You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2018.

Many thanks to Martin Geddes for coming out with two very important graphics explaining the Democrats and the media.

I am unfamiliar with Mr Geddes but appreciate the time he put into them. (Click on each one to enlarge.)

Outside of The Daily Caller, Gateway Pundit and Breitbart, most of the heavy lifting for President Trump and his MAGA agenda is done by citizen journalists, everyday people like you and me, whereas the Democrats have most of Big Media at their beck and call:

Note the colour codes. Twitter gives everyone in Big Media a pass. Citizen investigative journalists, not so much.

And it’s not just citizen journalists who are banned. On November 26, 2018, The Daily Caller reported that Twitter permanently banned an American veteran who had a radio show (emphases mine):

Conservative veteran and radio host Jesse Kelly was permanently banned from Twitter on Sunday for allegedly committing multiple violations of the Twitter terms of service.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller’s Amber Athey, Kelly said Twitter informed him that he was banned with no warning and no explanation of what rules he allegedly broke.

That day, Kelly appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News):

The article says that Twitter banned a feminist, too:

Last week, the tech giant banned feminist Meghan Murphy for questioning the ideology behind the transgender movement.

The good news is that Kelly’s Twitter account appears to have been reinstated. Result! Thanks go to the senators who support freedom of speech:

Despite that success and a few others, Twitter can and does stifle those who do not support the leftist agenda. On July 29, The Daily Caller reported that Republican legislators also fell foul of the social media giant:

Twitter’s censorship problem looks like it’s here to stay.

The company faced a sharp backlash last week after a Vice News investigation revealed that Twitter was hiding several prominent Republicans from its search bar.

Those affected included four House Republicans: Rep. Devin Nunes of California, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina. All four are members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Democrats weren’t affected in the same way, Vice found.

Interesting, especially when the four who were censored are relatively young supporters of President Trump and MAGA. It’s as if Twitter doesn’t want Americans to know that younger legislators support the president. Why, that might influence others in that same age bracket to jump aboard the Trump Train.

The article says that Twitter claims their shadowbanning — hiding the congressmen’s accounts from the search bar — wasn’t to do with anything the congressmen tweeted, but rather their followers. Does the following sound totalitarian?

At the center of the company’s censorship problem is its decision to penalize “bad-faith actors,” who aren’t actually in violation of any rules but still threaten “healthy conversation.”

Much the sorting between good and bad actors on Twitter is done by an algorithm which takes into account criteria like whom you follow and tweet at, and who follows and tweets at you.

Twitter didn’t penalize the congressmen because of anything they said, but because the “wrong” accounts were engaging with their tweets, two Twitter executives conceded in a blog post Thursday. The Republicans were guilty of being followed by the wrong people.

Twitter has since restored the congressmen’s visibility on Twitter, but the underlying issue remains.

The company is still burying accounts it deems “bad-faith actors,” while remaining opaque about who does or doesn’t fit that classification — and which accounts follow or retweet you are still part of the criteria.

The Daily Caller attempted to find out more from Twitter, but the company did not reply.

Remember back in the old days, not so many years ago:

Twitter … once described itself as the “free speech wing of the free speech party”

Earlier this year, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey:

sparked controversy in April when he endorsed an article calling for a total Democratic victory the “new civil war.” He similarly raised eyebrows in June by apologizing for the sin of eating at Chick-Fil-A.

Moving along, the next graphic from Martin Geddes outlines the fundamental differences between the Democrats and Trump supporters:

Most people following my site will know that Q is a person or small group of people who probably work for President Trump. For over a year now, Q has asked readers via the Socratic method to analyse what has actually been happening in the United States behind the scenes over the past few decades.

Q’s slogan is ‘Where We Go One, We Go All’: WWG1WGA. In other words, we’re all in this together!

By contrast, the characteristics of the Democratic Party are all too destructive, corrupt — and, sadly, real. Please read them carefully.

The MAGA agenda welcomes everyone, regardless of race, colour or creed.

MAGA is a bit old school — a compliment — in that regard. We believe in freedom, duty, sacrifice and the ideals upon which America was founded. We remember and appreciate our history, good and bad. We like tradition and beauty.

Unlike the Dems, we’re not out to destroy. We’re out to conserve and, where necessary, rebuild with care and attention, in the way the Founding Fathers would have wanted.

The rhetoric about migration along the southern US border has been astonishing. Astonishingly bad.

And the Democrats are good at being astonishingly bad.

Diamond and Silk remind us of Dem priorities, present — and past:

Then, there are ways of seeking asylum, but throwing stones is neither a good idea nor a good look:

One Democrat from New York — a freshman Congresswoman in 2019 — thinks she knows. Candace ‘Blexit’ Owens rightly took exception:

Correct. I do not recall hearing any history of Jewish families who sought refuge from Germany by throwing stones at American or British authorities.

The same holds true for other real refugees.

‘Asking to be considered a refugee’ does not involve throwing stones or fighting with border patrols.

Then, there’s the social gospel brigade, who think that removing illegals is wrong. Remember, illegal entry is still a felony in the United States, whether the law is enforced or not. It is also possible that the man ICE is attempting to apprehend committed another crime which warrants his arrest. But the church people sing ‘Amazing Grace’ and chant ‘Let him go, let him go’:

The tweet is correct in citing St Paul.

Social gospel folks are Christian cafeteria folks, picking and choosing what from Scripture they will honour as convenient to their agenda.

It would be better for them if they picked up a Bible and studied it.

My longest standing and most loyal supporter has been the Revd Dr Gregory Jackson, a Lutheran clergyman who follows the Augsburg Confession of faith.

On November 21, 2018, Dr Jackson posted his online worship service for Thanksgiving Eve. His sermon was about the errors of the social gospel, which, over the past century and a bit, has come to supplant the Good News of the Gospel.

His Epistle is from Paul’s letters to Timothy:

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

The Gospel reading is Luke’s account of the healing of the Samaritan:

KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Dr Jackson’s sermon concerns the history of the social justice movement in the Church, beginning with the Lutherans in the United States (emphases mine below):

The Social Gospel Movement is extremely important for our country, because a tiny group of people met to form a brotherhood to promote their political goals for the denominations in America. This Brotherhood of the Kingdom was made up of liberals who redefined the doctrines of the Bible according to German rationalism, which is what CFW Walther grew up in – his father a rationalist pastor. Walter Rauschenbusch is the most famous figure in this movement, though Emerson Fosdick was also well known in his time.

The goals of this Brotherhood of the Kingdom became the agenda of the Federal Council of Churches, renamed the National Council of Churches. The mainline denominations adopted these goals, which became the platform of President Franklin Roosevelt. Naturally, these people were fond of socialism and many thought the real deal was Marxism. In the olden days one could easily identify a liberal activist Lutheran because he published something very positive about Rauschenbusch and the Social Gospel.

I wrote my dissertation on this topic, so I will try to be brief. This movement turned the Gospel upside-down, making it pure works. The Parable of the Good Samaritan was not about Jesus as the Samaritan caring for us, but about making the road to Jericho safe! Jesus died to show His solidarity with the poor! Therefore, the purpose of the Christian Church (they imagine) is to change society by passing laws to control our behavior. The Left-wing activism in today’s churches is an outgrowth of this Social Gospel Movement with the addition of various kinds of radicalism.

In the LCA [Lutheran Church in America] this worked by polarizing congregations about various issues, welcoming the exit of those backward people considered conservatives, but called rednecks, Birchers, Fundamentalists. A smaller, smarter church and shrinking but better synod were desirable outcomes.

The Social Gospel Movement combined a rewriting of Christian doctrine to match its political activism

What we see in America is the Social Gospel starting in a rejection of the basic doctrines of Christianity and making an agenda the religion. Once that was achieved in the New Deal, there was agitation for more. Religious agencies dropped the pretext and simply became political action groups using Christianity as a front. I saw this happen in Roman Catholicism too, when the properly social action types wanted to conquer all church leadership and openly despised basic Christian doctrine.

I am concerned about unchurched university students who encounter Christianity for the first time on campus. What are they learning there from campus ministries and other Christian organisations? It’s unlikely to be Christian doctrine based on Holy Scripture.

Dr Jackson explains Paul’s instruction to Timothy (see the first two verses of the aforementioned Epistle) and how that helped to shape the Church (bold emphasis in the original, those in purple mine):

These two verses show that Christianity in the Apostolic Age was quietistic, a phrase used by one of the top scholars of Greek language and culture for that era (A. Mahlherbe). Quietistic means the opposite of activist, engaging in politics, using the church as an instrument to make political points and pass laws governing others. We know that theocratic governments, with the church in control, have been abusive, controlling, and corrupt. The papal states in Italy, owned and poorly governed by the Roman Church, were corrupt and lax.

Quietistic means the Christians were not exhorted to overturn the government or rebel against them. The ultimate tool to remove social evil is the GospelThat solution has worked its way through Western culture over the centuries. Britain, through the influence of Evangelicals like Wilberforce, ended slavery without a civil war.

Instead of church in political action, Paul urged them to pray for all men, for kings and those in authority – the political leaders. That is why Christianity has flourished in all political systems and has grown under persecution.

Indeed.

This is how the Gospel and divine grace work (see verses 3 and 4 from Paul to Timothy, emphases mine):

It is good to remember that the Word is more powerful than any empire. There was nothing like the Roman Empire during the public ministry of Christ, and yet the gold, wealth, and majesty of Rome was no barrier to the Christian Faith. It grew from the bottom up, among slaves and criminals, the bottom of society. And yet when they were tortured and killed in huge stadiums, their peace at the time of death rattled and disturbed the pagan Romans. Slowly the faith worked its way up. Rome was knocked into the dustbin of history, as Luther observed, conquered by the One God they could not tolerate in their pantheon.

Opposition has never quashed Christianity. Earthly power means nothing, as Jesus declared, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” A local ruler could not comprehend this, and yet Jesus disturbed people by His death and His resurrection.

The secret of Christianity is that the Word grows and takes over in  a quiet, subtle, but powerful way. When people are occupied with spiritual truths, their hearts do not have much room for error, for the death-traps (scandalon, literally the trigger of the trap) that plunge people into error and destruction

The irony is that mankind trusts its own power and wisdom and disdains the power and wisdom of the Gospel. Nobody can even predict what the Word can do among believers or how it calls out the faithful from among the mass of people today. While many scorn the simple Word of the Gospel, others who have been fed the lentil soup of earthly wisdom say – “This is the feast of God’s grace and forgiveness.” Their hunger and thirst is satisfied, not by Zen but by the Good Shepherd.

That is so powerful.

I hope that churchgoing parents take time over the upcoming holiday period to ask their university-attending offspring what they are learning in chapel and in chapel-sponsored courses. The answers could be surprising — and in error.

A few years ago, I wrote extensively about the social gospel and how it grew. For those who have not seen these articles, they are near the bottom of my Marxism/Communism page underneath the heading ‘Communism and the Church today’:

The origins of ‘social justice’ — you might be surprised

Communism and the Protestant ‘social gospel’ — a long history

The left-wing origins of ‘What would Jesus do?’

Francis of Assisi never said ‘use words if necessary’

The Methodists, Alinsky and Hillary Clinton

SHOCK: Communist Catholic clergy and Vatican II – Agent AA-1025’s story

Communist infiltration of the Church – introduction — Protestant infiltration; social justice; Catholic Agent AA-1025

Insight into Communist infiltration of Catholic Church – Jesuit agents; destroying parishoners’ faith

The curious Vatican omerta on Communist infiltration – Pope Paul VI, Vatican agents, Vatican II

More on Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church – seminaries, parishes with sleeper agents

La nouvelle théologie — heretical menace to Catholics and Protestants

Media silence on persecution – quotes and incidents

Liberation theology — part 1

Liberation theology — part 2

Sojourners: More socialists masquerading as Christians

Progressives and US churches – making the connections – who’s involved with whom

Obamacare: It’s make or break time for radical and Christian organisations

Faith in Public Life: socialism cloaked in Christianity

Alinsky’s influence on Catholic bishops in the US

How the Catholic Church bankrolled Alinsky projects

How radical Catholic clergy spread CHD message in the US

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development goes on … and on

Recent Catholic funding of Alinsky-inspired projects – CCHD

CCHD collection coming in November – starve the beast! – for American Catholics

Pope [Francis] seeks to involve Chinese state in Catholic churches (2016)

The communist nature of Catholic clergy (2016)

Jesus’s words were never about social justice but life eternal through Him.

The short video below explains what happens when there is a gap in border defence.

This is a real eye-opener. Also note what the border guard says about women in the first part of the video:

Q. Whose fault is it that, for nearly 20 years, border fences between the US and Mexico were not completed because they were not funded?

A. Politicians.

President Trump was right to sound the alarm on weak US borders in 2016 and he is correct in continuing to do so now.

Please circulate this tweet so that people understand what is really happening along the southern border of the United States.

On Monday, November 19, 2018, President and Mrs Trump welcomed the arrival of a 19 1/2 foot Christmas tree to the White House:

The First Lady looked stunning in a plaid Michael Kors cape (photos at the link).

The Trumps look great, despite the daily pressure and harassment they receive:

The grower and his family were there to meet the Trumps:

The First Lady expressed her gratitude to everyone involved in decorating the White House for Christmas …

… and invited Americans to visit:

What a great kick off to the Christmas season!

Bible kevinroosecomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 22:22-30

Paul and the Roman Tribune

22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips,[a] Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

Paul Before the Council

30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

————————————————————————————————————

Last week’s entry was about the testimony — apologia — that Paul gave to the mob in Jerusalem, who had calmed down long enough to hear him until he said:

21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’

At the mention of the Gentiles, the mob went mad again, clamouring for his death (verse 22), not unlike the mob clamouring for Jesus’s death two decades earlier.

The crowd shouted, took off their garments and threw dirt at Paul (verse 23).

Matthew Henry’s commentary states they acted out — much like today’s leftists do — in order to persuade the Roman tribune (commander, chiliarch) to accede to their demands. Might makes right, in other words. So wrong:

All they intended was to make the chief captain sensible how much they were enraged and exasperated at Paul, so that he could not do any thing to gratify them more than to let them have their will against him.

These people had taken leave of their senses (emphases mine):

They went stark mad against Paul, and against the chief captain for not killing him immediately at their request, or throwing him as a pry into their teeth, that they might devour him (Acts 22:23); as men whose reason was quite lost in passion, they cried out like roaring lions or raging bears, and howled like the evening wolves; they cast off their clothes with fury and violence, as much as to say that thus they would tear him if they could but come at him.

They threw dirt at Paul, signifying it was blasphemy to link Jews with Gentiles. The removal of garments meant that they could get a better handful of dirt to throw at him and/or to stone him, were they able to do so:

rather, they thus showed how ready they were to stone him; those that stoned Stephen threw off their clothesOr, they rent their clothes, as if he had spoken blasphemy; and threw dust into the air, in detestation of it; or signifying how ready they were to throw stones at Paul, if the chief captain would have permitted them.

So the tribune ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks and be tortured — examined — by scourging so that he would confess his crime (verse 24).

There was one problem with that. The tribune assumed that Paul did not have Roman citizenship, even though Paul had already told him he had been born in Tarsus, Roman territory (Acts 21:39):

39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”

Paul waited to say something until after he had been bound up for scourging. Binding was more than just securing a person to a whipping post. The Romans stretched the skin to the point that the scourge — best depicted in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (watch it and don’t look away) — which was a cat o’ nine tails with sharp and irregularly sized stone bits on the ends to gouge the skin from first contact.

John MacArthur explains:

Verse 25: “And as they bound him with thongs,” – and the word “bound” has the implication of stretching. That’s what they did. They would stretch the man’s body to all extreme, so that his body would be drawn to attention, and so that all the lashes would cause the skin to separate immediately, and cut right into the flesh and the muscle and tissue… 

Now the scourge, if it didn’t kill him would cripple him for life.

Bound yet calm, Paul asked the centurion supervising this if it was lawful for a Roman citizen to be flogged, especially uncondemned (verse 25).

That question was a game-changer, because, if the Romans tortured Paul, they could be in serious trouble, even subject to the death penalty. MacArthur tells us:

… it was a crime to scourge a Roman. The Portion law and the Valerian law forbid any Roman from ever going through punishment by flagellum.

To add to that, Suetonius the lawyer said, “Any Roman who violates or any man who violates the rights of a Roman citizen will be executed of Esquiline Hill in Rome.” So when Paul said, “Is it lawful to do this to a Roman, uncondemned?” panic struck.

The centurion immediately went back to the tribune to ask what to do (verse 26).

The tribune approached Paul and asked him if he had Roman citizenship. Paul answered in the affirmative (verse 27).

The tribune said he had purchased his Roman citizenship. Paul replied that he was a free-born Roman (verse 28), one better.

Hearing that, the tribune and his men were afraid. Their having bound Paul was illegal. They were at risk of punishment, possibly losing their commissions. Roman law was not to be trifled with, especially with regard to citizenship.

Still wanting to get to the bottom of the matter, the tribune decided to turn him over to the Jewish court (verse 30).

MacArthur has information about the tribune:

Verse 26: “When the centurion” – that’s the captain of a hundred men – “heard that, he went and told the chief captain” – that’s the captain of a thousand men, the chief commander, Claudius Lysias – “he said, ‘Take heed what you do. This man is a Roman.’” Boy, when the news got there, panic.

“The chief captain came and said unto him, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman?’ He said, ‘Yes.’” Do you see how God had equipped Paul for every trial?

You know, that reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10. When Paul said it, he knew what he was talking about: “God will never allow you to suffer above that you are able, but will, with every trial or temptation, make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.” God fits every man for everything He takes him through.

“He said, ‘Yes,’ and the chief captain answered, ‘Oh, with a great sum obtained I this freedom.’ He said, ‘Man, I bought my Roman citizenship. It means a lot to me. You realize what I almost did? Almost lost my citizenship or my life.’”

Paul quietly says, it’s interesting, “I was free born,” which just drives the nails in a little deeper. He wasn’t a second-class citizen, he was a first-class citizen. And here was a second-class citizen going to flagellate a first-class citizen. Bad news. The first guy was on thin ice anyway.

You say, “How did he get his citizenship?” He bought it. You say, “Who’d he buy it from?” Probably under the rule of Emperor Claudius, because his name is Lysias, a Greek name, he’s a Greek guy. Where did he get the Roman name Claudius? Well, people used to take the name of the emperor, so he probably took Claudius’ name, because during the reign of Claudius, Claudius had a wife named Messalina, and Messalina had a bunch of court favorites that hung around her, and they all thought they’d line their own pockets, so they started selling Roman citizenships for exorbitant prices; and what happened was Claudius Lysias bought one of them, took the name of Claudius.

So he was a purchased citizen in that sense; Paul was born a citizen. You say, “That’s interesting. How did Paul’s father become a citizen?” We don’t know, but God made sure it happened.

Well, “Then immediately” – verse 29 – “they departed from him who should have examined him.” Everybody left. “The chief captain was afraid after he knew that he was a Roman, because he had bound him.” He was scared. Chief captain said, “Everybody out; it’s all over with. And the next day, they turned him over to the Jews for due process.”

As to how Paul’s family had free-born status, Henry has this explanation:

Some think he became entitled to this freedom by the place of his birth, as a native of Tarsus, a city privileged by the emperor with the same privileges that Rome itself enjoyed; others rather think it was by his father or grandfather having served in the war between Cæsar and Antony, or some other of the civil wars of Rome, and being for some signal piece of service rewarded with a freedom of the city, and so Paul came to be free-born …

This could explain Paul’s exhortations to obey secular law, as it did not preclude being devoted to God.

In closing, note that the tribune took a different tack to Gallio in Corinth, when Paul appeared before him (Acts 18:12-17). Gallio told the Jews that their argument was a religious one and that he would not permit it in a Roman tribunal. Then, again, as my post explains, Gallio, being son of Seneca the Younger and grandson of Seneca the Elder, was a far wiser man than Claudius Lysias.

Next time — Acts 23:1-5

November 25, 2018 is Reign of Christ Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church year.

I know this particular day as Christ the King Sunday, but it seems that ‘king’ is a triggering word among left-wing churchgoers, including feminist clergy, so the name had to be changed.

The following readings are for Year B. Next Sunday, the first in Advent — the start of the Church year — readings from Year C begin.

Once again, there are two choices for First Reading and Psalm. I have highlighted the second choice in blue.

As one would expect, the emphasis is on Christ the King, as prophesied in the Old Testament and manifested in New Testament writings.

Emphases mine below.

First reading

In this last testament of King David, we are reminded of Jesus’s earthly lineage in Jesse’s family line. These verses can also be read as an anticipation of Christ Jesus.

2 Samuel 23:1-7

23:1 Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God exalted, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:

23:2 The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue.

23:3 The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God,

23:4 is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.

23:5 Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. Will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?

23:6 But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand;

23:7 to touch them one uses an iron bar or the shaft of a spear. And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.

Psalm

It is likely that these are Solomon’s words at the time of the dedication of the first temple. They also suggest the coming of Christ — from the House of David. St Peter said that David understood that, in the fullness of time, Jesus would be his everlasting successor (Acts 2:30).

Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18)

132:1 O LORD, remember in David’s favor all the hardships he endured;

132:2 how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,

132:3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed;

132:4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,

132:5 until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

132:6 We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar.

132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.”

132:8 Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.

132:9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy.

132:10 For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

132:11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.

132:12 If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons also, forevermore, shall sit on your throne.”

132:13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:

132:14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.

132:15 I will abundantly bless its provisions; I will satisfy its poor with bread.

132:16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation, and its faithful will shout for joy.

132:17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.

132:18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace, but on him, his crown will gleam.”

First reading

The passage from Daniel is a clear prophecy of the second coming of Christ and ensuing judgement. The Lectionary editors omitted the meatier verses (11 and 12) about judgement.

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

7:9 As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire.

7:10 A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

7:13 As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him.

7:14 To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Psalm

The Psalm complements the verses from Daniel beautifully with the themes of majesty and awe.

Psalm 93

93:1 The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

93:2 your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

93:3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

93:4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD!

93:5 Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Epistle

The powerful Epistle from Revelation points to Christ, the King of Kings, who reigns and lives forevermore — and will one day return.

Revelation 1:4b-8

1:4b Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,

1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,

1:6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1:7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Gospel

John recorded the exchange about kingship between Jesus and Pontius Pilate at His mock trial.

John 18:33-37

18:33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

18:34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

18:35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

18:37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

What a powerful set of readings for a powerfully thought-provoking Sunday. I hope the ensuing sermons are just as stirring.

On my recent post, ‘Mid-term vote discrepancies — a dress rehearsal for 2020?’, reader Mark C posted five imperatives that the Republican party must accomplish before 2020.

He has given his permission for a guest post, which is much appreciated:

Here’s how the GOP can win back every American to its fold.

Step 1.) The Republican party needs to go back to its roots, not just to the time of Lincoln, but also to the time of Jefferson. This means that it must abandon the New Deal and take steps, not just lip service, to restore constitutional, limited, and secular government, individual rights, and economic and social freedoms.

The GOP needs to realize that liberalism (in its classic sense) is independent of either the left wing or the right wing, although liberalism was certainly a brainchild of the left wing that slipped away from it when it finally achieved power. I’m hoping that the Trump administration will do this. If not, at least it can pave the way for a presidency that will commit to do the same platform.

Step 2.) Republicans need to cease enabling extremists in both right and left wings by either adopting milder versions of leftists’ programs (like George W. Bush when he signed the No Child Left Behind Act) or doing things that will play into the hands of their detractors (like Todd Akin in 2012 did when he made a callous remark that nobody needs to worry about abortions as the result of rape because women don’t become pregnant as the result of rape).

For this to happen, the GOP must adopt a new way of recruiting new members. For instance, detractors have been accusing the Republican party of having members with ties to neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate groups, so it behooves the GOP to exclude such people from the party and start recruiting more sensible people from diverse background sharing a common appreciation of the tenets of (classical) liberalism. We already have the likes of Brandon Straka and Candace Owens, but we need more of them, which leads to the next step.

Step 3.) Many Americans fall in love with leftism because they think that private entities such as churches, charities, and non-public schools have been failing them. This the Republicans should bear in mind.

Thus, Republicans who are schoolteachers, CEOs, and managers of charities must make the first move in helping many worse-off kids have quality education, talented yet unemployed minorities have jobs, and neglected people such as elderly veterans and laid-off employees start a new life, so that people will no longer depend on the government for help. Also, Republicans need to remind everyone that anyone, even a leftist, can start a business, and they can cite as an example Bill Gates who gave free contraception to women after the Trump administration resolved to stop its governmental funding.

For Republicans who sell guns, they can provide free gun training, especially to minorities, starting with their non-white, non-male, and non-Christian friends if they have one.

Republicans involved in businesses and other private organizations must make genuine efforts to help those in need so as to deprive leftists of their base.

Step 4.) The GOP must hire more reliable advisers to its fold. Dinesh D’Souza isn’t enough. It needs people like Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell to strengthen the party, especially in economic matters.

Also, I know of a libertarian schoolteacher that can help the GOP get its act together. His name is Kelley L. Ross, PhD, the author of the online philosophy journal friesian.com. He ran for Congress several times as a Libertarian, and I think that he can advise President Trump as well if he resolves to join the GOP. Here’s a primer to his political standpoint at http://friesian.com/ross/kindof.htm.

Step 5.) This one is the most important of all steps that I’ve listed so far. Republicans need to be articulate when it comes to stating political truths. That involves vocabulary.

It means that Republicans must cease adopting the terminology of its detractors. For example, Republicans must always say “illegal alien” and “illegal alien intrusion” instead of “illegal immigrant”, “illegal immigration”, “undocumented immigrant”, “undocumented immigration”, or even “immigration”. Doing otherwise would jeopardize their reputations. Rep. Steve King is one recent example of this.

Also, Republicans can smash accusations of racism by saying that racial segregation and discrimination against women mandated by the government are enemies of the free market and the principles of Founding Fathers.

Well, I’ve said what I had to tell the GOP to win back the country. Whether it does what I’ve listed here is up to them.

These are so straightforward and simple, yet, how many Republicans will take these on board?

I will offer a few qualifiers of my own on the above. So far, President Trump is the only Republican following Mark C’s five-step plan.

Re Step 1: The Republican National Committee must craft a set of talking points for Party members: a one- or two-sided card with a summary and a detailed booklet explaining them, not unlike a short and a long catechism. For example, the GOP must make clear that smaller government does not have an impact on ‘free stuff’ for the truly needy. Another example is that, since ridding industry of crippling regulations, manufacturers are able to operate more efficiently:

It is also important to note, that at the same time, the US has the cleanest air in the world:

On Step 2, Trump’s Prison Reform plan is a brave and necessary one, even if middle-class Republicans might balk.

Step 3 assumes that Republicans are not active in charitable endeavours. Personally, I think they are, but they operate under a biblical principle of not boasting about their good deeds. However, I agree that they should get more publicity from conservative media and the Republican Party. I’m not sure that Bill Gates and free contraception is a good talking point, but I understand the principle of private enterprise helping to improve society. The GOP corporate tax cuts have enabled businesses to give more to charity. On January 31, 2018, the White House picked up media points about the benefits that lower taxes provide, including charitable giving. The Wall Street Journal had an article about Pfizer at that time, which said in part (emphasis mine):

As a result of savings from the tax changes, Pfizer made a $200 million contribution to the company’s charitable foundation in the fourth quarter, plans to pay $100 million in bonuses to employees and will make a $500 million contribution to its U.S. pension plan by the end of September. The company said it plans to buy back $5 billion in shares this year and invest $5 billion in manufacturing and other capital projects in the U.S. over the next five years.

I wholeheartedly agree that Step 4 is vital. Democrats have dozens of pundits, and Republicans have very few.

Step 5 is also critical. Republicans do need to use correct vocabulary. They also need to make it clear that a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation after the Civil War and that Republicans were the ones promoting civil rights in the 1960s via the late senator Everett Dirksen who helped to write and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Interestingly, both Lincoln and Dirksen were from Illinois. They must also stop calling Democrats ‘liberals’; today’s Democrats are leftists, totally illiberal.

Well, there’s no better — and easier — place to start with talking points than the GOP chairwoman’s — Ronna Romney McDaniel’s — Twitter account. Go for it, Ronna. Make the Grand Old Party great again!

In closing, I would add a sixth step to Mark C’s five. Republicans must develop an aggressive GOTV — Get Out The Vote — plan that rivals the Democrats’. They have to learn how to go door-to-door to canvass and also make sure they distribute tons of flyers with varying messages, depending on the stage of the election campaign.

As this is Thanksgiving weekend, it seems apposite to look at a bit of early American history.

The Congressional Resources site includes James Madison’s The Federalist Papers. Madison was one of the Founding Fathers and served as the fourth president from 1809 to 1817. (Image credit: Wikipedia)

Many Americans, including Republicans, today refer to the United States as a ‘democracy’.

Madison disagreed that the US should be a democracy. He supported a republican structure for the reasons he gave in Federalist No. 10, ‘The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection’, written in 1787 and addressed to the people of New York.

Considering the violence the United States has experienced over the past few years as well as corrupt factions inside both of the main political parties, Madison’s paper remains highly relevant today.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Madison addressed the unrest going on at the time:

The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

Because man has ‘fallible’ reasoning, Madison argued that:

different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

Therefore, whilst the causes of factions cannot be done away with, Madison believed their effects can be mitigated, which is the role of government:

The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS

By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.

He explained the dangers of a pure democracy:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

Hence, the only solution is to create a representative republic:

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.

He explained the division of powers between federal and state governments:

The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures.

In conclusion, this is why the Founding Fathers created a republic, which, until the 1950s or 1960s, was commonly known among Americans as the Great Republic:

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists.

The founding of the United States is pivotal, even today, not only for America but for the rest of the world. It is a shame that more new countries since then did not adopt the same model of government. There are notional ‘republics’ in the world, but none more considered in its founding than the United States of America — the Great Republic.

Warm wishes to my readers who are celebrating Thanksgiving on November 22!

The White House had the usual pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey. Peas and Carrots had luxury accommodation while they awaited the verdict. What lovely birds:

The White House conducted a Twitter poll as to which one should be pardoned. What a lot of votes:

The Daily Caller‘s Benny Johnson noted that the Trump turkey pardons are popular with the media:

Once again, President Trump pardoned both turkeys:

He quipped that Carrots disputed the vote count:

The First Lady is wearing a Dior coat (photos at the link).

The US president also issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, excerpted below (emphases mine):

On Thanksgiving Day, we recall the courageous and inspiring journey of the Pilgrims who, nearly four centuries ago, ventured across the vast ocean to flee religious persecution and establish a home in the New World. They faced illness, harsh conditions, and uncertainty, as they trusted in God for a brighter future. The more than 100 Pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the Mayflower, instilled in our Nation a strong faith in God that continues to be a beacon of hope to all Americans. Thanksgiving Day is a time to pause and to reflect, with family and friends, on our heritage and the sacrifices of our forebearers who secured the blessings of liberty for an independent, free, and united country.

After surviving a frigid winter and achieving their first successful harvest in 1621, the Pilgrims set aside 3 days to feast and give thanks for God’s abundant mercy and blessings. Members of the Wampanoag tribe who had taught the Pilgrims how to farm in New England and helped them adjust and thrive in that new land shared in the bounty and celebration. In recognition of that historic event, President George Washington, in 1789, issued a proclamation declaring the first national day of thanksgiving. He called upon the people of the United States to unite in rendering unto God our sincere and humble gratitude “for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country” and “the favorable interpositions of his Providence.” President Abraham Lincoln revived this tradition as our fractured Nation endured the horrors of the Civil War. Ever since, we have set aside this day to give special thanks to God for the many blessings, gifts, and love he has bestowed on us and our country

We are especially reminded on Thanksgiving of how the virtue of gratitude enables us to recognize, even in adverse situations, the love of God in every person, every creature, and throughout nature. Let us be mindful of the reasons we are grateful for our lives, for those around us, and for our communities. We also commit to treating all with charity and mutual respect, spreading the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout our country and across the world.

Wherever Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving in the world, I hope that they have a day full of contemplative gratitude along with a delicious dinner shared with loving family and true friends.

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