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69 Responses

  1. Dan from Georgia says:

    So regarding the Donald Trump Jr. article….quick read by the way.

    At least he’s the honest one, and at the same time declaring that they are not associated with the body Of Christ.

  2. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I’ve heard that “gospel” in different iterations a hundred times in the last few years from men I once respected for their godliness…

  3. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    I am not surprised by his comments. At first I was offended, but then like I said, at least he’s being honest with their intentions. I am also glad (!) he said it, because now some will have to make a more clear choice in their allegiances.

    One of the comments below the article stated what exactly is the Gospel and the Kingdom, and the Trump-fueled conservative movement is not a part of either. And yes way to many Pastors and other Christian leaders have bought into it. But we were warned back in the Bible not to be swayed back and forth by various teachings.

  4. victorious says:

    Roger Olson’s experience of sadness to the point of despair when it comes to Post Constantinian and Augustinian Christian ethics moved me even further to embrace and live and disciple others in the way of Jesus embedded in the Sermon on the Mount. No matter what temporal cost and pain I need to trade for it.

  5. Michael says:

    vic,

    That is a worthy and noble calling…

  6. Zachary Uram says:

    Trump’s gospel is me me me!!! He and his children are not believers!!

  7. The New Victor says:

    Deserving and undeserving poor is a harsh read. I’m reminded of what Michael said in another thread about Trey insisting upon giving to beggars…

    There was recently a thread on my local Nextdoor about a likely Roma mother who begs with a baby. One woman offered food but the mother tossed it and asked for money. Others saw her being dropped off or picked up by men in a luxury SUV. I’ve seen this woman.

    There’s also a family who makes rounds in the Bay Area with the “funeral donation” scam.

    It took me decades to realize this, but a family my mom hung out with lived on the kids’ state aid, the mother and her boyfriend. I started doing under the table cash physical labor when I was 14 (I don’t count raking leaves for quarters when I was 10). Either one could have worked in the underground economy.

    I helped my mom from time to time, many thousands of dollars, though I realized later that I was enabling her from natural consequences. Her neighbor later told me, though tears, how she employed my mom to pull her weeds, and left food for her and her menagerie. Yet when she took my mom to Walmart to get food, my mom spent $100 on yard statuary. The neighbor didn’t understand it. I did, the child of a hoarder. Yet the neighbor showed kindness and love. I tried to explain it, but she didn’t get it.

    So this is the harsh part: give with no expectations or judgement. The loophole is possibly that one can choose? Give here rather than there?

  8. Em says:

    TNV, your mother sounds like mine. However, mine would have been looking for expensive clothes…..

  9. Captain Kevin says:

    I pray that more believers will have discernment concerning Trump Jr’s gospel.

    He is correct that the teachings of Jesus have “gotten us nothing,” as far as politics is concerned. Then again, they were not intended to.

  10. Em says:

    Trump Jr. has no real understanding of what a Christian life is….. ” has gotten us nothing?”
    Yes, it hasn’t gotten us anything temporal. His focus is political and his goal is, obviously, to get power….. Turning the other cheek goes right along with my kingdom is not of this world or my followers would fight.
    Wait till Jesus. returns to set up His kingdom. There’ll be a short battle. But a big victory for our Lord!
    Pray for the Trumps….

  11. bob1 says:

    Pray for the Trumps indeed.

    I guess we should thank Don, Jr. for his candor, and maybe it will convince some evangelical unfortunates that Trumpism and Christianity are like oil and water — they don’t mix.

    Unfortunately, the damage has been done, and it’s extensive. I think this is a case of too little, too late.

    A columnist for the Washington Post hit the nail squarely on the head with this headline and column:

    “Trump idolatry has undermined religious faith”

    An observation from Peter Wehner, speechwriter for three Presidents, with the Ethics and Policy Center:

    …the ethic of Jesus has gotten in the way of successfully prosecuting the culture wars against the left. If the ethic of Jesus encourages sensibilities that might cause people in politics to act a little less brutally, a bit more civilly, with a touch more grace? Then it needs to go. Decency is for suckers.”

    Rubin continues:

    “Understanding this phenomenon goes a long way toward explaining the MAGA crowd’s very unreligious cruelty toward immigrants, its selfish refusal to vaccinate to protect the most vulnerable and its veneration of a vulgar, misogynistic cult leader.

    If you wonder how so many “people of faith” can behave in such ways, understand that their “faith” has become hostile to traditional religious values such as kindness, empathy, self-restraint, grace, honesty and humility.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/28/trump-idolatry-has-undermined-religious-faith/

  12. Em says:

    So?
    Is praying for the Trump family wrong?
    Is praying for Joe Biden wrong?
    They ARE in positions of authority……
    For their souls AND for their respect for the Church? Wrong?
    Hmmmm
    God keeo

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    This is a good list of links. It struck me, however, that there is a disconnect. People are no longer listening to voices that they do not wish to hear. They seek out voices that say what they wish to hear, a classic case of confirmation bias on almost a global scale. This is a marked departure from the past. Listening, even to voices with which we disagree in whole or in part, is essential to conversation. It appears to me that conversation has ceased. Now we declaim and shout. Not sure what the answer is…

  14. Xenia says:

    Trump is no longer in a position of authority. Pray for his salvation, if you are so inclined.

    The scriptures tell us to pray for our leaders, so over here we mention the President, the governor, and the mayor in our prayers. We also pray for our church leaders. Other than meeting that modest requirement, the list of people we actually know- friends, neighbors, relatives, church folk, etc.- is long enough without adding people we don’t even know. So if God inspires you to pray for Trump and his family, and Biden’s family, too, go for it!

  15. Michael says:

    Duane,

    There are no answers.

    The goal of discourse now is to defeat another tribe, not understand an issue.

    One of the mistakes I’ve made in assessing the current culture was that I assumed that it would take a tragedy of national proportions to get us to come back to our senses.

    That tragedy hit us with the pandemic…and things got worse.

    At some point, things will devolve into regional and local civil wars and the probability of national collapse is in view.

    It will be “their” fault when it happens…

  16. Michael says:

    I am under no Christian obligation to pray for the Trumps.

    If I did pray for them, it would be the imprecatory Psalms.

    Xenia spoke well…

  17. Nathan Priddis says:

    Donal Jr, and a new type type of Christian.

    The Church was once 100% a Jewish sect. The Way. This included the Brethren going to the Temple and engaging in Temple practices. The Judean Church was reverting to The Law. Then the Judean Roman War erupted.

    Next, the Church morphed into a gentile identity, with emerging antisemitism.

    After a marriage of Church and Imperial Court, the Imperial Church emerged. This marriage was completely reliant on military power to survive. The Western Empire could no longer hold out against chronic attack.

    The Medieval Church in it’s various form from Africa, Western Asia and Europe, are virtually the representation of the Kingdom of God on Earth. It will continue till the end.

    The Protestant Church is created for the purpose of conflict. Prior to this point, conflict was mainly a chronic trait WITHIN the Church. Now the primary goal is elimination of opposing segments of the Body of Christ. The Protestant Church is inherently political. It will endure till the end.

    The revivals create a Church where the concept of personal salvation takes precedent. The individual determines the their salvation status, based upon their view of themselves. As an offshoot of Protestantism, it is political. It will endure till the end.

    The final manifestation of the Church is emerging in our lifetime. This is a frightening form. It is a mystery kept hidden, only to be revealed in full after the resurrection of the dead.

  18. Em says:

    Are the Protestant churches political? They never were…. But I am isolated up here in the mountains now
    Hmmmm
    And, yes, Xenia, I do pray as God leads me…. Right now the list is long up here also. Trump may not be in a position of authority now, but we still have folk who look to him for leadership. So? So yes I will pray for him as I pray against what I see as those who want to destroy our democratic Republic.
    But history does cycle, doesn’t it – fascinating study
    God keep

  19. Michael says:

    The only attempt to destroy our democratic republic was made on Jan 6 by Donald Trump…

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “The goal of discourse now is to defeat another tribe, not understand an issue.”

    I think you may be right. If so, it is the end of education and pedagogy as we once knew it. Articles and books seem to be read only with the intent of formulating attacks on what has been written. Learning, as such, is often not considered or entertained. STEM used to be the exception… until the pandemic. Now “follow the science” is said with a sneer…

  21. Em says:

    Michael @ 10:01
    I watched that demonstration live up here. So? So I must disagree with your 10:01 statement!
    However, is Donald likeable? Probably not by most folk here. I get that.
    God keep

  22. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Learning has been replaced by Google and a false sense of knowing…which is sustained by tribal media.

    It will take generations to repair the damage done to the name of science by the ongoing bungling of the pandemic by all involved…

  23. Michael says:

    Em,

    More evidence is coming in daily that the Trump camp was attempting a coup.

    That’s soon to be irrefutable if it isn’t already.

    He is loyal only to his own interests and I don’t understand why that isn’t obvious.

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    January 6

    Conspiracy to Commit Sedition

    “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

  25. Nathan Priddis says:

    Em. Highly political.
    Luther’s Thesen began as an internal church issue and resulted in the creation of the modern State, by the time of the Peace of Westphalia. The damage was catastrophic, and all sides were ready for a cease fire. A literal cease fire.

    Luther’s Thesen was originally called: Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum.

    Calvin’s Institutes was written as addressing political strife following the emergence of the French Huganots. It was also a type of open letter to Matthew 1 of France. The theology he introduced was the political divide of his time. It was not intended for internal church discussions, and private theological positions.

  26. Dread says:

    Trump causes y’all to forget which kingdom you belong to…

    I know the owners of the space, even blog-space, make the rules

    That’s how kingdoms work.

    I don’t mind it… I think the talk is necessary but when you don’t like how it sounds you do shut it down with high sounding pontificating and demeaning scorn.

  27. Michael says:

    “Calvin’s Institutes was written as addressing political strife following the emergence of the French Huganots.”

    No.

  28. Michael says:

    Dread,

    How about specific examples of that instead of a shot over my bow?

  29. A bit off topic, but maybe not. I listened to an episode of Mike Cosper’s “Cultivated” podcast the other day. He was interviewing Beth Moore on why she stood against Trump. I must say I agreed with her assessment. I like how she explained that at the core, her main issue wasn’t with Trump, but with the church embracing him whole-heartedly even though his indiscretions were numerous. Her bottom line was that she saw the church as acting in an idolatrous manner. After that I listened to her on a podcast with Ed Stetzer explanation for leaving the SBC. Once again, I had to give her kudos. I’ve never been a big Beth Moore fan, but I did appreciate hearing her thought processes.

  30. Michael says:

    PH,

    I love Beth Moore as a person, if not as a theologian.
    She is a good and courageous person…

  31. Michael says:

    Dread,

    I will cop to attempting high minded pontificating…I thought that was a good thing.

    I bow to no one in my scorn of Trump and his family and believe they deserve more than I can muster.

    No one has been shut down…including you.

    People get offended by pushback…but that used to be how ideas were worked out…

  32. Linn says:

    i missed the post last night after I processed that I may have been exposed to COVID at a breakfast with one friend yesterday, outdoors, masked up when we weren’t eating. She found out that she had been exposed at church Sunday, and was nice enough to let me know. So, if she tests positive today, my rapid test (which the school gave to everyone to take on Saturday) will come out early. But, I am sure we will all have such stories before the pandemic is over given so many are ill.

    But, as to the Trumps–I always knew they weren’t Christians and I despised Sr ever since i learned he didn’t rent to Blacks back in the 70s and the way he conducted himself on “The Apprentice.” I never understood why faithful Christians I’ve known for so many years swallowed his particular brand of KoolAid. I will confess to loathing Sr almost as much as I loathed Nixon back in the day. And Jr isn’t in good standing in my mind, either.

    BUT (and it’s the big one-my students always laugh when I say that), there are those verses that tell us to pray for our leaders. I don’t think the Roman emperors were particularly nice people, the Herods were collectively awful (except for the one mentioned in an NT epistle that seems to have converted), and Daniel got along with some pretty evil kings, even praying for their welfare. So, I do pray for those in power, that God would use them to provide some stability to the country and that I would learn to be respectful, even if I don’t like them.

    My two cents for the day. I’m lying low until I get a phone call that says my friend is in the clear. I’m actually more concerned about her with COVID as she just finished a round of final cancer treatment, and her immune system is not real good at the moment.

  33. Dan from Georgia says:

    Linn,

    Donald Trump Jr stated it so well as to why some believers are attracted to former President Trump…Biblical precepts aren’t good enough when you want worldly power.

    And hell yes Donald Trump has made me more aware of which Kingdom I belong to.

    He**..sure I may pray for the former President, but I may pray just as fervently that he no longer attains any more power and that his followers will become disillusioned.

  34. Yeah, I had to respect Beth’s sincerity, resolve and courage. I hope her venture into the Anglican world will positively shape her.

  35. Em says:

    A man unfaithful to his wife? That’s Trump.
    Three marriages? That’s Trump.
    A Presbyterian upbringing? That’s Trump.
    No leader in the Church would ever dare do such things, but…..
    Has Trump ever led a church? No.
    Has he confessed his sins? I don’t know, but if he glosses them over as “mistakes,” then no he isn’ti in or doesn’t understand The Faith.
    Do we have any politicians who meet the standards of the Church? Come soon, Lord Jesus! Come soon….

  36. Linn says:

    Em,
    Respectfully submitted, I was in a church for several years where the pastor turned out to be a serial adulterer, and was allowed to leave quietly and go on to serve in another church because the board didn’t want to deal with it. I am very circumspect with church leaders, too. I like to belong to a church where there is a strong elder board (deacon board, session, take your pick) that is not dominated by the pastor. in my current church, the elders have the ability to fire a pastor for “egregious sin”, and they have done it once in the 20 years i have been there. The details came out after the letter of resignation went out, but they did a good thing for the church. Any kind of institutional power can make some people think much more of themselves than they should.

  37. bob1 says:

    If we’re in agreement that we might choose to pray for a former President…

    How many folks on here prayed for Barack Obama after Trump became President? Or for GWB Jr. after Obama became Pres? It’s no different…

    And as far as Trump being a leader and he has followers…BFD. The same is true for other ex-Presidents. They were certainly leaders…and as a bonus, they weren’t trying to overthrow their/our own government!

  38. josh hamrick says:

    Conservative Christians told me my whole life that character matters.

    Those exact same people are still arguing in favor of Trump.

    No integrity. I gotta get out.

  39. Michael says:

    Let me be clear about something.
    I think our political system is broken, perhaps beyond repair.
    I do not think either party is anything but a wealth generator for the people that lead it.
    We have no leaders that have the good of the many at heart.

    The place that the church can serve the political is by being a subversive voice speaking the ethics and standards of God to power.

    When the church is in power, history shows we’re better off with heathens.

  40. Linn says:

    bob1-I have a habit of praying for whoever is in power, partly after living for 7 years in a country where you couldn’t trust (pretty much) anyone associated with the government. But, Scripture says to pray, and I did. Many times, God arranged what appeared to me to be impossible situations using people i personally wouldn’t have trusted, but they were the people there to help.

  41. Dread says:

    Rod Dreher… today

    “The faith continues to decline rapidly in the West, and I still believe the most reasonable hope for Christians, long term, is developing and embracing thick communal ways of life that can withstand both active persecution and the passive disintegration of our nihilist-hedonist age. This might not work — but what else is there? Look around you: there are many admirable Christians here and there, but Christianity as a movement is flaccid, demoralized, and in most places peripheral to the future of our civilization.”

    After the supreme court decision on marriage in 2015 I suggested Christian separatism would begin to thrive… he calls for it

    He goes on,

    “The truth is, our future is likely to be determined not by Christians, but by a clash between the anti-Christian woke, who have technology and institutional power on their side, and the militant post-Christian Right, who, like the Nazis, will have no interest at all in Christianity, except as something whose leaders and institutions can be exploited on the path to power.”

    This conflict is the real potential war in America race would be a proxy …

  42. bob1 says:

    Linn,

    I think that’s great counsel…abiding by Scripture’s command to pray for those in power…

  43. Em says:

    Michael makes a great observation @ 11:57am
    While I do not see Trump as a subversive, I still must agree that we ARE losing our democratic Republic to subversives from somewhere….
    Soros? Europeans? China? satan, himself? Sigh…….

    Question…. Can we, who are in the Church, pray for God to intervene? Or is history going according to Gods design? Dunno

  44. arthur says:

    Duane@7:11 am; you have not once ever listened to any voice here that you disagree with. Stones and glass houses…

  45. Duane Arnold says:

    Chantal Delsol was one of the first to recognize the danger of populism to historic Christianity. I often don’t agree with Dreher, but I agree with her…

  46. Duane Arnold says:

    Arthur

    Listening does not always call for agreement…It often calls for disagreement.

  47. Officerhoppy says:

    Donald Trump is why I left the Republican Party.

  48. Em says:

    Officerhoppy, the question is, is Trump REALLY a Republican? ? ?

  49. Dread says:

    37 mentions of Trump on this thread
    2 of Biden
    11 of Jesus
    41 of church

    It doesn’t mean much but I intrigued me so I checked

  50. Xenia says:

    Dread, you’re right- it doesn’t mean much.

  51. Michael says:

    Dread,

    It doesn’t mean much, but it may reflect the impact that Trump has had on the church in general.

    I would write Biden’s name 35 more times but he doesn’t seem to have any influence on anything.

    I am not a fan…as I’ve noted multiple times.

  52. Michael says:

    I should note the “American” church in general…

  53. Babylon's Dread says:

    As a very jaded believer thus probably qualifying as a cynic I would tell the author that cynicism has a serious correlation to actual deceit. Not the self deceit of the cynic though that is likely present… they cynicism that comes from lies, shaped narratives, exaggerations, and very intentional deception. We are the object of unceasing lies in the 21st century. Surely this is the vomit from the mouth of the dragon sent to drown the children of the woman in the imagery of the apocalypse No not that literal reference but its cognate.

    Cynicism is the honest outcome of hitting more barriers than a maximum security prisoner. We are deluged in flames of thousand fires of hell.

    Yes cynicism is my companion in 2021… childlikeness? Now that’s a stranger but I know how to partner with people who have it.

    I am also grumpy as a rattlesnake on busy street. No excuses but my second bout with Covid19 has me … it isn’t bad… but it isn’t good. And yes go get those shots. In public health authorities have lied to us more than a carnie hustler but the math is still in favor of those jabs.

  54. Michael says:

    Dread,

    I was worried that you had that again…prayers ascending for your recovery.

    I tend to agree with both the assessments in your last sentence…

  55. Officerhoppy says:

    Read this by rabbi Lord Jonathon Sachs. Thought it was a thought provoking approach to the issue of freewill:

    Freewill
    Vaera
    The question is ancient. If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, then it was God who made Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites go, not Pharaoh himself. How can this be just? How could it be right to punish Pharaoh and his people for a decision – a series of decisions – that were not made freely? Punishment presupposes guilt. Guilt presupposes responsibility. Responsibility presupposes freedom. We do not blame weights for falling, or the sun for shining. Natural forces are not choices made by reflecting on alternatives. Homo sapiens alone is free. Take away that freedom and you take away our humanity. How then can it say, as it does in our parsha (Ex. 7:3) that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
    All the commentators are exercised by this question. Maimonides and others note a striking feature of the narrative: For the first five plagues we read that Pharaoh himself hardened his heart. Only later, during the last five plagues, do we read about God doing so. The conclusion they draw therefore is that the last five plagues were therefore a punishment for the first five refusals, freely made by Pharaoh himself.
    A second approach, in precisely the opposite direction, is that during the last five plagues God intervened not to harden but to strengthen Pharaoh’s heart. He acted to ensure that Pharaoh kept his freedom and did not lose his resolve. Such was the impact of the plagues that in the normal course of events a national leader would have no choice but to give in to a superior force. As Pharaoh’s own advisers said before the eighth plague, “Do you not yet realise that Egypt is destroyed?” (Ex. 10:7) To give in at that point would have been action under duress, not a genuine change of heart. Such is the approach of Yosef Albo and Ovadiah Sforno.
    Freewill 1 Vaera

    A third approach calls into question the very meaning of the phrase, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” In a profound sense God, Author of history, is behind every event, every act, every gust of wind that blows, every drop of rain that falls. Normally however we do not attribute human action to God. We are what we are because that is how we have chosen to be, even if this was written long before in the Divine script for humankind. What do we attribute to an act of God? Something that is unusual, falling so far outside the norms of human behaviour that we find it hard to explain in any way other than to say, surely this happened for a purpose.
    God Himself says about Pharaoh’s obstinacy that it allowed Him to demonstrate to all humanity that even the greatest empire is powerless against the hand of Heaven (Ex. 7:5; 14:18). Pharaoh acted freely, but his last refusals were so strange that it was obvious to everyone that God had anticipated this. It was predictable, part of the script. God had actually disclosed this to Abraham centuries earlier when He told him in a fearful vision that his descendants would be strangers in a land not theirs (Gen. 15:13-14).
    These are all interesting and plausible interpretations. It seems to me, though, that the Torah is telling a deeper story, one that never loses its relevance. Philosophers and scientists have tended to think in terms of abstractions and universals. Some have concluded that we have freewill, others that we don’t. There is no conceptual space in between.
    In life, however, that is not the way freedom works at all. Consider addiction: The first few times someone gambles or drinks alcohol or takes drugs, they may do so freely, knowing the risks but ignoring them. Time goes on and their dependency increases until the craving is so intense that they are almost powerless to resist it. At a certain point they may have to go into rehabilitation. They no longer have the ability to stop without external support. As the Talmud says, “A prisoner cannot release himself from prison.” (Brachot 5b)
    Addiction is a physical phenomenon, but there are moral equivalents. For example, suppose on one significant occasion you tell a lie. People now believe something about you that is not true. As they question you about it, or it comes up in conversation, you find yourself having to tell more lies to support the first. “Oh what a tangled web we
    weave,” Sir Walter Scott famously said, “when first we practise to
    deceive.”
    That is as far as individuals are concerned. When it comes
    to organisations, the risk is even greater. Let us say that a senior
    member of staff has made a costly mistake that, if exposed, threatens the entire future of the company. They will make an attempt to cover it up. To do so they must enlist the help of others, who become co-conspirators. As the circle of deception widens, it becomes part of the corporate culture, making it ever more difficult for honest people within the organisation to resist or protest. It then needs the rare courage of a whistle-blower to expose and halt the deception. There have been many such stories in recent years.
    Freewill 2 Vaera
    “We lose our freedom gradually, often without
    noticing it.”

    Within nations, especially non-democratic ones, the risk is higher still. In commercial enterprises, losses can be quantified. Someone somewhere knows how much has been lost, how many debts have been concealed and where. In politics, there may be no such objective test. It is easy to claim that a policy is working and explain away apparent counter-indicators. A narrative emerges and becomes the received wisdom. Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, is the classic parable of this phenomenon. A child sees the truth and in innocence blurts it out, breaking the conspiracy of silence on the part of the
    monarch’s counsellors and townspeople.
    We lose our freedom gradually, often without
    noticing it. That is what the Torah has been implying almost
    from the beginning. The classic statement of freewill
    appears in the story of Cain and Abel. Seeing that Cain is
    angry that his offering has not found favour, God says to
    him: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Gen. 4:7). The maintenance of freewill, especially in a state of high emotion like anger, needs willpower. As we have noted before in these studies, what Daniel Goleman calls an ‘amygdala hijack’ can occur in which instinctive reaction takes the place of reflective decision and we do things that are harmful to us as well as to others. That is the emotional threat to freedom.
    Then there is a social threat. After the Holocaust, a number of path-breaking experiments were undertaken to judge the power of conformism and obedience to authority. Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments in which eight people were gathered in a room and were shown a line, then asked which of three others was the same length. Unknown to the eighth person, the seven others were associates of the experimenter and were following his instructions. On a number of occasions the seven conspirators gave an answer that was clearly false, yet in 75 per cent of cases the eighth person was willing to agree with them and give an answer he knew to be false.
    Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram showed that ordinary individuals were willing to inflict what appeared to be devastatingly painful electric shocks on someone in an adjacent room when instructed to do so by an authority figure, the experimenter. The Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by Philip Zimbardo, divided participants into the roles of prisoners and guards. Within days the ‘guards’ were acting cruelly and in some cases abusively toward the prisoners and the experiment, planned to last a fortnight, had to be called off after six days.
    The power of conformism, as these experiments showed, is immense. That, I believe, is why Abraham was told to leave his land, his birthplace and his father’s house. These are the three factors – culture, community and early childhood – that circumscribe our freedom. Jews through the ages have been in but not of society. To be a Jew means keeping a calibrated distance from the age and its idols. Freedom needs time to make reflective decisions and distance so as not to be lulled into conformity.
    Freewill 3 Vaera
    “Freedom needs time to make reflective decisions and distance so as not to be lulled into conformity.”

    Most tragically, there is the moral threat. We sometimes forget, or don’t even know, that the conditions of slavery the Israelites experienced in Egypt were often enough felt by Egyptians themselves over many generations. The great pyramid of Giza, built more than a thousand years before the Exodus, before even the birth of Abraham, reduced much of Egypt to a slave labour colony for twenty years. When life becomes cheap and people are seen as a means not an end, when the worst excesses are excused in the name of tradition and rulers have absolute power, then conscience is eroded and freedom lost because the culture has created insulated space in which the cry of the oppressed can no longer be heard.
    That is what the Torah means when it says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Enslaving others, Pharaoh himself became enslaved. He became a prisoner of the values he himself had espoused. Freedom in the deepest sense, the freedom to do the right and the good, is not a given. We acquire it, or lose it, gradually. In the end tyrants bring about their own destruction, whereas those with willpower, courage, and the willingness to go against the consensus, acquire a monumental freedom. That is what Judaism is: an invitation to freedom by resisting the idols and siren calls of the age.

    Thoughts?

  56. Officerhoppy says:

    Dread
    I think cynicism is my spiritual gift.

  57. Just to keep the JMPBP (Jesus mentions per blog post 😉 ) up a bit, this is what I blogged this morning:

    As a old year comes to a close, and a new year awaits, many people will be thinking about making resolutions.

    Resolutions to eat better.

    Resolutions to get fit.

    Resolutions to change jobs.

    Resolutions to heal relationships.

    All good things!

    The world only gets better when we seek to make our life more healthy and productive.

    But of all the resolutions we can come up with, I believe one matters more than others.

    It’s this: resolve to truly follow Jesus in 2022.

    Learn what Jesus taught and resolve to practice his teachings.

    Study how Jesus lived and resolve to live a life that matches his example.

    Determine to stay close to Jesus, whatever the coming year throws at you.

    Jesus once said something to this effect: “Seek first the kingdom and righteousness of God, and everything else will fall into place.”

    This doesn’t mean that following Jesus necessarily makes the path smoother.

    What it means is no matter what the path looks like, we will most likely navigate it way better than if we tried to go on our own.

    Most New Year’s resolutions have us trying harder to do better.

    But the resolution to follow Jesus is one rooted in restful faith and patient trust.

    Follow Jesus.

    He’ll make your paths straight.

    He’ll make your life matter.

    And when 2022 comes to a close, my hunch is you will be able to look back on a year of faithfulness and fruitfulness.

  58. Sorry for the COVID, Dread. My wife had it last year and the first 4 days were rough. I somehow have avoided it thus far. I opted for the jabs last summer as an act of solidarity with my son who had just finished chemo. His immune system was shot so he needed some protection. As a pastor, I’ve been in the critical COVID ward, and it’s not a pretty place.

  59. Officerhoppy says:

    Piney
    Nice post. But I have a serious question. I agree with what you said but are there any boundaries in following Jesus? Can a follower of Jesus say “you behavior is unacceptable. If so! Which kind? Or does following Jesus mean, the jesus you follow is different than the one I deduce from scripture but that’s ok. Know what I mean?

  60. Hoppy,

    My take is that the words/example of Jesus, combined with the leading/promptings of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom/instruction of scripture will always be consistent and trustworthy. No “you have your Jesus and I have my Jesus” business, por favor!

  61. Officerhoppy says:

    Thanks my friend!

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    Alan

    Praying for you…

  63. Em says:

    Good words @ 4:10,
    Pineapple, good words.. IMHO

  64. Em says:

    Dr. Duane @ 4:36
    Amen – praying up here, too
    God keep you safe Pastor Dread. Father, heal this man who loves You. Please, dear Father. Thank You, Sir.

  65. Babylon's Dread says:

    Thanks everyone

    I am recovering… this new variant may be way forward …pray indeed

  66. Muff Potter says:

    I believe we really are moving into another dark age.
    It has happened before, most notably after the fall of the Roman Empire.
    Despite all our ‘magic-hi-tech-wiz-bang-gizmo’ culture, it will happen again.

  67. pstrmike says:

    “moving into another dark age.”

    so be it.

    The Middle Ages had many deep spiritual voices that could speak into our times today and perhaps address some of the longing that has been expressed here. Benedict (depending on how you date the Middle Ages), Bernard of Clairvaux, Julian of Norwich, Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, just name a few.

  68. Em says:

    Muffs 7:48pm comment coincides with where my mind was as I read Luke 23 this morning….. There is throughout the world a self sufficient rebel attitude growing…. I don’t recall which middle east Muslim country it was, however, I read that they are burning Christians alive…. Satanic! ! !
    “Of their father, the devil!”

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