Mark Sanford’s God

Didn’t get a chance to note this yesterday, but I recommend Ross Douthat’s post on Mark Sanford: Mark Sanford’s God.

If you think, as I obviously do, that we have more than enough Sanford-style religion in America, then the way he used the megaphone afforded by victory to do a little creative scriptural interpretation illustrates the problem with just bracketing a politician’s private life and saying “vote the party, not the man.” When that private life is already woven into the public narrative, a vote for the man is often a vote to ratify that narrative, and to lend one’s support not only to particular policies, but to a larger view of human behavior and affairs — encompassing, in this case, a theologically bankrupt and socially destructive understanding of what real redemption actually involves.

Yes, politicians are neither angels nor philosophers, and sometimes the political stakes are high enough to warrant voting for a man with Sanford’s baggage and beliefs. There’s no absolute rule for these things; they have to be navigated case by case. But a special election to fill out a term in a reliably-conservative seat seems like exactly the kind of high profile, low stakes contest where it makes sense to put moral and theological principle ahead of party. Unfortunately the voters of South Carolina disagreed.

I have to admit I would struggle with this were I a resident of South Carolina.  I tend to be brutally pragmatic about these things and sending a liberal Democrat to Congress seems clearly a bad choice.

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How will United Methodists respond to Gosnell horror?

Matt O’Reilly tackles the important but admittedly difficult question of How will United Methodists respond to Gosnell horror?

First, O’Reilly makes the connection between Roe and Gosnell clear:

We must begin by recognizing that this tragic situation follows from the widespread efforts to normalize abortion in the United States. Not all will agree with that conclusion, but a variety of factors suggest its accuracy. Since abortion was declared a constitutional right in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the pro-choice movement has worked hard to undermine the full personhood of the preborn. We have been told again and again that the child in the womb is a fetus, not a baby. We are told that abortion is not the ending of a life; it is the termination of a pregnancy. This cold and detached terminology is intended to downplay any emotional reaction to abortion.

The problem is that if a preborn child in the eighth or ninth month of gestation does not have the moral status of a person, why should we think a change of geography from inside the womb to outside the womb suddenly establishes personhood? There is no substantive difference between the preborn and the newly born. If we are desensitized to the death of the former, it will lead us to be decreasingly sensitive to the latter. The road from Roe to Gosnell is a downhill slope.

[…]

United Methodists need to recognize that we are where we are because the Roe decision started us on a path of devaluing the sacred worth of human life. That path has led us to the trial of Kermit Gosnell.

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Failing as a citizen, Republican and friend

I have a humble confession to make tonight: I forgot to vote.  This is something I try very hard not to do. As someone who works in politics and government I believe it is important to vote.  As a person who believes in engaged citizenship as a check against bad and overbearing government I realize it is important.  And as a Republican living in a difficult district I know it is important to support Republican candidates.

For this particular primary election it is a double failure as a friend and former colleague was on the ballot. Ouch.

As is so often the case, I had good intentions.  I remembered it was election day this morning but was late getting my daughter to school and so decided to vote after work. The polling place is just down the street from our house so I was sure to have plenty of time. I even check the Franklin County Republican Party website to make sure I had all the candidates in my head.

Alas, something came up at work and I had to stay a little later than usual. And then my gas light was on and so I had to stop for gas. And traffic was backed up so it took longer than usual.  And as soon as I got home I was inundated with kids wanting to play, helping get dinner on the table, eating dinner, discussing the events of the day with the family, etc.

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The Left’s statist radical individualism

The problem created by the welfare state is thus not best understood as a problem of dependence but as the illusion of an impossible independence—an individualism so radical it renders all human relationships, including our relationships to the weakest and most needy of those around us, into non-binding optional arrangements, ignoring the realities of human life that make it necessary to guard human beings in their most vulnerable moments through an array of unchosen—or at the very least non-optional—obligations, especially in the family. The Left’s statist radical individualism that masquerades as a kind of communitarian collectivism pretends to offer a way for people to act together, but in practice it offers an escape from all mutual dependence and from the neediness of people who are not well positioned to pretend to be utterly autonomous.

Yuval Levin

Things That Make One Side Freak Out

So yeah. I’m one of those crazy, unhinged right-wingers. Melissa Harris-Perry said something that has a whiff of the totalitarian, and then doubled down on it, and then dismissed as insanity any detection of any whiff. And since she apparently can’t understand why someone would detect a whiff of totalitarianism, and since nothing is better for totalitarianism than people who think totalitarians aren’t totalitarian, I have to assume that the totalitarian threat implicit in her words is real and serious.

Call me crazy if you like. I’ll see you at the barricades.

— Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry.

What Conservatives are For

We say we are for lower taxes, or less regulation, or spending restraint. But those are just policies we advocate. They’re not what we’re really for. What we’re really for are the good things those policies will yield to the American people.

What we’re really for is the kind of society those policies would allow the American people to create, together.

Together.

If there is one idea too often missing from our debate today that’s it: together.

In the last few years, we conservatives seem to have abandoned words like “together,” “compassion,” and “community”… as if their only possible meanings were as a secret code for statism.

This is a mistake. Collective action doesn’t only – or even usually – mean government action.

Conservatives cannot surrender the idea of community to the Left, when it is the vitality of our communities upon which our entire philosophy depends.

— Mike Lee, United States Senator for Utah.

 

Sheep and wolves

This world hungers, and we parents weep, and we pray that our pleading is heard, that if there is something in us that can be altered so they can be spared, God will alter it; that if our flesh might be torn in place of theirs, God might rend it; that if sheep must be slain, God will pass over our own, because the cost is more than we can bear.

Tony Woodlief.

No, We Are Not All the Same

How about this: We are not the same. Some people who go to class and have YouTube accounts believe utterly vile and evil things. They must either be deterred from acting on their evil ideas or met with swift retribution when they do, so that others will be deterred. Some people, who also have YouTube accounts and go to class, believe things that are good and noble, and though they don’t always live up their ideals, they — and their cultures — are substantially different from and better than those dominated by evil.

– David French.