We’re Haunted by the Ghosts of the 20th Century

Communist Kids (Antifa) Spanish Civil War

So . . . that recent ugliness and bloodshed in Charlottesville . . . some thoughts about the larger meaning and historical context. (Because that’s what I do here, provide historical, biblical context for current events.)

The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) taught me a jarring lesson I’ve never forgotten. Namely, that not every conflict features a side that good people can root for. Lifetimes of reading fiction, and watching movies and television, have left us all with an unthinking, unquestioned assumption that in every war there is one side that is “right” and another that is wrong.

But when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran there was nothing for decent people to do but sit back wish that somehow both sides could lose.

The Iraqi’s were using chemical weapons and indiscriminately targeting civilians.

Iranian children off to be machine gun fodder and human mine sweepers

At the same time the Iranians were recruiting tens of thousands of young inexperienced volunteers and recklessly throwing them into battle in pointless human wave assaults.

Whenever they encountered an Iraqi minefield, they convinced or coerced child soldiers to walk through the fields to clear them—by setting off the mines with their bodies.

Again, in Iran vs. Iraq, there was no one to “root for.” Both sides were despicable in their own distinct way. A victory for either side would mean their particular brand of evil would advance, and many would suffer.

In some conflicts, everyone is the bad guy.

I was reminded of this truth while following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia over the last few days. The reprehensible “white nationalists” who showed up Friday night with tiki torches from their local home improvement stores were instantly mocked by liberals and conservatives alike. Here’s Sonny Bunch of the conservative Washington Free Beacon:

Of course, mockery and humor is a human coping reflex. The reality is that these angry, foolish, mis-educated, boneheads are drinking from a toxic, demonic ideological fountain.

As we know, the next day a small army of counter-protestors descended upon poor Charlottesville. These were to some degree the usual suspects—the professional marxist and anarchist protesters who can be counted on “occupy” Wall Street, rage against capitalism at G7 summits, or shut down a freeway for the environment. However, many of these perenniel protesters are now marching under a new flag. The call themselves “Antifa.”  Here’s the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on the group:

Antifa is a left to far-left, anarchist political movement of autonomous, self-described anti-fascist groups in the United States. The term is loosely used with anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, as well as Anarchism and anti-capitalism.

As we now know, the violent conflict that both sides seemed to be prepared for and to actually crave, unfolded, with tragic results. A young woman was killed and many others critically injured when a clearly unbalanced, amped-up white nationalist bro borrowed a page from the Islamists playbook and rammed a shiny new Dodge Challenger at high speed into a crowd.

Sadly, it is the 1930s all over again. As numerous posts on this site have revealed, “We’ve Seen This Before.” Here’s what I mean by that.

A Little History

The first half of the 20th Century is essentially a story of two murderous giants locked in a titanic fight to the death—Marxist Communism and Fascist Nationalism. This death match was well underway decades before Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Russia in the summer of 1941.

Meanwhile, democracies like Great Britain and United States—what Winston Churchill liked to call “Christian Civilization”—represented a third way. Let’s call it Christian Capitalism. The Christian Capitalist nations largely looked on from the sidelines as the two competing totalitarian evils fought each other, trying to figure out who to root for based on their own national interests.

The two movements were actually cousins. This was a battle between those who advocated “international socialism” (the marxists) and those who championed “national socialism.” (indeed the official name of the Nazi party in Germany was the National Socialist Party.) Thus the fight was about whose utopian socialist vision was going to prevail.

By the way, it’s proven axiom of human tribal behavior that small differences between similar groups results more furious hatred and resentment than the large differences between very different groups. This is why Protestant denominations have continually splintered into ever-smaller sub-denominations.

Throughout the ’20s and ’30s, Communists and Fascists were vying for political power in numerous European countries. And that struggle erupted into a full blown civil war in Spain.

In the late ‘30s, Soviet Russia-aligned Marxists fought Nazi Germany-aligned Fascists in the streets of Spanish cities. Meanwhile, back in the USA and Great Britain, the same artists, actors, novelists, and screenwriters who had romanticized and rooted for the Communist takeover of Russia, began to do the same for the cause of the Communists in Spain.

For a time, Earnest Hemingway embedded himself as a journalist with the Communist rebels in that war and his writing helped further romanticize the cause. He also wrote and funded a propaganda film designed to create sympathy for the communist side.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, many Kremlin records were made public. Among the revelations was that Hemingway had been recruited as a Soviet operative and was on the payroll of the KGB.

Again, let me be clear about this, both sides in these struggles for power were and are demonic and reprehensible. Millions of innocents died under Nazi rule. Many millions more died under Communist rule. As with the Iran-Iraq war, there is no side to root for when these two idolatries clash.

But the Arts and Academics crowd has always been infatuated with the Communist-Anarchist side of this evil equation. And have actively worked through movies and other forms of entertainment to encourage you and I to make the same choice. Liberals are largely romantics. Or more likely, extreme romantics are more likely to be liberal. And they find the egalitarian narrative of Communism irresistable.

The problem is that the socialist promise of equality for all is a trap. As in Venezuela currently, after surrenduring your freedoms, everyone ends up equally poor (except for a small clique of privilged elites.)

Think the upraised fist as a symbol of #Resistance is new? As the picture of the Spanish kids at the top of this page reveals, it’s older than the open palmed fascist “heil.”

Peace Activists

Both ideologies are anti-Christian and anti-Semitic at root and core. Both have resulted in the deaths of millions and millions. Both are authoritarian and freedom-hating.

These two ghosts of the last century are walking among us again. And it is presenting us with the same challenges the Christians of Spain and Germany faced 100 years ago.

Boston

In our rush to rightly recoil from and reject one great evil (white nationalism) we can find ourselves tacitly endorsing (or at least accepting) the anti-Christian, anti-biblical premises of the other race-based ideology. That’s a mistake. It’s a mistake the Left and its media allies want to help you make.

The “white nationalists” and alt-right numbskulls can turn out a couple of hundred people at most for one of their tiki torch jamborees, while Antifa and it’s affiliated groups— many of which have billionaire benefactors like George Soros—can turn out tens of thousands on short notice.

(Have I mentioned that I find the racists, Nazis, and white nationalists reprehensible? I truly do.)

This is precisely what happened in Boston yesterday. There, a puny white nationalist rally was dwarfed by an estimated 20 thousand counter demonstrators. A small subset of these, the hard-core Antifa marxist-anarchists threw rocks and bottles filled with urine at police.

Please don’t take my word about the aims of the Antifa movement. Take them at their word:

These are the guys “all decent people” are supposed to be siding with in this mud-wrestling match.

You in?

Of course, the racists are despicable in their own special ways.

Why do I keep re-empasizing how vile and nasty I find racism in all forms, particularly white supremicism? First, because it’s true and I don’t want to be misinterpreted. But also because the current environment of hysteria demands it.

Right now there is a push to use the appearance of these nasty little frat boys and their kreepy klanny uncles as a club to beat the vast, decent middle of our society into embracing the equally demonic agenda of the anti-Christian, anti-Semitic left.

In other words, if you’re not for Antifa, you’l by default a Nazi.

Example, Dave?

A few days ago poor Ed Werder, a longtime football analyst for ESPN, and a profoundly decent human being, got called out on Twitter for preferring to stick to writing about sports rather than weigh in on the side of the social justice warriors:

This is the club we’re all about to get beaten with: “If you refuse to take the side of the Marxist-Anarchists then you’re taking the side of the Racist-Nazis.”

But this is a false dilemma.

As in the ’20s and ’30s, the times would like to insist that Christians choose between two demonic anti-Christ idols, and worship at its altar. There was a third choice then. There is a third choice now.

I’m sorry, but it requires little courage for white Christians to make social media statements condemning racism. I’ve made them. Meant them. Will continue to make them. But the social costs for engaging in this kind of “virtue signaling” are very low.

What is becoming increasingly costly is taking a principled stand against both kinds of evil. In fact, the view I’ve just expressed is now being derisively condemned as “both sides-ism” by the Left.

However, just because there’s a name for it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Evil is evil. An Anti-Christ spirit is an Anti-Christ spirit. And when two brands of evil go to war, anyone who insists that I pick a side is going to be sorely disappointed.

I continue to stand on the side of my brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of skin tone, sex, or nationality. If you’re “in Him,” I’m with you.

But if you’re against Him, you’re on your own.

H H H H H

Recommended Reading:

Blather Gold: Father Daughter Road Trip

Originally posted on BWR, March 2010

Female Offspring Unit #3 and I drove down to Austin Friday night so she could participate in a thingy Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon we were headed back up I-35 toward home.

Now I have always endeavored to bring up children who are culturally literate and appreciators of fine art. That’s why I’ve insisted each of them have a broad knowledge of late 70s classic rock, disco, and early 80s New Wave.

Why allow a teenager to remain isolated in an iPod, Jonas Brothers cocoon when she can be introduced to the stark differences in Doobie Brothers music pre-and post-Michael McDonald?

On this trip, we discussed one of my favorite topics–“Misheard Lyrics.” Misheard lyrics are words to a song that are sung in such a mumblypeg way that you have no idea what’s actually being sung, so your mind makes something up–even if it makes no sense.

The trigger for this discussion was hearing Fleetwood Mac’s song, Dreams. It’s a long-standing joke between me and FOU#3 that Stevie Nicks is singing this lyric:

Women, they will come and they will go.

When Lorraine watches you clean your nose.

Stevie Nicks is the queen of misheard lyrics. The titular hook in Nicks’ duet with Tom Petty is Stop Dragging My Heart Around. But millions thought they heard, “Stop driving my car around.”

In her duet with Don Henley she sang, “Give to me your leather, take from me my lace.” But many heard something else. Among the interpretations of Nicks’ utterance in tongues was:

Give to me your liver. Take from my, my legs.

Give to me your letter. . . J. Cromley’s my name.

Give to me your ladder . . . J. Cromley, my ace.

The band Boston and Elton John have also proved an enduring source of lyrical confusion. The line from Boston’s iconic song, More Than a Feeling: “I see my Marianne, walking away,” has bewildered several generations of radio listeners. It has been sung:

I see Maid Marion, walking away.

I see my derriere walking away.

And thousands of other delicious iterations.

One of the most famous misheard lyrics of all time is a line from Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze”. An astonishing number of people through the years thought the line “‘scuse me, while I kiss the sky,” was actally:

‘scuse me, while I kiss this guy.

Perhaps that’s because they were in some sort of lavender fog themselves.

“Kiss this Guy” is the name of a website devoted entirely to misheard lyrics and it makes for pretty hilarious browsing. But I digress. Back to our road trip . . .

A Detour Down “Roots 66”

As we approached Temple, Texas from the south we reached the exit for Holland, Texas. I’ve driven past the sign scores of times and told myself that someday . . . on a day when I wasn’t in such a hurry to get where I’m going . . . I was going to take that exit and visit Holland. This was that day.

 

As we drive the nine miles off the Interstate toward Holland, I told my daughter the story of how it got its start in 1874 when my great-great-uncle James Holland bought some land and moved there from Tennessee by way of Arkansas. He had cotton farming in mind.

Shortly thereafter he was joined by his father (my ggg-grandfather John A. Holland) and seven siblings. There, in those post-Civil War years, they homesteaded on Darr’s Creek and built the first steam-power cotton gin the area had ever seen.

Some of the houses from the 1880s are still standing in the area.

The powerlines are a slighly more recent addition.

 

In the decades that followed, Holland seeds blew all over Bell county, taking root in tiny towns with evocative Texas names like Cyclone, Prairie Dell, Red Ranger, and Salado.

Today, you’ll find the graves of John A. and Louisa Holland, side by side, at Cedar Valley Cemetery outside of Salado. John’s headstone reads:

Born June 19, 1824 – Died May 7, 1908

 

My daughter and I talked about all of the boisterous history that is surely squeezed into that delicate little dash mark sitting quietly between those dates. Eighty-four years of sweat and heartache and adventure and accomplishment.

As a boy, he would have seen men who served with Washington in the Continental Army. Before he died, he would read of the Wright Brothers motorized flight at Kitty Hawk and see babies who would be alive for the birth of the Internet and the dawn of the 21st Century.

I would have loved to have heard his stories, but I was born about 60 years too late. He might have carried some anecdotes from his own grandfather, who had ended up in the mountains of East Tennessee (Grainger County) by way of a land grant he earned fighting the British in the War of 1812.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, my great-grandfather, Samuel Houston Holland, born in 1884, left Bell County, Texas for Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The motivation for his move is not known to me–but it’s the reason I and hundreds other Hollands were born in the Sooner state rather than the Lone Star Republic.

He’s this tall glass of charged water:

 

He had 11 children. One of them, my grandfather, died when I was two. So even his stories are lost to me.

As #3 and I, drove north out of Holland on Texas 95 — past river-bottom land featuring tidy, evenly spaced rows of 120-year old pecan trees probably planted by  her ancestors or their friends — I made myself a promise.

 

She and her sisters will know my stories. They already know my music.

Hi

I disappeared from this space for a while because, among other things, I was writing a devotional focused on grace-based praying. That’s done now and I can resurface.

I have every intention of posting here frequently for a while. And we all know that good intentions make excellent paving material.

Two BIG events have transpired in our lives in recent months that have gone un-chronicled here. I’m about to remedy that.

As Paul Harvey used to say . . . Stand by for news!

Remembering a Good Father

It seems that with many of the truly important things in life, we don’t really understand how to value them until they’re gone.

Dad would have been 88 this Tuesday. Father’s Day always fell around, or on, his birthday. So we’re doubly mindful of him this weekend.

I honor him today by reposting the eulogy I delivered on behalf of my siblings at his homegoing service several years ago.

 

John F. Holland

June 20, 1929–October 11, 2010

It is customary, at a moment like this, to mention some of the attributes and achievements of my father–in other words, to talk about who he was. Instead I want to share a few thoughts about who Dad was not.

Our father was not pushy.

At home, as in his work life, he was not prone to imposing his will or asserting his opinions. And he did not enjoy confrontation. I get that. I’m temperamentally wired in a similar way.

I vividly remember one of the few occasions in which he really tried to change my mind about something–probably because it was such an unusual occurrence.

As a father, he would offer you his opinion but wouldn’t push it. He would occasionally offer you his advice unsolicited. Most of the time he would not opine unless asked. When he did offer advice, He was usually right. And when you ignored his advice, as I often did as a younger man, and made a royal mess of things, he would invariably be right there to help you mop up in the aftermath and without the standard and customary I-told-you-so.

It was the early seventies, I was about 13, and I had been lobbying Mom heavily to buy me my first pair of big bell bottom pants. Dad got wind of it. He had already, with some difficulty, reconciled himself to the longer hair which had increasingly become the fashion since the late ’60s. But now his oldest son was asking to dress like some character from Laugh In or Love American Style. He wasn’t a fan.

I remember being startled at how strongly he tried to talk me out of those pants I wanted. It was so out of character for him. I parried with the universal comeback utilized by all kids challenging a mystifying directive from a parent: “Why?”

He initially struggled to come up with a cogent, logical case for his ban on bell bottoms.  After floundering for a minute, he finally asserted–in so many words–that wearing bell bottoms could make me gay.

My recollection of his argument was not that bell bottoms would make me look gay, but rather that the pants were somehow imbued with exotic properties and powers that could actually make me gay.

I’m reasonably sure he was wrong about that. But he was right about most things–especially the things that mattered.

The long hair and the bell bottoms were just superficial manifestations of deeper cultural shifts taking place in our country in those years. And he didn’t like the way the winds were blowing. He was absolutely right to be wary.

I think that was one of the things that moved him to relocate our family from Oklahoma City to Wilburton. In the summer of 1965–the year the nation saw escalation in Vietnam, rising unrest on college campuses, and race riots in Watts–he moved the four of us as far out in the country as he possible could while still improving his job prospects as an aspiring college professor.

He saw the hills of rural southeastern Oklahoma as a good place for a kid to grow up. And he was right about that, too.

At that time it was just me and my younger brother, and we reveled and thrived in the wildness of the place. We roamed over the hilly, wooded countryside like two wild men of Borneo.

Dad made sure we knew how to properly tie a fishing lure and to use a gun safely. He saw that we got plenty of fishing, hunting, exploring and camping in. And when we got old enough, he served as co-Scout Master of our Boy Scout troop.

He wasn’t a perfect parent. But he got the big things right where my brother and I were concerned. And then “the girls” came along.

My parents really raised two waves of children. My younger brother and I (two years apart) and then ten years later two girls came in quick succession (a little more than nine months apart).

As he entered his early 40s, something wonderful and astonishing came alive in my Dad when those girls arrived in our home. He was suddenly animated, funny, and playful in ways we had never seen. When he was home, he invariably had both of them in his lap–one on each knee. And oh how he loved to tease them.

On Sunday mornings when they were three or four years old, Mom would dress them up and then send them downstairs to be inspected by my father. The first one downstairs would present herself to Dad, do a twirl, and then ask, “How do I look?”

Invariably, he would get a look of complete rapture on his face and gush, “You look absolutely grotesque!” And my sister would beam with delight.

This became a tradition that extended well beyond the time they came to understand the true meaning of the word grotesque. When they were teens he would create good-naturedly derisive nickname/titles for all the girls’ friends, among them, “Here Comes Trouble,” “Get Out of Town,” and simply “Toots.”

They adored him.

My father was not ambitious.

At least not in the way we usually think about ambition. Dad wasn’t driven to get ahead, climb anyone’s ladder, or draw attention to himself. He didn’t have a10-year plan, or even a 5-year plan. Actually, I don’t think he had a 5-day plan.

What he did have is something exceedingly rare in our day. Contentment. We live in a day in which few people seem to know how much is enough. However much they accumulate, they seem to always need more.

Dad knew what he wanted. A piece of land to call his own. The opportunity to dig in the dirt and grow a little food; cut some wood for his fire; to hunt and fish a little; to help out his neighbors when they needed a hand and the kind of neighbors who would do the same. A difficult crossword puzzle to master every day was vital, too.

And one other thing. To see his children doing well. He had all of those things. And that was enough for him.

Dad was not successful.

At least not in the way the world tends to measure success.

When he stepped over into eternity the other day, he did not leave behind much in the way of wealth, or titles, or headline-making achievements.

What he left behind was a 30-year long string of students—a lot of whom will tell you what they tell me whenever I meet one–that John Holland was the finest teacher they ever had.

He left behind a community of people who, to a person, will tell you he was good-humored and decent and kind and honest.

He left behind children who adored him. And a wife of 55 good years who had made him a better man.

I once heard a wise man say that he thought the world’s definition of success had it all wrong. He said real success was being the kind of man and living the kind of life in which—the people who know you the best respect you the most.

Come to think of it, John Holland was a success. In those terms, he was and is the most successful man I’ve known.

One Quick Thought About North Korea

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair. Or don’t. 

An official mouthpiece for the chubby lunatic kid running North Korea started talking tough to the government of China today. China! Told ’em they’d be very sorry if they continued to “betray” them.

For decades the Chinese, sitting on North Korea’s northern border, have been their only friend and ally in the world. Which makes this chest-poking of China ultra-crazy, even by North Korean standards.

It’s quite possible, however, that Kim Jong Un actually thinks he can take on China, the  U.S., South Korea and Japan. How could he possibly think this? Because in brutal dictatorships, no one dares tell the boss bad news. They only tell him what he wants to hear.

You may recall that this was precisely the situation in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The entire ground attack portion of First Gulf War only lasted 100 days. Iraqi forces melted like butter. We later learned that Hussein had a wildly inflated view of his defensive capabilities precisely because everyone around him was lying their backsides off.

Saddam surrounded himself with generals who’d learned to maintain their positions of privilege by assuring the boss that their piece of the military machine was the awesomest ever.

In regimes where the tellers of unwelcome truths frequently die horrible, public deaths, the dictator lives in a bubble of fantasy. I have a feeling young Kim’s bubble is about to get popped.

Tetelestai Indeed

The Savior’s final words from the cross were a prayer of faith:

“Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.”

Only moments earlier, the witnesses gathered around the dying Prince heard Him shout something else. A single word. The Word-Made-Flesh yells a Greek accounting term . . .

tetelestai!

Our English Bible translations of John’s gospel render that term in a way that tends to drain it of the legal and financial connotations it carried for hearers of Jesus’ day. The best we can come up with is the bland and colorless, “It is finished.”

Charles Spurgeon called this declaration, “Christ’s dying word to the Church. Yet tetelestai does not mean merely that a thing has concluded. It does not simply indicate that the curtain has come down and the show is over. “The End.”

No, to declare a thing tetelestai is to decree all has been accomplished. Everything formerly lacking has now been supplied. The wound has been healed. The obligation met. The debt satisfied to the uttermost.

But Jesus’ tetelestai declaration carries yet more dimensions of meaning.

It also means that all the types, shadows, and symbols of the Old Testament have now been fully realized (in Him). All to which the Law, the Prophets, and the prophetic narrative pointed has been fulfilled.

Three years prior to this royal proclamation John the Baptist had asked, “Are you the One or should we look for another. Jesus’ answer at that time was suggestive but indirect. Now, in his final minutes, He speaks plainly.

His tetelestai! declares:

“You can stop looking! The promised one has come and accomplished the prophesied task. I, the Second Adam, have rectified, remedied and restored what the First Adam forfeited. Dominion of planet earth has been restored to its rightful steward.”

Furthermore, in that one-word cry of consummation, Jesus declared an end to Man’s Babel-ish, religious striving to build a ladder back to God. God Himself has come down and done what no fallen man could do. That is, satisfy Mankind’s staggering legal-spiritual obligation.

”In an 1861 sermon titled “It is Finished!,” Spurgeon said of that cry of tetelestai:

“The Savior meant that the satisfaction which He rendered to the justice of God was finished. The debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once for all, and forever, by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the tree.

There was the cup; hell was in it; the Savior drank it—not a sip, and then a pause; not a draught, and then a ceasing; but He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people!

The great ten-thronged whip of the law was worn out upon His back; there is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died! The great bombardment of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition; there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God! Sheathed is your sword, O justice! Silenced is your thunder, O law!

There remains nothing now of all the griefs, and pains, and agonies which redeemed sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own beloved, and “It is finished.”

Yes, “Finished!” we hear Him cry.  Then He slowly bows that thorn-pierced head. Of course, he bows. His monumental work of redemption is complete, and there is nothing left to do but to say a benediction.

“Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” 

 

It’s 1981 in America Again

Watching the news and social media over the last week or so produced a strange, non-specific sense of deja vu in me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I saw some teeth gnashing and garment rending on Twitter about President Trump stabbing Big Bird in the heart with rusty scissors.

That’s when I realized I’d seen this movie before . . . back in 1981 in the opening months of Ronald Reagan’s first term.

Reagan ran on rebuilding our national defense and cutting the size and reach of the national government. He’d even promised to eliminate the recently created Department of Education—established by Jimmy Carter to help the teacher’s unions strengthen their grip on the nation’s education policy.

As History shows, Reagan proved unable to keep that or most of his other promises related to shrinking the ever-expanding super-state. In fact, with Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress throughout most of his two terms, the best Reagan could manage was to slow the rate of growth.

But that didn’t keep the liberal media and political opposition from depicting him as a heartless fiend who delighted in oppressing widows, orphans, the poor, and the homeless.

To hear the wailing and caterwauling, one would have been forgiven for believing Reagan was personally running from hospital to hospital unplugging preemie infant incubators and cackling hysterically, twirling a long black moustache, as he shoved widows out of the second story windows of their homes.

Those “Reagan budget cuts” became a one-size-fits-all phrase for attributing to Reagan every individual hardship or hard luck story anywhere in the world. Each evening’s newscast featured the most pitiful story the reporters could dig up.

Every item about a layoff, flu epidemic, tornado, and pothole became an opportunity for some man on the street to condemn “them damned Reagan budget cuts.”

Which brings us to this week, wherein I made the mistake of taking a peek at Twitter. In a few short minutes I found literally scores of things like this:

Now, Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan. My reservations about Mr. Trump are well documented in previous posts.  Nevertheless, 36 years later, this is a pure repeat of 1981.

Of course, this is a propaganda war, and facts don’t really matter. Even so, the facts about Sesame Street are:

  • Mr. Trump’s proposed budget—which has to be approved by the House and Senate—cuts funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • The NEA, on the whole, is an appalling boondoggle-y waste of taxpayer money.
  • Yes, the NEA used to help fund creation of new Sesame Street episodes. But that’s done by HBO now. PBS only runs old episodes of SS.
  • So NEA cuts will likely have no effect on production of Sesame Street. But even if they did, corporate America or the billionaire liberal funders of our weekly protests could easily fund it out of spare pocket change.
  • The licensing for Sesame Street characters is essentially a money printing machine.

Pause to consider the irony of the outpouring of liberal outrage here. The folks at Sesame Street allowed themselves to be acquired by a premium cable channel that the poorest Americans cannot see. But it’s Mr. Trump who is evil-personified for cutting the budget of the ridiculous NEA.

As I said, what we’re witnessing is a propaganda war against Mr. Trump’s efforts to restore some fiscal sanity and boundaries to national government spending; and restore our neglected defensive capabilities in an increasingly dangerous and volatile world.

Celebrities are doing their part. Here’s the spectacularly wealthy author Stephen King taunting the elderly people ands shut-ins who voted for Trump concerning (grossly misleading false) reports of cuts to the federal “Meals on Wheels” program:

 

This is despicable. Sadly, it would probably never occur to a Progressive like Mr. King that some patriotic older Americans might not vote based purely on what most benefits them personally. Or that some of the few surviving members of the “Greatest Generation”—who grew up during the Great Depression and weathered the rigors of World War II—might just care more about their nation’s future than their own comfort.

Or that they might understand what few liberals seem to grasp—that it’s better when local charity is funded at the local level, where there is more accountability and less opportunity for waste and graft.

Unfortunately, King’s mockery isn’t the worst of it. Here’s Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, yesterday:

Dear God in heaven. If there is a more reprehensible form of political argumentation than the above, I don’t know what it is. There has been an ongoing human tragedy unfolding in Yemen for a couple of years now, but until yesterday, the only people who seemed to care were a handful of conservative groups.

It’s not wrong to care about tiny Udai above. On the contrary, it’s essential. What’s wrong is  choosing to care only when you can use him as prop to score points against your political “enemy.”

Several people I follow noted that within a few days of Mr. Trump’s election, we suddenly started seeing hand-wring-y news reports about America’s “homelessness crisis” after an eight-year disappearance. It astonishing how we had our homelessness problem solved for eight years but that it’s suddenly back with a vengeance.

Journalists have also just discovered that presidential vacations cost a lot of money, after eight years of utter obliviousness to that reality.

Again, all of this  represents a repeat of 1981 (Reagan’s election) and in some respects 2001 (George W.’s).  As I point out from time to time on this site . . . “We’ve seen this before.”

H   H   H   H   H

There is a complementary pair of assumptions underlying this hysterical resistance to cutting federal spending. One, that is pretty much an article of faith for most people today. It is:

  • If a thing is good, the national government must fund it, or even better, mandate it.
  • If a thing is bad, the national government should ban it.

At it’s heart, this brand of thinking is a form of idolatry. It assumes a powerful, centralized government can and should be:

  • the bestower of all blessings.
  • the judge of all vice,
  • the coercer of all virtue,
  • the insulator from all negative consequences from bad choices,
  • the picker of all winners and losers.

It’s messianic and utopian. The problem for the Christian is that we already know Who the Messiah is, and it ain’t Uncle Sam. Yet Government is a jealous god. (See this great essay for more on that.)

It’s 1981 again. But this time around I don’t have a full head of hair or a soon-to-be-obsolete collection of eight-track tapes.

Some Words of Gratitude for the Gospel on International Women’s Day

Permit me to point something out that isn’t widely understood or acknowledged in our Postmodern, Bizarro-World times.

Whereever the gospel of Jesus Christ has spread and taken root, the lot of women has radically improved. Conversely, the places where Christianity is least historically present and welcome . . . these are the most hellish places on our planet to have the misfortune of being born a girl.

For the whole of human history, the default setting in our fallen world has been to treat women as property or sex slaves. Paganism is the original “rape culture.”

Jesus shocked the sensibilities of the dominant culture in His day by welcoming women into His inner circle–accepting their worship and follower-ship. And wherever the movement He launched has spread—relentelssly, progressively, although imperfectly—women’s lives have improved and their status has risen.

This, in part, because redemption produces more civilized, responsible, peaceful, compassionate men.

Western Civilization is, in essence, a manifestion of Christian civilization, a.k.a., the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is the greatest force for human equality ever unleashed. The seeds of the end of slavery in Europe were scattered from Britain’s Protestant pulpits. It took longer, but the same was true in North America.

 The Gospel is the greatest force for human equality ever unleashed.

The Abololitionist movement was born and fueled by churches. Just as most of the concern, energy, and money for fighting modern slavery (in the form of human trafficking and sex slavery) is coming from Christian people in Christian ( and formerly Christian) nations.

Perversely, a majority of the self-identifying feminists of our day view Christianity as Enemy Number One, while being inexplicably willing to accommodate Islamic Culture and actively embrace Hindu Culture in the form of Eastern Mysticism.

A few facts for your consideration on this International Women’s Day:

I am a husband to an extraordinary  woman, and father to three more of the same. A few weeks from now, twin girls will be added to our clan. How grateful I am they were born in a Gospel-infused, Gospel-informed culture.

It is a privilege I seek and pray for every little girl in every corner of the world.

 

Restoration!

As longtime readers of this humble internet outpost may recall, several years ago I lost more than five years of blogging output that I had poured out on the old “Blather. Wince. Repeat.” site after a server hacking incident.

The database holding everything I’d written between March of 2007 and July of 2012 became corrupted and seemingly irrepairable.

Frankly it was nearly-heartbreaking to think all of that writing might be lost forever. In that span of time I’d not only written about current events, the culture, and theology, I’d mused about and processed a lot of big life milestones—including my father’s battle with Alzheimers disease and his passing, as well as watching daughters growing up, moving them off to college, and walking them down an aisle.

After more than a year of blogging silence I gave up and launched this new blog in March of 2014. Even so, I never completely abandoned hope of finding a way to repair and restore all that writing.

Today, that hope became a reality. Scoll down on the home page and look in the right column, you’ll see that all those lost months have now been indexed. The prodigal posts have come home.

Now, where did I stash that fatted calf?