2018 Blog Results

Yearly Views and Visitors

I almost killed this blog in 2016 by focusing too strongly on Biblical exposition.  While this domain will always be important, I understand that my readers’ interests are not always aligned with mine.

In 2017 I broadened the blogs scope and was rewarded with significant growth in both visitors (dark bar) and views (light bar).  However, although the number of visitors exceeded that of 2015, the number of views fell significantly short.

This year the blog finally exceeded 2015 in both visitors and views.  This result is likely due to the continued expansion in scope.  This is still a small blog in a vast internet world.  However, I trust that for those who have visited it provides a unique and informative perspective on topics that are rarely covered elsewhere.

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Most Popular Blog Posts

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 12.23.23 PMThe most read posts for 2018 are shown to the left.  Many of these posts are from years prior to 2018.  It’s interesting that the top two both deal with specific information about the PCUSA’s decline (in membership and theological orthodoxy).

I’m thankful that numerous posts of Biblical exposition have made it onto this list.  I will publish an eBook in early 2019 on God’s Acts of Providence.  The fact that four posts from this topic made the list is greatly encouraging.

The post on immigration policy is as close as I usually come to commentary on current issues.  I’m also glad that one of my posts on satire made the list.  “Jesus Christ Avatar” remained popular.

Finally, my series on “The Death of Beauty” caused me some confusion.  Numerous individuals who run sites on fashion and cosmetics “liked” and started to “follow” the blog.  Since the topic was beauty in writing this perplexed me.  Finally, an acquaintance explained that there are automated programs that search the web on key words and then connect with sites that meet some set of criteria.  So, either this occurred or people focused on physical beauty are also lovers of beautiful theological writing.

Visitors by Country

One of the great pleasures of this work is the ability to communicate internationally.  While over 90% of visitors are from the United States, a significant minority are spread over the globe.  As the below figure shows I have had visitors from all six inhabited continents.

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Wishing You a Blessed Christmas!

God-with-usFor to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

(Isaiah 9:6,7)

Come Though Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Beautifully performed by Fernando Ortega.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

May your Christmas Season be filled with peace, joy and faith that our Savior is here with us!

Looking Back on 2018 and a Preview of Early 2019

Past-Future

Looking Back on 2018

As 2018 winds down so too will my blogging output.  This year I have focused on a fair number of topics, including:

Clearly 2018 was a year in which I strayed further from the core theological and denominational topics that dominated previous years.

A Preview of Early 2019

In a recent discussion with a friend he pointed out that religion, politics and economics are inextricably linked together.  While I definitely agree with this point, I also have grave concerns given the experience of Postmodern Christianity, Progressive politics and Socialist economics in the PCUSA.  Some readers may assume that I seek a combination of orthodox Reformed Christianity, Conservative politics and Capitalist economics as the preferred alternative.

Not so, for Christianity does not exist as an adjunct to any political or economic ideology. Nor is Christianity the justification for human sourced ideologies.  No, Christianity is about the saving of our sinful souls by he Triune God.  That eternal purpose transcends all human thought or action.  However, it also informs human thought and action in this fallen world.

I have come to believe that Western Christianity has failed in its attempt to mix the sacred and profane into a new theology that is better suited to the modern (or postmodern) world.  Perhaps this will be a fruitful area of discussion in the new year.

I’m also concerned that our civic discussion has veered way too far in the direction of emotion and intentions at the expense of logic and data.  I’m also thinking about this issue as we move into the new year.

Of course there is no way to predict what events or ideas will bubble to the surface in 2019 that will drive the direction of this blog.  These are dangerous, fraught times through which we are passing. We must keep our eyes fixed on Christ and our trust in God’s providential care if we hope to pass through with our faith intact.

It’s my prayer that this blog will in some small way bring blessing and hope to a dark world by proclaiming that Christ is Lord while seeking to understand how this eternal salvation translates into our brief lives here.

Renewing Our Culture’s Christian Foundation

370-lec28-1536x865I’ll begin by pointing out that Andrew Sullivan and I have little in common with regard to political orientation or life choices. In fact, I’d wager that he and I disagree fundamentally on a high percentage of current political and cultural issues. Thus, what follows is by no means an endorsement of all that he has written or believes.

However, the above can’t change the fact that he has written what I consider to be a profound meditation on our current societal state.  I hope you can find time to read the whole thing.

It’s not clear if Mr. Sullivan is writing as a Christian (one biographic source says that he is a practicing Catholic) or as someone who has come to appreciate the civilizing influence that Christianity has provided to Western Civilization. But when he writes that (emphasis added):

Liberalism is a set of procedures, with an empty center, not a manifestation of truth, let alone a reconciliation to mortality. But, critically, it has long been complemented and supported in America by a religion distinctly separate from politics, a tamed Christianity that rests, in Jesus’ formulation, on a distinction between God and Caesar. And this separation is vital for liberalism, because if your ultimate meaning is derived from religion, you have less need of deriving it from politics or ideology or trusting entirely in a single, secular leader. It’s only when your meaning has been secured that you can allow politics to be merely procedural.

he has delivered great wisdom.

By “tamed Christianity” Mr. Sullivan does not appear to be referring to a faith emptied of actual belief in Christ, but rather to the fact that Christianity “tames” us in ways that allow a humane civilization to emerge. Here is how he explains this idea in the paragraph immediately following that previously quoted (emphasis added).

So what happens when this religious rampart of the entire system is removed? I think what happens is illiberal politics. The need for meaning hasn’t gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction. And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults. These political manifestations of religion are new and crude, as all new cults have to be. They haven’t been experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought. They are evolving in real time. And like almost all new cultish impulses, they demand a total and immediate commitment to save the world.

Now, Mr. Sullivan appears to leave open the possibility that these new cults, were they “experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought,” might someday provide the civilizational ballast historically exerted by Christianity. If so, here he and I would part company. For, I believe that Christianity has had this humane impact because God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — has willed it from eternity.

Mr. Sullivan goes on to describe (and decry) the political cults (both of the Left and Right) that dominate current politics in the United States. In the end he asks the question that has been central to much of my work. What I have attempted to explain is far more clearly and compellingly stated by this man with whom I appear to have so little in common.

It is Christianity that came to champion the individual conscience against the collective, which paved the way for individual rights. It is in Christianity that the seeds of Western religious toleration were first sown. Christianity is the only monotheism that seeks no sway over Caesar, that is content with the ultimate truth over the immediate satisfaction of power. It was Christianity that gave us successive social movements, which enabled more people to be included in the liberal project, thus renewing it. It was on these foundations that liberalism was built, and it is by these foundations it has endured. The question we face in contemporary times is whether a political system built upon such a religion can endure when belief in that religion has become a shadow of its future self.

Perhaps the way forward for the Church is to be that beacon of Christian faith, hope and love that shines the brightest when all else has fallen into terrible darkness. However, regardless of if we find ourselves in the Mainline Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox or Nondenominational branches we must seriously consider if our Christian testimony has been so corrupted by the poison of secular cults that it has been fundamentally compromised. My thought is that something akin to a new Reformation will be required for the Church to rise to this challenge. But, not my will be done, rather His.

Making Sense of Progressive Nonsense (4)

Sept-12-Laura-language-istockWhat are They Thinking?

How would you respond if someone walked up to you at a social event and said “All black people think and vote alike, and all women think and vote alike.“?  There are tens of millions of Americans who would be shocked and appalled by this statement.  But there are also millions who would consider it to be a “matter of fact” utterance, and tens of millions of others who are willing to accept this idea.  And, both of these groups consider the other to be sexist and racist.

Since this blog is focused on explaining what I consider to be Progressive nonsense I’ll leave it to others to argue the opposite point.  But make no mistake, I consider the Progressive ideology on race and gender to be destructive, dangerous nonsense.  But it is nonsense that is tearing our nation apart.

If we are going to make sense of this nonsense the best starting point is the Progressive concept of Identity.  To Progressive elites and those who follow them identity is a wholly self-generated attribute that is so fluid that it can change radically over days or even hours.  Thus identity has been utterly disconnected from anything outside an individual person, for example, God.

Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal

Extreme examples of this fluid self-identification chaos are easily found.  Recently a male (if you will allow me to presume wildly) physical education teacher was disciplined by his school district for refusing to oversee the disrobing of a female student who identifies as male.  We also have numerous examples of male athletes who identify as female winning championships in female athletics.  On race we have the example of Rachel Dolezal, who though white choses to identify as black (but not as African-American).

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Facebook Gender Options

Facebook provides between 50 and 70 “gender options” (depending on who’s counting when and where).  Finally, although outside the domain of race and gender, a man in the Netherlands was suing to have his age reduced by twenty years because he identifies as a younger person.  There simply seems to be no boundary left that cannot be broken by the concept of human identification.

Who-am-IWhile this identity ideology appears to provide virtually unlimited choice, it also creates massive opportunity for confusion.  A recent article points out that many humans are literally collapsing under the responsibility of being the sole architect of their identity.

But it is the flip side of this ideology that frees Progressives to behave in ways that previously would have been generally agreed to be racist and misogynistic.  For, if identity can be selected then it can also be denied.  That is what happens to blacks and women who step outside the Progressive established boundaries for their race and gender.  That is, a black person and/or woman who choses non-Progressive positions is not accepted as  black and/or a woman.

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Progressive shock troops.

Therefore, the Progressive mob is freed to treat then not as blacks and/or women but rather as enemies of their race and/or gender who, if deemed necessary, can be destroyed with impunity.  Note that this explains how it is that a lily-white Progressive mob can accuse Candace Owens, a Conservative black woman, of “white supremacy.”

Linda_Sarsour

Linda Sarsour: Progressive Hero

This also explains how  Linda Sarsour could tweet

“Brigitte Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s asking 4 an a$$ whippin’. I wish I could take their vaginas away- they don’t deserve to be women.”

Note that Sarsour is explicitly applying the above described identity ideology that women who disagree with Progressivism need not be considered to be real women.  Rather, they are enemies of their gender who deserve to be mutilated in the most vile way imaginable.

But it’s actually more fundamental than identity politics.  That is, the intellectual foundation for this position is the racist and sexist premise that “All black people think and vote alike, and all women think and vote alike.” Of course, like most of the Progressive positions this assumption is obfuscated by complex philosophical formulations and impenetrable jargon.  If you seek a more practical explanation ask yourself why it is that Progressives always hear the racist or sexist “dog whistles” supposedly used by Conservatives?  I mean, if they can hear messages that the rest of us can’t in this regard then what does that make them?  Thus this appears to be far more an example of psychological projection than logical reasoning.

Partisan_doom.0

A nation dangerously divided, even on the definitions of sexism and racism.

This is simply a special case of the general Progressive position of dehumanizing any person who they consider to be in opposition to their goals, and particularly those who are a a threat.  To the radical elite Progressives we nonconformists are only one or two steps above a zombie.  They can therefore attack us by any means necessary without shame or human sympathy.  Of course most Progressives don’t go to this extreme.  However, neither do they generally speak out against their fellow Progressives who do.  And, that silence is in effect an endorsement of these vile tactics.

I am not here saying that racism and sexism doesn’t exist in Conservatism (and other non-Progressive ideologies).  They most certainly do.  However, I am saying that it is a major problem that the dominant governing ideology (as measured by institutional power) is built on these evils.  That is, racism and sexism are not deviations from, but rather direct consequences of  their ideology.

How do Progressives get away with this?  I’ve previously discussed the use of obfuscation to cloak the truth.  A second primary means is misdirection.  That is, because Progressives scream the loudest about opposition to racism and sexism (and, by the way, Fascism) most people assume that they must be free from these moral failures. The tragic fact t is that, behind this obfuscation and misdirection real racism and sexism has been allowed to grow into a terrible moral cancer within the Progressive movement.  Treatment cannot begin until we admit the truth.

 

 

Making Sense of Progressive Nonsense (3)

Thomas-Sowell-on-RacismRacists Against Racism!

Black men and women who dare to violate the prescribed ideological boundary for their race have been viciously attacked by Progressives for generations.  Thomas Sowell (a prolific and highly regarded conservative economist and columnist) and Clarence Thomas (a sitting Supreme Court Justice) are notable examples.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  Photo by MGN

Thomas summarized the experience of non-conforming black treatment by Progressives in his statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation process.

“It’s a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to the old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.”

US rapper Kanye West performs during the

Kanye West

But we need go back only a few months to find obvious and extreme examples of this mentality among Progressives.  Take the case of Kanye West.  Here we have a man who was loved by the Progressive Left for claiming in 2005 that President Bush “doesn’t care about black people.”  He sat atop our culture as the coolest, most hip performer who could get away with anything.

But the second he voiced support for President Trump for materially improving the economic situation of blacks (along with all other Americans) he was viciously mocked and dehumanized.  This instant transformation from worshiped pop-star to hated moron is well described in this article.

What a difference a year makes. It wasn’t long ago that Kanye West was the darling of Hollywood, the news media, liberal politicians and some of the more vocal members of the civil rights groups. Among the words to describe him back then were brilliant, dynamic, talented, musical genius, great humanitarian, successful entrepreneur and so many more. He was praised from every corner of the entertainment world and was often the much sought-after guest of honor at elite gatherings and many times headlined glitzy award shows. He was one of their biggest heroes. Of course, that was when his leftist fan club just assumed that he thought the same way as did they and held the same political opinions that are required to be a ‘good progressive’. But he doesn’t, and his former worshipers went into shock, when he began to express his personal views and, just like that, the love turned to the vilest hatred imaginable.

cnn_mocks_kanyeThis CNN panel discussion is typical of this vicious rhetoric deployed against a previously loved black performer who voiced support for President Trump.

“Kanye West is what happens when negroes don’t read,” said Bakari Sellers.

Candace Owens

Candace Owens

Or consider Candace Owens, a young, prominent conservative commentator.  She and  a colleague were assaulted by a Progressive Leftist mob while minding her own business at breakfast.

While this type of vicious mob action has become commonplace on the left, this incident stands out for what was said by the lily-white Progressive mob to this black woman and the black and Hispanic police officers who arrived on the scene.  Their chant to Owens was “F**k white supremacy.”  When the police showed up to defuse the situation they chanted “Cops and Klan, hand in hand.” They also spent time in a primal scream mode, which they apparently consider to be the equivalent to a compelling argument for their point of view.

Owens-Screaming-Mob

A Progressive mob member making a compelling argument to Candice Owens.

What are we to make of a mob composed of white people screaming at blacks and Hispanics that they are white supremacists?  This is clearly something beyond the typical racist denigration of any minority person who rejects the Progressive worldview.

In order to understand the source of this apparent Progressive hypocrisy on misogyny and racism we will have to again reenter the Alice in Wonderland world of current identity politics.