Daniel Henninger in this morning’s WSJ wonders why liberals can get elected, but not govern. He uses action on climate change as an example as says:
Put differently, it’s not about doing something serious about global warming. It’s really all about them (a virus threatening American conservatism as well). The “them” at the U.N. summits included not just the participating nations but a galaxy of well-financed nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs.
Not a particularly insightful conclusion really, but that parenthetical shot at conservatives is what really bothers me. You see, if we have the same issue then I must conclude we have abandoned religion just as surely as the left. Oh to be sure we remain clothed in our religious garb, but if we are “threatened by the same virus,” then it would seem our religiosity is in garb only.
Regardless of your particular brand of of faith, there are two lessons you can draw from faith that sink deeply into the Great American Civil Religion. Lesson One – there is something much bigger than the self at play. Lesson Two – It’s about service, not self.
Before this turns into a sermon, I would simply suggest that the key to our recapturing the Senate this year, to winning the White House in 2016, but most importantly to setting the nation back on the right course are those lessons.
That most likely means careful and deep re-examination of our religious lives and the institutions that support them. Take your faith seriously first and the rest will follow.
Neil J. Young pens a review of a new book, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception, by J.B. Haws. (HT: Ed Stetzer). I quote from the review with emphasis added:
Growing up in central Florida, I did not go to the beach for spring break. Instead, nearly every March my family would escape the swampy humidity of Orlando for the crisp mountain air of Utah. Skiing throughout the week, we’d often take one day from the slopes to rest our legs and explore Salt Lake City—which usually meant a visit to Temple Square, the institutional and symbolic heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, earnest missionaries would bear their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ brought about by the prayerful seeking of a young Joseph Smith. We’d exchange knowing glances at these moments; we were Southern Baptists, and we knew a lot about Mormonism. A good bit of that knowledge, it turned out, was erroneous, but it was the product of a concerted effort begun by the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s to make its members more mindful of Mormonism, a “heretical” faith that was gaining sizeable Baptist converts.
The Mormon Image is bookended with the tale of two Romneys: George Romney’s 1968 run for president and his son Mitt’s 2008 and 2012 bids for the White House. In 1968, George Romney faced hardly any questions about his faith, a fortunate inheritance from JFK’s history-making victory eight years prior. If anything, Americans saw Romney’s Mormonism as an asset, proof that he was a trustworthy and upstanding man. A 1967 Gallup poll found 75 percent of voters had no hesitation voting for a Mormon for president. Yet forty years later, Mormonism likely prevented Mitt Romney from capturing his party’s nomination. In 2007, 29 percent of Republicans had indicated they “probably or definitely” would not vote for a Mormon. As Haws writes, “being a Mormon in the public eye meant something different in 2008 than it did in 1968.”
And so, confronted with America at its weakest internationally since before WWII made us a superpower , Obamacare wrecking untold medical and financial havoc at home, a President that thinks he can pick and choose which laws he wants to obey, and an American public demoralized, who has helped and who has hurt the nation?
It is a question worth very serious consideration by very many parties.
Howard Kurtz this morning objects to Victor David Hanson’s portrayal of Obama as “Nixonian,” Kurtz’ objections are summed up in this sentence:
The problem with most of these examples is there’s no evidence that Obama ordered, or knew about, these efforts. And that’s very different from Nixon, who as we know from the secret tapes, would talk about breaking into the Brookings Institution.
So, what we learn from Kurtz is that not only is the Obama administration engaged in unconstitutional and illegal activity, but that the president has little control over his own administration. To my mind this makes Obama a worse president than Nixon – unconstitutional crook AND bad manager.
Ross Douthat’s column on the debate over the AZ religious freedom bill has been making the rounds. It’s a good piece and I am with him right up to the first couple of sentences of the penultimate paragraph:
I am being descriptive here, rather than self-pitying. Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.)
I beg your pardon, while there are some ugly and harshly judgmental people out there in the church – they are the minority. It’s not a question of “charity” v “intolerance.” It is in fact charitable to point out when a person is engaged in wrong behavior. Such is an effort to save the person from themselves and is loving at its root. The church cannot ostracize the sinner, that is self-defeating – but the church can also not be called upon to tolerate sin of any sort, this particular sin or any other. Christ was loving towards the woman at the well, but he also pointed out succinctly her sinful marital and sexual practice. In these sentences Douthat has bought into homosexuality as identity; he has bought into the wrongful argument of the opposition.
Douthat in this piece is calling for Christian charity from those that reject Christianity wholly as a standard for human interaction. I do not deny that there are those Christians that have failed to show the love of Christ to those that are engaged in this particular sin, but the societal shift we are currently experiencing is not a result of that, for such have existed since the church’s founding. I am reminded of the scene in the movie “Bridge over the River Kwai” when Alec Guiness quotes the Geneva Convention to the senior officer in the Japanese prison camp where he is held. The Japanese officer simply does not care. Guiness holds firm, under incredible torture, until he eventually carries the day.
The church cannot afford to concede that homosexuality is merely a matter of identity – it is a matter of sin. We must keep it in perspective as just one of a myriad of sins, no worse and no better. We must practice the charity we are called upon to practice towards all sinners, inclusive of ourselves. But I fear that in the current climate even naming homosexual behavior as sin is sufficient to gain the title “intolerant.” To try and shed the title under these circumstances is not merely to accommodate, it is to change the very nature of Christian thought. That we cannot do.