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Last week, I recapped the 2018 royal wedding, which included this …

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States gave an address. BT.com reported:

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the first black presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, gained worldwide attention with his address at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding on Saturday during which he evoked Martin Luther King and spoke of poverty and injustice.

Mr Curry, along with the gospel choir, brought a flavour of the American bride’s homeland with the speech at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

… along with a tweet:

One of my readers, longtime Episcopalian blogger, underground pewster, wrote a sharp analysis of the sermon on May 23: ‘Bishop Curry: All You Need is Love’.

It is a must read, especially for fellow members of the Anglican Communion. As pewster has probably put a lot of work into this, only a taster follows.

The first part of Curry’s sermon is about love. Before I go into pewster’s analysis, my perspective is that, if he had preached this 50 years ago, most of us would have found it novel and engaging. It’s very much of that era, especially with a timeless Martin Luther King Jr quote at the start:

The late Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. once said and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.”

There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power – power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved.

Now on to underground pewster’s analysis (emphases in the original):

I think he is equating two different types of love.

“Oh there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it – it actually feels right.”

Uh oh, following “it feels right” can lead you into all kinds of problems.

“There is something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant – and are meant – to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here.”

It would have been helpful if he had defined what type of love he was talking about, and that is one of the major weaknesses of his sermon. 

I agree. How many times have we heard this type of thing before, especially conflating different types of love? As pewster explains at the beginning of his post (emphases mine below):

While there is nothing wrong about preaching on love, it requires a deeper exposition. The love of God and the love of Christ for the world, God’s love for the Church, and God’s intended love between one man and one woman are things that most Episcopalian Bishops are incapable of communicating. No one expected Bishop Curry to talk about complementarianism, and no one expected any major digressions into his favorite themes, so his sermon appeared benign if not great to most of his viewers. It had to sound benign you see, because he could not say the words that he really wanted to say about his novel ideas about what makes up a Christian marriage in front of an audience of two billion people because those words are so unbiblical that the effect on his sect would be ruinous.

Most traditional Anglicans, including Episcopalians, understand exactly what pewster means by ‘unbiblical’, but, in case there is any doubt, he clarifies it at the end of the post:

Maybe we haven’t supported enough liberal causes, maybe we haven’t marched in enough gay pride parades, maybe we haven’t celebrated enough gay marriage ceremonies in the Church, maybe we have been sending those e-mails from The Episcopal Public Policy Network into the Spam box, maybe we haven’t performed enough abortions, maybe we haven’t brought enough lawsuits against faithful Christians, or maybe we have been critical of the Episcopal sect in print and on social media.

And you know what they call people who go against the zeitgeist, those who disagree with Bishop Curry and his unbiblical agenda, an agenda that he was afraid to verbalize in front of an audience of billions?

“Haters!”

True.

There was another bit from Curry’s sermon which did not escape pewster’s notice (emphasis in the original, mine in purple):

It was only a matter of time where the power of this version of love will be used by the Bishop to try to stir people to political action,

“Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.”

Wait a second! God revealing himself, and dying for us was the number one world changing event in human history.

Exactly!

The second half of Curry’s sermon was all about fire. Recall that the following day was Pentecost Sunday, but the bishop did not mention that. He went into a long description, citing Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (ugh), of how fire shaped human history. Curry ended with this (emphases mine):

Fire makes all of that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love – it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.

Dr King was right: we must discover love – the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.

My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

Fire is the main symbol of Pentecost. One of the mandatory readings for that feast is Acts 2, the account of the first Pentecost, excerpted below:

2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

The Holy Spirit isn’t just for Pentecost or Confirmation. He is here to guide us all our days. Therefore, as I wrote in a comment to pewster, this is a summary of what I would have said without describing all the human uses of fire:

With all the preaching about fire, couldn’t he have mentioned that May 20 — the morrow — was Pentecost Sunday?

I would have done a sermon on the divine gifts from the Holy Spirit that can enrich a Christian marriage.

It’s not that difficult and would not have gone off track.

Then again, sadly, we are dealing with today’s Episcopal Church.

Curry’s sermon exemplifies the weak theology we so often see not only in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion but also in other established churches, including the Catholic Church. We are infested with unbiblical messages, especially many that, like Curry’s, ‘sound nice’.

The truth of the matter is that biblical Christianity offends. That said, its challenges can — and should be — presented in a winsome way, to encourage people to live in a Christlike manner.

It’s a shame that yet another cleric missed yet another opportunity — this one on a grand scale — to tell that truth.

Is it any wonder Anglican churches are closing in so many English-speaking countries?

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On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, former first lady Barbara Pierce Bush left this mortal coil from the comfort of her family’s home in Texas.

May she rest in peace.

Along with many over the past week, my condolences go to the Bush family, who will sorely miss her wisdom, wit, vim and vigour.

The Conservative board on Reddit had a great portrait of her along with a prescient quote of hers about life:

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent. 

Mrs Bush was an Episcopalian.

Many years ago, my Episcopalian rector, also since deceased, told our congregation in at least one sermon that he met many people on their deathbeds who regretted not taking chances in life. The one thing they asked time and again was, ‘What if I’d only done this or that?’

It is unlikely that Barbara Bush had any such regrets.

I’m sorry that she never got to sit down with President Trump for a cup of tea and a natter in 2016. They would have got on well. And, yes, she would have made a better presidential candidate than her son Jeb in 2016, but that’s all water under the dam now.

Millions of Americans appreciate Mrs Bush’s dignified, high-WASP tenure as First Lady between 1989 and 1993. By all accounts, she was also a marvellous wife, mother and friend.

May God keep her close to Him for eternity.

Further reading:

Presiding Bishop offers tribute to Barbara Bush

Former first lady Barbara Bush, wife and mother of presidents, dead at 92

Barbara Bush on George H. W. Bush: ‘Still in love with the man I married 72 years ago’

Barbara Bush: Lesser-known facts about former first lady

Live stream: Public viewing for Barbara Bush

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House for Mar a Lago on Friday, December 22, 2017.

Earlier that day:

Crowds welcomed him upon his arrival in Florida:

On December 24, the Trumps fielded telephone calls from American children eager for the arrival of Father Christmas. The Daily Mail has a report with spectacular photos:

… the first couple surprised kids who had called in to NORAD to find out where Santa Claus is.

The president and first lady were patched in to a handful of NORAD’s expected 150,000 Christmas Eve calls from the living room at Mar-a-Lago where the Trumps are celebrating their first Christmas in office.

‘What would you like more than anything?’ Trump was overheard asking a child named Casper from Virginia as members of the media briefly listened in.

Reporters were unable to hear Casper’s response, but the president gave the request away in his answer.

‘Building blocks. That’s what I’ve always liked too,’ said the president, who was a successful real estate developer before jumping into politics. ‘I always loved building blocks,’ Trump continued.

‘Well, I predict Santa will bring you building blocks. So many you won’t be able to use them all,’ said the president, using his trademark bombastic language.

Speaking to another child, Trump was impressed by the boy’s Santa request.

‘So you want your grandma to get out of the hospital?’ Trump said. ‘That’s what your wish is?’

‘That’s great,’ the president continued. ‘That’s better than asking for some toy or something, that’s better right?’

He then assured the young boy that grandma would be alright.

‘So your grandma’s gonna be good, OK? She’s gonna be good,’ the president said.

At another moment he told a child, ‘When you’re in Washington, you’ll come and see me.’

In total, the president chatted with 11 kids, while the first lady talked to ten.

This video — trending at No. 27 on YouTube on December 28 — has the conversations:

Trump held a teleconference with various branches of the military to send Christmas greetings:

The US Navy and the crew of the USS Sampson tweeted their appreciation.

The military sent some exceptional tweets this year. I especially liked the Navy’s video. Open in new tab, if necessary:

Trump tweeted another seasonal message later on Christmas Eve:

His friend in Israel sent customary Christmas greetings to the American people. This year, however, is a special one for Benjamin Netanyahu:

The president and Mrs Trump attended the 10:30 p.m. service at the Episcopal church they go to, Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

The Palm Beach Post reported:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is just under a five-minute drive up the Atlantic Ocean from the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club. The historic sanctuary — it is the oldest Protestant church in the region — has played a major role in the first family’s lives: The president and first lady married there in 2005. Their son, Barron, was christened there the following year. And the couple, occasionally joined by other family members, have attended Christmas Eve and Easter services there.

When Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, first lady Melania Trump took Mrs. Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea. “Proud to share part of my family history with Mrs. Abe at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea where @POTUS & I were married, where we celebrate and we pray,” the first lady said in a post on her @FLOTUS Instagram account accompanied by a photo of the church’s garden.

Security was tight:

Since his election, the president and first lady enter Bethesda-by-the-Sea from the south side of the building, a side entrance that allows more direct access to the seats set aside for them toward the front of the church.

The service was not on Trump’s schedule released to the media, and church officials have declined in the past to confirm whether Trump would attend.

But regular attendees are becoming familiar with the security practices put in place ahead of Trump’s arrival: Worshippers are ushered through metal detectors. Women’s purses are searched. Men in dark suits with earpieces walk the line of parishioners waiting to enter the 500-person capacity sanctuary.

Once inside:

The church was standing room only, but the Palm Beach Post article stated that a few people in the congregation managed to make contact with Trump:

During the greeting, several people gathered around the president to shake his hand. As Communion was offered, people who lined up next to Trump — who was seated on the center aisle — paused to say, “Merry Christmas,” offer words of encouragement or, as one woman did, mouth, “Thank you.”

The Gateway Pundit had a great write up with videos and tweets that I’ve used here, including one of the service. The article says that the choir’s version of Silent Night is ‘hauntingly beautiful’:

I won’t include any of the sermon, as it was the usual Social Justice Warrior material we have come to expect from a once-great denomination.

On December 25, Mrs Trump released a selfie:

Trump tweeted a brief video of the White House — along with a special greeting:

The Palm Beach Post reported:

“Melania and I are delighted to wish America and the entire world a very Merry Christmas,” Trump says in the video. 

Trump also quotes a verse from the bible in the book of Isaiah, noting what the celebration of Christmas is about.

Melania speaks about celebrating our blessings as Americans and “prays for peace all over the world.”

Fox News had more:

… the president and first lady Melania Trump released a video message, with Mrs. Trump saying “at this time of year, we see the best of American and the soul of the American people.” President Trump added his own remarks, calling on Americans to “renew the bonds of love and good will between our citizens —and most importantly we celebrate the miracle of Christmas.”

“For Christians we remember the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that began more than 2,000 years ago. As the book of Isaiah tells us, for to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This good news is the greatest Christmas gift of all, the reason for our joy and the true source of our hope.”

Here is the YouTube version, which, even on December 28, is No. 8 in YouTube trends:

The same Fox News article also reported that Trump laid on a grand Christmas dinner for people often taken for granted:

… administration sources confirmed to Fox News that the president also provided and paid for hundreds of Christmas dinners served up to the U.S Secret Service agents and officers, military service members and Palm Beach County sheriff deputies who were working Christmas Day at Mar-a-Lago.

Described as a “Christmas feast,” served in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, the buffet meal included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and dessert. The buffet was offered from the early afternoon into the evening, in an effort to cover two of the shifts for security personnel working the holiday.

Christmas is a one-day celebration for President Trump:

The Trumps are still at Mar a Lago. On December 27, the president visited firefighters and first responders in West Palm Beach:

Meanwhile, although the president has to be the most people-oriented and transparent for generations, Trump Derangement Syndrome continues unabated.

And I’m still getting Christmas card messages from across the pond denigrating a man who truly loves his country!

What on earth is wrong with people?

On Friday, September 1, 2017, President Donald Trump proclaimed that Sunday would be a National Day of Prayer in the United States for those affected by Hurricane Harvey — victims, first responders and rescuers:

Trump’s pastor friends are behind him laying on hands in prayer. Pastor Robert Jeffress is on the left with the red tie.

Trump also thanked the first responders and rescuers doing so much to mitigate Harvey’s ravaging effects.

Trump spoke then signed the proclamation (3:08 mark above). The White House has a transcript of his proclamation, most of which follows:

Americans have always come to the aid of their fellow countrymen — friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger — and we vow to do so in response to Hurricane Harvey. From the beginning of our Nation, Americans have joined together in prayer during times of great need, to ask for God’s blessings and guidance. This tradition dates to June 12, 1775, when the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of prayer following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and April 30, 1789, when President George Washington, during the Nation’s first Presidential inauguration, asked Americans to pray for God’s protection and favor.

When we look across Texas and Louisiana, we see the American spirit of service embodied by countless men and women. Brave first responders have rescued those stranded in drowning cars and rising water. Families have given food and shelter to those in need. Houses of worship have organized efforts to clean up communities and repair damaged homes. Individuals of every background are striving for the same goal — to aid and comfort people facing devastating losses. As Americans, we know that no challenge is too great for us to overcome.

As response and recovery efforts continue, and as Americans provide much needed relief to the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are reminded of Scripture’s promise that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Melania and I are grateful to everyone devoting time, effort, and resources to the ongoing response, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. We invite all Americans to join us as we continue to pray for those who have lost family members or friends, and for those who are suffering in this time of crisis.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 3, 2017, as a National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for our National Response and Recovery Efforts. We give thanks for the generosity and goodness of all those who have responded to the needs of their fellow Americans. I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey, including people who have lost family members or been injured, those who have lost homes or other property, and our first responders, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and medical professionals leading the response and recovery efforts. Each of us, in our own way, may call upon our God for strength and comfort during this difficult time. I call on all Americans and houses of worship throughout the Nation to join in one voice of prayer, as we seek to uplift one another and assist those suffering from the consequences of this terrible storm.

The Left went mad.

They complained of mixing church and state. Unlike France, the United States does not prohibit the mixing of church and state. The United States grants the freedom for people to practise their own religion and says there will be no state religion. For more information on church and state in America, see ‘Church, state and the First Amendment’, which I wrote earlier this year.

They accused Trump of intimating that people who were non-Christian could not participate. Does he have to draw them a picture every time he speaks? Everyone was encouraged to participate in their own way: ‘all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds’.

The aforementioned Pastor Jeffress gave an interview to Judge Jeanine Pirro of Fox News on November 2. He is grateful that God gave America Donald Trump:

I read somewhere last week that President Trump might not be a religious president, but he is a prayerful one. That works for me.

In July 2012 — the year of Obama’s re-election — there was the 714-PROJECT for America, which was a general — not presidential — call to prayer and meditation based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. That verse was useful then and continues to be so now:

I think of that verse often, not only for the US, but also for other nations, including the UK.

However, it does not take a national day of prayer for the faithful to bow their heads and ask for God’s blessing (the date of the tweet shows here as November 3 but is actually November 2):

Breitbart has a good article on previous National Days of Prayer. Excerpts follow.

As Trump said, Washington was the first to make such a proclamation:

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States,” Washington declared in his first Inaugural Address, the first words uttered by a president of the United States.

It is therefore hardly surprising that when the first Congress passed a resolution on September 25, 1789, calling upon Washington to proclaim a National Day of Prayer, the Father of His Country issued a proclamation to all Americans that November 26, 1789, would be a day to “offer our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful to his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor,” Washington’s proclamation begins, then encourages Americans to pray in their churches and homes on the designated day …

John Adams, the second president, made two: in 1798 and 1799. He asked for a day of:

solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer.

From James Madison — the fourth president — onwards, every president proclaimed that at least one day be a National Day of Prayer.

This was not a rare occurrence.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed March 30 to be a:

Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer.

He announced:

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord; I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

The proclamations of national days of prayer continued until 1952.

In 1952, President Harry S Truman’s and Congress’s intentions were good, however, instituting the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer in perpetuity became a day viewed by most as a time when the president’s favourite pastors go to the White House for prayer and breakfast. It is no longer an exceptional occasion which captures most Americans’ hearts. It should, but, as the decades pass, it just looks too institutionalised.

It’s better to retain that and, when necessary, add special National Days of Prayer for specific events.

Various presidents after Truman have done so. Prior to President Trump, the last to do so was George W Bush after 9/11 in 2001.

Obama had no specially designated National Days of Prayer.

Thank goodness that President Trump is resuming the tradition.

To those who do not understand a national call to prayer, Breitbart explains:

all the Establishment Clause forbids is the government officially adopting a national religion or coercing Americans to participate in a religious activity that violates their conscience.

This is what would be unconstitutional:

ordering Americans to attend church to pray this Sunday and threatening them with federal prison if they refuse …

These National Days of Prayer are appeals:

issuing a proclamation that encourages all Americans who are willing to offer prayers that accord with their individual conscience is entirely constitutional.

The Left questioned whether Trump went to church on Sunday.

Yes, he did.

He attended St John’s Episcopal Church — the Church of the Presidents — which is in Lafayette Square, very close to the White House:

As the Trumps left after the service, the president answered a question from the press:

In case that video gets deleted, here are three tweets: first, second and third.

It was great to see tweets from others who participated in this National Day of Prayer at their own local churches:

Hurricane Harvey presented a perfect opportunity to unite the country and bring people closer to God through an officially proclaimed National Day of Prayer.

President Donald Trump’s supporters have learned a lot about the political process and the media within the past year.

Last year at this time, they learned the difference between primaries and caucuses and how each works.

Those who were in the dark about the Electoral College found out more about it after the election last November.

So much news — real and fake — about Trump is posted every day on websites great and small that it is difficult to keep up.

As Trump supporters are dropping Big Media sites as their main source of news, they have been increasingly turning to — of all things — White House press briefings.

Who has ever watched White House press briefings? No one. They were something for media insiders, not the average American. They were dull and sycophantic.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, and the media have changed all that. Since the inauguration, these briefings and ‘gaggles’ (the latter by invitation only) have become must-see or must-read events.

Who knew White House press briefings could be so popular?

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 — still within Trump’s first 100 days as president — the Washington Examiner reported that Sean Spicer is one of the best known people in his administration. And it’s all thanks to his press briefings.

Excerpts from WashEx‘s article, ‘Huge: Spicer briefings draw 4.2 million viewers‘ follow, emphases mine:

There’s a reason why TMZ’s Harvey Levin recently called White House spokesman Sean Spicer one of the “most visible” people in all of Washington.

Because next to President Trump and his globe-trotting vice president, Mike Pence, Spicer’s afternoon briefings continue to be Must See Cable TV for millions of political junkies and the midday click for hundreds of thousands on Yahoo.

The ratings are stellar:

A Nielsen survey for Secrets of two weeks of ratings from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News put Spicer’s average daily viewership at 3.64 million, higher on newsy days to 4.5 million viewers.

And Yahoo told us that Spicer’s online audience sometimes averages 600,000 a day, and at least 3 million a week.

We’d definitely consider these good, and certainly fair to say the briefings have found an audience on Yahoo,” said a spokeswoman.

In addition to Spicer, Trump’s counsellor (in an advisory sense) Kellyanne Conway is also well known to the public. TMZ’s Levin says:

To me, outside of Trump and maybe, maybe Pence, the two most visible people in D.C I think it’s her and Sean Spicer. I’m saying more than anybody in Congress right now.

Unlike in previous administrations, Big Media reporters who pole up to the White House are universally opposed to Trump. Spicer, an active US Navy reservist, has a struggle on his hands every day. He rarely falters in attempting to set the record straight, day after day.

The place is standing room only every time, which also adds to the interest.

Combined, these elements make Spicer’s press briefings compelling viewing:

Conflict makes for great television,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “It’s no secret that the liberal media despise President Trump. His spokesman Sean Spicer is pushing back — hard. The media have never been slapped around like this. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, it is most entertaining,” he added.

A new feature of the briefings is that Spicer occasionally takes Skype questions from local television network news affiliates and alternative media commentators from a screen near his podium. Big Media baulked when he began opening up the floor, but the reporters and pundits on Skype ask much more informed questions than the big boys and girls do.

The press briefings are an important means of communication to all Americans, but especially to Trump supporters:

Fellow Republican spox Ron Bonjean, who handled White House communications for the effort to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, said having a big TV and internet audience helps Trump keep his message directly in front of Americans.

“The reason why the press secretary holds televised briefings is to communicate directly with the American people. This means that when millions of voters are watching Sean Spicer’s press briefing, it can only help him directly deliver what President Trump’s priorities are on a daily basis,” said Bonjean.

“Basically it keeps a constant connection for Donald Trump to use the live news coverage to people that have supported him across the country,” added Bonjean, the chief communicator for a former House speaker, former Senate majority leader and former Commerce Department secretary.

Videos of each press briefing can be found on the White House Featured Videos page.

After viewing a few of these, some prefer reading the transcripts, which will save time — and frustration with reporters who come in with the same doggone questions every day. Transcripts are on the White House What’s Happening page.

Videos can also be found on YouTube via The White House channel under Press Conferences.

Here is the corresponding transcript.

As my post on the Easter Egg Roll mentioned, Spicer is no stranger to the White House. He worked as a staffer in the George W Bush administration, when he also played the role of an Easter bunny for the Egg Roll.

On December 22, 2016, Fox News reported:

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that Spicer will get the coveted job of White House press secretary, as he announced the senior members of his communications team.

This also includes: Hope Hicks as director of strategic communications; Jason Miller as director of communications; and Dan Scavino as director of social media.

“Sean, Hope, Jason and Dan have been key members of my team during the campaign and transition. I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a statement.

Spicer was thought to have the inside track for the job, in part because of his ties to incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who currently runs the Republican National Committee.

Spicer worked alongside Priebus throughout the 2016 campaign as chief strategist and communications director at the RNC

A commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves, Spicer previously served as Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for Media and Public Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, and worked for the House Republican Conference before that

Here is a photo of him on duty in uniform taken last week with a reporter from Today, NBC’s breakfast show (photo courtesy of The_Donald):

 

On April 14, 2017, Fox News reported that Spicer has longstanding ties to both the Navy and media work:

Spicer reported to fulfill his duty at the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, a White House official told Fox News. The well-known spokesman holds the rank of commander — which sits just under the higher rank of captain in the Navy.

Spicer, who joined the Navy Reserve nearly 20 years ago while maintaining his primary work as a Republican media operative and strategist, also possesses a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

As a media operative and strategist, Spicer was part of joint naval exercises overseas in Guam, Germany and Sweden. He also oversaw media coverage of the US Navy’s operations at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Spicer’s wife, Rebecca Miller, also has a career in media and communications. When the two were married in 2004 at St Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, she was a television producer. Miller is now senior vice president, communications and public affairs, for the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The Spicers have two children.

President Donald Trump and his family attended an Easter service at Palm Beach’s Episcopal church, Bethesda-by-the-Sea, on April 16, 2017.

The Palm Beach Post tells us:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea was founded in 1889, making it the first church in Palm Beach County and the oldest Protestant church in South Florida. The rectory was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, who also drew the plans for the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and the original Norton Museum of Art, according to the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

The church’s architecture, dozens of stained-glass windows and gardens make it a popular spot for weddings and photo shoots.

It is a beautiful church, in line with most Episcopal houses of worship in the United States, as the following tweets will demonstrate.

I also enjoyed looking at members of the congregation. They remind me of the people I attended church with during my young adulthood in an Episcopal church. I miss them! (We are quite scruffy here in England when it comes to Sunday worship.)

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is the Trumps’ church:

Trump has a history with the church: He married first lady Melania there in 2005, and his youngest son, Barron, was christened there. The Trumps attended the most recent Christmas Eve service at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, receiving a standing ovation as they entered the sanctuary. Last Easter, the president, first lady and Barron attended the church’s 11 a.m. Sunday service.

And when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Mar-a-Lago in February, the first lady included a trip with Akie Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea as part of her hosting.

This is a good photo of the interior:

The Palm Beach Post advised people wishing to go to the 11 a.m. service — the one the first family attended — to make arrangements to show up early because of security arrangements. Easter services are crowded anyway, and nearly everyone who regularly attends Bethesda-by-the-Sea shows up for worship.

This is how the morning of April 16 went at the church, thanks to the tweets from Aleese Kopf, reporter for the Palm Beach Daily News — a.k.a. The Shiny Sheet, because of the smooth paper.

The Sun Sentinel shows the Trumps’ arrival. Daughter Tiffany (mother Marla Maples, second wife) holds a pink handbag:

The next set of tweets comes from Michael Delauzon, who works at the White House.

The first family entered from a door near the pulpit and the altar.

The rector, The Rev. James Harlan, greeted them:

The man in front of Barron is not the president. He is likely to be Melania’s father:

 

The president has the aisle seat.

In ‘UPDATES: Trump attends Easter service at Palm Beach church‘, the Palm Beach Post reported that a well-dressed, concerned but polite protester had been along the route to the church. She held up a pro-immigrant sign asking that Trump express concern for them. As if Donald Trump doesn’t know about immigrants! The Palm Beach Post surmised she probably went unnoticed by the first family.

The article went on to say:

A block away, the president, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron; Trump’s daughter, Tiffany; and the first lady’s parents entered the church for 11 a.m. services from a series of tents erected to give the family privacy. 

The Rev. James Harlan, the church’s rector, gave a welcome message before the service with instructions on receiving communion- and turning off cell phones and cameras …

Trump left after taking communion. The first family planned to brunch at Mar-a-Lago with Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., followed by an afternoon Easter egg hunt. 

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s director of communications, provided the photo of Mar-a-Lago:

The Trumps left later that day to return to Washington, DC.

The Palm Beach Daily News has more.

Tomorrow I hope to have a post about the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, which took place on Monday, April 17.

Over the past week, President Donald Trump welcomed Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the White House.

Japan

Before Trump welcomed Shinzo Abe and his wife to the United States last weekend, he already had a big fan club in Japan. This video was filmed on Inauguration Day:

The Abes were in Washington DC on Friday, February 10. Trump and Abe held a joint press conference, wherein Trump pledged ‘even closer’ relations with Japan, including reaffirming America’s security guarantee:

The two leaders met privately before posing for a photo op:

The Daily Mail reported that Mrs Trump did not guide Mrs Abe around Washington, because the latter already had plans for the day: a visit to Gallaudet University for the deaf and hard of hearing followed by a National Cherry Blossom Festival committee meeting at the Japanese Embassy. There is also a language barrier. Mrs Trump does not speak Japanese, and Mrs Abe does not speak English.

However, they rode together that afternoon to meet their husbands for a weekend at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach:

This video shows their arrival in Florida. Each leader had his own entourage. This was the roadside reception for Trump. Abe must have been impressed:

That evening, they had dinner with Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, Superbowl LI champions:

On Saturday, Trump and Abe discussed issues of the day over a round of golf:

Meanwhile, Melania Trump took Akie Abe for a tour of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, not far from Palm Beach, where the two couples spent the weekend.

Afterwards, the first lady took Mrs Abe to the Episcopal church where she and Trump got married, Bethesda-by-the-Sea:

A working dinner followed:

That evening, while the couples were having dinner, North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan. The two leaders made an impromptu joint statement:

Canada

Trump met with Justin Trudeau on Monday, February 13. This was a day trip.

Time reported:

The neighboring leaders, polar opposites in nearly every way, took up the thorny subjects of trade and immigration, with Trudeau eager to build a relationship with the new U.S. president.

At a joint press conference after a series of meetings, the two emphasized their shared goals. Trump pledged to work with Canada “in pursuit of our many shared interests.” Trudeau spoke of a special bond and the “deep abiding respect” between the two countries, though he also said that “relationships between neighbors are pretty complex.”

While the two leaders stressed shared interests, their contrasting views were also on display. Responding to questions from reporters, Trump defended his refugee and immigration orders, saying that “we cannot let the wrong people in.” Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness.”

Trudeau later noted that there have been times when the two countries “have differed in our approaches.” But he said “the last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they chose to govern themselves.”

Trudeau gave the president a photo. It was of Trump and Justin’s father, the late Pierre Trudeau, also a prime minister of Canada.

Trudeau also met legislators at Capitol Hill.

Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived at the White House on Thursday, February 16.

This is their formal welcome to the White House, followed by friendly conversation — they met at Trump’s residence in Trump Tower after the election — and the official photo op:

This short video from Netanyahu’s Twitter encapsulates the highlights of the day:

Trump and Netanyahu held a joint press conference before their private meeting:

NPR has a transcript of the press conference. Topics included the usual concerns, primarily peace in Israel and in the Middle East:

While the two leaders met, their wives went to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. This was apposite as February is Black History Month in the United States. Museum guides provided the two ladies with assistance in viewing important exhibits and interactive displays:

Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu was a sharp and welcome departure from the Israeli’s meeting with Obama in 2014. The Atlantic detailed the breakdown in the relationship, with one White House staffer calling Netanyahu a particularly vulgar word denoting a coward.

For that Obama staffer, if this is what a coward looks like, then I’m the pope. This is Bibi as a young man (courtesy of The_Donald):

As you can see below, Trump picked up on that at the time. Here’s a comparison between Obama and Netanyahu:

Here’s another:

Now back to the 2017 visit. The Daily Mail has a complete rundown, including photos, of the Netanyahu visit to Washington.

Melania Trump’s white suit is a Karl Lagerfeld creation.

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, thought to be a prime mover in strengthening US-Israeli relations, attended the press conference. The Kushners also know the Netanyahus well.

That evening, the Trumps co-hosted a dinner for the Netanyahus. Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) and his wife Jeanette were the other co-hosts.

Joel Pollak wrote a good article on Breitbart, detailing five ways in which this visit will improve relations between the US and Israel, not to mention the Middle East with regard to terror.

In closing, this was the fourth state visit Trump has hosted within the past three weeks.

I am not sure when we had such great presidential optics online. Despite all the slings and arrows the new president continues to take, this one best sums up his inner serenity. From the Abe visit to Mar-A-Lago (note Mike Flynn standing in front of the statue):

The Trump meetings have terrific photos and videos. Long may they continue.

Donald Trump was inaugurated five days ago.

Some Christians are disconcerted. A few examples of essays posted last week on the subject follow. Emphases mine below.

1/ John MacArthur’s Grace To You (GTY) blog has an excellent post by staffer Cameron Buettel who reminds GTY readers about obedience to government, specifically Romans 13:1-5 and MacArthur’s sermon ‘Why Christians Submit to the Government’.

GTY readers — conservative Evangelicals — were most unhappy. How on earth could an immoral, unbiblical man become president? One surmises they would have preferred the scheming, conniving and possibly criminal ‘Crooked Hillary’. Bottom line: Trump isn’t Christian enough to be in the Oval Office! (As if abortion and single sex marriage advocate Obama was?!)

2/ Moving along to the Episcopalian/Anglican site, Stand Firm, one of their contributors, A S Haley, was, rightly, more concerned about what he calls the Sea of Political Correctness. In ‘A Wave of PC Crashes into a Solid Barrier’, Haley points out:

The Sea of Political Correctness, fed since November 9 by the tears of the self-righteous, is now engulfing its devotees and followers. Vainly casting about for safe spaces where they may continue to breathe air unsullied by what they perceive as the sulfurous emanations of their opponents, they are gasping, choking and sinking as wave after wave of fresh emotional outbursts crashes over their heads …

The politically correct crowd was so certain of its ability to name the next President that it shattered on the shoals of the Electoral College. It has been unable since then to re-form under a single, agreed leader. It is instead trying to coalesce under a common hatred of the successful candidate. Hatred, however, like fear, needs a crowd in which to dissolve, and a crowd needs direction—which is supplied by a leader.

Although I disagree with Haley when he says that Trump’s platform lacks

concrete programs of proposed legislation and executive actions

because those had been laid out in detail on Trump’s campaign website for over a year, he is correct in saying:

there is every reason to hope that a beginning has been made—is being made as I write—and that, with God’s grace, America may truly once more show the way in its humility, in its decency, and in its willingness to serve without expectation of reward.

One of Haley’s readers wrote about the protests during the weekend of the inauguration:

In fact, since one of the main complaints about Trump is his vulgarity, the vulgarity and viciousness of these speakers should negate any of those complaints.

I hope so. How can people — e.g. the GTY readers above — miss the stark contrast?

3/ From there, I went for a Reformed (Calvinist) perspective. Dr R Scott Clark of of Westminster Seminary California is the author of several books on the Reformed Confessions. He also writes the ever-helpful Heidelblog. He posted an excellent essay at the time of the inauguration, ‘A Reminder Of Why We Should Not Long For A State Church’.

The GTY readers moaning about Trump not being Christian enough should peruse it, but it looks at something anathema to conservative biblicists: history.

Excerpts follow:

… I am regularly astonished at the number of American Christians who seem to want a state-church. They seem not to understand the history of the post-canonical history of state-churches nor the difference between national Israel and the USA …

The governor of my state is a former Jesuit seminarian turned New Ager. I certainly do not want the Hon. Edmund G. Brown, Jr dictating what is to be preached or when it is to be preached. I am sure that Americans who advocate for a state-church do not want the Hon. Barack Hussein Obama or Donald J. Trump to meddle in the life of the institutional church.

Of course, when this objection is raised, the reply is an appeal to an eschatology of great expectations. This raises the problem of the chicken and the egg. Does the postmillennialist want to facilitate the coming earthly glory age through a state-church or is the state-church only to come about after the glory age has descended? This is not clear to me …

Under the new covenant and New Testament, there is no state-church. There is the state and there is the church. Calvin described these two realms as God’s duplex regimen (twofold kingdom). He rules over both by his providence but he rules the church, in his special providence, by his Law and Gospel revealed in holy Scripture. He rules over the civil magistrate by his general providence through his law revealed in nature and in the human conscience (see Romans 1–2) …

The visible church’s vocation is to announce the Kingdom of God in Christ, to preach the law and the gospel, administer the sacraments and church discipline (Matt 16 and 18) …

4/ I then sought another sensible Calvinist perspective, this time from Dr Michael Horton, who also teaches at the same seminary as Dr Clark. He is Westminster Seminary California’s J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology and Apologetics.

The Washington Post invited Horton to write an article on faith. On January 3, the paper published ‘Evangelicals should be deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s attempt to mainstream heresy’. It concerns one of the prosperity gospel preachers who prayed at the inauguration: Paula White.

On the one hand, I heartily agree that White is a very poor example of a Christian pastor. On the other hand, she and Trump found solidarity in the prosperity gospel which he grew up with under Norman Vincent Peale. Furthermore, White was helpful to his campaign in getting out the vote among this sector of misguided churchgoers.

Even more unfortunate than her praying at the inauguration is the news that she will head the Evangelical Advisory Board in the Trump administration. I suspect this had not been announced when Horton wrote his article. Still, Trump is no theologian. I refer readers to Clark’s essay above.

Horton points out that such preachers have been around the White House before and are popular among certain sections of American society:

Peale and [Robert ‘Crystal Cathedral’] Schuller were counselors to CEOs and U.S. presidents. Word of Faith has been more popular among rural sections of the Bible Belt, where faith healers have had a long and successful history. But in the 1980s, the two streams blended publicly, with Copeland, Hinn and Schuller showing up regularly together on TBN.

He goes on to explain the dangerous heresy:

Televangelist White has a lot in common with Trump, besides being fans of [Joel] Osteen. Both are in their third marriage and have endured decades of moral and financial scandal. According to family values spokesman James Dobson, another Trump adviser, White “personally led [Trump] to Christ.”

Like her mentor, T. D. Jakes, White adheres closely to the Word of Faith teachings. Besides throwing out doctrines like the Trinity and confusing ourselves with God, the movement teaches that Jesus went to the cross not to bring forgiveness of our sins but to get us out of financial debt, not to reconcile us to God but to give us the power to claim our prosperity, not to remove the curse of death, injustice and bondage to ourselves but to give us our best life now. White says emphatically that Jesus is “not the only begotten Son of God,” just the first. We’re all divine and have the power to speak worlds into existence.

Again, Trump doesn’t get this because his family left their mainstream Presbyterian church in Queens after his confirmation to worship at Peale’s Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan. After Trump married Ivana and became even more successful, he drifted away from the church. Although in recent years he has been attending Episcopal church services, his theological formation isn’t very good. But, again, echoing Calvin’s two-fold kingdom theology, voters did not elect Trump as Pastor of the United States but rather President of the United States.

I nodded in agreement to this comment, which is 100% true:

Trump is president not a theologian and Horton shouldn’t be holding him up to that standard. Where was Dr. Horton when Planned Parenthood and the Gay marriage thingy was going full steam under Obama. Yes, Horton, we realize you are not an evangelical fundie, but jumping on Trump for this?

Michael plays the ‘guilt by association’ card very well.

Correct. I do not recall Horton criticising Obama’s policies very much. I’ve been reading and listening to him since 2009.

5/ Finally, I found Dr Carl Trueman‘s article on First Things, ‘President Trump, Therapist-In-Chief?’

Trueman, a Presbyterian, is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History and holds the Paul Woolley Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He is politically centrist but theologically conservative.

Trueman says:

I agree with Horton’s analysis but would take the concern a step further. All Americans, not just Evangelicals, should be worried that Paula White is praying at the inauguration, though not for particularly religious reasons. By and large, the rites of American civic religion are harmless enough, bland baptisms of the status quo by the application of a bit of liturgy emptied of any real dogmatic significance or personal demands.

That is what inauguration prayers are largely about. Rightly or wrongly, everyone is represented, especially those who were helpful to the incoming president during campaign season.

He concludes that the real shame is that Trump seems to be endorsing the notion of ‘Psychological Man’.

However, once again, may I remind Drs Trueman and Horton: voters did not elect Trump to serve as the nation’s pastor-in-chief.

6/ The best rebuttals to Trueman’s article is in the comments to his essay. The two comments that nailed it perfectly came from Mike D’Virgilio, whose website is called Keeping Your Kids Christian. It looks very good.

D’Virgilio is a Trump supporter and I agree with his assessments. Excerpts follow. First, from this comment:

I believe Trump is a net positive for Christianity because what he’s doing (including putting the huge “Merry Christmas” signs on his podium during his thank you tour) is potentially contributing to the re-building of the Christian plausibility structure of America. The term “plausibility structure” goes back to sociologist Peter Berger’s 1967 book The Sacred Canopy. In a more recent book he defines this simply as, “the social context within which any particular definition of reality is plausible”. In other words, what *seems* real to people. For the last 50 years the secularists have driven American culture off a cliff (via education, media, Hollywood, etc.) so that the dominant plausibility structure has been postmodernism/relativism/materialism/secularism (they are all logically intertwined). So God for many people (the rise of the “Nones” for instance) *seems* no more real than Santa Claus. Rarely, if ever, do people grapple with the evidence for the truth claims of Christianity; they just drift away or don’t see it as relevant at all.

So Trump, regardless of the content of his own faith, or those at his inauguration, is possibly making Christianity plausible again. Most Americans don’t pay attention to what these people actually believe, the theological content of their faith, such as it is. But all of a sudden with Trump this Christianity thing doesn’t seem like such the ugly cultural step-child anymore … None of this will change over night, but the arrival of Trump is the first time I’ve had hope in this regard since, oh, I was born!

… And I agree with pretty much everything Carl says here (I’m a graduate of Westminster myself), but I don’t at all agree that Trump is contributing to a therapeutic faith and the triumph of the psychological

This is from D’Virgilio’s second lengthy comment:

… There is no other candidate who has done what Trump has done, or could be doing what he’s doing. Cruz is closest of the bunch, but I’m afraid he’s just not a winsome fellow. Once you get beyond the caricature of Trump, he’s a very likable, appealing showman. Everyone who knows him likes him, says he’s humble (impossible to believe for many) and kindhearted.

The greatest thing he’s done is blow up political correctness. He’s taken that on, along with the shamelessly corrupt media that promotes it, in a way no other Republican can even get close. This is huge for a Christian plausibility structure because PC is antithetical to a biblical/classical (in the sense the objective truth exists) worldview …

And Trump was Trump before the Apprentice. Trump made the Apprentice, the Apprentice didn’t make Trump. So I totally disagree Hollywood had anything to do with making the man, The Man. I don’t disagree with your assessment of the secular materialism, which is one of the reasons I initially wanted nothing to do with Trump … He doesn’t have to be an orthodox, Bible believing Christian to fight for Christians, to appreciate and respect Christians, to love America and the Christian influence in its history. I leave the soul judgments to God. I’m just grateful he’s our next president, and not that other person.

I realise some readers are apprehensive about Trump, what he might do and what he represents. I hope this has given them some food for thought, especially in terms of Christianity in America.

Let’s remember that there were four other members of the clergy besides Paula White and a rabbi. Furthermore, in his remarks, Franklin Graham reminded everyone that there is only one God.

In closing, sensible Christians living in the United States should be relieved Trump is in the White House. This will be borne out in due course.

In the meantime, rather than sitting around carping, we can always pray that he becomes a better, more orthodox Christian.

Friday, January 20, marked the beginning of the Don of a new era for the United States.

As many have said, it is always darkest before the Don.

What follows are highlights of not only Inauguration Day but the whole weekend.

Far from being austere, as many of us expected, it was wall-to-wall activity from dawn to dusk!

Before the post unfolds, let’s remember that:

It is possible because Big Media are — and have been — plain contrary. That’s an archaic use of contrary, but, in that sense, it means stubborn and resistant to reason.

All credit to Bill Mitchell, he boarded the Trump Train just before or after the Republican National Convention. Even though he objected to Pepe the Frog, the unofficial Trump mascot, he duly apologised on Twitter. Pepe gained traction with Hillary Clinton, who even lambasted the cartoon frog in a campaign speech.

Bill Mitchell hosts and presents YourVoice™ Radio, likely to become more popular over the next four years.

Even more interesting is this quote from Pastor Robert Jeffress, a big Trump supporter:

Thursday, January 19

January 19 was a busy day for the Trump family.

Flight from La Guardia to Joint Base Andrews

Donald Trump’s flight with his family, including his two sisters and brother, would be the last one he would take before becoming president.

Fox 10 Phoenix has a great video of the plane landing at Andrews. The interesting bit starts at 10:55 when someone on board tells ten-year-old Barron to leave the plane first. Not surprisingly, Barron, unusually wearing his hair over his forehead, is reluctant. The future first couple disembark at the 13:00 point. The extensive motorcade departs at 17:07, complete with a first-responder truck and an ambulance. The black Chevy Suburban vans are reinforced just like armoured cars:

Inauguration Luncheon

Once in DC, the Trumps went to the Trump International Hotel (The Old Post Office), where the incoming president held an Inauguration Luncheon to honour Republican Party leaders:

Welcome Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial

That afternoon, the Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration took place in front of the massive — and grand — Lincoln Memorial, which is considerably larger than one imagines. Seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.

A variety of musical acts, including splendid military bands, performed. Trump gave a speech before a display from Grucci Fireworks ended the event in the early evening. Unfortunately, the last two displays let the whole thing down. ‘USA’ appeared as ‘USR’ and the American flag was, sadly, a blur. It is a pity, because their fireworks show before that was excellent.

This short video from Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media, gives a great summary of the event, including the fireworks. From left to right are Tiffany Trump (mother is Marla Maples Trump), Ivanka (Ivana Trump), the first couple, granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter), Donald Jr (Ivana) with his wife Vanessa and son, then to the far right, Eric (Ivana) and his wife:

The first couple contemplated the larger than life statue of Abraham Lincoln:

The event ended with the new first couple thanking their supporters. Never mind the sentiment from a Twitter user. I wanted to show you just how ‘yuuge’ Lincoln’s statue is:

The Daily Mail has a comprehensive article, complete with photos and a video, about the concert and Trump’s address at the end, just before the fireworks.

Interestingly, Trump had a special meeting afterwards with a 23-year-old single father, Shane Bouvet, from Illinois who had given an interview to the Washington Post just days before. Trump saw the article and made sure he could meet the man, who is struggling to make ends meet. The billionaire had a private conversation with Bouvet and gave him a cheque for $10,000.

Campaign donors dinner

However, the evening had only just begun. A dinner to thank campaign donors took place afterwards at DC’s majestic Union Station. Both the Trumps and the Pences attended and addressed their guests.

Mike Pence opened his remarks by saying the administration would repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump (2:59) said that choosing Mike Pence was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He then went on to talk about the amazing election results where Republicans won in states they had lost forever. He mentioned Iowa. They had not won there since 1952. He then spoke about his cabinet nominees. The high point, however, was when he thanked Kellyanne Conway (18:28), the first successful female presidential campaign manager in American history. (I don’t understand what these feminists were protesting at the weekend in DC. Surely, Kellyanne’s success and the many women employees at the Trump Organization prove them wrong.)

Then it was time to turn in for some rest. The Pences returned to their house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which they rented and moved to soon after the election.

The first couple and family members spent the night at Blair House, a complex of four buildings for guests of the president.

The photo below shows Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner at Blair House. Kushner will play a principal role as a presidential adviser. Both are practising Jews. Ivanka converted before her wedding. Kushner recently gave up holdings in his family real estate firm to be able to take on his new role:

Inauguration Day

Early in the morning, preparations for the inauguration ceremony began.

Meanwhile, Bikers For Trump were arriving in Washington, DC to form ‘a wall of meat’ in case the new president needed protection. Days earlier, Clinton family friend Dominic Puopolo, 51, was arrested by Miami Beach police for saying that he would be at the inauguration to ‘kill President Trump’.

This photo shows Donald Trump ready to leave Blair House in Washington, DC early in the morning of January 20. Trump’s granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former head of the Republican Party, are to the right of Trump:

Church service

From there, it was on to a morning service on Friday at St John’s Church (Episcopal) — known as the Church of the Presidents — in Lafayette Square, near the White House. The rector, the Reverend Dr. Luis León, greeted the first couple in front of the church.

They were joined by family and prominent well wishers. The first couple are on the far left centre of the photo. The Pences are in the lower left-hand corner:

The aforementioned Pastor Jeffress delivered the sermon:

Meeting at the White House

The first couple left St John’s for the White House, where they had coffee with the Obamas:

Melania Trump gave a large gift from Tiffany & Co to Michelle Obama. Presenting a gift is a tradition from an incoming first lady to a departing one.

Afterwards, it was on to the Capitol building for the swearing-in ceremony:

Inauguration ceremony

Trump quipped at the donor’s dinner the night before that he didn’t care if it rained on Inauguration Day, because at least people would see that his hair was real!

The incoming president awaited his cue inside the Capitol building:

All living former presidents are invited to attend the inauguration and are seated near the front. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn, William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary and George W Bush (Bush II) and Laura were in attendance.

George H W Bush (Bush I) and Barbara sent in their acceptance but were hospitalised days earlier. On Tuesday, January 10, he sent Trump a cordial, witty letter of regret.

Although Bush II tweeted the following earlier, at the swearing-in ceremony, he joked ad nauseam with the Clintons, seated next to him and Laura, signifying to the television viewer that he was closer to them than to Trump, his fellow Republican. But we all knew that the Bushes were NeverTrumpers because they said so.

Despite Trump’s sincerity, here’s the hypocrisy of it all. Dan Scavino Jr, rightly, took it sincerely. Then, the live coverage rolled and something else entirely was on display. Trump, no doubt, expected something different based on this (Bush I was the 41st president, by the way):

These were the prayers offered before the inauguration by clergy who were principal Trump supporters:

The Revd Franklin Graham did not hesitate to say there is only one God:

Please note:

Here is the swearing-in by Chief Justice John Roberts. The first couple’s son, Barron, 10, is to the right of the first lady. She held two closed Bibles, the Lincoln Bible (bottom) and Trump’s own, a gift from his mother (top):

Entertainment Weekly reports that Trump’s inauguration received the second highest television ratings for that event. Top-rated was Obama’s first swearing-in, which 37.8m Americans watched in 2009. Trump’s audience was 30.6m. However, Heavy points out that, in 1981, 41.8m people watched Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. That places Obama in second place and Trump in third. Definitive online viewing figures are unavailable at this time.

Important lines from the inaugural speech included the following. First, on the elites, several of whom were present. Politico reported:

“Their victories have not been your victories,” he said. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.” He also made a promise: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Also these (see here, here and here):

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

The closing lines were the following:

To Americans: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. Your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again – and yes, together, WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

However, most important were Trump’s mentions of God, including:

We will be protected by God.

You can view the full speech here or here. You can find the transcript here and here.

WND‘s Garth Kant wrote of the contrast between Trump and his predecessor with regard to the inauguration speech:

Trump mentioned himself just three times in the 1,400 words he delivered in his speech lasting 16 minutes and 20 seconds. He referred to the American people 45 times.

By comparison, Obama, as is his wont, mentioned himself 207 times in 84 minutes while campaigning for Hillary during a November speech ostensibly about her.

And, to make sure it was crystal clear that there has been a sea change not just in style but also in substance, Trump emphatically uttered the Obama administration’s three forbidden words: “radical Islamic terrorism,” which, he promised, “we will eliminate from the face of the earth.”

Kant channelled JFK’s Camelot:

However, the speech wasn’t just about ending American erosion. It was about a bright new beginning. Just as did Kennedy, Trump envisioned a promising future. One in which:

“We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

“We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

One could arguably call it Kenndyesque.

Kant was most complimentary of the first daughter but couldn’t say enough about the new first lady:

This was grace personified.

A stately, poised, and stunning elegance were certainly part of it. But there was more. It wasn’t just what she was wearing. It was her bearing. Her perfectly poised demeanor.

And the crowd could clearly sense it, even if they could no more articulate it than to say “wow” over and over, which was what so many were doing.

She was a regal presence.

There was nobility.

Not because of her new station in life, but because of her carriage. The way she carried herself. Full of poise and grace.

Congressional Lunch

Before lunch, President Trump had work to attend to at the Capitol, signing his cabinet nominations into law. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R, WI) is standing next to Barron. At the front are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) and, on the right, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA):

Trump spoke at the lunch and was gracious enough to publicly acknowledge his opponent Hillary Clinton, present with Bill. Trump’s daughter Tiffany sat at their table. You can see all the speeches here.

The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) once again lent their Eagle Lectern for use at the luncheon.

Inaugural parade

The Trumps walked for two minutes in the inaugural parade:

After the walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, the motorcade drove up to the White House, where the Trumps, Pences and family members disembarked and walked to the reviewing stand.

Barron probably found the two-hour event overwhelming at times (I would have), but he enjoyed himself:

The military bands played and marched past, as did a myriad of high school and university bands and special groups representing American history and service.

One of the those groups was the Navajo Code Talkers. Only two were able to make it to the parade. One of my readers, the author of the Pacific Paratrooper blog, wrote about their invaluable role in the Pacific during the Second World War. Well worth a read.

The Talledega College Marching Tornado Band from Alabama participated for the first time. Talledega is an all black college founded by two former slaves after the Civil War. Their band director received threats when he said the college wanted to perform in the parade. Since then, they have received more than $1m in donations which will be dedicated to the band’s needs. Talledega are a special band, because the college has no football team, so they rely on band contests and big parades such as this.

The full video of the parade is below. New York Military Academy, Trump’s alma mater, are at 2:03. Talledega are at 2:09. The Navajo Code Talkers are at 2:14. Virginia Military Institute closed the parade.

But, for Barron, the big highlight was the Rural Tractor Brigade (2:22:00), magnificently souped up. Look at his face (2:23:00). He beams and says, ‘Yesss!’ At 2:24:00, it looks as if Mike Pence sees the lad’s enthusiasm. He probably thought, ‘We’ve got to get him to Indiana for a tractor ride!’ (Separate tractor video here.)

After the parade

President Trump was eager to do some work before attending the evening’s events:

The Daily Mail has more.

Inaugural balls

The president and first lady — and the Pences — attended three inaugural balls.

Two took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The other was held at the National Building Museum.

Donald Trump Jr, his wife Vanessa and daughter Kai were ready to go:

This video shows President Trump and First Lady Melania at one of the balls dancing to My Way:

At the Armed Services Ball, the Trumps and Pences danced with military personnel (starts at 2:21):

There was also a magnificent cake for all to enjoy:

You can read press pool reports here and here.

First lady and first daughters attire

Melania Trump’s stunning inauguration outfit was a Ralph Lauren creation.

The first lady co-designed her striking silk crepe inaugural ballgown with Hervé Pierre, former creative director at Carolina Herrera. This stunning creation will help him launch his own couture house.

Pierre told Women’s Wear Daily:

“It was an amazing experience!” he continued, noting that Trump’s contributions were technical as well as aesthetic. “She knows what she likes. Our conversations were, and are, very easy. She knows about fashion, as a former model. She is aware about constructions, so we have already the same vocabulary when it comes to designing a dress.”

Ivanka Trump’s sparkling gown came from Carolina Herrera’s fashion house. Tiffany Trump purchased her gown from a Hollywood design house, Simin Couture. Ladies will enjoy full size photos and the article in the Daily Mail.

Saturday, January 21

Newspapers from around the world featured the inauguration on their front pages.

Saturday was a day of prayer and work for President Trump.

Prayer came first.

National Prayer Service

The National Prayer Service was held at the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington, DC.

It featured 26 religious leaders. Most were Christian. Others came from world faiths such as Judaism and Islam as well as more diverse groups, such as the Navajo Nation.

The following are short videos and photos from the service:

This girl, Marlana Van Hoose, was born blind and given only a year to live. The video below is from the service. She received a standing ovation afterwardsled by the First Lady!

Marlana is a committed Christian, firm in her faith. God has blessed her with a beautiful voice. She praises Him in song splendidly. She is yet another argument against abortion. May God bless her parents for giving her life and good, loving care.

In the next photo we see the Trumps and the Pences in the front row. May God bless them and keep them safe in the years ahead.

Sunday, January 22

On a lighter note, one of Trump’s grandsons feels at home in the White House:

Later, there was serious work to attend to:

The Conservative Treehouse has an excellent post on this group of people, most of whom hold no political office (emphases in the original):

This afternoon President Trump and Vice-President Pence participated in swearing in the White House Senior Staff.  These are officials who represent the office of the President.  For the first time in modern political history, these are mostly ordinary citizen staff members from outside public office….

…A representative staff of outsiders, reflecting a

representative government for outsiders… Forgotten no more.

President Donald Trump has only selected a group of 30 people for commission to act as officers of the President and representatives of the White House.  Together with their families, the official ceremony to pledge an oath to their office took place this afternoon.

Then:

Like millions around the world, I am praying in thanksgiving for the new president’s safe inauguration. We were very worried something would prevent it from taking place.

Now we look ahead, remaining prayerful for success.

How blessed America is! How blessed the world is!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.                      2 Chronicles 7:14

In His infinite mercy, God heard our prayers and acknowledged our repentance by giving us Donald Trump. Those were words I never thought I would write, yet, here we are.

Hand of God leedsacukIn anticipation of Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, below are two Prayers for the President of the United States from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), used by the Episcopal Church in America.

The 1928 BCP is used in very few Episcopal churches these days, but many of us who worshipped with it miss its beauty.

These prayers form part of the Morning Prayer liturgy:

A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Or this.

O LORD our Governor, whose glory is in all the world; We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and to all in Authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Trumps and the Pences will attend a morning service on Friday at St John’s Church in Lafayette Square, near the White House. It is known as the Church of the Presidents. No doubt, the celebrant will use a more modern version of one of the above intercessions for the incoming president and his advisers.

As an Episcopalian — now Anglican, by virtue of living in the UK — I am delighted that the president-elect worships in Episcopal churches. (He and the future first lady were married at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach and attend services there. Trump was raised a Presbyterian.)

St John’s Church has served the faithful of Washington, DC since 1815. Its bell, erected in 1822, was designed by Paul Revere’s son, Joseph. It has been in continuous service ever since.

The church’s 25 stained glass windows were made in Chartres, France, a historic centre of stained glass since the Middle Ages. They were installed between 1883 and 1885. They depict events in the life of Jesus. The main window above the altar interprets the Last Supper.

Beginning with James Madison, every US president has attended services at St John’s. That said, everyone is welcome as a member or as a visitor. There are 1,000 members of the congregation.

This is a beautiful photo of the interior:

You can read more about St John’s church services here.

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