News you can’t use

Flash! This just in! A Charismatic Magazine says that James Dobson says that an anonymous businessman says that Donald Trump (says he?) fairly recently did something invisible, unverifiable, and equivocal that makes him part of The Tribe now.

And you can take that to the bank ballot box.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to say this humorously, but I think a direct approach is best: If Donald Trump was not the presumptive Republican nominee for President, his complete lack of mastery of the approved argot and the absence of any visible change in his life would be judged conclusive proof that his conversion is fake. There would be no “baby Christian” waving away of objections to his utter inability to articulate even the most basic Christian doctrine, like “sin” or the personal necessity of “repentance” (at least once).

That would not be fair, but neither was it fair for most of my life when Evangelicals at a minimum questioned the authenticity of Christian faith of anyone who couldn’t master the shibboleths — which ironically would exclude from the tribe virtually all saints through the ages. Sadly, I played that game myself.

Heck, if you took a Saint from before 1800 and plopped him down in an Evangelical church, he would have no idea that he was in a “church,” or that this assault on the eyes and ears is what they call “worship” now.

I should have seen this coming clearly. You can’t “help Trump more convincingly pretend to be an observant Christian” among Evangelicals without an “accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior” story.

These days (as in the last 20 years or so), I put virtually no stock in “accepted Jesus” stories, not because they’re exactly false, but because they are about as weak an endorsement, standing alone, as “he said he’d respect her in the morning.” Remember Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Allen Zimmerman? Remember when “born-again” Dubya announced as national policy the eradication of tyranny in the world?

If I were really convinced that Donald Trump had prayed the magic sinner’s prayer, meant it when he said it, and uncharacteristically did not change his mind the next day, it would make me maybe 5% likelier to vote for him than I am now (i.e., 1.05%). But if Trump’s elected President, I will pray for him as I pray for Barack Obama and would pray for Hillary Clinton if she should be elected.

You may insert “God forbid” into both options.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Fear turning into hatred

As an angry and disaffected youth, back in the 1970s and 1980s, long before my subsequent change of heart and conversion to Catholicism, I had been a leading member of the National Front, which would later metamorphose into the British National Party. I was a member of the National Front’s Executive Council and its National Directorate and was Chairman of its youth movement, the Young National Front. I was sentenced to prison twice, in 1982 and 1985, for “publishing material likely to incite racial hatred,” an offence under the Race Relations Act. One of my closest friends was Nick Griffin, later to become notorious as the leader of the BNP. I was best man at Nick’s wedding and co-edited a magazine with him. Perhaps, therefore, it could be suggested that I might have a sense of déjà vu as I observe the turbulent times in which we live. In some ways, I do. The similarities are striking. And yet in many ways, and perhaps in the most important ways, things are very different today.

Racism is always evil, as is any other manifestation of hatred towards our neighbours or our enemies. Christians can never espouse racism, nor can they support with a clear conscience parties that advocate racism. It is, however, unfair to suggest that anyone who is concerned about the Islamization of Europe or about the endemic corruption and overarching imperialism of the European Union is either a racist or a xenophobe. Such language is the sort of thoughtless knee-jerk reaction that is the death of rational discourse. Furthermore, it is the sort of demonizing and stereotyping of opponents of which the racists are themselves guilty. Against such dumbing-down of the real nature of the problem, I would argue, with Pope Benedict XVI among others, that there are three mutually incompatible and inimical forces at work in the international arena: secular globalism, radical Islam, and Christian orthodoxy. As Pope Benedict highlighted in his prophetic Regensburg Address, the clash between these forces is at the troubled heart of our darkening world.

This struggle for the heart of Europe was encapsulated by a young priest, Father Jacek Międlar, at a rally of almost 100,000 patriotic Poles in Warsaw in November last year. Comparing efforts by the European Union to force Poland to accept large scale Islamic immigration, he likened the EU’s coercion of the Polish people to the oppression of the Soviet occupation.

Leftist and Islamic aggression aimed at everything Christian and national makes us very afraid … But we’re also afraid that our fear will turn into hatred. And we, as Christians, cannot let this happen. That’s why we, the Christians, want dialogue. But no one wants to talk to us, instead calling us fascists, racists, xenophobes, and infidel dogs. We can never allow this [succumbing to hatred]. We don’t want to fight with the hammer of hate they [the socialists and the Islamic fundamentalists] want to push in our hands…. We want to fight with the sword of truth. With the sword of love! With the sword of the Gospel! With the Sword that is Jesus Christ, our living Lord and Saviour.

(Joseph Pearce, What Does the Rise of Europe’s New Right Mean for Christians?) I heartily recommend it.

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.