With all the hub-bub about how gay marriage is a direct attack on the sanctity of marriage, I can’t help noticed that God’s 10 commandments seemed to focus on something a little more obvious when He is trying to protect a marriage’s sacredness: Adultery. Esquire magazine interviews Newt Gingrich’s second wife on the topic:
“There’s somebody else, isn’t there?” She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?
She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. “‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.'”
He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused. He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values. The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”
The film documentary Jesus Camp spends a week with a summer camp of Pentecostal kids. There, they get a version of Christianity that is wrapped in the American flag and double-dipped in a gooey adoration of policies of George W. Bush. This is a video of a group of kids from a large, conservative Dallas church. These kids put on a camp that reflects a different sort of Christianity. It is one where the cross is picked up, not pinned on. It is one where “values” aren’t simply slapped on T-shirts. They are lived out. Can I get an “Amen”?
The first Great Awakening featured the Calvinistic preaching of men like George Whitefield. The result was a burgeoning young country falling to its knees to confess personal and corporate transgressions and embrace the crucified Christ. The second Great Awakening was of a different sort. It featured the man-centered, manipulative techniques of men like Charles Finney. The result were short-lived conversions, burned-overed districts and shallow, religious emotions. Now Republican congressman Mike Pence predicts a third Awakening. Apparently it will feature Bible-pounding Glenn Beck bigotry, a growing fear of goverment and a tea-party-caffinated resentment of taxation (it is, after all, the root of socialism). All which has this third Great Awakening shaping up in manner that would make Whitefield spin in his grave. A true, biblical Awakening will recognize that the evil in the world isn’t in rooted Hollywood or D.C., but in our own wicked hearts.
Money cannot do it. Machetes cannot do it. UN peacekeepers cannot do it. Africa’s problems are God-size. At least, that is the opinion of Matthew Paris, who, very inconveniently, happens to be an atheist:
Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
Pastor Ed Young recently challenged his Baptist congregation to have more sex. Okay, not exactly the sort of sermon you might expect from an Evangelical preacher. But probably not a sermon you’d sleep through, either. Tucker Carlson pontificates:
The most comprehensive study of American sexual behavior ever undertaken (published by the University of Chicago and marketed under the notably non-arousing title The Social Organization of Sexuality) found that, in fact, “having a religious affiliation was associated with higher rates of orgasm for women.” The devout are actually having better sex than the rest of us.
So maybe it’s worth listening to the megachurch pastor. Ed Young says compulsory, scheduled sex will improve your marriage. Doesn’t sound very romantic. But is it true? Try the following thought experiment:
Let’s say your marriage was falling apart. Alienated, angry, frustrated with couples therapy, you decide to divorce. But before you do, you agree to try one last thing: Every day for a month, you’ll have sex. You don’t particularly want to, but you will, and you’ll be disciplined about it: half an hour minimum, naked, both striving for orgasm.
Let’s say you actually did that. Do you think by the end of the month you’d go through with the divorce? Maybe you would. Likely you wouldn’t.
Peggy Noonan reminds a divided electorate that God––not the Religious Right or the Liberal Wrong––is in charge of history. She then thanks the Almighty for that which we are about to receive:
The case for Barack Obama, in broad strokes:
He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.
A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, he did not respond with a politically shrewd “I have no comment,” or “We shouldn’t judge.” Instead he said, “My mother had me when she was 18,” which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn’t have to.
There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton’s 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen “Obama Wins” and “Alabama.” She said, “Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school.” She said, “That’s where they used the hoses.” Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.
This means nothing? This means a great deal.
Apparently, the Christian Right are more worked up about Barack than they were about fictitious warlocks. A recent mailing of scare tactics from Brother Dobson are as fantastic, dark and demon-filled as anything conjured up by J.K. Rowling:
Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts.
All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America,” produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.
I prefer to stick with the warm assurances of Holy Writ: “If God be for us, who can be against us? ” and “Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world.” Dr. Dobson, get a life.
While the Liberal blogs are busy mocking Sarah Palin’s “wacky” faith, this tidbit is worth noting. A recent Gallup poll suggests that people who attend church regularly tend be less superstitious and gullible than the rest of the general population. Well, thank my lucky stars for that!
Peggy Noonan has it right. The Liberal bloggers have shot their candidate in both feet. Yet he can still limp to the finish line. But the bloggers and pundits have to take it easy with Sarah. Even Michael Moore understood that. She is the heartland. She loves God and guns, and although we don’t get that, America does. When she prays that the Iraq War be God’s will, it doesn’t mean that she is trying to make it so. She is saying “God, don’t let us get this wrong.” Regular Americans get this, the media doesn’t. Bottomline: Cut Xena a break and maybe she won’t field dress us like a moose.
I think most liberals will mourn the death of Larry Harmon (AKA Bozo the Clown) before they’ll mourn the passing of arch-conservative Jesse Helms. And I am sure that most liberals will dismiss them both as a couple of total clowns. However, despite a voting record that was strongly anti-communist, anti-abortion and anti-gay, it was Jesse Helms who pushed the Bush administration to increase its commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa. You see, Jesse and U2’s Bono were tight. Like brothers or something. Which is all very weird if you are a committed secularist, but not odd at all if you are a committed Christian. In fact, if more Christian politicians (and rock stars) would put their faith into practice, a true pro-life policy wouldn’t stop just outside the womb. All life would be seen as precious. And morality would look more like mercy. Less like judgmentalism. The Religious Right would look more like Bono and less like Bozo. I think this what some folks meant by the term “compassionate conservativism.” But, of course, 9-11 changed all that. Maybe it’s time to change it back.
Political pandering or a consistent personal faith? You be the judge. Either way, Obama has decided to expand the faith-based policies of George W. Bush. What can we expect? A confused electorate. Some liberal-leaning critics of Dubya’s befuddled melding of Church and State will attack Obama’s program as wrongheaded. Some evangelical proponents of faith-based funding will give Obama a second look. Maybe he’s one of us. And, I am sure, that the dyed-in-the-wool GOP-infatuated Religious Right will begin an e-mail campaign insinuating this is all part of a vast jihad by which our tax dollars will be laundered through phony Muslim charities to fund terrorism. I mean, his middle name IS Hussein. But the biggest thing that will face Obama with his faith-at-work policies is the sticky issue of discriminating against volunteers, employees and recepients on the basis of their religious beliefs and sexual orientation. Then there is the bigger issue of proselytizing that goes hand-in-hand with most faith-based organizations and their ministries. After all, if Jesus can fill your empty belly, wouldn’t you like to kneel now and have Him fill your empty heart? Not exactly ecumenical, if you get my drift. So good luck with this one, Barrack. You’re gonna need it.
Okay, presidential wannabes, listen up. If you don’t want any embarrassment, flack or nagging repudiations, please avoid the endorsement, spiritual mentoring or wedding officiating by an ordained minister of the gospel. These dudes will just get you in trouble. Take this Hagee fellow. You see, he actually believes that God is some sort of Omnipotent Being who orchestrates the destinies of nations. You know, sort of like all those old testament prophets did. Yeah, that kind of belief system is just going to get your political aspirations in major trouble. Because the vast American public are, at best, deists for whom God is too busy with cosmic thumb-twiddling to notice when a madman like Hilter exterminates His chosen people. Or take this blustery Rev. Wright. He believes in a superintending Deity who punishes evil and smites nations for their wicked deeds. Something like 9-11 comes along and he jumps to the conclusion that maybe God was not asleep at the switch. Maybe He was trying to send us a wake-up call. Again, too much time reading the Bible and not the New York Times. Stick with Psalm 23. Chuck the rest. There are plenty of sunny, feel-good verses to wrench out of context (just ask Joel Osteen). So, politicians, remember preachers are trouble. Stay clear of them. And never under any circumstances accept their endorsement (unless the last name is Huckabee). I hope that helps. And God bless America. (Not that He could find it on a map.)
St. Augustine didn’t have all that many bullets in his gun when he wrote The City Of God. Everyone was pointing fingers at the Christians, blaming them for the fall of Rome. But one thing was clear to this African bishop: when the Visagoths sacked Rome, that blood-thristy army spared all those who took refuge in the Christian cathedrals. This, Augustine argued, was unprecedented in ancient warfare. This was evidence that even when the wrath of God is on display, His power is also shown in His goodness. Christianity wasn’t the enemy. But things in Kenya look bleaker. Hundreds have died over the past few days–– fifty of which were torched to death as they sought refuge in a Pentecostal church. This violent mob gave them no quarter and burnt the church––women and children included–– to the ground. It appears that in the aftermath of rigged elections, it is not so much the wrath of the Almighty we are witnessing, but the wrath of man. And here, it isn’t some invading horde that is sacking the cities, but the residents themselves. Like Pogo said, we have seen the enemy and it is us. For one thing remains true. As inscrutable as the City of God may seem, the city of man has always been the harder to figure.