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The Very Thin Line

Tuesday, June 21, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

This election cycle almost seems like a “dare” game from when we were kids.  It is as if we are continuously being dared to do more and more outrageous things, and when we first refuse we are double dared, and so it goes as if we were in a large scale real life version of “A Christmas Story,” until we face the “dreaded triple dog dare.”  Problem is this game does not end with a tongue stuck to a flag pole, the consequences are much, much more drastic.

My #NeverTrump friend David French wrote what has to be the triple-dog-dare of #NeverTrump pieces earlier today.  It’s highly provocative title is “Don’t Bend Your Knee to Trump, Evangelicals”  The rhetoric of the piece is highly inflammatory, yet there is much that he says with which I am in total agreement.  I became acquainted with David in the Romney campaigns where we both worked to help the Mormon penetrate the Evangelical world.  While I agree with David entirely that nothing about Trump’s very public personal life even vaguely reflects Evangelical values, I struggle with denouncing him as a candidate on those grounds as we worked so hard in the last two cycles to point out to people that religious affiliation (or by implication the lack thereof) should not be a deciding factor in casting a vote.  Yes, Romney, save for his theology, lives a life more like the Evangelical ideal than most Evangelicals, while Trump has lived like the prodigal not yet returned home, we both said countless times, “we are electing a president not a pastor.”

Some years ago a good friend and I watched a mutual acquaintance’s marriage disintegrate.  As we discussed what was happening in our acquaintance’s marriage my friend said something quite interesting, “I knew it was over six months ago when they started drawing hard lines and some issues became non-negotiable.”  There is deep wisdom there.  While I agree with almost every argument #NeverTrump puts forward, to draw a hard line, like adopt the hashtag #NeverTrump, makes schism inevitable.  I want to keep the door open for negotiation.

So, in a spirit of negotiation I put forward a suggestion to resolve the very real dilemma David puts forward. Continue Reading

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Honor Where Honor Is Due

Sunday, June 19, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

As much as this grieves me…

cleveland-cavaliers

NBA CHAMPIONS.

Higher Thoughts

Sunday, June 19, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

Thursday, Rod Dreher wrote a blog piece “Queers vs. Conservative Christians.”  It is a personal tale, ending in an open question.  Dreher reflects on the extremely wide rhetorical gap between the groups and wonders how to bridge it.  His reflections are entirely reminiscent of countless conversations I have had not just with LGBT friends and acquaintances, but with other Christians as we discussed how to best approach the situation.

It is tempting to dive right in and lay out points I have made in other contexts, but it occurs to me that to do so this morning would be mostly to enjoy the sound of my own voice.  I have made the points often enough to know that people either agree with them or they don’t and saying them is more of a measuring stick than an argument.

Dreher concedes the differences are irreconcilable and seeks to know how to appreciate the humanity of the opponent in such circumstances.  My initial response is that if you are on the Christian side and that does not come naturally then you need to reexamine your faith – carefully.  My concern is a bit different, my concern is for the soul of the opponent.  I’m not just talking about eternal damnation here – I listen to their arguments and I look at their lives and I hurt for them.  A gay friend once told me he was just trying “to do his best with the hand he had been dealt.”  He was, I think, trying to justify his life.  It was a mournful statement to my ears – speaking of concession, not victory.

I do not think there is a rhetorical solution to the debate that is front of us at this moment.  I don’t know what the future holds on this issue.  I think the answer for the Christian is faithfulness.  Faithfulness in both our understanding of the consequences of our sinful nature in our lives and in our reflection of the love of God – a love so massive and complete that God died and was resurrected in expression of it.  That seems an impossibility, but as Isaiah tells us God says:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

How We Got Here

Saturday, June 18, 2016  |  posted by John Schroeder

Yesterday, National Review published part of an interview Kathryn Jean Lopez did with Eric Metaxas:

KJL: You write that “we need a culture of virtue, and our leaders have a vital role to play in that regard.” Is it really the role of our political leaders to model virtue?

ERIC METAXAS: Generally speaking, yes. How they behave affects how citizens think of the whole government and the whole nation. When one has a Washington in leadership, or a Lincoln, one knows that one can generally trust one’s government to do the right thing, even when it is very, very difficult to do the right thing. Virtuous leaders inspire virtue in the citizenry. They help us believe that the system is not rigged, but that it’s generally something that works and that needs our attention as citizens, that invites our attention.

KJL: Does that automatically suggest one cannot vote for one Donald J. Trump?

METAXAS: Not only can we vote for Trump, we must vote for Trump, because with all of his foibles, peccadilloes, and metaphorical warts, he is nonetheless the last best hope of keeping America from sliding into oblivion, the tank, the abyss, the dustbin of history, if you will. If you want to know how bad things are in America, and how far we have gone, read the previous sentence aloud over and over.

I read that yesterday, and I do not know if Metaxas meant to do this or not, but those two short answers may be the most massive condemnation of Barak Obama’s presidency yet undertaken.  Consider, in the first answer he makes case that the tone of the nation is set by the presidency – in this case the Obama presidency.  In the second answer his phrase, “how bad things are in America, and how far we have gone” makes plain that the Obama presidency has lead us nowhere good.  You want to explain Trump’s ascendancy, look no further than Obama’s presidency. Continue Reading

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