Category Archives: Culture

Why I Can’t Vote for Donald Trump

Earlier this week I attempted to de-register as a Republican here in Ohio. But apparently you cannot do so. After some stammering and nervous laughter, a lady at the Ohio State Republican Party referred me to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. There they told me I can only switch parties during a primary … it is impossible to simply de-register.

After the Republican Nation Convention in Cleveland, I felt a growing need to distance myself from this party. It began with the needless lying to cover up Trump’s wife’s plagiarism, followed by Ted Cruz being booed for saying to vote one’s conscious with the next night Trump’s daughter applauded for stating the same thing in voting as a Democrat, to Peter Tiel’s denunciation of Christian Conservatives’ hateful cultural wars, then Trump mentioning LGBTQ rights more times than the Constitution, Abortion, God and Religious Liberty combined, all while saying only he can fix this nation’s problems and the crowd shouting “Yes you can!” Even after the convention in a press conference Trump didn’t attack Hillary but doubled down on his accusation that Ted Cruz’s father helped assassinate JFK and he knows this because the National Enquirer is a very reliable source. Finally, he announced he will start a Super PAC to go after both Cruz and John Kasich, the latter being the governor of the most important state to win the Presidency.

For me the convention reinforced Donald J. Trump’s lack of character, misguided policies and overall competence. As a result, I find it very improbable I could vote for this man or even be a part of a party that supports him.

So as a Christian and a Conservative here are my strong reservations for voting for Donald Trump.

Lack of Character

Donald Trump has consistently shown to lack the character and moral compass needed to lead our nation.

He is a serial liar (here are 101 examples). I have yet to see him apologize for even the smallest lie, which strongly calls into question my ability to trust anything he says.

He uses his own version of the 80-20 Rule in his businesses where he’ll pay 80 percent of the job to workers and contractors and then dare them to sue for the rest. As a consolation, he will put you on a preferential list for the next business transaction if you remain silent.

He appears exceptionally vindictive to the point he would almost rather lose an election just to get even with his opponents. Almost every day America wakes up, almost expecting he will finally and forever disqualify himself with some knee-jerk comment or action.

He is an unrepentant adulterer that has bragged about his escapades. He wishes he could date his daughter and the number one thing he has in common with her is sex.

He is misogynistic to the point I would find it very difficult to look my two daughters in the eye and tell them that I voted for such a man.

He pioneered Casinos with strip clubs. He still owns strip clubs and even previously owed an escort service.

I am still baffled, not just regarding the scam of Trump University, but also in how he used racism to attack Judge Curiel, an honorable American that has taken on the Mexican Drug cartels.

Perhaps most disturbing is Trump’s affiliations with Jeffery Epstein and his visits to a private island of underage prostitutes. The last thing Christians or Conservatives need is to support another Denny Hastert. (Sadly, this will not be widely known or reported because Bill Clinton also has his associations with Epstein.)

Consequently, given Trump’s track record and temperament I find it hard to trust him on anything. Al Mohler poignantly said if he votes for Trump he owes Bill Clinton an apology.

Misguided Policies

The only thing Donald Trump has been consistent on is trade, wanting to start a trade war with China, implementing high tariffs and promising to bring back jobs and punish companies that ship them oversees.

However, in addition to the massive expansion of government needed to implement such tariffs, we know such protectionist and tariff policies would lead to a depression because they done so in the past. Trump is wrong that NAFTA was the worst policy of all time; the Smoot Hawley Tariffs were and the exact thing Mr. Trump is so passionate about. These 20,000 some odd Tariffs were the cause of the Great Depression being as long as it was, as other countries retaliated with other tariffs on us. The U.S. economy was recovering after the 1929 Stock Market crash until the tariffs were implemented in June of 1930 and the economy never recovered until World War II.

Moreover, one cannot promise to bring back jobs that have been replaced with automation and better companies. Nobody is missing Blockbuster as Amazon Prime and Netflix are superior products. And even if Trump could bring back all these manufacturing jobs, they would not pay well. Pittsburgh does not want steel jobs to return, they want Google and other high tech companies.

Even more distressing is Trump’s idea of Religious Liberty as simply having the right to say Merry Christmas again, explains his son Eric. Consulting with Bruce Jenner on LGBTQ rights provides a good picture of Trump’s views of the 1st Amendment and is indeed an ominous sign.

And the list continues as he told the New York Times he is not really serious about the wall, that as the “King of Debt” he loves debt and might default on the country’s debt, his wanting to reconfigure NATO, to caring more about courting Bernie supporters than talking about the Constitution and free markets—even agreeing with them that the primary purpose of government is to provide health care, education and housing. His policies are not only unsound but naively dangerous.

Competence

Trump loves to claim he will hire the best people and make the best deals. But looking thus far at the election such evidence is minimal.

Just looking at his campaign, Trump’s previous campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was known as a thug and physically abusive. His current manager Paul Manafort began his career opposing Reagan during the 1976s convention and his last stint was working on the campaign of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, a Putin confidant and ally. Not exactly the best people.

Nearly all the people he surrounds himself with on their last leg of their political careers and are just yes men—e.g. Chris Christie and Ben Carson. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence surrendered the most important fight of his career in Indiana, even after he had won. Personnel is policy and Trump doesn’t put people around himself that will challenge him. Even said he always likes to be the smartest person in the room, and judging from Trump’s current wisdom and choices that is not a very good thing.

Moreover, the best people are not working for him. He tried to get John Kasich to be his VEEP, offering Kasich full control of all policy, but Kasich turned him down and still refuses to endorse him.

If Trump runs the White House anything like his campaign we should all be concerned. Almost every day brings fresh a new scandal, whether his praise of Saddam, his comments about John McCain, his campaign manager assaulting a reporter, or just tweeting anything from unflattering pictures of Ted Cruz’s wife to anti-Semitic memes. Anything other candidate would be winning by 10 points over Hillary and all her baggage.

Lastly, his personal net worth is sketchy. Trump sued Tim O’Brien for 5 billion dollars for defamation, claiming Trump is not a billionaire. The case was dismissed as O’Brien saw Trump’s taxes. Although not allowed to disclose specific information, O’Brien says tat Trump is not worth nearly as much as he claims. Similarly, I am not sure why a billionaire would pay himself during a campaign he brags about self-funding.

As one’s finances reveal a great deal about a person, I cannot even begin thinking about voting from Trump until he releases his tax returns. He must be hiding something.

Rejoinder 1: Supreme Court

The number one reason people are saying to vote Trump is the Supreme Court—we can’t let Hillary take control or it is lights out for the Nation.

For two reasons I find this argument weak.

First, if Trump is elected and puts forth a nominee from the list of 11 judges, the Senate will not be filibuster proof (and might even be under Democrat control). Therefore, that nominee will be “Robert Borked” by the Dems. They will fight to the death for Scalia’s seat and there is little about Trump’s character, temperament and convictions that leads me to believe he will fight for the nomination (even said he does not mind if the Senate goes Democratic control so he could be a free agent). Trump will just likely put up a moderate such as Kennedy to appease everyone, similar to Reagan.

With Supreme Court Justices, Reagan went 1 for 3 (Scalia but Kennedy and O’Connor), Bush 41 went 1 for 2 (Thomas but Souter) and Bush 43 the same (Alito but Roberts). You would be hard pressed to convince me that Trump will do better than any of these three presidents.

Second, we concede too much power to the Courts. You should never assume your opponent’s premises, and with the Supreme Court we always concede the false notion that the Supreme Court is the final authority in this Nation. The Courts are one of three co-equal branches of government and this would be an ideal time for Republican Legislature to start acting in line with their Constitutional powers. There are many ways to strip the Courts of their jurisdiction and is time we focus on such instead of hoping for 5 messiahs to be on the bench. We must vow to stop letting ourselves be ruled by unelected judges. We started a Revolution for far less!

Rejoinder 2: Hillary is Worse

It basically comes down to only one reason to vote for Trump: Hillary is so much worse.

I agree with this assertion (though every day Trump seems to enjoy testing this hypothesis). However, by most indications, whether his character, policies, and competence he would most likely make a disastrous president. And whenever you have a bad Republican president you get an even worse Democrat (think Bush 41 then Clinton, and Bush 43 then Obama).

There is a very high likelihood given Trump’s maliciousness and bent to authoritarianism he would do something egregious and/or impeachable. As a result, the country would get someone that makes Bernie Sanders look like Ronald Reagan. In contrast, people really dislike Hillary. She will not have a mandate and the Republicans can easily oppose her. But after a disastrous Trump presidency, it will be 2008 again with super majorities in both houses.

Even as bad as Hillary is (probably worse than Obama) it could always get considerably worse than her.

Moreover, Conservatism and all Conservatives get tarred and feathered with bad Republicans which can last a century—whether Hoover, Nixon or Bush.

It’s time to start thinking beyond just the current election cycle.

Conclusion

Vote for Trump if you must, but don’t be surprised when the scorpion stings you—it’s just who he is and he hasn’t been hiding his nature.

I cannot bring myself to vote for a morally debased, lying, vindictive totalitarian, that is only out for personal glorification—whether Donald J Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I am deeply troubled that the world knows the only reason Evangelicals are supporting Trump is because he has an “R” behind his last name. We would never even think to support him if he was a Democratic. But this makes us no better than the Bernie supporters who have lost their credibility in backing Hillary, a Goldman Sachs puppet.

I am afraid the world also knows that to even try to make a moral case for Trump makes Christians are wise as doves and innocent as serpents, the exact opposite of what Jesus says. Even now most of Trump’s supporters looking like fools and hypocrites, from Jerry Falwell Jr. to Paul Ryan. Christians and Conservative must avoid being like Mike Pence during the Trump press conference after the Convention, with that look on his face thinking, “Is my soul worth this?”

Make no mistake both Trump and Hillary are train wrecks, with Hillary being worse. If you consider yourself a Christian and/or a Conservative you must get as far from the blast radius as possible, having nothing to do with the wreck itself and opposing it the entire way.

What I am ultimately concerned about is that if Christians and Conservatives continue to support Trump they will lose all their integrity and credibility. And that would be 1,000 times worse than anything Hillary could ever do.

Epilogue

While I can’t de-register from the Republican Party in Ohio, I can still vote my conscience to support someone who will actually defend the Constitution … even if I get booed for it or not.


A Radical New Way: Loving Those Whom You Disagree & Disapprove

… [w]e have forgotten how to flex two mental muscles at the same time: the muscle of moral conviction and the muscle of compassion to all regardless of their morality. Secular society no less than religion often operates on a narrow-minded logic: you can only love those whose lives you approve of. You can only be friends with people who agree with you. The logic can take you in two directions. The religious version reduces the number of people it loves — to match the few lifestyles it approves. The secular version increases the number of lifestyles it approves to the point of accepting virtually everything, thus fulfilling G. K. Chesterton’s famous quip about open-mindedness: “An open mind is like an open mouth: its purpose is to bite on something nourishing. Otherwise, it becomes like a sewer, accepting everything, rejecting nothing.”

But there is a third way, based on a different logic. It’s where we learn to respect and care even for those with whom we profoundly disagree. We maintain our convictions but choose never to allow them to become justification for thinking ourselves better than those with contrary convictions. We move beyond mere tolerance to true humility, the key to harmony at the social level.

Quoted from Dickson, J. P. (2011). Humilitas: A lost key to life, love, and leadership. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan., 169-170.


Eternal Life and Fertility Rates

Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, those sectarian differences began contracting and collapsing and what emerged in their place was differences in religiosity so that today what you see is a very distinct fertility rate for people who never attend church services, another very distinct fertility rate from people who go twice a year, another fertility rate right around replacement, by the way, for people who go once a month, and then a very healthy fertility—right around 2.35—for people who go to services once a week. … All that matters is that you show up, and I find that to be a fantastically evocative piece of data because I think what it’s saying is it’s saying a lot about what it takes to get people over the hump and committing to having families. …. I think it’s something more basic about the very theistic view of the world, which is these are people who view the present differently than everybody else. People who don’t go to church for them the present is all inclusive, it is everything. The present is the entirety of their worldview. The people who go to church once a week, what I would argue is that the present actually has a much diminished place in their worldview. The present is important, the present is consequential, but it is only viewed in light of obligations to pass in hopes of a future.
 
Jonathan V. Last on Thinking in Public, America’s Coming Demographic Disaster Transcript , April 1, 2013. Audio here.

How the Trinity Embues Hope to a Society

If trinitarian theology is an answer to the question, “Given the gospel story, who must God be for this to be possible?” I wish to broaden the question beyond the narrative of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to ask, “Given the biblical vision of history and eschatology, who must God be for this to be possible?” The answer is the same in both cases: the immanent Trinity is manifested in and is the ontological ground and condition for the possibility not only of the death and resurrection of the Son, but of a world-history that moves from Eden to New Jerusalem. Paganism’s tragic view of history is allied with a tragic metaphysics and theology, while Christianity has a comic view of history because it has a fundamentally comic theology proper (doctrine of God).

 

Quoted from Leithart, P. J. (2006). Deep comedy: Trinity, tragedy, and hope in western literature . Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, pp. xii-xiii.


Now, the High Point of Secularism (?)

There’s a guy up at Harvard, Eric Kaufmann, who has written a book about religion and fertility, and what he suggests is that when you run the numbers and you look at three differential rates—they are the differentials between the secular fertility rate and the religious-practitioner fertility rate—then the differential between the attrition rate among religious believers (you know, how often they fall away) and then the pass-on rate of religion from the religious practitioners to their children, when you take all of those things into account, it is entirely possible that we are sitting at the high watermark of secularism right now in America. And that over the next 20-40 years we’re going to see the proportion of the country that are seculars, first, leveling off and then beginning a gradual decrease, and the proportion of the population which are orthodox practitioners of some faith increasing.

 

Jonathan V. Last on Thinking in Public, America’s Coming Demographic Disaster Transcript, April 1, 2013. Audio here.


How College Strengthens the Spiritual lives of 18- to 23-year-olds

Christian Smith & Patricia Snell answer the following question in their book (2009). Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults . Oxford University Press, USA.
 
Does going to college cause the religious and spiritual lives of 18- to 23-year-olds to weaken or decline?
They state:
However, something very interesting emerged when scholars took a second look at the question more recently. They found that the religiously undermining effect of higher education on recent generation of youth has disappeared . Most of the older research was conducted on baby boomers, for whom College did indeed seem to tend to corrode religious faith and practice. But many studies more recently have shown that the conventional wisdom about boomers does not apply to today’s youth. Higher education no longer seems to diminish the religion of emerging adults. One recent study, for instance, using some of the best longitudinal data available, has shown that it is not those who attend college but in fact those who do not attend college who are the most likely to experience declines in religious service attendance, self- reported importance of religion, and religious affiliation. Another showed that among recently surveyed college students, 2.7 times more report that their religious beliefs have strengthene1 during their college experience than say their beliefs weakened. Yet another investigation suggests that emerging adults’ religiousness does not vary with educational achievement. Another study specifically focused on Catholic college students draws the same conclusion. Yet another sophisticated investigation has found no secularizing effect of college on the latest college graduates and concludes that the data suggest that “secularization as a result of college attendance may be waning. . . . The overarching trend seems to be that educational attainment may have been related to some forms of religious decline in the past, however this is less the case for recent college graduates.”
If all of this is true—and it certainly seems to be—then this change represents a major shift in the role of higher education in American religion. According to one metaanalysis of the relevant literature, that clearly perceptible change appears to have begun in the 1990s. But what caused it? Multiple, interactive factors seem to have worked together to produce this historic transformation.
1.      One factor seems to be a growing influence of campus-based religious and parachurch groups that provide alternative plausibility structures for sustaining religious faith and practice in college.
2.      Another is that colleges and universities themselves seem to be changing their attitudes and programs in ways that are more supportive of the religious and spiritual interests of their students.
3.      Yet another part of the explanation may be an apparently growing number of committed evangelical and Catholic faculty who are teaching in secular American colleges and universities, providing role models to religious students of ways to combine higher learning and religious faith.
4.      Another factor is the growth of religious colleges and universities that train their believing students to integrate faith and learning and to go on to influence the larger society and culture.
5.      Still another causal influence could, ironically, be the major long-term decline in American college students’ interest in answering questions about the meaning of life—which the dominant worldview of higher education over much of the twentieth century would have replied to with largely secularist answers—and the concomitant long-term increase in college students’ interest in becoming financially very well off, which to many students is a religiously neutral matter.
6.      Also relevant is the influence of post- modern relativism in the academy, especially in the 1990s, which undercut the authority of positivism, epistemological foundationalism, and scientism, all of which historically have tended strongly to marginalize and disparage religion.
7.      More broadly, adolescents today are generally quite conventional, and specifically so with regard to religion—less rebellious, for instance, than they were during the baby boom generation—and so are generally content to continue in the faith traditions in which they were raised, however much that faith may or many not mean to them.
8.      And at a very general level, American culture and perhaps Western culture seems to have shifted from a secular to a postsecular era in which secularist assumptions are no longer simply taken granted but are rather on the table for questioning, and religion is increasing considered a legitimate subject of discussion—a cultural shift that has much affected contemporary youth.
Through the influence of these and other factors, American higher education seems to have become an environment and experience that is less corrosive than it was in the past of college student religiousness. Indeed, some researchers conclude from their fieldwork on religion at college campuses that at least certain campuses have actually become “a breeding ground for vital religious practice and teaching. (pp. 248-250)
They go on,
Our findings, based on NSYR data, about the influence of college on the religious faith of emerging adults confirm those of recent studies. Which the transition from the teenage to the emerging adult years does entail an overall decline in religious involvement, as we have shown, attending college per say does not an experience that particularly contributes to that decline. For instance, consider the findings presented in figure 8.7, which compares religious measures for emerging adults currently in college with those not currently in college. We see there are very little differences in overall religiousness attendance, professed importance of faith, and frequency of prayer and reading scripture. In every case, emerging adults currently in college are slightly more religious than those who are not in college, although only the differences in overall religiousness and service attendance are statistically significant. In short, if anything, it is not attending college that is associated with lower 1evlels of religious practice, though those differences are slight. This is confirmed by the fact, revealed in ancillary analyses (not shown), that more highly religious youth did not select into college in the first place and then decline in religiousness to the levels shown in figure 8.8, which would have indicated a secularizing effect of higher education. Furthermore, our analysis of religious differences between emerging adults who have ever attended college (not simply currently enrolled) versus those who have not reveals identical findings—those who ever attended college are slightly more religious but not often statistically significantly so. (pp. 250-251)
Bottom line,
In short, for contemporary emerging adults, going to college does not increase the “risk” of religious decline or apostasy as it did in the not-too distant past. Some evidence now even suggests that it may actually decrease that risk, compared to not attending college. (p. 251)
 
References cited:
Lee, J. J. (2002). Religion and College Attendance: Change among Students. Review of Higher Education25(4), 369–384.
 
Arnett, J. J., & Jensen, L. A. (2002). A Congregation of One: Individualized Religious Beliefs Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Adolescent Research17(5), 451–467.
 
Dillon, M. (1996). The Persistence of Religious Identity among College Catholics. Journal for the scientific study of religion.35(2), 165.

Have You Rejected the Real Christ?

You may say to me that you have long since rejected Christianity. Well, I only want to ask one question: have you ever read the Bible through? I have found that all of us tend to dismiss Christianity without really knowing what it is. We have never really taken the trouble to find out. We have dismissed it as a prejudice. We have not read the Bible, we have not even read the New Testament, we know nothing about the history of the church—yet we dismiss it all.

 

Quoted from Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (2009). The Gospel in Genesis: from fig leaves to faith . Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, p. 69.