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How To Celebrate Christmas

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Another story of anti-religious bigotry from our nations far-left broke over the weekend.  That’s a huge problem, worthy of much comment and analysis, but something else happened over the weekend.

Nearly 400 people have died in a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption in Indonesia.  I said last Thursday that Christ came to set a new agenda and we should dedicate ourselves this long holiday weekend to that agenda. In that light please consider two things.

Firstly, the Roman worked very hard to keep Judaism in very tight boundaries, not unlike the efforts we see in the stories about unconstitutional religious tests being applied to judicial nominees.  Yet Jesus did not fight against the Roman oppression.  Secondly, the Incarnation, God becoming man, is sacrificial giving, topped only by His death on the cross.  Considering these two observations about Christ, if we are indeed to dedicate ourselves to Christ’s agenda this holiday we must consider there are things more important than the ugliness of Sen. Harris and her ilk and we must give sacrificially.

This minute the need in Indonesia is enormous, and I bet the Salvation Army is there – or soon will be.  Please, it is not too late to add to the coffers of the host’s Red Kettle.

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General Stanley McCrystal (US Army, Retired) On The Withdrawal From Syria and His New Book “Leaders: Myth and Reality”

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General Stanley McCrystal joined me in studio this morning.  We had arranged the sit down weeks ago, but of course the conversation opened on President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria:



Audio:

12-20hhs-mcchrystal

12-20hhs-mcchrystal-full

Transcript:

HH: I’m so glad you’re joining today. Our new stations in Springfield, Illinois, Ithaca, New York, Portland, Maine, Keane and Manchester, New Hampshire, Harrisburg, Virginia, because you never got to hear me interview General Stanley McChrystal when he’s previously been on the show. Now, you get to do so. In fact, he’s the first basement tape I’ve made. He’s actually in the studio with me. General McChrystal, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Great to have you on.

SM: It’s an honor to be here. Thanks.

HH: We’re going to talk at length about Leaders, and we’re going to talk uninterrupted, and the entire conversation will post over at HughHewitt.com. But I have, this is serendipitous. We set this up weeks ago, and yesterday, the President announced we’re pulling out of Syria. You have to know what that means in the military. What do you think of that decision?

SM: I think it’s ill-taken. I think that we will lose our influence in the region. And while we may not like the risk of having soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines there, we have to have influence in the region, and that means presence.

HH: And so when we withdraw from that, does that put the gains in Iraq at risk, in your view?

SM: I think it does. I think it puts the stability of the entire region more broadly at risk.

HH: And in terms of ISIS being defeated, there is still 15-20,000 flying the black flag. You went one on one with these guys. We’re going to talk about Zarqawi, because Zarqawi figures in your book, Leaders. Do you think they’re eradicated? Are they still a risk?

SM: I think they’re a big risk. And ISIS is as much an idea as it is number of fighters. So you can get fixated on counting heads. In reality, it’s a franchise kind of system. It’s very powerful still, and it needs to be dealt with.

HH: Okay, so now when soldiers hear they’re going home, they’re usually pretty happy. But do you think the soldiers who get sent to Syria are unhappy about doing what is in essence garrison work at this point, right?

SM: I think they think it’s important. The ones I’ve talked to think it’s important. And they also know, particularly this generation, if we don’t get it done, they’ll be back.

HH: All right, last question on this. The President’s made a decision. Leaders sometimes make bad decisions. That’s in your book, a lot of bad decisions. Lee and the 3rd day at Gettysburg, right? We’ll come to that. So Lindsey Graham has said don’t do this. You’ve got Tom Cotton, Dan Sullivan, Todd Young, Joni Ernst, a lot of combat veterans. What would you do if you’re confronted with overwhelming evidence of a bad decision? What’s the advice a leader ought to follow in that situation?

SM: Well, I think the leader ought to listen to advice. Now there are times a leader has to go against advice, because a leader has the ultimate responsibility. But the reality is if a lot of rational people are saying something different from what you decided, you ought to relook at it.

[The balance of the transcript of our long conversation and the video of it will post asap]

The Agenda

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Two articles came across my desk this week that were just hard.  They were about the same thing – sex abuse in a church setting.  One piece was very Roman Catholic and one was very Evangelical.  At first, I was struck about how typical were the issues with each piece – the various weaknesses of the Evangelical and Roman Catholic approaches to faith were obvious.  But I also thought to myself that they are both dealing with a crisis and they both have to be given the room to respond to that crisis with their particular strengths and weaknesses.  Sometimes the best way to improve on a weakness is to simply have to deal with it.

But the articles continued to chew at my soul.  It is after all, Christmas.  We are supposed to be thinking about other things.  This is the time of year that God came into the world and set a new agenda.  And yet here are these problems, these very worldly problems, trying to move the agenda back to the same old garbage God came to try and lift us out of.  It makes me terribly sad at this very joyous time of the year to think that the church (in whatever expression) has mired itself in the ever-so-worldly when we are celebrating something as utterly heavenly as the Incarnation.  The birth of Christ set into motion events that God promises will lead to a better world.  Right now even His church seems to be fighting against that tide – wanting to stay in the same old world.

The fledgling nation of Israel struggled and struggled, as we are seeing the church do now, to be the promise to the world that God intended it to be.  The leader of the nation, Joshua, gathered them together and recounted for them everything that God had done for them.  Joshua ended his presentation saying:

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

The juxtaposition of these articles with the season and celebration seems to ask us to make the same choice.  The people of Israel expressed no desire to forsake God, so Joshua warns them of how hard it is to follow God and how jealous He will be if they again turn from Him.  And yet

…the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

It is one of those wonderful years where the placement of December 25 in the week gives us a long Christmas celebration.  We are looking at four days to be about God’s agenda.  Yes, the world is going to keep spinning, but for these four days it is my sincere prayer that we can rise above.  These four days let us say as the people of Israel said to Joshua and then carry that pledge into the new year.

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