Thursday, January 24, 2013

    1. Two ways about it.
    2. Flashback.
    3. Don’t try this at home.
    4. Pattern-Seeking Sinner.


During the inaugural festivities, which included the Louie Giglio kerfuffle (at least in my mind), it occurred to me that this may be the first Administration for which Christians are commanded to pray twice:

  1. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
  2. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you …. (Matthew 5:44)

I take no pleasure is saying that. I appreciate the symbolic importance of electing a dark-skinned President, and even can forgive my countrymen for re-electing him, after his bad record (see below) the first four years, given the failure of vision of the other major party.

But the Obama administration has a horrible record of insensitivity to domestic religion and religious freedom claims:

  1. Argued in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC that the government could interfere in the internal faith and mission of religious organizations and churches by second-guessing personnel decisions. It lost, 9-0 in the U.S. Supreme Court.
  2. Issued a mandate under Obamacare requiring religious organizations to provide abortion-inducing drugs (I know this characterization is unpopular, but for those of us who acknowledge that life begins at fertilization, it’s true), sterilizations, and contraceptives free of charge to their employees, in direct violations to the organization’s beliefs.
  3. Overturned existing Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) protections for health care workers, which protected them from being forced to participate in abortions and other activities that would violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs.
  4. Denied a grant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops which had used the funds over a ten-year-period to effectively combat human sex trafficking because of the bishops’ objections to abortion.
  5. Has shifted rhetorically from “freedom of religion” to the more cribbed and confining “freedom of worship.”
  6. Nominated three pro-abortion ambassadors to the Vatican (which rejected all three).

See, for more, this broadside (for the strident tone of which I apologize).

And now we have Frank Schaeffer (who privileges Jesus by still talking to Him from time to time still, “in spite of everything”) calling for “a way to expose and stop deluded [mainstream] evangelical evildoers” from supporting Christian missions in countries where there has been violence toward, and efforts to criminalize, homosexual behavior. He’s the one who calls them “mainstream,” although he does so in scare quotes for some reason.

The tide, it seems to me, is turning fast, but Rod Dreher nailed the turning tide’s mantra: “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing … and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.”


Have mercy on Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Katherine Sebelius, the Congress, the Supreme Court, our State Legislatures, Governors and Courts, our City and County Councils, and all others in authority over us, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, free from the turmoil of foreign invasion and domestic crime. And we pray thee as well, if it be Thy will, to frustrate their every malign intent toward us, your Servants and their subjects, that they may learn to be a terror to evil, and not to good works.


As I was shining shoes Saturday night, I had an inexplicable flashback of 40+ years.

The year was 1968. The place was a Krustian post-secondary institution in Northwest Arkansas — one against which my father warned me because it was so clearly (to him) no better than third-tier academically.

My father was right, but he could not plausibly have known its many other inadequacies. (In fairness, one of three or four religious epiphanies in my life occurred there, and one of the profs catalyzed it. Further, I hear rumors that it is much improved — rumors that wouldn’t make me a supporter even if I checked them out and found them true.)

The institution had a touring show choir with an [expletives deleted] as impresario and a nice guy as pianist and primary arranger. Not one of their songs can I remember, except the one that came to me Saturday. I doubt that it’s a coincidence that the text was approaching 250 years old, and that the English translation was by no less than John Wesley:

O Thou to Whose all searching sight
The darkness shineth as the light,
Search, prove my heart; it pants for Thee;
O burst these bonds, and set it free!

Wash out its stains, refine its dross,
Nail my affections to the cross;
Hallow each thought; let all within
Be clean, as Thou, my Lord, art clean!

If in this darksome wild I stray,
Be Thou my light, be Thou my way;
No foes, no violence I fear,
No fraud, while thou, my God, art near.

When rising floods my soul o’erflow,
When sinks my heart in waves of woe,
Jesu, Thy timely aid impart,
And raise my head, and cheer my heart.

Savior, where’er Thy steps I see,
Dauntless, untired, I follow thee!
O let Thy hand support me still,
And lead me to Thy holy hill!

If rough and thorny be the way,
My strength proportion to my day;
Till toil, and grief, and pain shall cease,
Where all is calm, and joy, and peace.

Although it has reportedly been published in many hymnals, I’d never encountered it before and have never encountered it since. I assume the muse behind the music was Psalm 139:23-24.


The TV news reported that a house fire may have been caused by cooking. Don’t people know how dangerous cooking is, and that they should leave it to highly-trained professionals?

Speaking of which, all I could think as I watched this video was videos like this.


I read the story of David and Bathsheba
and how their Love Child died,
and I’m forevermore imagining dark significance
when calamity befalls someone else,
as if the Gospel had never happened.

(Written by a sinner I know all too well.)

* * * * *

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.