God Will Not Be Mocked; His Purpose Will Be Accomplished Among Us

I have no doubt God is accomplishing His purpose, but what role we play may surprise us

21 February 2016: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to several thousand supporters at a rally in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Washington Examiner was the first news source to report that Republican senator, Ben Sasse, said in a “campaign telephone town hall call that went to about 17,000 Nebraskans”, among other things, that President Donald Trump trash-talks evangelicals behind their backs”. After briefly citing some points of agreement with Trump, Sasse “began to unload” on the President.

Sasse identified a litany of issues he has with Trump – careening “from curb to curb” on COVID (first ignoring it, then going “into full economic shutdown mode”), selling out allies, “the way he treats women”, spending “like a drunken sailor” and flirting with white supremacists – but the issue I want to focus on is the charge that Trump “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors”.

Sasse commented, “I think the overwhelming reason that President Trump won in 2016 was simply because Hillary Clinton was literally the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling.” It’s true, and most evangelicals I know said they were voting “only” for Trump as “the lesser of two evils”. They couldn’t stomach another Clinton presidency, perpetuating that inbred political machine in Washington that is openly hostile to concerns of evangelicals.

So, where along the timeline did Donald Trump become our champion? When did he stop being an evil? (Albeit an ostensibly lesser one)

A little googling reveals (for those who’s memory is short) that “long before” Donald Trump ran for President of the United States, he was a Democrat. Donald was registered as a Democrat from 2001-2009. Have we forgotten the criticism leveled against The Donald by Jeb Bush? “He was a Democrat longer than he was a Republican. He’s given more money to Democrats than he has to Republicans.” (Including Hillary Clinton)

To be completely accurate, Donald Trump changed his party affiliation at least five times since 1987, when he registered as a Republican. He changed to Independent in 1999, to Democrat in 2001, to Republican in 2009, to Independent in 2011, to Republican again in 2012. (See Political positions of Donald Trump at Wikipedia) But should that give us comfort?

On the issue that has been historically most influential on the Evangelical vote, abortion, Donald Trump has been described as shifting “from pro-choice to pro-life only as he planned a presidential run”. Robb Ryerse, a pastor at Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville, AR, said earlier this year, “I personally believe that the President is cynically using pro-life voters for his own electoral purposes and doesn’t actually care about protecting innocent life at all.”

The LA Times was less skeptical in its description of Trump’s turnabout recently, calling him “a late convert” to the pro-life cause. Noting Trump’s position in 1999 (“pro-choice in every respect”), Trump told the March For Life crowd in Washington this year that “every life is worth protecting”.

The Times added: “Trump is counting on the support of his base of conservative activists to help bring him across the finish line.” While I don’t share the Times’ anti-pro-life stance, that’s what concerns me – that Trump is saying simply what a large block of his constituents want to hear. (To be fair, my skepticism runs deep with all politicians, especially in campaign mode.)

After all, moderates aren’t tolerated by voters anymore. Both political parties have “taken harder-line positions for and against abortion rights”. Trump had to choose sides. As former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, said recently, “There used to be a middle”, but now candidates must choose sides in an increasingly polarizing political environment.

Digging deeper, Trump’s political views have shifted from moderate populist (2003) to liberal-leaning populist to moderate populist (2003-2011) to moderate populist conservative (2011-12), to Libertarian leaning conservative (2012-15) to “hard-core conservative” just before the 2016 election. Interestingly, he back-stepped to Libertarian-leaning conservative, then moderate conservative after the election, but he may now (again) be described as “hard-core conservative” now that he campaigns for re-election. (See Political positions of Donald Trump ibid.)

I can’t help noticing that his hard-core conservativism seems to be timed with election campaigning, and that’s the thing that troubles me about him. So, I began wondering today: what are his long-standing convictions? From my reading, I would say populism, authoritarianism, and nationalism. Let’s take a closer look at those threads of Donald Trump’s political life.

Continue reading “God Will Not Be Mocked; His Purpose Will Be Accomplished Among Us”

Abraham, Isaac and Paradigm Shift

The story of Abraham and Isaac establishes a significant and remarkable shift in worldview for the time.

 (c) Can Stock Photo

(c) Can Stock Photo

We live in a specific cultural and historical time and view things through cultural, historical and other contexts that are familiar to us. Things in the Bible often do not make sense to us immediately because the filter through we see things with modern eyes distorts the context in which the stories in the Bible were told. Whether one believes the Bible is God’s word, no one can understand it without understanding the context.

The story of Abraham and Isaac is hard to understand in modern context. Why would anyone think to sacrifice a child? It’s barbaric, and a God who would ask such a thing must be barbaric too! So, the thinking goes.

Before going further, I think we need to stop and consider a couple of things. First, Abraham clearly was doing what he thought God was asking of him. He was willing to do it, even it would hurt him terribly. This was his only son.

In fact, Isaac was a miracle. Abraham and Sarah thought they were past child-bearing age, but God had promised them a child. Now, God seemed to be urging him to take that child’s life. It could not have made sense to Abraham. It went against what God had promised.

Yet, Abraham was convinced that he must do it, or at least follow through with this urging from God to wherever it leads.

It is hard to understand that kind of commitment to God in our modern world. Continue reading “Abraham, Isaac and Paradigm Shift”

Valuable Consideration

canstockphoto19699306


The Planned Parenthood videos have exposed the soft underbelly of the abortion industry. Some would say it is much ado about nothing, but methinks they doth protest too much.

The defenders and supporters have focused on the “lie” that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of aborted fetal organs (“baby parts”). They do not call them human remains, though that is what they are. So much of the battle ground in this debate is over words, as if a rose by any other name is not a rose.

The defenders would like shift the focus on words and whether there was “profit” and “reasonable consideration”, never mind what we saw. A perfect example is found in the popular factcheck.org article, Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video. The article goes to length to explain that Planned Parenthood does not “profit” for the sale of the fetal body parts. In the process, it directs our attention to the cold words in in the federal statutes:

The video itself highlights a portion of title 42 of the U.S. code, which reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation if the transfer affects interstate commerce.” The law does include fetal tissue in its definitions. It says that the term “valuable consideration” doesn’t include “reasonable payments” for removal, transportation, preservation and other associated costs.

The statute referenced provides as follows:

(2) The term “valuable consideration” does not include the reasonable payments associated with the removal, transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, and storage of a human organ or the expenses of travel, housing, and lost wages incurred by the donor of a human organ in connection with the donation of the organ.

While the Pro-Life activists and politicians who are opposed to abortion have tried to claim that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from the sale of “baby parts”, and Planned Parenthood and their defenders have claimed those accusations are “lies”, the discussion entirely misses the point. I will come back that, but let us look at the profit issue.

“Valuable consideration” in general legal parlance means, simply, something of value, anything of value really. It means quid pro quo, an exchange of something for something, without quantifying the two somethings. In other words, “valuable consideration” does not depend on whether the exchange is proportionate or fair; it only matters that something of value is given and gotten.

The federal law that addresses the sale of human tissue, however, uses “valuable consideration” in a more unique and specific way. The definition excludes “reasonable payments” (essentially covering costs). We could argue whether the $30-$100 Planned Parenthood gets for the fetal organs it sells is reasonable or covers costs, but that would be an exercise in missing the forest for the trees.

Technically, Planned Parenthood does not make any profit, regardless of the consideration received for its services and sales. Planned Parenthood is organized as a nonprofit corporation. It does not have profits and never will. All of the funds it raises go back into the organization (including payment of the salaries of its employees and officers). There are no “profits” for a nonprofit corporation.

The shocking aspect of the Planned Parenthood videos is not the consideration they obtain for the brains, livers and other organs and parties of babies that are aborted in their clinics, but the callous, cold, clinical, even joking way they talk of dismembering, crushing and cutting into babies to “harvest” their parts.

We should not be distracted by mere verbiage. Watch the videos. Listen to the way the Planned Parenthood executives talk about what they are doing. If we are not alarmed at how callously and coldly they chit chat about what they are doing, we should also be alarmed at how much our consciences have been seared by ignoring and trivializing the killing of human life.

The Rabbit that Won’t Disappear

People hear what they want to hear, but the facts are the facts.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / fouroaks
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / fouroaks

From early on after the release of the “Planned Parenthood videos” we have heard Planned Parenthood representatives and others claiming that the videos were edited, as if the fact that they were edited somehow converts the fact of what is shown on the videos to fiction. Nice try. All videos are edited.

But, the backlash from Planned Parenthood has continued and evolved into claims that the videos are “heavily edited”; and not just edited, Planned Parenthood told Congress they were “deceptively edited“; and not just deceptively edited, the NY Times reported they were “altered“; and not just altered but fake. Even White House Says Planned Parenthood Videos Are Fake, Cites Planned Parenthood.

So, is that the end of the story? Are people not even wondering what was not shown? Continue reading “The Rabbit that Won’t Disappear”

Editing the Right and Wrong

canstockphoto24976909


This headline reads, Fiorina Was right. The article, then, goes into details regarding how Carly Fiorina, the rising GOP star, was right about the Planned Parenthood videos. The sanguine point is not that Carly Fiorina is right about those videos, but that so many people can be so wrong.

Yes, I said it, wrong! I know it is not poplar to believe in right and wrong, but morality never won a popularity contest. Morality often goes against the popular culture.

I heard some pundit say that the Planned Parenthood videos are “heavily edited” and that Planned Parenthood does none of the things they are accused of doing in those videos. Seriously?

Continue reading “Editing the Right and Wrong”