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Cult of Personality

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In the 1780 Constitution of Massachusetts, John Adams wrote (Part the First, section XXX):

In the government of this Commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: The judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men. [emphasis added]

That phrase, “a government of laws and not of men,” is one of those things that has become cliché through repetition, but is neither cliché nor trite.  It is deeply and importantly meaningful.  Yet I notice that as our culture grows more focused on self, our politics grows more personality based than idea or policy based.  The last presidential election cycle was consumed with personality, as is the continuing media coverage of the presidency.  “I like” or “I don’t like” has replaced “I agree with” or “I do not agree with” in most political discussions I encounter anymore.  (Hmmm, do I detect a Facebook contribution here?)

This trend is troubling – and it is reflected in far more than our politics.  I see it in our churches as well.  I have seen way too many churches built around a pastor die when that pastor moves on in some fashion.  For institutions to survive, whether they be churches or governments or something else, they have to be about more than the people involved at the moment.  There is little doubt in my mind that many of the radical changes that have happened in our culture in my lifetime are due to the fact that our institutions no longer stand as they once did.  They are now often fickle and transient things, driven by a personality rather than something greater than any one person, standing as a bulwark in support of some ideal.

Consider this odd BBC story about the current president of very dictatorial Turkmenistan.  Like North Korea, the nation is only as strong as its leader appears to be.  This necessity to maintain appearances can results in all sorts of issues.  Hence personality driven churches often die in scandal and dictatorships are found, after their death, to be built on tissues of lies.  Simple fact of the matter is mere humans are too frail and too unreliable to base an institution upon.  We need more.

This problem has plagued mankind throughout history.

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Oklahoma Senator James Lankford on MN Justice David Stras, Senate Rules Changes, The Senate Tax Bill

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Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma joined me this morning:

Audio:

11-08hhs-lankford

Transcript:

HH: Joined by United States Senator James Lankford from the great state of Oklahoma. Senator, good to talk to you. I ran into Matt Pinnell last night. We talked a little Oklahoma politics. He’s going to be a great lieutenant governor. You turn out candidate after candidate down there. It’s just terrific.

JL: Well, there’s some really great folks that are running that are engaged. Matt was a great state party chairman for us as well. And so he’s a good friend.

HH: He’s a good, good guy. So I want to talk to you about taxes, but first, I want to talk to you about judicial nominations. Last night, the Wall Street Journal posted a piece by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras about the fact that his grandfather survived Auschwitz, has his number tattooed on his arm. His grandmother, by the way, it’s not in the piece, but she survived Dachau. Al Franken’s got a blue slip on David Stras. I cannot believe, I really cannot believe that the Judiciary Committee is not getting him moved to the floor, Senator Lankford.

JL: Well, I think the Judiciary Committee will move him to the floor, that this is just taking a little bit of time to give every option for him to be able to do the right thing, and then we’ll just be able to move around him. As we did with the Supreme Court, once we proved that they’re really not going to move on doing the right thing, we’re going to go ahead and move forward.

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