Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • Merry Christmas from Article VI Blog

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:03 pm, December 25th 2012     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Who Comes This Night?

    Who comes this night, this wintry night
    As to the lowly manger?
    The shepherds and the kings did come
    To welcome in the stranger

    Who sends this song upon the air
    To ease the soul that’s aching?
    To still the cry of deep despair
    And heal the heart that’s breaking

    Brother Joseph bring the light
    Fast, the night is fading
    And who will come this wintry night
    To where the stranger’s waiting?

    Who comes this night, with humble heart
    To give the fullest measure
    A gift of purest love to bring
    What good and worthy treasure

    Brother Joseph bring the lamb
    For they are asking for Him
    The children come this starry night
    To lay their hearts before Him

    For those who would the stranger greet
    Must lay their hearts before Him
    And raise their song in voices sweet
    To worship and adore Him

    Brother Joseph bring the light
    Fast, the night is fading
    And who will come this wintry night
    To where the stranger’s waiting

    Brother Joseph bring the lamb
    For they are asking for Him
    The children come this starry night
    To lay their hearts before Him

    Pure of heart this starry night
    To lay their hearts before Him

    –Dave Grusin and Sally Stevens
    (Who Comes This Night lyrics © EMI Music Publishing)

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    The Small Presidency

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:25 am, June 16th 2012     &mdash      3 Comments »

    So, yesterday the president tried to walk off with a good bit of the constitution.  This morning I finally got around to reading the Ryan Lizza piece on the agenda of a second Obama term that Hugh Hewitt has been going on and on about all week.  It occurred to me that Barack Obama may be the weakest, smallest president in American history.  It takes a man of almost no actual power to make the kind of power grab that Obama made with his immigration declaration yesterday.  The dust up with a reporter that happened during the speech is trivial but indicative.  Only a man who found genuine power eluding his grasp would even with bother such an annoyance.

    Then I came across yesterday’s Ramirez cartoon, and the smallness of the presidency came into deep focus.  (I know it is hard to read – click on it and you’ll see it full sized.)  “Small” is the only word that describes Obama.  A small man makes excuses – a small man whines – a small man thinks most of himself and not the matter in front of him.  A small man “wins,” while a big man serves.

    But if you think about it Barack Obama is a product of our times.  I shall resist at this point the rant about our declining culture.  It is both self-evident and cliche’.  Any reader of this blog will know the arguments well.  To me the rather more important question is how did we get here?  In a different age a man as small as Barack Obama would not stand a chance of being elected, because the people of the nation were bigger than he is, but he was elected and that is in part because the small nature of the man reflects a similar nature in many of our citizens.

    The simple fact is that the institutions that make us bigger have failed us.  These institutions are educational, religious, and service oriented.  The first two of those categories are self-explanatory, to understand the third think Scouts, or Rotary, or Kiwanis.

    Once one digests that fact, it should be obvious that the nation will not be truly repaired in a single presidency.  Our hope must lie in more than simply the election of a president.  It is true a given administration can do much to impede those institutions.  However, there is little an administration can do, save stay out of the way, for those institutions  to be restored and to flourish.  That is up to us.

    So as we work to rid ourselves of the tiniest presidency in history, we must also prepare ourselves for the presidency to come.  It is not enough to merely ask our president to be bigger.  We have to be bigger as well.

    Food for thought for this weekend:  How are you preparing yourself to make this nation better with the next administration.  If, God forbid, it is Obama again, what will you do to stem the tide?  If, hopefully and prayerfully, it is Mitt Romney where will you step in?  What will you do to bolster the institutions that are so in need of help?

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    Memorial Day 2012: “Red” Irwin, Medal of Honor recipient

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:41 am, May 26th 2012     &mdash      6 Comments »

    This is not our usual topic around here, but I cannot let a Memorial Day go by without sharing one of the hundreds of stories of Medal of Honor recipients. The astonishing courage of Henry Eugene “Red” Erwin has reverberated in my own consciousness ever since I first learned of him years ago.

    The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Henry Eugene “Red” Erwin, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in action as the radio operator of a B-29 airplane in the 52d Bombardment Squadron, 29th Bombardment Group (VH), 314th Bombardment Wing, Twentieth Air Force, leading a group formation to attack Koriyama, Japan, on 12 April 1945. Staff Sergeant Erwin was charged with the additional duty of dropping phosphoresce smoke bombs to aid in assembling the group when the launching point was reached. Upon entering the assembly area, aircraft fire and enemy fighter opposition was encountered. Among the phosphoresce bombs launched by Staff Sergeant Erwin, one proved faulty, exploding in the launching chute, and shot back into the interior of the aircraft, striking him in the face. The burning phosphoresce obliterated his nose and completely blinded him. Smoke filled the plane, obscuring the vision of the pilot. Staff Sergeant Erwin realized that the aircraft and crew would be lost if the burning bomb remained in the plane. Without regard for his own safety, he picked it up and feeling his way, instinctively, crawled around the gun turret and headed for the copilot’s window. He found the navigator’s table obstructing his passage. Grasping the burning bomb between his forearm and body, he unleashed the spring lock and raised the table. Struggling through the narrow passage he stumbled forward into the smoke-filled pilot’s compartment. Groping with his burning hands, he located the window and threw the bomb out. Completely aflame, he fell back upon the floor. The smoke cleared, the pilot, at 300 feet, pulled the plane out of its dive. Staff Sergeant Erwin’s gallantry and heroism above and beyond the call of duty saved the lives of his comrades.

    General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 44, June 6, 1945

    The Military Times Hall of Valor site tells more of the story:

    Henry Erwin’s comrades did not believe he could survive his severe burns, and his Medal of Honor was one of the most quickly approved in history; it took just six days. Intent on seeing the Medal presented to him before he died, and with no Medal of Honor available in the area, a plane was dispatched to Hawaii where a Medal of Honor was on display in a glass case. Unable to find anyone to open the case, his comrades broke into it, pocketed the Medal, and flew it back to Erwin’s bedside for presentation. Incredibly, Erwin survived, endured 41 plastic surgeries, and retired after a career working for the Veterans Administration. He died in 2002.

    You can read about every Medal of Honor ever awarded at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website. Spend a little time there. If you’re like me, you’ll come away amazed, and perhaps with a lump in your throat.

    Where do we get such men? What makes them do such amazing, heart-breakingly wonderful things? I love telling people about “Red” Irwin. I love being a citizen of a country that produces men like him. As we all bite into Monday’s hamburgers and hot dogs, let’s take a moment to think about why we celebrate Memorial Day. Let’s remember our heroes.

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    Easter Music, Easter Thoughts

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:46 pm, April 7th 2012     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Easter Music

    Once again Easter is here. Our regular readers know that the three authors of this blog belong to different churches and faith traditions, but we all strive to be disciples of Jesus Christ and take seriously our commitment to do so. In that spirit, and as before, I’ll post the words of my all-time favorite hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing:”

    Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
    tune my heart to sing thy grace;
    streams of mercy, never ceasing,
    call for songs of loudest praise.
    Teach me some melodious sonnet,
    sung by flaming tongues above.
    Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
    mount of thy redeeming love.

    Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
    hither by thy help I’m come;
    and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
    safely to arrive at home.

    Jesus sought me when a stranger,
    wandering from the fold of God;
    he, to rescue me from danger,
    interposed his precious blood.

    O to grace how great a debtor
    daily I’m constrained to be!
    Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
    bind my wandering heart to thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    prone to leave the God I love;
    here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    seal it for thy courts above.

    This biographical summary tells us a little about the author, Robert Robinson. The music is a beautiful traditional tune named “Nettleton,” about which you can find more in Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second, by John Wyeth. I’ve heard several hymns set to the same tune. As a congregational hymn “Come Thou Fount” is a little on the difficult side but most church choirs can handle it easily. My favorite arrangement is the one by Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  (This Youtube is worth watching.)

    Easter Thoughts

    This is another favorite, from the late Neal A. Maxwell, of whom Hugh Hewitt is a great admirer. It’s full of quotable nuggets:

    The gift of immortality to all is so choice a gift that our rejoicing in these two great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy.

    Even those who see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in the crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness.

    Christ’s victory over death routs the rationale that there is a general and irreversible human predicament; there are only personal predicaments, but even from these we can also be rescued by following the pathway of Him who rescued us from general extinction.

    A disciple’s “brightness of hope,” therefore, means that at funerals his tears are not because of termination, but because of interruption and separation. Though just as wet, his tears are not of despair, but of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door that will later be flung open.

    It is the Garden Tomb, not life, that is empty!

    Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, pp. 132-3

    “Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness.”

    I love that. Happy Easter.

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    And now for something a little different

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 09:30 pm, March 5th 2012     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Thanks to our regular reader James of Dayton, Ohio, for bringing to our attention this offbeat but, I think, funny view of the Mormon issue by GQ’s Walter Kirn.  It’s not our usual fare here, but we hope you’ll consider it kind of like a Saturday Night Live-type interpretation of recent events.

    Warning: There’s something in Kirn’s piece that is potentially offensive to just about everyone on every side of The Question. Be sure to put on your sense of humor before reading it. An excerpt:

    The literal tarring and feathering of Mormons back when tar and feathers were closer to hand—before the job could be done using an iPhone—was often provoked by the church’s early progressivism. Joseph Smith and his followers’ opposition to slavery as well as their fondness for proto-communist living didn’t sit well with nineteenth-century rednecks from states such as Missouri and Illinois. After being driven west to Utah, threatened with invasion by the U.S. Army, and forced to renounce its experiment with polygamy, the church gave up its nonconformist ways, its bearded prophets took up razors, and Mormonism eventually emerged as an Eisenhower-era travesty of Wheaties-eating Caucasian conservatism. It’s hard to keep pace with white de-evolution, though, and now, in the person of Brother Mitt, the insufficiently Christian, Harvard-educated, French-speaking architect of America’s first socialistic public health care system, the sect’s most conspicuous adherent is, to many of his fellow Republicans, an egghead radical, a liberal mole.

    Happy Super Tuesday!

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    Am I Paranoid?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 01:36 pm, February 17th 2012     &mdash      4 Comments »

    Reported about an hour ago by US News:

    There’s a chance Ron Paul won Maine after all.

    Maine’s republican party announced Friday that it will recount votes cast in the state’s non-binding GOP caucus, which initially showed a 194-vote victory for Mitt Romney.

    The state’s GOP chairman Charles Webster released a statement Friday announcing the party is working “diligently to contact town chairmen throughout Maine” to independently verify the results from each of the counties’ caucuses.

    Even if the results don’t change, Romney’s victory is now forever tainted – it hurts less, but it still hurts politically.  So, two caucus’ with two recounts both moving away from Romney in the recount.  Once is a mistake, twice is at a minimum – stupid.  “Amateur hour” on the part of the state parties is the kindest possible understanding of what is going on here.

    What I know is that there are a lot of people who really, really do not want Mitt Romney as the nominee.  Has to make you wonder, just has to.

    Let’s assume for just a minute that my suspicion have some reality associated with them (again – I have no evidence, I’m just speculating here) this is amateur hour for cheating too.  So, when the general rolls around and we are up against a Chicago political organization – you know Chicago where they invented votes for the dead and strong arming – do you think shenanigans will help?

    There’s an old rule about not stealing from a thief that just might be worthy of consideration at the moment.

    UPDATE THE NEXT MORNING: Apparently, Romney is gaining votes as a result of the Maine recount.  Which means our local parties really are flat out inept.  It is commonly said that Republicans have better things to do than politics, you know, jobs, productivity, that sort of thing.  We may indeed have better things to do, but when we do politics we ought least do it well.

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