Friday, 9/1/17

  1. Joel Osteen as parable
  2. Already burnt out
  3. Even Joel Osteen does better than SPLC

1

Consider this: after Osteen has spent his televangelist career tickling ears and professing this watered down, materialist, luxurious faith, still the world hates him. It really hates him. I’m actually struck by the passion and virulence of the hatred, coming as it is from people who don’t accept the Gospel Osteen has bastardized and don’t care about the heresy he professes. Osteen has tried very hard not to be hated by these people, but they end up hating him even more than they hate Christians who actually believe in the Bible. That is the great and tragic irony. Osteen has perverted the Gospel in order to befriend and impress the very people who now slander him. He has given the world what it wants: empty hope, vague optimism, a religion stripped of all that is difficult and painful, yet they still throw their stones.

If you preach the true Gospel, the world will label you a neanderthal and a bigot. But if you come up with a new Gospel in the hopes of avoiding these insults, you will be labeled a fraud and a hypocrite. The only difference is that the insults in your case will be true and well deserved. Out of your fear of false attacks, you have opened yourself up to accurate ones. And even the unfair attacks will still be largely your own fault. They are the fruits of your lies and your heresy. You will be like a wolf in sheep’s clothing who gets devoured by other wolves.

(Matt Walsh, Here is the one important lesson all Christians can learn from Joel Osteen)

2

But then there was this, from Nashville’s mayor, Megan Barry:

The @CBMWorg’s so-called “Nashville Statement” is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville

— Megan Barry (@MayorMeganBarry) August 29, 2017

This statement is in many ways far more ominous than anything that comes from the liberal Evangelical world. The liberal Evangelical argument is one reason that the Nashville Statement was necessary. The authors and signatories expected pushback. Barry’s statement, however, is different. It’s not separation of church and state, it’s a declaration of state against church.

We are reaching a troubling stage of American politics when the reality of American pluralism is yielding to a demand for cultural and religious uniformity. Megan Barry is expected to have a position on civil rights and civil liberties, but that’s a far cry from stating that Biblical orthodoxy is incompatible with the “inclusive values” of a city that’s located in the heart of the Bible Belt. The Southern Baptist Convention has a headquarter building right in downtown Nashville. You can’t drive five minutes in Nashville without seeing a church that’s teaching exactly the values and beliefs contained in the Nashville Statement. Is Barry’s position that they should change their ways, shut up, or leave?

Every now and again, progressive politicians tip their hand. Every now and again, the message of “inclusion” becomes, “We don’t want your kind here.” When Chick-fil-A was in the eye of the culture-war storm, progressive city leaders from coast to coast indicated they wanted no Chick-fil-A chicken sold within their city limits. Consider for a moment that degree of malignant intolerance. No one is indoctrinated in a fast-food restaurant. But the mere idea that faithful Christians would be enriched by liberal dollars was too much for some progressives. “Inclusive values” apparently demand punitive reprisals.

(David French)

It’s quickly becoming clear that commentary on The Nashville Statement is going to be too voluminous for me to follow without becoming seriously obsessive about someone else’s quarrel.

  • A celibate Christian LGBT friend (you know what I mean; I’m not going to stop to argue about language or whether anyone should “identify” with their sexuality) has linked some commentary from the “side” that is neither progressive nor conservative, decidedly uncomfortable with the Nashville Statement but not interested in, or even opposed to, critiquing “Side B” thinking. She could probably keep me reading on this obsessively for days on end, which I refuse to do. It “plumb wears me out.”
  • And from the other side, it appears I haven’t really lived until I acquaint myself with one Rosaria Butterfield, who, I gather, strongly believes that sexual orientation can be changed (because she changed hers). Her “signing statement,” as it were, was published today, and there’s (many?) more to come from other signers.

I’m surprised at how quickly that feeling of resignation (that I simply cannot stay “on top of this issue” in a reasonable amount of time) morphs into “I just wish this issue would go away.” That probably says something about me, and it’s probably not flattering.

What I will not tire of, however, is insistence that Megan Berry and her tribe are out of constitutional bounds when they shoot off their virtue-signaling mouths about how stupid and evil it is to believe what everyone professed until virtually yesterday.

In any event, the relevant parts of the current sexuality debates are firmly settled in the Orthodox Church. We’re not really even a part of the debate, though a very few would like to recruit us.

I can’t give you a bulls-eye hyperlink on how firm we are because it’s pervasive. But some of the prayers of the Crowning (Marriage) Service are illustrative — even sufficient (emphasis added):

O Lord our God, Who didst accompany the servant of the patriarch Abraham into Mesopotamia, when he was sent to bring back a wife for his lord Isaac; and Who by means of the drawing of water, didst reveal to him that he should betroth Rebecca: Do Thou, the same Lord, bless also the betrothal of these Thy servants, ______ and ______, and confirm the promise that they have made. Establish them in the holy union which is from Thee. For, in the beginning, Thou didst make them male and female, and by Thee the woman is joined unto the man as a helper and for the procreation of the human race. …

Deacon: For the servants of God ______ and ______, who are now being united to each other in the community of marriage, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will bless this marriage, as He blessed the marriage in Cana of Galilee, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will grant to them chastity, and of the fruit of the womb as is expedient for them, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will make them glad with the sight of sons and daughters, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: That He will grant unto them the enjoyment of the blessing of children, and a blameless life, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy. …

O God most pure, fashioner of every creature, Who didst transform the rib of our forefather Adam into a wife, because of Thy love towards mankind, and didst bless them, and said to them: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; Who didst make of the two one flesh: Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, and what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Thou didst bless Thy servant Abraham, and opening the womb of Sarah didst make him to be the father of many nations. Thou didst give Isaac to Rebecca, and didst bless her in child-bearing. Thou didst join Jacob unto Rachel, and from them didst bring forth the twelve patriarchs. Thou didst unite Joseph and Aseneth, giving to them Ephraim and Manasseh as the fruit of their procreation. Thou didst accept Zachariah and Elizabeth, and didst make their offspring to be the Forerunner. From the root of Jesse according to the flesh, Thou didst bud forth the ever-virgin one, and wast incarnate of her; and wast born of her for the redemption of the human race. Through Thine unutterable gift and manifold goodness, Thou didst come to Cana of Galilee, and didst bless the marriage there, to make manifest that it is Thy will that there should be lawful marriage and procreation. Do Thou, the same all-holy Master, accept the prayers of us Thy servants. As Thou wast present there, be Thou also present here, with Thine invisible protection. Bless this marriage, and grant to these Thy servants, ______ and ______, a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, mutual love in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, gratitude from their children, a crown of glory that does not fade away. Graciously grant that they may see their children’s children. Preserve their bed unassailed, and give them of the dew of heaven from on high, and of the fatness of the earth. Fill their houses with wheat, wine, and oil, and with every good thing, so that they may give in turn to those in need; and grant also to those here present with them all those petitions which are for their salvation.

We didn’t write that after Obergefell, folks. And I wouldn’t change a word if I could. And nobody else will be changing it materially in the lifetime even of my grandchilden.

So it feels a little bit voyeuristic to watch Evangelicals struggle with the issue, and progressives (within and without) sniping at them.

I’m turning away effective immediately. Recidivism possible.

3

“I’ve never known a US-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts,” said Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm. “My impression based on prior interactions is that they have a small, modestly paid staff, and were regarded by most in the industry as frugal and reliable. I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who was committed to a charitable mission who I ever worked with.”

“It is unethical for any US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas,” said Casil. “I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts.”

“It seems extremely unusual for a ‘501(c)(3)’ concentrating upon reducing poverty in the American South to have multiple bank accounts in tax haven nations,” Charles Ortel, a former Wall Street analyst and financial advisor who helped uncover a 2009 financial scandal at General Electric, told the Free Beacon.

The nonprofit also pays lucrative salaries to its top leadership.

Richard Cohen, president and chief executive officer of the SPLC, was given $346,218 in base compensation in 2015, its tax forms show. Cohen received $20,000 more in other reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits. Morris Dees, SPLC’s chief trial counsel, received a salary of $329,560 with $42,000 in additional reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits.

The minimum amount paid to an officer, director, trustee, or key employee in 2015 was $140,000 in base salary, not including other compensation.  The group spent $20 million on salaries throughout the year.

The SPLC, which claims to boast a staff of 75 lawyers who practice in the area of children’s rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and criminal justice reform, reported spending only $61,000 on legal services in 2015.

(Washington Free Beacon, Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities: Left-wing nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to top management)

$20,000,000 in salaries. $61,000 in legal services. That flunks every charitable smell test.

Man! Does it ever feel good to see a left-wing group called “Left-wing” for a change!

* * * * *

Gosh! Did you see what President Donald Trump is up to today? How utterly fascinating he is! I weep with envy when I look upon Melania. He fills my every thought! He surely doesn’t need to start any more stupid wars to get my undivided attention! No siree!

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.