22 thoughts on “News/Politics 3-16-17

  1. This is from the Douthat article I put up last night.

    If every Catholic high school or college were one degree less secularized and worldly; if every Protestant megachurch were one degree more liturgical and theological; if not every Catholic but more Catholics became priests and nuns; if not every Christian family but more Christian families decided to have a third child or a fourth or fifth; if not every young Christian but more young Christians looked at working-class neighborhoods as an important mission field; if Catholics and Protestants alike could imitate even part of Mormonism’s dense networking … all this would be a form of the Benedict Option in action, and both the churches and the common culture would be better for it.

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  2. More from Douthat:

    The Trump era, in this sense, has not made “The Benedict Option” and the other books like it less timely, but more so. Thanks to Trump’s unlikely rise, religious conservatism has temporarily regained influence that its younger leaders and thinkers assumed was all but lost. But at a price — the price of being bound to an unstable and semi-competent form of right-wing nationalism, and suspended over the abyss by the not precisely Godlike hands of Donald Trump.

    Conservative Christians active in politics have no choice but to do the best they can from that unsteady, wavering position. But only a robust counterculture, a healthy sense of their own freakishness and, yes, a few St. Benedicts will save them if they fall.

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  3. This is one of the reasons people largely ignore the MSM. They have no credibility on matters such as this. Dare to disagree with Obama and the press assumes your just an extremist racist. But threaten Trump and R’s and it’s fine, gets nary a mention.


    “Turn on TV or browse your newsfeeds on social media, and you will be bombarded with polemics about the sky falling and credible threats of violence against conservative figures.

    The FBI investigated a threat to kill Milo Yiannoupolis for the audacity to want to speak on a college campus. Threats against former Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder’s wife caused him to withdraw himself from consideration. Multiple intimidatory remarks haunted members of the Trump-voting Electoral College. President Trump has been the target of declarations of violence on a near daily basis.

    And yet, when it comes to this constant flow of threats, there seems to be little outrage from the nation’s leading journalists and pundits.

    Social media shines almost every day with a new dimwitted threat against Trump and his presidency. “Comedienne” Sarah Silverman called for a military coup. Madonna told protesters she “thought” about blowing up the White House. Violence seems to break out every time a conservative comes to speak at a college campus. Rosie O’Donnell talks about “stopping” Trump on Twitter.

    Snoop Dogg has done his best to get back on people’s radars since 1998 with his new music video in which he assassinates a clown dressed as Trump. Even if it was just a stunt by the 45-year-old rapper to stay relevant, it was still completely crass and unacceptable.

    The media has largely glossed over these serious threats with a shrug. A simple Google search on Snoop Dogg’s assassination video, for example, yields virtually no mainstream editorials expressing disgust. It’s almost as if there’s an overarching belief among the media that Trump brought this upon himself.”

    Shouldn’t Gabby Giffords and the press be reprimanding Dems for their tone? This sure seems like the kinda thing that used to concern them. But hey, that’s only when D’s are in charge I guess.


  4. Ouch. Not a fan of the library and museum cuts. They have legitimate educational uses, but the rest are OK by me.

    Sink or swim time.


    “President Donald Trump made good on a long-time conservative goal in his first proposed budget Thursday morning, targeting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities for complete elimination.

    Trump’s budget would zero out the $445 million budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a relatively small source of funding for programming and broadcast operations on public TV stations and NPR radio stations nationwide, per the Washington Post.

    The budget would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.”

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  5. Fight! 🙄


    “What in the actual…

    Yes, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed on the Senate floor that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) now works for Russian President Vladimir Putin because Paul voted against allowing Montenegro into NATO:

    McCain tried to call up the treaty and warned that anyone blocking it would be helping Russia maintain its influence over the small country across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.

    “If there’s objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin,” McCain warned. “If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin, and I do not say that lightly.”

    “McCain noted that Paul objected and left the floor without talking about his vote. According to McCain, one can only conclude that Paul has no argument or justification for his vote.

    “So I repeat it again. The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.””

    I can’t say I disagree with Paul…. 😨


    “Payback is a . . . Rand Paul. After John McCain, speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, accused Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin,” Paul had a crushing comeback on today’s Morning Joe.

    Said Paul of McCain, “he makes a really, really strong case for term limits. I think maybe he’s past his prime. I think maybe he’s gotten a little bit unhinged.”

    cCain’s nose was put out of joint when Paul had left the Senate floor after objecting to McCain’s call for Montenegro to be admitted to NATO. Whatever you think of it Paul’s objection, it was based on principle: a desire to have the US avoid additional military entanglements and obligations. The notion that the senator from Kentucky is a secret Kremlin agent is absurd.”

    McCain should just stick to attacking Trump. At least there’s an audience that will agree with him on that, even though they’re Dems that’ll never vote for him anyway, but hey, it’s something….. 😀


  6. Trump, most of the House Republicans and some Republican Senators are taking brave steps on the budget, healthcare, defense and other issues. I salute them. They have a tough road ahead of them. Much of the public is liberal or ignorant or fickle or all of the above. Nevertheless, I cheer for the Rs as I always have a soft spot for lost causes.

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  7. I’ve read of the Benedict Option. It has already been tried, by an organization which used to tell its thousand of youth in national conferences that their characters would change society and whose leader used to say that God had called him “To turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children”. The organization was called IBLP and the homeschooling branch was ATI. Yes, it was supposed to be the big countercultural Christian answer – and it failed. It failed because the answer to the world’s might and power is not Christian might or numbers, but Christian weakness. God does not give his glory to another, not even to the people of His Church. We who are followers of Christ are called to die, not to conquer. He is the one who conquers in our suffering, and He may deliberately weaken us at time (Colossians 1:24, II Corinthians 12:9). The other day, in Psalm 11, I found the answer to those who call for the Benedict Option in response to the secular trends of today, to those who say, as the psalmist put it:

    Flee like a bird to your mountain,
    for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
    if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

    The IBLP organization, and other conservative Christian organizations, use that very language to call for action, or rather reaction, to the culture rot. Answers in Genesis, for example, talks a lot about the foundations of Christianity being destroyed, in order to persuade people we need to go back to Genesis to reestablish the foundations. Yet, the writer of the Psalm is refusing such language, and reminding those who speak that way that God is still in control, and that He has already won:

    In the Lord I take refuge;
    how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
    for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
    if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

    The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
    The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
    Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

    For the Lord is righteous;
    he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face. [ESV]

    The real problem of things like the Benedict option, is that it shows a lack of faith in those who claim salvation by faith. Remember, when Jesus went to Nazareth during his ministry, he could not do many miracles there because they didn’t believe him. I don’t think many Western Christians really believe the Son of God will build His Church, and so they keep trying to think of ways they can build it.

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  8. Roscuro, I agree with most of what you say in 6:45. But I think there is a difference in saying “We can change culture by our virtue and by pulling into a big circle of those who think like we do” and saying “The church is straying from biblical foundations and needs to take Scripture more seriously.”

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  9. Cheryl, in the case of Answers in Genesis, they are proposing Creationism as a culture changing vehicle, not just encouraging the church. I have read Ken Ham’s books and seen the cartoon illustration of two castles, with the castle labelled Humanism blowing out the foundation labeled Creation of the castle labeled Christianity, while the castle labelled Christianity fires away at the balloons, labelled with modern cultural trends, floating above the Humanism castle, and ignoring the foundation of Evolution. I say this as one who believes the Creation account, but has serious problems with campaigning for funds to build a theme park by playing on the need to promote Creation and the Flood to change the culture.


  10. I read the Douthat piece that Ricky linked. One statement in particular jumped out at me:

    Whatever comes in 2030 or 2040, whether or not a once-dominant Christianity is doomed to marginalization or merely in decline, we have a severe problem of rootlessness, hyper-individualism and anomie already — how do you think we got Trumpism?

    I would answer his question, with another question: How do you think rootlessness, hyper-individualism and anomie came to be a problem for people living in the US?

    Christian leadership has been carrying the water and delivering their faithful to Republicans in the voting booths for decades. In return, those same Republicans (and cooperating Democrats) have crafted public policies promoting Globalism which dilutes national sovereignty and helps create and sustain rootlessness and hyper-individualism and cultural decay.

    Globalism demands and produces constant migration. It tears at the fabric of traditional communities and livelihoods which provide the stability and rootedness needed to transmit cultural and religious norms. Migration takes a heavy toll on the individual and the family and on the culture that sustains it. Much energy and stability is sacrificed for marginal financial gain for the migrant, while the organs of globalism are inundated with unseemly profits.

    As a Christian, I resist Globalism to the extent that I can. I think it is a truly evil and pernicious force that promotes greed as a norm and actively seeks to reduce human beings to consumption units. And worse, I fear some of those attitudes have seeped into the church. I hope that the election of Trump will cause some religious leaders to carefully consider what it is they have been supporting all of these years


  11. Deb, I share your concern about the unbridled greed of global corporations. They have done much evil. However, I cannot share your view that unbridled migration is either a result of Globalism or an evil. I was just remembering, triggered by the conversation about Orange and Green over on the Daily Thread, how my family came to Canada (my father’s family was an Irish Protestant family). Talk about unbridled migration, the era of the British Empire mid-1700s – mid 1900s is all about mass migration of peoples. Canada celebrates the 150th year of Confederation this year. The First Nations – Native American tribes – have pointed out that they have little to celebrate. They have a point. The history of how the Canadian migrants treated those who were here before them is very dark indeed. Yet, I cannot say, who was born in this beautiful country, that the migration was wholly evil. I remember a quote, from a book I loved to read as a young adult, called The Lantern Bearers, “like the flying of the wild geese, man moves ever West.” The author was unusually perceptive. We are seeing another westward migration in our era. To those who would argue that the westward movement in the colonial era at least did not infringe on people already settles, the answer is that it did, and the Native American population was of no less importance than the Europeans who took their place. Britain itself has seen wave after wave of western moving migrants. The Celts were not the first on the island, there were people before them. The Angles and the Saxons succeeded the Celts and the Normans the Anglo-Saxons. Mass migration has always been a part of human existence, since God intervened at the Tower of Babel.

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  12. Debra, The statistics show that there has actually been a significant decline in migration within the US in the last 10-15 years. People are no longer moving to where the jobs are. Our large safety net and a decline in risk taking has led many to stay in places where the culture is bad and the jobs are few. This is a major theme of Hillbilly Elegy.


  13. Ricky, I think the reluctance to move is more than that. To use my own family as an example: we are baby boomers and generation x, seven of us total, and while my mom was alive she and her seven children lived in eight different states. In the last 15 years I have lived in three states, my sister has lived in two, going back a little farther one of my brothers has lived in maybe four states in the last 20 years (he now lives in Texas, and has for probably all of the 15 years), one of my brothers has lived in two states, and my other brothers have been in the same state all of that time. But except for a couple of years when two of my brothers were in California, with all of those moves we have all seven lived in seven different states, plus Mom staying in Arizona (where we grew up, but none of us stayed) until she died, making eight.

    You could say that’s wonderful that all of us went where the jobs were or you could say that if the 22 in the following generation and the dozen or so (so far) in the generation after all follow the same pattern, we will soon run out of states. (None of my siblings live in the same state as their in-laws, either–I am the only one who does.) I suspect that one of the reasons that people aren’t moving as much is a more family-focused millennial generation. Kids who grew up (like me and like my nieces and nephews) living in different states from their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, seeing them once a year at most, want something different for their own families. And making a choice to stay close, even at the cost of some earning potential, would be a good thing. (Not if they can’t get a job at all, that isn’t a good thing.)

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  14. Roscuro, I guess I’ve seen some of that with Answers in Genesis (it has been a couple of years since I’ve subscribed to their materials), but I just kind of roll my eyes and ignore it. I do think they’re right that ignoring evolution, and letting it (by default) seem like an unanswerable argument leads to a bad foundation for our children. If Genesis isn’t true, then Scripture isn’t true. And if God is not our Creator, then He is not our authority and cannot be our Judge, and we don’t need Him as our Saviour. So I do agree that Genesis is foundational.

    But yeah, I think they do go beyond that. I once ordered a book from them about some other subject (why kids are leaving the church), and fully half the book (probably more) was that the kids who are leaving the church don’t believe Genesis is literally true. At that point they sounded like a one-trick pony. And which is the chicken and which is the egg? I believe in children being fully part of their church family; children’s “church” saddens me. But if I someday write a book about dating practices in modern America (don’t worry, I have no such plans), I’m not going to spend half the book telling why it’s all the fault of parents who put their children in children’s church. It might be a relevant sidenote for one chapter or an appendix, but even that would be stretching it. And if I’ve already written a book (or five or six) on the subject, then I shouldn’t waste pages of this one on that subject, unless it’s just a page or two to reiterate that my per subject is actually relevant here, too. But it felt a bit like buying a box of fudge pops and discovering belatedly that half of them were pear-flavored because that’s the favorite flavor of the company president.

    I think the “ark” as a full-scale model sounds fascinating, and if I were in that town I’d be inclined to want to see it. But all in all it doesn’t seem worth the money or the land as a permanent exhibit, and I didn’t send them any money for it. Besides, I’m not all that inclined to think that people come to Christ through “gimmicks.” If they wouldn’t believe even if someone were to return from the dead, why would a big boat do the trick? (God can use anything, and probably He uses that too. But it isn’t God’s “ordained means” of salvation, and I think such things probably turn off as many as they win, humanly speaking.)


  15. Migrating every 100 or 200 years is one thing. I went to 12 different schools in several states by the time I graduated high school. Stability is a blessing and rootlessness is a curse. Globalism did not create the curse, but it increases it, gives it a snappy ideology, and institutionalizes it. I reject that.


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