Politics as Usual

The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the CountryThe Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country by Laton McCartney

This book is rare in that it is non-fiction history that reads better than many novels. It is a factual retelling of the Teapot Dome Scandal which took place during the 1920’s under the Warren Harding Administration. The author, Laton McCartney, is a gifted writer. He made the characters come to life in a way many authors can’t. The story epitomizes the human condition. Murder, bribery, graft, adultery, and courtroom drama make just some of the details of the book. Not that I approve of those things or enjoy reading about them, but I like history that doesn’t gloss over some sins and ignores others.

I will grant that the author is very liberal and I suspect he might have an icon of Franklin Roosevelt somewhere but that doesn’t take away from his abilities. It just means I doubt his talents would be used to write about the Obama, Johnson, or Roosevelt administrations.

I picked up a few lessons from this book.

1.) Politics is no worse now than it was before; it just receives more political coverage now than before.

2.) Total depravity isn’t going anywhere. Men with power sin in big ways, men with little power sin in smaller (that is to say, less expensive) ways.

3.) Giving the national government power over something doesn’t mean it will be better taken care of. It does mean that there will be more opportunities to abuse that power.

All in all, I would recommend this book to fans of history as well as to those who enjoy intrigue of all shapes and sizes. It’s worth your time.

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Never a wasted vote

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” – John Quincy Adams

Political implications of communion

When it comes to the problems of society, where are we to start?  There seems to be so much wrong that it is impossible to fix everything.  Thankfully God has revealed the place to start:  communion.  Peter Leithart had an excellent post at First Things on the political meaning of communion.  An excerpt:

“Lacking a rightly ordered Supper, modern Christians wrap nationalism in a veil of sanctity, with sometimes-horrific results. In the U.S., Christians are frequently urged to give political support to this or that variation of Americanism. There is no genuinely Christian alternative because the church has no defined public shape with the resilience to withstand the political forces that press in on us.”

His conclusion is equally forthright:

“All the cultural and political challenges that Evangelicals face come back to the Supper. It’s important to do it right, but it’s more important to do it and to do it together. Until we do, most of our cultural chatter will continue to glance harmlessly off our targets. Until we do, Evangelicals will flop and flounder with every cultural wind and wave.”

Definitely worth reading in its entirety.

A Critic of the State

One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis.  His faithful witness to the joy of Christ, his defense of Christianity, and his excellent display of truth in fiction  (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, and Pilgrim’s Regress) have shaped my thinking is more ways than I can count.

When I first encountered him several years ago, I appreciated his apparent lack of trust in the state, but it was inconsequential at the time.  Recently, though, I encountered this essay (thanks to The American Conservative) in which David J. Theroux accumulates Lewis’ thoughts on the state.  You should read it for yourself, but in the meantime, let’s just say that Lewis is not a typical British liberal.

Applying the Covenant

The Application of the Covenant – Deuteronomy 4:23-31, selected Scriptures

Again, I am appreciative of the research of Bishop Ray Sutton and Dr. Meridith Kline for their work.  I have used Bishop Sutton’s framework on the 5-point covenant model for the outline of these sermons, as noted in his book, That You May Prosper.

 In this passage, Moses is about to deliver the law a second time (hence the name, Deuteronomy).  He warns Israel to not forget the covenant He made with them.  What was it?  That He would be their God and they would be His people.  This means they must let go of idols and not accept that which would come before God.  Moses warns Israel that they would turn from God and be scattered, but through tribulation (what Jesus spoke of) in the latter days, they could return.

 Over the last months, we have looked at the five points of the covenant: transcendence (who is in charge), representation (who represents me to the transcendent one), ethics (what is required of the person), sanctions (what are the consequences for right or wrong) and continuity (how is it passed on).  Once you understand these points, you can see them everywhere. 

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How should we handle this?

Realizing that it has already received too much fanfare, I have a few thoughts on the health care bill.  Unless you live under a rock, you know the House, in its infinite ignorance wisdom, has passed it.  This is THE bill our President has staked his term on, for better (my tongue is in my cheek) or worse (that’s more like it).  All who call themselves conservative, libertarian, fundamentalist, rednecks, doctors, insurance workers, etc. hate this bill and have said so more than once.  But what should Christians learn from this? 

  1. It’s dangerous to trust a supposed pro-life Democrat.  When it comes to classifying skeletal structures , there are vertebrates, then invertebrates, bananas, and pro-life Democrats.  When the time came for standing behind their convictions, the blue dog pro-life league shut down and caved in to pressure.  Sure they say they have assurances that abortion will not be included, but they still flinched.  Martin Luther said, “Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”  Christian voters should carefully consider this before the next election. (more…)

Postmodernism I can live with

“But for Christians who want to be genuinely postmodern, there is only one possible project to support, and that is the re-establishment of Christendom. You want postmodern? I’ll give you postmodern. Let’s start by putting the Apostles Creed in the Constitution.”–Doug Wilson, in his March 7 blog posting.

Family values?

Politicians love to talk about “family values”  or “traditional morals” of some sort.  But these statements beg the question, “Who’s family gets to choose the values?” or “What tradition will you take the morals from?”  We all know the implicit answer: Christianity.  They are talking about the values in the Bible, things like the Ten Commandments, love your neighbor as yourself, etc.  But why beat around the bush?  Why say get back to “family values” when what you want is biblical values?  Because of the price attached.

If a politician were to say, “We need more biblical values in the U.S.” he would be become the newspaper’s dartboard.  And may he never say that our problems in the country (or state, city, etc.) are because we’ve disobeyed God’s commands.  Why?  Because telling the whole truth hits too close to home.  Many would rather hear about family values because there is no exact definition, except for the 1950’s “Leave it to Beaver” world, the time when (apparently) everybody acted morally because the were good people.  But there is no foundation to those morals.  No one does right because they are  good at heart; they do so either because they have been taught or it is culturally expected.

Now the culture is collapsing, along with the higher moral expectations associated with it.  When the younger generations hears about “family values” they hear us saying, “Weren’t the good old days so much better?”  Why would they want to go back to a time when there was no ipod, internet, or texting?  Until we stop trusting in “family values” and embrace God’s law, we don’t have an answer for them.