”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            But That Cannot Possibly Happen!
            It’s Prophesied by Hal Lindsay that The Rapture will happen just before the first warhead detonates above MEEEEEEE!

            (I am not making that up. That WAS “History Written in Advance” common belief during my time in-country. It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            P.S.

            “And I will be laughing as the world burns.”
            — commenter from a circa-2005 thread here; IMonk cleared out all but this quote of his comments/rants

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Remember “Christians For Nuclear War”?
      Look up and Rejoice, for The Rapture Draweth Nigh.
      (tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick…)

      So this raises the obvious question: Why on earth are Americans so pessimistic and negative about the world we live in?

      Because if things don’t keep getting worse and worse and worse and worse, Christ Can’t Return Soon!

  8. senecagriggs says:

    Huffington Post Editor; Emily McCombs

    New Year’s resolutions:
    1. Cultivate female friendships
    2. Band together to kill all men

    “Oh My” as Dick Enberg used to say.

    • You yourself have used far worse hyperbole, on this very forum. Quit being so holier-than-thou, it does not become you.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Oh My!

        [ You’d be surprised what becomes me – smile ]

      • ‘Far worse hyperbole’ than killing nearly half of the world’s population. Really? I’d love an example…

        • Labelling all non-YECers as “liberals” and deniers of divine inspiration of the Bible. Because, it seems obvious that Emily McCombs is hyperbolizing… I wonder if Seneca actually believes what he says.

          • This guy is an Alt-right troll. Best to ignore him, unless you just want to have a little fun.

            • Wrong again, bud. Find your way back to the 60s and write a haiku about what it’s like to have your head in the sand.

              • I troll, therefore I am. — First attributed to Lord auto de fe

                • Tired, old boomer content.

                  ‘Everyone I don’t agree with is alt-right’

                  • I haven’t seen you advance one idea here, just lob outrageous rhetorical grenades. You didn’t come here for back and forth, just to run over other people’s opinions. Bullying and gaslighting is all you Alt-righters are good at.

                    • ‘Only ideas I agree with are truly ideas. Everything else is Alt-right trolling.’

                      Punishing wrongthink is all you spiritual boomers are good at.

                      Also, I know calling someone alt-right feels like you’re scoring a point in some game no one else is playing, but I’m far from alt-right. And bullying people into shutting up because they have different opinions than you (while at the same time hypocritically claiming the moral high ground) is gross and unbecoming of someone so old. Too bad age doesn’t always bring wisdom: experience, for you, has only bolstered the illusion.

                    • Some of the position you’ve staked out in the comments below overlap with Alt-right ideas. The rejection of the liberal/conservative politico-cultural dichotomy, for instance, and radical criticism of democracy and modernity, for example, and their embrace of traditional gender roles, and visceral and angry opposition to transgenderism.

                    • I’ll give you some leeway since there’s a lot of misinformation out there. And the term ‘alt-right’ is pretty elastic and has changed meanings multiple times in just the past year. But what you’ve described is not alt-right or even alt-lite. In fact, the alt-right is liberalism on steroids (or, to put it another way, progressivism for white people) , and I reject it wholesale.

                    • I think that you’re probably right that the term alt-right has been stretched to mean so many things that it has become almost useless as a descriptor. I probably should avoid using it.

                      What I categorically reject is white nationalism, or nationalism of any kind, that makes ethnicity the center of identity and belonging, the demarcation line between insider and outsider. I think it’s opposed to New Testament teaching about the oneness of the Body of Christ, and the oneness of all humanity in the humanity of Jesus Christ.

                      Which is not to say that any of your comments advocate white nationalism. I’m just thinking out loud, trying to clarify things for myself.

                    • We seem to have found some agreement.

                      Alt-right at some point described naughty, young conservatives who liked Pepe the frog, but now (as far as I can tell) refers exclusively to genuine white-nationalists, who have to ignore a hell of a lot of history (among other things) to think the world would be better off by dividing people up into groups based on skin color.

                    • Well, happy New Year, WoL. May it be one with more real agreement, and less real division.

              • Lord auto-de-fe
                just keeps tilting at windmills
                where none do exist

          • Yeah, you’re right. That’s way, way worse.

    • Seneca, I think we would agree that there are extremists on both ends of the spectrum. From a Christian, and especially Lutheran, perspective, both are radical purveyors of self-righteousness and works righteousness.

      • senecagriggs says:

        This is the “end of the year extravaganza is it not C.M.?

        The tweet by Emily certainly is worthy of this post.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > we would agree that there are extremists on both ends

        Of course, but so what? We choose to let the extremists define the debate. I know a whole lot of not-extemists [*1]. I find Mr Keller’s analysis of peitism and partisanship sad – he needs to get out more. He is simply wrong; but possibly trapped due to his position in a place where the world looks that way. Those trapped in this way seem to create a [media] vortex which constantly swirls around this falsehood of division – pulling everything into its perspective. I’d like to see him take a six month sabbatical from writing and preaching – and go DO something; it would be interesting what he said then. I suspect he would find a world full of interesting and nuanced people who mix-n-match world views like a game of Connect Four.

        [*1] and many a closet-extremist; those who ARE extremists but cannot admit it to themselves. Of course they think *everyone* else is extreme … from where they are. These are, IMO, the most dangerous Extremists; irony is lost on them.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Didn’t Mule once describe secular Social Justice Warriors as “New England Puritans, seven-times-distilled down to eliminate any hint of God, while retaining all the Righteousness and Moral Fury”?

  9. I suspect the above pictured octopus is ambidextrous…

    • Octodextrous, perhaps? 😉

      • john barry says:

        Eeyore, I think this photo was from his guest appearance on the old TV series “Eight is Enough”. He was cut from the show as he would not stand up for himself and had no backbone. Critics said he really sucked in the role but he took it as a compliment.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Read studies about cephalopod intelligence – it is **WILD**. Mind blowing will shatter your understanding kind of wild – RNA based memory recall, distributed pattern recognition, just crazy.

  10. Some of those National Geographic nature photos are just plain disturbing.

    • Ronald Avra says:

      Robert, I’m sure that you’re aware that nature has its own cultural norms. That culture is frequently alien and indifferent to us, but it serves the creatures that live in it. For myself, it reminds me that the order of creation doesn’t exist to please my comfort and tastes. A walk outside in cold, driving rain may not be the best for one’s health, but it can bring a measure of sobriety.

      • I reserve the right to maintain a region of Gnostic Manichaeism in my Christian spirituality, and my view of the world, which I’m traditional enough in my faith to believe is fallen, and not as God means it to be. If violent predation is indeed part of God’s intention for the eschaton, then I want no part of it. I will never be able to look at the tormented suffering of an animal, or human being, and see anything beautiful or truly necessary in it. Things are not as they should be; that’s part of the reason Christ came into this world, and did what he did, and why we call him Redeemer.

  11. snow fell overnight
    more snow is falling and the
    shovel is calling

  12. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Nice post, Daniel.

    2017 was the craziest year for me in my personal life too. So many ups and downs and challenges I think I suffer from excitement fatigue… combine that with the crazy world out there, I think I am more than happy to celebrate its end.

    Saturday mornings here was a little oasis. Thanks all.

  13. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > what would you label as the top five challenges facing the church?

    1 – 5 : from a recent study: “Only 8 percent of adults say they are interested in hearing pastors’ views on issues such as …..”

    Also 6 – 10, see above.

    Given that statistic a whole lot of churches should just close their doors and sell the building. The should most certainly stop paying the pastor.

    It is all a great waste of time and resources; nothing more than a club. Our professional pastoral class has failed; they all need to be sent into the desert. Maybe they will be worth something if they return.

    • It’s not just the pastors. “…*And My people LOVE IT THIS WAY. But what will you do in the end?”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        When there is institutional failure *I BLAME THE LEADERS*. Period, full stop.
        The Executive Class doesn’t get to claim successes and then explain away failures.
        Corporations or Churches.
        Sears did not fail to the Amazonification of the economy, they failed because of their leadership – they had very bad plans and no insight. Churches are not tossed about on the whims of culture because of the pervasiveness of media … blah blah … they are in this condition because the people leading them have no vision and/or are cowards.
        Actually this is doubly true for Churches as church leaders *love* moral-high-ground rhetoric: by your own measure you should be measured.

        • Adam, So right on with of course some nuance. I totally agree with your basic premise. Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Martin Luther King and many other in our political history were “leaders” who lead by head, heart and example. Or perhaps the old saying “the fish rots from the head down” applies to your good observation.

  14. Top 5 problems for the church:

    1) Lack of mature formation because of
    2) Poor theology (or ignorance of what good theology they have), mostly because of
    3) Failure to pay attention to the interpretation of Scripture of the 1st century Jews and the first Christians and
    4) Captivity to cultural and economic security, resulting in
    5) Loss of the aspiration to become human beings who are able to function in self-sacrificial love; this is the Image of God from and for which we were created.

    I am surely as culturally captive as anyone.

    NB: There are plenty of sincere Christians who do have #5, even if they are unable to articulate it; in my experience, most of them have it because their love of Jesus and people both demonstrates and comes from openness to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, which mitigates the other deficiencies.

    Dana

    • 6) Democracy

      • It’s funny how often church governance parallels the type of governance of the wider culture…

        • And the sexual mores. Almost like modern Christianity has no core…

          • Yeah. Because sexual mores are totally the core of Christianity.

            Hint… NOT.

            • Not of classic Christianity.

              But sexual mores are definitely the core of prog-X-ianity. (E.g. https://wearenakedandunashamed.wordpress.com/)

              • From my perspective, progressive Christianity is less about sexuality and more about treating people as human beings, with dignity and compassion, regardless of their expressed preferences with regard to sexuality.

                When I see conservative evangelicals show half as much acceptance, I’ll consider returning to the fold. Until then… “the prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the Kingdom of heaven ahead of you.”

                • I’m surrounded by prog-X-ians (in fact, was one of them for awhile) and sexuality is one of the only things they discuss.

                  That there are only two options is part of the propaganda–don’t believe it for a second. Guess what: you can treat people like humans and accept them and still not go out of your way, bending over backwards, performing Olympic-tier mental gymnastics, to lie to them and yourself.

                  The prostitutes and the tax collectors don’t enter the Kingdom for their virtue of being prostitutes and tax collectors. That kind of thinking is rightly called demonological: ‘You might as well–in fact, you should–sell your body for sex and cheat people out of their money because it’s the surest way to enter the Kingdom first.’

                  • “The prostitutes and the tax collectors don’t enter the Kingdom for their virtue of being prostitutes and tax collectors. ”

                    No, but as outsiders they are far more likely to sense when someone genuinely cares for them, and when they’re just being talked down to.

                    Folks like them FLOCKED to Jesus. They avoid us like the plague. Either we ain’t preaching what He preached, or (more likely) we don’t have the same compassion that He did. Which do you think is more likelt?

                    • I’m not in the ‘numbers equals success’ camp, and I remain unconvinced that ‘folks like them FLOCKED to Jesus’. I remember a few times when he drove people away with his strange teaching. ‘Who can accept this teaching?’

                    • So you deny what the Gospels say in this matter?

                    • No, but ‘flocked’ is an overstatement. Call me derridean, but you can’t make that outside-the-text move. Or, at least, many of the same who flocked also fled. If your definition of compassion doesn’t take this into account, it is deficient.

                    • Fled and betrayed are two different things. They fled because the powers put Jesus on a cross; they didn’t do that, the powers did. The same powers that have been arrayed against them from the beginning of time. This notion that everyone betrayed Jesus on Good Friday is theological nonsense; Mary, the women, the very young John, and the powerless nobodies and outliers gathered at the foot of his cross. The Romans wanted them there to witness Jesus’ defeat and humiliation, and to take the news back to the hiding alpha male apostles, who were the intended audience. Only the powerless and outsiders could be with Jesus as he underwent his passion. It is true now for us as well in the light of his resurrection.

                    • @Robert F– You’re right that fled and betrayed are two different things; I’m not equating them here. And you may also be right that cowardice motivated the fleeing, but that’s an assumption you’ve brought in from outside the text, and that doesn’t fly for me. I’m so post-modern it’d make your head spin.

                      But that’s all beside the point, which you’ve missed.

                    • The New Testament text is not, and never has been, hermetically sealed from the texts that exist outside of it, or that we live in. If it were, it would be a dead text, unable to interact with us or the world; for many fundamentalists, that is nearly what it is. The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

                      If I’ve missed your point, we’ll have to leave it at that. I freely confess that if my salvation depends on my understanding, then I’m doomed. I am totally at the mercy of God’s grace. No amount of knowledge, gnosis, whether cognitive or somatic, will ever save me.

                    • @ William of Lyons — For the record, I apologize for whatever name-calling I aimed at you yesterday. I’m afraid that, like many who are not good at defending or comprehensively justifying their positions to themselves or others, I’m at times easily “triggered”.

                    • Not that it’s hermetically sealed and dead. Just that almost (if not) all hermeneutics merely reveal the projections of the interpreters rather than the meaning of the text itself. This is why sola scriptura (as democratically woke as it is) simply doesn’t work.

                      I appreciate the apology, Robert F, and also apologize for having fun at your expense.

                    • But when the insufficiency of sola scriptura is invoked in order to neutralize criticisms of far-flung, unmoored theological developments in capital T Tradition from the perspective of the more stabilized tradition in scripture, then I think the defenders of the hermeneutical normativity of Tradition are speaking in bad faith. Traditional interpretation can and has gone of the rails in many places.

                    • I actually didn’t say that cowardice motivated the fleeing. But it’s evident from the text that not everybody fled. All the apostles (we’re not counting Judas, of course), with the exception of the youngish John, did flee. Interesting that, according to ancient church legend, all the apostles were martyred, but for John.

                    • I’m not invoking the insufficiency of sola scriptura for any other reason than to point out its objective insufficiency. Finally, as far as I can tell, the gospel is an Event that cannot be written down. But this isn’t to say there is no Truth or Beauty or Goodness, or that any-damn-thing is worthy of such high titles–only He-Who-Is is.

                      ‘Behold I make all things new’.

                    • Yes, it’s objectively insufficient. All things necessary for salvation are not in scripture, or Tradition, or anything other created thing, and so they are all insufficient. Salvation is from and in Jesus Christ.

    • 7) Modernity
      8) Liberalism/Conservatism

  15. I don’t remember feeling the undercurrent of daily anxiety I have felt since before the election, even growing up during the Cold War and Vietnam years. It’s better when I don’t listen to too much news reporting, but that’s difficult to avoid. I’ve been an optimist most of my life; not so now.

    The government has always kept information from the populace, and Presidents have been at all points on the character scale. The Senate has always been full of people with a lot of net worth.

    No government office-holder is our savior. Those in the government are supposed to look out for the welfare of citizens, not the other way around. But if the citizens are self-centered, who will do anything, even in their own neighborhoods, let alone on the level of our elected officials? I am astonished that there has been so little protest, and so little effective journalism like there was 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago.

    Trump’s major problem is that he still thinks he’s the star of a reality TV show (because of other problems he has). The man has no policy; he is making up his presidency as he goes. Hell, he can’t even string together two sequentially coherent sentences. That’s depressing enough, but to me it also says volumes about those who voted for him. Much political rhetoric is just that, but at least Clinton had policy positions – most of which I was against, which is why I did not vote for her.

    But I think we are now heading toward the greater danger of electing someone who is seen a “strong leader” and who will actually try to lead us down the path toward tyranny that is much more like Stalin’s and Hitler’s than King George III’s. God help us.

    Dana

    • john barry says:

      Dana Ames, Many good points you make but then to the trite overused Stalin and Hitler route. How about Mao and Nero just to break it up al little. How about Franco and Mussolini , they were bad. How about Sonny and Cher, talk about crimes against humanity, I actually saw the movie Chasity This is where the name Chaz is derived from.

      • Mussolini is probably the closest parallel, as his powers of governance – and his competence – had hard limits.

      • John Barry, Dana Ames is NEVER “trite”. Hang around, read with accuracy, and you might learn something from her.

        • john barry says:

          Tom, thanks for the gracious invite , I will . The word usually associated with my comments is tripe.

          • john barry says:

            Tom Aka Volkman

            Trite “, Adjective: (of a remark, opinion or idea) overused and consequently of little import; lacking in originality or freshness”

            Tripe “Noun (1) The first or second stomach of a cow or other ruminant used as food.
            (2) informal use ” nonsense or rubbish”

            I actually looked it up. It seems some think my comments are related to stomach parts, surely they cannot be referring to the second definition.

            Trump comparisons to Stalin and Hitler are very rarely used and is breath taking in its originality. How about some more new descriptions of Trump you that are fresh also, clown, dementia victim, bully, reality show host, delusional , stupid, .fascist and never before called Nazi. At least Trump will not get a big head reading his press clippings.

            • John,

              I wasn’t offended – and I think you misread. I wasn’t actually comparing Trump to those nefarious leaders. (Actually, I like the Mussolini comparison – they even resemble one another physically, sort of.)

              I was trying to sound an alarm that things could get much worse before we know it, because of our polarization and gullibility and associated problems.

              Dana

              • john barry says:

                Dana Ames, thanks for responding to my post. Like I stated our I appreciated and even though do not share your views you stated your position well. I do not mind what descriptive words commenters employ however when the same buzz words are used over and over they lose effect. I voted for Trump for the reasons listed in my 3:24 p.m. reply to Eeyore. Exactly what were Hillary Clintons policy positions, other than I am not Trump? What accomplishments did she really have, not positions, accomplishments. I know you stated you did not vote for her but that is why Trump won.
                If Trump did one good thing it was to insure that H. Clinton will not be President, hopefully. All the info coming out now and more will be coming would remain secret in her administration as you alluded to the lack of investigative , fair and unbiased reporting. I did not think you were or should have been offended . Actually my response was to Tom aka V who rose to our defense, which is good of him.
                So again thanks for your reply, I do not take myself too seriously , some might call it silly or even stupid, I call it whimsical as it sounds better. Of course I have to end any thought with “What do I know , I voted for Trump:. However no matter what many on this site think I do not believe Trump is a saint————————————–Yet—– But he has performed one miracle already , he got elected and put Hillary on the book selling tour as she is down to only $240 million dollars and needs the money until she gets social security.
                A fun fact Benito Mussolini son married the sister of Sophia Loren in 1961, small world. Six degrees of Mussolini. How about this Trump is like Popeye, you really have to work at it to understand him, now that is not trite.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Trump’s major problem is that he still thinks he’s the star of a reality TV show (because of other problems he has).

      Including trying to graft Trump Tower Corporate Culture to the Federal Gov’t, and the two just do NOT go together, never mind the difference in scale.

      Trump Tower Corporate Culture: The Great One at the center doing EVERYTHING in person while everyone around him sings His praises in dewy-eyed praise and adoration.

      The man has no policy; he is making up his presidency as he goes. Hell, he can’t even string together two sequentially coherent sentences. That’s depressing enough, but to me it also says volumes about those who voted for him.

      Those I DO know who voted for him either (1) were voting AGAINST Hillary and/or (2) had been sneered at and put down by their Enlightened Betters that they were voting “STICK IT TO ‘EM! STICK IT TO ‘EM!” with no such thing as collateral damage. “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!!!!”

      THAT I can understand. It’s the Christians who’ve gladly “taken the Mark” with praise and adoration that get me.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy, So I voted for Trump because of his stand on (1) immigration (2) his stand on trade policy i.e. TPP and NAFTA, China currency manipulation (3) National Security and Defense I.e. no stupid Middle East GW Bush wars, no nation building , rebuilding military strength (4) Economic and infrastructure positions even though not a big fan of the tax reform done. It goes without saying if you are voting for someone opponent you are voting against that someone. I would not have voted for any other Republican candidate except maybe Cruz as they were just Hillary watered down or establishment Republicans to describe better. Contrary to the ongoing narrative on this site by many the majority of Trump voters take Trump for what he is , a secular person who does acknowledge and appreciate their concerns about issues they care about like any other voting bloc. The silly they worship Trump, mark of the beast, sold their souls and all the other sound bites are entertaining but fairly superficial. H. Clinton was weak on policy issues and not a good leader or campaigner, she had all the advantages over Trump. You do not know me but that is why I voted for Trump not as a protest vote to stick it to someone but an affirmative vote to ================wait for it ==============Make America Great Again==============like my hat says========. Trump is so brilliant he can state his entire agenda on my hat. I guess Hillary Clinton and her supporters should have answered the “will you accept the results of this election if you lose” the way Trump did and of course they mocked him for it . Final note , the Clintons entire careers in public office , present net worth $240 million, I guess they saved a lot of money in their 401K or on internet servers.

    • Make America Gay Again

    • Patriciamc says:

      Some day, law enforcement will have definite proof of what went on at Jeffrey Epstein’s parties, and it will bring down Bill Clinton – and God Don.

      I really worry about how he’s weakening America’s position in the world: State Dept jobs unfilled making it very hard for diplomats to do their work, incompetent appointees in the depts of Energy and Agriculture, etc. Perhaps he’s doing as Putin has directed and weakening the government from within. The party leadership will jettison him one day, and once he passes his first anniversary in office, the more in danger he’ll be. I will bet money that one day, he’ll resign for health reasons (I believe more and more that he has dementia), to spend more time with his family, etc.

    • “I voted for Trump because of his stand on (1) immigration”

      First, it is cruel and unusual to break up families already here, no matter what stance you take on who should come here and why. Secondly, it does NO good to just “shut the borders” without dealing with the social and economic factors that drive immigration. You want to pay triple what you’re paying now for fresh produce? And do you seriously think food corps are going to ever offer living wages to harvesters, legal residents or not?

      “(2) his stand on trade policy i.e. TPP and NAFTA, China currency manipulation”

      Again, just throwing up trade barriers without dealing with the other factors at work is just going to make things worse.

      “(3) National Security and Defense I.e. no stupid Middle East GW Bush wars, no nation building , rebuilding military strength”

      I don’t see ANY light at the end of the Syrian/Iraqi and Afgan tunnels. My work hours certainly haven’t slacked. :-/

      “(4) Economic and infrastructure positions”

      Infrastructure is like any other expenditure – the money has got to come from somewhere.

      What’s my overall point? These problems are complex and intractable. I’d have my doubts even if a reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln or FEE came by and offered solutions. I certainly was not going to trust the word of a spoiled rich, narcissistic, reality T.V. star that he would do so. Better stability and the devil you know – I’d rather we continue to decline slow than crash hard.

      • FDR not FEE

      • Ditto, Eeyore.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If you’re not from California or another of the Mexican border states, you have NO idea just how high feelings run about “the immigration issue” here. Between Open Borders, Sanctuary Cities, Activists, Sacramento’s Moral Fury posturing, and “Raza Boys” (Mexican Supremacists — you don’t have to be white to be racist), Anglos here are getting a Surrounded-by-Enemies siege mentality. Them or Us, with TRUMP as Savior.

        • john barry says:

          Headless Unicorn Guy , so where do you personally stand on the issue? What would you propose as an immigration policy? Do you live in a state heavily impacted by illegal aliens? Thanks for reply

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’ve got no idea what to propose as immigration policy. If things keep crystallizing into Us or Them, I might have to take up the tiki torch for sheer self-defense.

            I live in a state that IS heavily impacted, with the Corruption of Righteousness, and am trying to stay out of the fight until I can retire and escape to another state.

        • HUG,

          might be that way in the big OC, but not so much in parts north.

          The biggest issue in my county with Mexican and other Central American nationals is the huge illegal pot grows on public land that are supervised by people involved in organized crime. We don’t have that siege mentality regarding ordinary folks who just want to make an honest dollar – and there are plenty of them.

          Dana

      • john barry says:

        Eeyore, thanks for your good response, not sound bite issues but I will try

        1. Immigration- Families are broken up every day by the illegal and bad actions of their parents breaking the law and other irresponsible actions , drug abuse, booze, etc. Trump will trade DACA for the wall if there is no chain migration . Let the dreamers stay but no voting rights ever for them, how about that ? Same with any deal to let illegal aliens stay,. Mexico uses illegal immigration to control its unemployment , always lower than USA for years and it is a safety valve for the corrupt Mexican government. What number of illegal aliens is too many? I am a fiscal conservative to the point that the market place will decide if the price of produce is too “high”. Importing cheap labor illegally to keep prices, by breaking the law , not low but a bigger profit margin for the owner is wrong. If 20 million people invaded openly invaded a country , imposed a second language for the foreign culture to operate within, overwhelming the school system with additional cost in many areas, created an underground economy with false id’s , what would a sane country do? Hugo Chavez the migrant farm worker activist was a strong opponent of illegal aliens. I could on but will not due to soapbox time limited.

        2. Our trade polices are at the expense of our American middle and working class coupled with the cheap labor illegal aliens. TPP , NAFTA and the CAFTA are pro big business, wealthy and globalist. That is why the establishment both Democrat and Republican want to get rid of Trump. He may fail as they are powerful but he is right. China is expected to be the number one economy within 20 years and we are paying for our own demise as a nation. Soros and Koch brother yeng and yang both oppose Trump.

        3. The experience “career professionals” in our State Department and Defense since 1979 have given us a massive unsolvable at this point Iran problem, same with N. Korea since 1992 when the problem could have been stopped, China is becoming the main power in the Pacific and many parts of the developing world, Iraq, Afghanistan , Syria and Libya again were and are a mess with no good , not even viable option thanks to the incompetent USA decisions made long ago. Absolutely G.W. Bush made the worst foreign policy decisions in the USA history and Trump is unaware. At least ISIS which was a major threat is somehow magically gone but it just happened I guess The gutless establishment Republicans would not reduce military spending in the open they did it with the help of the establishment Democrats with sequester budgets with continuing resolutions, that have hurt many strategic defense areas. Putting your country first and protecting it is the prime duty of the President.

        4. Infrastructure will pay for itself by priming the pump getting money downstream. It is okay to owe money to yourself if the income is coming in, simplified but no time. America has spent trillions in Iraq rebuilding their infrastructure at the expense of ours and that money is “off” the books. CCC, WPA and many local infrastructure improvements started to pull USA out of depression, WW 2 put the effort n steroids. America can handle it if it has the understanding of why, how and the need for it but it can out be just helicopter money like the last bailouts and tricks.

        To sum up the entrenched establishment was ready and is ready to lead America to a steady decline in standard of living and bring into being a globalist equality of a borderless , open free movement of people and goods not to benefit the average citizens of the USA but the powerful globalist in every spectrum on the Never Trump establishment, From the left to George Soros to on the establishment right the Koch brothers who have more in common than most realize. The one thing the establishment agrees on and is dong is Trump must go.

        Sorry I do not have the gift of being concise of brevity, I am thick of tongue as I have read somewhere, thanks for the dialogue.

    • John Barry, your explanation of why you voted for Lord Trump is all good and fine, especially seeing as how you focus on his stated (rarely if ever in complete sentences) “policy” goals. And of course no right thinking male could vote for someone like HRC !

      I’ve heard this explanation so many times that I’ve labeled it Justification #1. What is lacking in this justification is any adequate analysis of the Trumpian character. Most people I know wouldn’t want to be in the same Sunday school class room with the Tweetster and his bombastic sure-fired self-assuredness.

      Character does count, and if that really is important why didn’t the 81% of Evangelicals who voted for Tweeter not consider voting 3rd party? There were valid choices of either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein — both of which have demonstrably decent character. However, I do understand that Evangelicals are enthralled by the Establishment binary party system that continues to wreak havoc with our culture…I suspect that if Jesus had run as an Independent against Tweetster and HRC Evangelicals would still have voted Republican with the expectation of influencing SCOTUS appointments.

      Problem #9 with the Evangelical Circus Church; Political insanity.

      • “What is lacking in this justification is any adequate analysis of the Trumpian character. Most people I know wouldn’t want to be in the same Sunday school class room with the Tweetster and his bombastic sure-fired self-assuredness.”

        This. I grew up reading about his shenanigans in the news, watching him strut through Home Alone 3 and WWF, and the Apprentice (seriously, who really believes “reality tv” has ANYTHING to do with reality?). I cannot see him as anything other than an undisciplined, dangerously arrogant and ignorant fool (using the word “fool” in the biblical sense, the one who deliberately refuses wisdom). Hillary Clinton is no saint. But neither is she a devil or a fool (despite what Rush told me).

        • john barry says:

          Eeyore, Most Sunday school classes and churches would welcome Trump if he sincerely came to learn and worship. I am not what I once was is a common phrase among the dreaded and much stereotyped “evangelicals.

          Whatever you think about the ability of Hillary she with almost 2 and a half times the amount of money spent, the backing of the incumbent , the media 95 percent in her corner, the “establishment ” in D.C. both Republican and Democrat, all the Kings Horses and all the Kings Men could not beat the very accomplished and highly polished D.J. Trump . I demand a recount, maybe the ballots were in Russian? Could not beat stupid Trump? What does that say? Oh I know, conspiracy.

          • Btw John B, HRC won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. In Michigan and Wisconsin a significant number of Dems. backed Bernie and when it appears he was screwed out of the nomination a large percentage of those Bernie backers swung to Tweetster as an “animosity vote”. And that appears to have made a difference in the EC.

            Not a conspiracy, rather a working out of our electoral system which tries to balance the Middle against the right and left coast populations.

            From my observations in NE Tennessee I see that relatively conservative folk voted against HRC and for Thumper and that against their own interest. Time will tell, but this first year of his presidency has accomplished nothing except demonstrated failure to “repeal and replace” a program which is beneficial to most of us working class sods–too many of whom were more determined to “stick it to the Man” than to evaluate where their best interest lie.

            • john barry says:

              Tom, The electoral college was designed to do just what it did. Take away the blue state of California and Trump won bigly. Not the first time the winner did not win popular vote , just the first time it was Trump. The people you describe who voted for Trump voted for the reasons I listed above , for real reasons plus of course as I have learned here they worship Trump and everything Russian. However the establishment will get rid of Trump and so the steady decline of America will continue which is in the best interest of the average American I am sure. However as I have learned here the Trumpers will continue to pray for Trump and to him. Also make no mistake about it the establishment Republicans loathe Trump as much as the hapless Democrats. No better example than “liddle” Bob Corker

              • Happy New Year, jb.

                • john barry says:

                  Robert F. Thanks, I miss 2017 already , it was such a great year. It only keeps getting better. Thanks for all your interesting comments and of course Happy New Year to you and yours. We all are blessed.