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."

  • A VERY SPECIAL EVENT FOR OUR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA READERS!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:16 am, February 18th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Come hear “blogfather” Hugh Hewitt speak on his latest book ” The Happiest Life” at La Crescenta Presbyterian Church tomorrow, Feb 19 at 7PM.  Details:

    hugh-hewitt-copy

    2902 Montrose Avenue

    La Crescenta, CA 91214

    (818) 249-6137

    Book signing to follow.  A few books available for sale – cash and check only.  I’ll be there too and hope to meet you.

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    Worth Remembering…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:23 pm, January 21st 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Victor Davis Hanson -

    I am not engaging in pop counterfactual history, as much as reminding us of how thin the thread of civilization sometimes hangs, both in its beginning and full maturity. Something analogous is happening currently in the 21st-century West. But the old alarmist scenarios — a nuclear exchange, global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, a new lethal AIDS-like virus — should not be our worry.

    Rather our way of life is changing not with a bang, but with a whimper, insidiously and self-inflicted, rather than abruptly and from foreign stimuli. Most of the problem is cultural.

    Church/Religion is the leading agent to affect culture, save for the fact we have abandoned that role.  It is time we take it back.

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    Quote Of The Week

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:46 am, January 14th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    from “Socrates Rises With Christ” in Intercollegiate Review:

    Is there any way to bring political philosophy and revelation, Athens and Jerusalem, into a coherent, non-contradictory relation to each other without undermining the integrity of either? The issue is ancient no less than medieval and modern. We need a philosophy that only “searches” for wisdom but did not constitute it. We need a revelation that is open to reason, not based solely on the voluntarist proposition that each existing thing could be otherwise. To consider this relationship, we presuppose that both political philosophy and revelation talk of intelligible things.

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    As Apologies Go….

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:05 am, January 5th 2014     &mdash      1 Comment »

    On New Year’s Eve, I said this about the incidences on Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC:

    Sarah Palin has this one absolutely right – Despicable.  to that I will add – Contemptible – apologies not withstanding.

    At that juncture, Harris-Perry had issued a apology on Twitter “Without reservation or qualification.”

    She has returned to the air this weekend and made further, deep and heartfelt apologies. (See the video.)  As on-air apologies from the left go, this one is by far the least perfunctory and most meaning filled I have encountered.  Harris-Perry is clearly disturbed by what happened and is clearly seeking to right a deep and hurtful wrong.

    It leaves us in a difficult position.  The apology is great as far as it goes.  I do not doubt the sincerity with which it is offered nor the contrition which underlies it.  But here is the thing about confession/apology – sometimes we confess and apologize for lesser crimes in order to redirect focus from the larger crimes.  Usually we do that to avoid facing our own deep demons, not just to deceive those around us – I believe that to be the case here.

    Note Harris-Perry’s focus on the adopted child.  It is clear Harris-Perry relates to the child, has empathy for the child and truly regrets any harm she has caused the child in the conduct of her show.  This is all right and good.

    But what went on on her show the prior weekend, even in the name of humor, was offensive to far more than just that beautiful baby.  Also called into question was the ability of the Romney extended family to properly love and care for that child.  If you know the Romney’s in even the slightest, you would know that nothing could be further from the truth.  It is deeply, deeply offensive the presume that because they are white Mormons, the Romney clan is somehow unable or ill-equipped to care for or parent an African-American child.  Harris-Perry mentions this issue not at all.  She offers no apology to anyone in the Romney extended family.

    Secondly, all of what went on on that show as steeped in racism.  As Harris-Perry explains at length, this was supposed to be a comedic look at interesting pictures from the year just past.  To put up that picture under those circumstances is to imply that whites and blacks generally are somehow incompatible – that there is an absurdity to such a mixture in a family setting.  That implication is purely, unabashedly racist.  Racism is harmful not just to the individuals involved, but to our society as a whole.  Harris-Perry’s apology makes no mention of her own ingrained racial attitudes, nor those of her producers and/or staff.  She barely mentions race in her apology, and when she does it is only in the context of harm to the child.  There is nothing to indicate a rethink on Harris-Perry’s part about the role of race in our society.

    I could go on like this for a while, but it is not my intent to slight Harris-Perry’s apology as far as it goes.  I just want to be clear that in accepting the apology, and it is indeed worthy of acceptance, many problems still remain.  Many underlying issues still need to be addressed.  This incident is past, but the problems that created it are far, far from over.  Those problems remain, as I said originally, contemptible.

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    The First Boomlet of 2016

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:14 am, December 14th 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Of course, there has been a lot of discussion of the potential field for 2016, but this week has witnessed a boomlet.  The dictionary defines “boomlet”:

    : a sudden and usually brief increase in business activity : a small boom

    But it is important to note the exemplary sentence with that definition:

    A few years ago, the town enjoyed a nice boomlet, but since then times have been tough.

    One of the definitional characteristics of a boomlet  is that they die.  The 2012 Republican primary was a series of boomlets – from Perry to Gingrich to Cain and back to Gingrich and then to Santorum.  These 2012 boomlets served the same role that the Huckabee candidacy did in 2008 – SPOILER.  They represent a significant subset of Republicans that are grossly dissatisfied with what they view as “business as usual” and they flail around like a chicken minus its head looking for an alternative.

    Needless to say, Democrats and the MSM love this group because they are just large enough to prevent a strong Republican cadre from coalescing, thus greatly increasing Democratic chances.  That’s what a spoiler does.  This bunch lack sufficient mass to win, but they have just enough to make sure the Republican they don’t like can’t.  We cannot forget where they were born – Iowa 2007.  They were born in direct reaction to Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

    Go back and read the archive of this blog in November and December of 2007.  It was practically open religious warfare.  The religion buzz was everywhere.  So much so that Romney had to whip out his speech on religion months before he wanted to.  It was working too.  Then Huckabee rang the religion bell in a NYTimes interview and well, the rest is as they say, history.

    Most fascinating about this is that every step of the way this spoiler group has only generated destruction of their agenda.  If not directly, although much has been done directly, then because they gave the media sufficient fodder to portray and divided and disorganized Republican party – weakening it and paving a path for Obama.

    And now this latest boomlet simply repeats that pattern.

    They are back where they started – Mike Huckabee.  TownahllHot AirThe FixJim Gerahty are all talking the Huckster.  Geraghty proclaims it “a highly coordinated rollout.”  But start with Townhall and the video that is generating a good bit of the furor.  Huckabee keeps talking about all the support he is getting from places like Iowa and South Carolina.  The Fix does a fine bit of political analysis as to why this is a pipe dream.  Regardless, there are a couple of comments to be made.

    I am the last person to talk about anybody’s body weight.  I used to be the size of a small city, gravitational field and everything.  Fortunately that is no longer the case – a heavenly blessing.  Mike Huckabee on the other hand has yo-yo weight.  He has been up down and every size in between.  Most extraordinary to me is that the man is master at manipulating the press photographing him.  When I went looking for pictures to illustrate my point, recent full body shots are hard to come by.  Based on his face, I would say his weight is currently coming down, but it is hard to judge that way.

    When it comes to weight, there is a far more credible possible with the same issue – Chris Christie.  I have not talked about this issue with him because he seems to be doing it right – he’s just losing the weight, none of this yo-yo stuff we have seen in the Huckster over the years.  Weight of itself is not a disqualifier for the office.  We have had more than one president of extraordinary girth.  But the modern campaign is an exceptional physical task.  Too much weight – as I am uniquely positioned to know – can simply make it impossible to keep pace.

    All this is to say that if the Huckster is slimming we’ll know he is serious.  But I have far more concerns about him than I do Christie.  Given that the Huckster ballooned like a child’s toy as soon as he was out in 2008 – the yo-yo thing – it shows that the entire episode was “a show” for him and not a serious endeavor to help himself and the nation.  Because Christie has not done the yo-yo thing, he still gets the benefit of the doubt.

    But the far more important comment is about this spoiler group.  Romney’s nomination in 2012 shows that they are smaller and less effective than they were in 2008, but his 2012 loss in the general contained strong indicators that this bunch stayed home, or left their presidential ballot blank, and that they could have spelled the difference.  And so this bunch may very well have put the nation in the deep pickle it finds itself in today.  Scandal upon scandal.  Somebody this past week, and I am sorry I cannot remember who, proclaimed Obamacare “the most disastrous piece of social engineering since Prohibition.”  We are on the brink of war on the China Sea.  There were Americans killed in Benghazi more and more apparently to influence an electoral outcome.  It is seriously questionable if we remain the leader of the world.

    And all this because a relatively limited group of people did not like the cut of Mitt Romney’s religious jib.  Oh sure, by 2012 nobody was talking religion directly, but come on, same people, same places – give me a break.

    I don’t know Mike Huckabee – but the fact that he would once again seek to capitalize on this bunch.  That he would give them air and hope and support, regardless of his personal conviction, is destructive.  Not merely of the Republican party, but as the last 5 years have shown – of the nation.  That alone disqualifies him in my book.

    Huckabee is not going anywhere – but how much damage will he wreak in the meantime?

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    Religion’s Failure

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:24 am, December 10th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    So, I was reading a piece in the Economist about how Americans trust in institutions and government has waxed and waned over the centuries.  The article points out that the current wane is different than previous, exacerbated by the deep political divides in the nation:

    Trust in institutions has risen and fallen over that same post-war period in line with external events, plunging after the Watergate scandal, for instance, and during recessions. Yet something new seems to be happening. Anti-government cynicism is feeding on gulfs in society.

    This is a fair enough observation.  The author then goes on to point at right wing cynicism over left wing motives as part of the problem.  Of course the left has been painting the right as “getting rich on the backs of the poor” for decades now.

    Obama may decry political polarization, yet his administration is the most divisive in memory.

    Some of this phenomena is due to the “media culture.”  There as been a recent spate of articles pointing out that life just does not follow the neat narrative of the “hero’s journey,” yet the media, and some of our politicians want to view the world that way.

    The changing of education is, of course, part of the problem.  Democracy is based on an educated public, hence public education has been part of the nation almost since its inception.

    But I think religion has failed in its role as well.  Evangelicalism is in decline.  This is, I think in part because there is “no there, there.”  At First Things, Carl Trueman writes:

    That the language of love has become utterly sentimentalized in our society is a commonplace.   Once it was a hardheaded, self-sacrificial, outward looking concept which looked to the well-being and needs of others.  Now it often means little more than that which makes me feel good or brings personal satisfaction.

    He discusses marriage in this post, but substitute “Christian faith” for the word “love” (they are part-and-parcel of one another) and those sentences will still ring quite true.  I wrote last Friday about how Evangelical thinking does not involve much thinking.

    Of course political gaps are growing because people no longer even know why they want something – they simply want and are willing to do battle over it.  Things becomes dogmatic instead of reasoned.

    As this blog began, one of the reasons I was willing to accept Mormonism into the fold of Christian faith was because I met far too many reasonable Mormons.  A cult is marked by the lack of reason – not necessarily in theological statement, but in the lives of adherents.  Leftism long ago took on cultic aspects.  We on the right won because largely as believers of some sort, we had reason on our side.  But our faith seems to be failing us, because many of us are simply as dogmatic in on our side as the left is on theirs.

    This has happened in churches because those of us on the right have retreated.  When the left assaulted the mainline denominations, institutions that have the infrastructure to support genuine debate, we retreated into our Evangelical congregations which lack any sort of serious infrastructure at all.  We bought into the “live and let live” idea and did not go to battle for our faith and its reason.  Or we fought but a single battle, lost, and then retreated.

    And now we stand on the brink.  We can still win, but not if we retreat again.  The battle must be joined or the war is lost.  As soldiers in that war we start by getting trained.  We need to start reading and build the reasoned underpinnings of our faith in our own lives.  We need to demand that our children and those around us not simply desire, but can argue for their desires.  We need to not be so self-centered that we cannot compromise.  We may need to lose a few more battles so we can win the war.

    These are perilous times.  They are not for the timid and they not for the weak.  Humble boldness and meek strength are the orders of the day.  Those things can only come from diving into our faith with a seriousness that we have not shown in recent decades.  It is time to be serious.

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