A Sense of Humor in a Serious Time

The reason I like to use political cartoons in my blog is that a sense of humor is essential in life, even when circumstances might seem to dictate that we should be serious all the time. Those who read my blog regularly know that I am quite serious about my Christian faith and that I am concerned for the culture and the governing of our society.

Sometimes, though, these forays into humor help us see the ridiculous side of humanity and solidify the conviction that we need the firm anchors of truth and integrity, those very attributes that God intended for any society to function properly.

Truth and integrity have been in shorter supply than usual during this election season. On the one hand, we have a candidate who wants us to believe she has been nothing but truthful in her dealings: Benghazi, e-mails, a “charitable” foundation. The public, overall, doesn’t believe in her integrity. She just doesn’t have what it takes to pull it off:

Endearing Lies

Yet every time you would think she will be called on her multiple lies, you can count on the other candidate to steal the media thunder with his own special brand of outrageous statements and lies:

Right On Time

In the spirit of the Olympics, one cartoonist has suggested a new addition to the games:

Whopper Competition

“I didn’t use my private server for confidential e-mails” vs. “Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald.” Which would win? Close call.

The cartoonists have lately concentrated quite a bit on the awful options presented to the voters this time around. Here are a couple samples:

Hate Their Choice

Another Choice

Both candidates are despised by more than half the population. It has pretty much come down to this:

Campaign Buttons

Perhaps one of Trump’s ideas for immigration needs to be applied to the political parties next time:

Extreme Vetting

I’m all for that suggestion. The problem, though, is that the primary voters made these choice. How do we vet them better? On the Republican side, at least, how about only allowing registered Republicans to vote?

Naw, that would be too common-sensical.

The Final Balloon Drop

I have been voting in presidential elections since 1972. There have been some terrible nominees along the way, but never before has the perfect storm erupted until this year. Never before have both parties scraped the bottom of this candidate barrel so thoroughly, leaving the American people with no tolerable choice.

Yes, I know a lot of voters are choosing one of these nominees anyway, but most are doing so with grave concerns, and for good reason.

The Democrat convention is now over, mercifully. If you want a party that delights in murdering babies, this is your party. If you want a party that seeks to destroy all gender distinctions, welcome aboard. If you want a party that finds the socialist vision to be energizing, you have a home.

Radical Extremists

And the nominee promises to complete what Barack Obama has begun:

Finish the Job

Hillary Clinton practically boasts that she will be Obama’s third term. That’s supposed to help her? Donald Trump thinks Hillary herself will lead to his triumph:

Trump Card

Any other year, with any other Republican candidate, that would be the case. Not necessarily this time. Ever since the Republican convention, Trump has been busily undermining himself, providing lots of opportunities for the Republican establishment to distance itself from him while still trying to say we should vote for him. Even his own VP pick, Mike Pence, has had to come out and try to explain away Trump’s foolish talk.

It’s also becoming even more obvious the kind of supporters Trump has outside of this country:

Trump Hearts Putin

Sorry, but I don’t find that encouraging.

Where does this leave the American people?

Both Conventions

Oh, Joy

Each convention ended with the traditional balloon drop. A more non-traditional balloon drop might have been more appropriate:

Final Balloon Drop

And rather than an election season where one can be enthusiastic about a candidate’s positive achievements and promises for the future, we are left instead with this:

Pros & Cons

I keep ending my blog posts with this comment because it gets to the root of how I feel: May God have mercy on us as a nation.

Another critical election looms. With each new round of presidential elections, I tend to be astounded by the way people vote—usually without any solid foundational thinking. So I decided to publish how I approach this very serious responsibility.

Here, therefore, is my attempt at a personal manifesto.

I believe in Christian principled constitutional conservatism. Let me now explain what that means to me.

Christian

Jesus Christ is Lord of all aspects of life. My own life would have no meaning without His love, His forgiveness, and His direction for me. Politics and government fall under His Lordship. Consequently, whenever I think on those issues, I do so with a desire to ensure that His truth is the cornerstone for all governmental policies.

Biblical WorldviewI want to see all of the vital questions before us through the lens of Biblical faith and solid doctrine. I want a Biblical approach to the way government is organized and I want, as much as possible, people serving in that government who are dedicated Christians. Where that is not the case, I at least want to support those who are not hostile to Christian faith, but have respect for liberty of conscience.

I seek to help put into practice a Christian worldview on all manner of legislation, whether that be right to life/abortion, religious liberty, marriage, taxes, education, welfare, immigration—well, that’s the short list. I believe that no matter what the issue, there is a Biblical way to understand that issue.

Principled

PrinciplesI shouldn’t have to make this a separate section. Christians ought to be, simply by the nature of their relationship to God and truth, naturally principled. However, I am dismayed by how often those who profess the name of Christ make disastrously unprincipled decisions. They allow emotions or self-interest to set aside what they claim to believe.

What principles mean the most to me?

  • The inherent value of human life—we are all created in the image of God.
  • The concept of self-government—God has so designed us to grow into maturity and make most decisions ourselves without the oversight of civil government. Not only individuals, but families, churches, voluntary organizations, etc., should be free of undue government influence.
  • The sanctity of private property—government has no mandate from God to be our overlord on economic matters; He instead, as part of our maturity, seeks to teach us how to be His stewards of all types of property: money, material goods, our minds, and the free will He has given us.
  • Voluntary association without the force of government coming down on us—people only unite when they are united, and that unity is internal, not provided by government coercion.
  • Christian character—God intended us to carry out our lives as reflections of Him; the world only works correctly when we do things His way.
  • Sowing and reaping—man is accountable for his actions, and he will receive back what he has sown: if obedience to God, blessings; if disobedience, dire consequences; we can’t blame society and claim victimhood status in God’s eyes because He will always hold us personally responsible for our choices, whether right or wrong.

Constitutional

I believe in the concept of the rule of law, meaning no man, regardless of high rank in society, is above the law. We all are to be judged by the same standard.

Constitutional ConventionI believe in the system set up in this nation through the Constitution that gave us a solid basis for the rule of law.

I believe we need to hold firm to the original meaning of those words in our Constitution and not allow judges, legislators, or presidents to stray from the limited authority granted in that document.

Changes to the authority given to our federal government must go through the proper constitutional channel: the amendment process as outlined in the Constitution. A judge’s gavel is not a magic wand.

Anyone running for the presidency or for Congress, and anyone nominated for a federal judgeship, at whatever level, all the way to the Supreme Court, must pass muster as constitutionalists. No one who denigrates the rule of law should ever be supported for public office.

Conservative

Nash BookThis is a relative term. In a totalitarian system, a conservative would be one who wants to conserve totalitarianism. But in our system, a true conservative is someone who seeks to conserve what the Founders established. Often that can happen only by acting to overturn or reverse what has been done to destroy the Founders’ ideals. If a revolution has occurred, a real conservative might have to take on the nature of a counterrevolutionary in order to reestablish the foundations.

Conservatism does not merely conserve the status quo—if that status quo is a deviation from the constitutional system bequeathed to us.

Conservatism is not “reactionary”; it is a positive movement to secure the blessings of liberty to us and to future generations.

Application

As I survey the political field in this upcoming election cycle, and as I think through everything I wrote above, this is where I come out.

First, I can never support the Democrat party. Its very tenets are antithetical to my basic Christian beliefs; its principles are the opposite of mine; its radical anti-constitutionalism is in the process of destroying the rule of law; and rather than seeking to conserve the Founders’ ideals, it instead foments a secular, Marxist revolution against those ideals.

On the Republican side, I find that the current frontrunner, Donald Trump, has no real grasp of Christian faith and only pays lip service to its tenets, as far as he may understand them—which is not very far. I also don’t trust him to protect religious liberty.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has a Christian testimony that I believe stands the test. I don’t see lip service only, but a commitment to the truths of the faith.

Trump-Cruz

Trump, with respect to principles, falls far short. In fact, it seems to me the only principle he follows is whatever promotes himself. Does he really believe in the sanctity of life when he defends Planned Parenthood? Can we trust him on religious liberty? Will he use the government to strongarm people who disagree with him, or perhaps prosecute them for their disagreements? I have no confidence in him on any of those issues.

Cruz, though, is about as principled a politician as I can find at the presidential level. When I look at those principles that I listed above, I see him as solid on them all. Why? He has proven to be faithful to them in public office thus far.

Does Donald Trump even know we have a Constitution that set up a limited government? He never talks about it. It’s obviously not a priority for him as he seeks the highest office in the land. He has even hinted—well, more than hinted—that maybe there should be some curtailment of political expression, that maybe there should be more lawsuits against the press.

Now, as much as I may criticize the American press—in print, on television, and on the Internet—any curtailment of political opinions sends a chill up my spine. Under a Trump administration, would this blog be considered a target if I should deign to criticize our fearless leader?

Ted Cruz is a staunch defender of the Constitution as intended by the Founders. How do I know? Again, look at his record. Restoring constitutional thinking and practice has been his life’s work.

Donald Trump is no conservative, at least as defined in the American context. He has not been schooled in conservative thought and has a record of supporting key Democrats throughout his career. When you give a lot of money to Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, etc., etc., you are not only not conservative, but you are helping the enemies of constitutional conservatism propagate their radical revolution.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, is the most consistent conservative left in the Republican presidential field. I am entirely comfortable with his understanding of how conservatism should play out in our constitutional system.

This, then, is how I approach thinking about politics and government. This determines how I vote.

I only hope these few thoughts will prove helpful to those who are trying to make sense of the decision before us.

A Personal Perspective on Evangelical Support for Trump

This is going to be a calmer post than I originally intended. My emotions ran high Saturday night with the results of the South Carolina primary. Make no mistake, I am deeply disturbed by political developments in the Republican party, but I will attempt to offer a reasonable commentary to explain my deep concern.

While Trump’s victory, in itself, is disturbing, it’s the way he won that bothers me more—with the apparent backing of a plurality of evangelicals.

Donald Trump 4According to the exit polls, Trump took about 34% of evangelical voters, while Cruz got around 25% and Rubio slightly fewer. One can always say that at least the combined tally for Cruz and Rubio was greater than Trump’s number, but just the fact that 34% self-identified evangelical Christians would vote for this man defies logic.

Perhaps logic is in short supply. Perhaps real evangelicalism is in short supply also. Perhaps the term “evangelical” has come to have so many different meanings that it is now a worthless word.

To me, an evangelical is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, committed to reflect the righteousness of God in one’s own life. A real disciple of Christ would want to see His ways permeate society, and a real evangelical Christian would never vote for a person whose lifestyle and policy positions were in direct opposition to the Biblical message of salvation and moral behavior.

Yet that is precisely what 34% of evangelical South Carolinians did.

First, let me say that I don’t necessarily accept the notion that all self-identified evangelicals are really Christians. Many are probably “cultural Christians” in the sense that they grew up in the church and still attend but have never had a face-to-face encounter with the Living Christ followed by a genuine heart change and desire to serve Him gladly.

God & GovernmentThen there are those who may be genuine Christians but who either don’t have a good grasp of how Biblical principles apply to government or who are operating out of emotion—angry over the trends they see in the nation and allying with Trump simply because he expresses their anger well.

Voting on emotion, and particularly the emotion of anger, is not the Christian way. We need to stay focused on principles and vote according to which candidates are most consistent with those Biblical principles.

I’ve said the following things previously, but the time is ripe for a reminder. If you vote for Trump, here is the man you are voting for:

  • Donald Trump has publicly stated that he can’t think of anything for which he has had to ask God for forgiveness. That’s because he claims to be a good man. This means he has no understanding of sin in his life and no desire to get rid of it. Neither does he have a clue as to why Christ laid down his life for sinners, since Trump doesn’t consider himself to be one of them.
  • Trump dumped two wives at his own personal whim when another woman appealed more to him.
  • He has boasted of having had sex with many married women. He also calls his sexual dalliances his own personal Vietnam (where he was able to avoid serving) because he dodged his own bullets of sexual transmitted diseases.
  • He built a casino with a strip club. How is that in any way acceptable to a Christian?
  • Up until recently, he was aggressively in favor of abortion, even the partial-birth variety. He says he is now pro-life, yet continues to claim that Planned Parenthood does many good things for women. He even touted his sister, a pro-abortion judge, as a possible candidate for the Supreme Court. That sister, by the way, decided a case that rejected a partial-birth abortion ban.
  • Just last week, he said he endorsed Obama’s healthcare mandate while simultaneously saying he would get rid of Obamacare, as if the mandate has nothing to do with that monstrosity. Does he even know what he’s talking about?
  • His entire campaign has been built equally on vague generalities, personal insults toward other candidates and anyone else who crosses him (e.g., Megyn Kelly), profanity-laced harangues, and phony threats of lawsuits (even a threat against Cruz using a video of Trump in his own words displaying his abortion views).
  • Increasingly, he has become an embarrassment by his over-the-top behavior at debates and rallies. He never really answers criticisms of his positions with reasoned responses. Rather, he starts yelling that the accuser is a liar, constantly interrupting and losing his temper. Is that what we should want in a president?

No one in the Republican field of candidates is more inherently contrary to a Biblical worldview than Donald Trump.

Yet he gets 34% of the evangelical vote.

This is a travesty. Those who claim to be the representatives of Jesus Christ in this woeful world need to match their words with their actions, and one of those actions is to vote according to the Biblical worldview they profess to believe in.

To vote for a man like Donald Trump is to violate one’s confession of Christian faith.

I’ve said it rather bluntly, but I will not back down despite the criticisms that may come for being so blunt. It’s time to be serious about how our faith ought to be expressed in the political realm.

Lewis & the Omnicompetent State (Part 1)

C. S. Lewis 13C. S. Lewis often protested that he had no interest in or taste for politics. What he really meant by that was the type of politics he imbibed growing up in a Belfast suburb, listening to his father discuss with friends the nature of the local and national politics of his Irish/English homeland. Was it the pettiness that turned him against political discussion or the boredom he suffered from those overheard conversations? Whatever the cause, he normally abhorred purely political discussions.

Yet there is a clear distinction that must be drawn between politics per se and the principles of governing a civil society. That second topic interested Lewis considerably, and he commented often, both in his published works and in letters, particularly to Americans, on the subject of government. He was quite direct in his statements on the tendency of civil government to take upon itself too much power over individuals’ lives.

Lewis’s 1937 novel, Out of the Silent Planet, is arguably his first foray into commentary on an elite that seeks to use science and government to attain absolute control over a society, but it’s not until the 1940s that he begins to stress that theme more frequently.

For instance, in his 1943 essay, “The Poison of Subjectivism,” he takes aim at a self-appointed societal leadership that wants to plan everyone’s lives minutely. “Many a popular ‘planner’ on a democratic platform, many a mild-eyed scientist in a democratic laboratory means, in the last resort, just what the Fascist means,” Lewis opined. “He believes that ‘good’ means whatever men are conditioned to approve. He believes that it is the function of him and his kind to condition men; to create consciences by eugenics, psychological manipulation of infants, state education and mass propaganda.”

In that same essay, he critiques the qualities voters are beginning to look for in political leaders: vision, dynamism, and creativity. Instead, he urges that we turn from a government-created “good” and return to God’s absolutes. In doing so, we would then value more highly “virtue, knowledge, diligence, and skill.” He concludes, “Give me a man who will do a day’s work for a day’s pay, who will refuse bribes, who will not make up his facts, and who has learned his job.”

The preceding comments come from the paper I presented at the C. S. Lewis Foundation’s retreat last weekend. For the next few Saturdays I’ll continue to share thoughts from that paper.

What People Don’t Know

Teaching about Andrew Jackson and his faith in the common people the other day, I noted another of my Snyderian truisms: “Public opinion polls are not the fount of all wisdom.” I mentioned to my class that it really would be nice if voters had some concept of how our government was set up in the Constitution and what limitations there are on the federal government’s authority before allowing them to vote.

Of course, it would be rather unwieldy to quiz each voter as he or she approaches the voting booth, but one can dream, right?

And then, shortly after commenting on this in the classroom, I came across a couple of comic strips that addressed that very problem. I thought you might like them today; they may provide a few minutes of profitable meditation:

Small Test

Voting Test

And then there’s our citizens’ knowledge base about the rest of the world:

What's Canada

If you think my blog today betrays the weariness of a professor attempting to enlighten the current generation of college students, you are a person of great insight. I have to keep in mind the encouragement of this Scripture:

And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder.

Today’s Oxymoron: Mandatory Choice

Perhaps lost in the avalanche of bad news in recent days was President Obama’s trial balloon in which he suggested that all Americans should be forced to vote. There are countries in the world who do that, and one that used to do so was the Soviet Union. An astounding 98% or so of its citizens would show up at the polls. Of course, if they didn’t vote, they were put on a list of non-compliant citizens who deserved watching. It was also amazing that the “voters” always chose the communist “candidates.”

Voting is a privilege, and there is a segment of our citizenry that has no idea what’s going on. We’re supposed to force them to vote? What might the results be?

Mandatory Voting

Not good—but I’m tempted to ask if that would be worse than what we have now.

Why is Obama so interested in this idea? It’s not that hard to figure out.

Lazy & Apathetic

Statist Quo

He doesn’t like people choosing their own healthcare; he opposes school choice; now he hints at mandatory voting. Is there anything at all in which he favors choice? Oh, yes, that one:

Not Much Else

Where’s the news media? Why don’t they point out these things? Why do they even exist? Wouldn’t it be much more efficient just to have the president deliver the news himself? After all, what’s the difference between the mainstream press and this administration?

Cost Saving Measure

That pretty much says it all.