Iowa Lessons

What does Ted Cruz’s Iowa win mean? What are his prospects going forward?

Cruz Iowa Caucus

First, Cruz’s top finish tore up the conventional wisdom on a few fronts. In a state dependent on ethanol subsidies, he stood firm against them and won anyway. Lesson: you don’t have to change your principles to get votes.

Second, the record turnout was supposed to benefit Trump; instead, Cruz beat him by four points and received the largest number of votes in the history of the Republican Iowa caucus.

Third, organization trumps (sorry about that) media glitz and big rallies. Celebrity does not equate to victory.

Fourth, personal pique that leads one to withdraw from a debate will not endear one to voters. Trump hurt himself badly with his arrogant decision to avoid being questioned by Megyn Kelly.

Going Home

Of course, an Iowa win doesn’t carry over to a state like New Hampshire, which is next in line. Cruz benefited from the large number of evangelicals who attended the caucus, estimated to have comprised 64% of all caucus-goers. New Hampshire is more secular. At this point, no one expects him to win in the state, but they are looking to see if Iowa provides enough of a bump that he will do better than expected.

Another factor in New Hampshire is that one doesn’t have to register as a Republican to vote in the Republican primary. I have never understood the logic of that. It should be the committed Republicans who choose their own nominee, not voters who don’t plan to vote for the Republican in the general election.

What will New Hampshire do? Will the Iowa results make them rethink the support Trump seems to have in the latest polls? Or will they be swayed more by his rhetoric of getting things done?

Need a President

I think we’ve been down that road already. How’s that working out?

Cruz, Rubio, & the Christian Witness to the World

The Iowa caucuses are today. Finally, after months of poll after poll, there will be an official poll, an actual vote to test the strength of the candidates, in one state at least. The results will lead to the withdrawal of some from the race—or should. The frontrunners will move on to New Hampshire and beyond.

My blog today, though, is less political than it is a cry from the heart to two of those candidates in particular. I have narrowed my choice down to either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. I see strengths in both; I see flaws. One flaw is common to both and is causing some distress in my heart.


You see, both Cruz and Rubio are up front with their Christian faith. Cruz announced his candidacy at Liberty University and has run his campaign partly on the message that Christians need to come together and support him for the sake of good government based on a Biblical understanding of life and a commitment to constitutionalism.

Rubio has also been quite open about his Christianity. He says it is the bedrock or cornerstone of who he is and what he does in office. A video of his answer to an atheist has been making the rounds and has impressed many. He has ties both to Catholicism and to interdenominational Protestantism.

So here are those two self-professed Christian believers publicly vying for the same office—and also publicly tearing one another down as either a liar or the second coming of Barack Obama.

That’s what is causing me the distress.

I understand their deep desire to hold the office of the presidency and return the nation to some semblance of reality after two Obama terms. I get it that they both believe God wants them to do this job. Right now, I could vote for either of them.

Yet they, by attacking each other on a more personal level than a straightforward debate on policy, are violating, in my view, their highest calling. They are besmirching what should be their greatest aim, something far more significant than the presidency: their Christian witness to the world.

Yes, do debate, and debate vigorously. Point out what you think are flaws in the other’s plans and approach to governing. Tell us why your proposals are the better ones and why you think you will be the best leader for a nation in peril.

But in doing so, please don’t descend into the pit. Respect one another as brothers in Christ. Treat one another as you would like to be treated.

If all the world sees is a grudge match between two who name the name of Christ, we all lose.

May the better man win, but may that win be the result of a heart filled with love and a commitment to show forth how a Christian conducts himself in public.

That’s all I have to say today. I will pray for both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to be the Christian examples they need to be.

C. S. Lewis: Impact on Americans (Part 3)

This is the third in my series revealing the results of a survey I took of Americans’ debt to C. S. Lewis. Conducted in conjunction with the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, the goal was to provide testimonies to the influence of Lewis on those who responded to the survey.

Two weeks ago, I shared how the respondents had first become aware of Lewis and his writings. Last week was devoted to which of Lewis’s writings had the most impact. Today’s focus is on the following question:

Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, Involved with a C. S. Lewis Society/Organization or with Some Other Activity Connected with Lewis? Please Explain.

NY CSL Society MemoriamThis section of the survey showcased just how organizations with some connection to C. S. Lewis have proliferated in America. Starting with just one in 1969, The New York C. S. Lewis Society (two of the respondents currently are connected with this group), such societies are now found in many states and in cities that one would not ordinarily predict.

Respondents noted their participation in societies located in the greater southern California area, Washington, D.C., Seattle (at which one of the respondents read a paper), Portland (OR), and Pittsburgh. Others have taken part in societies outside the United States, in Toronto and, for one respondent, at Lewis’s own Oxford.

Universities in America also have C. S. Lewis societies; one, in particular, was noted at Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina. A Socratic Club at Duke University was modeled after Lewis’s of the same name at Oxford. One respondent was a member of that club prior to its dissolution in 2009.

Others have been involved in organizations that are not necessarily Lewis-centric but have him as one component of their interest: a local Inklings group, in one instance, and the Mythopoeic Society for another. One respondent said, “I have started 3 Lewis Societies and visited/spoken at others in the US and UK.”

20140804_184024Four respondents have, at one time or another, worked at the Wade Center, which has only deepened their appreciation for all things Lewis. As one of those respondents remarked, “In my years as a student at Wheaton College I worked as a student employee for two years at the Wade Center as a book processor. I learned about and handled many Lewis books, letters, and artifacts at that time.”

KilnsAnother notes this connection with the C. S. Lewis Foundation in California, which now owns Lewis’s home, the Kilns: “I visited the Kilns this past February where I met the director of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. It was wonderful to have tea with her, have a tour, walk the grounds, and walk to his old church and gravesite.”

The arrival of the Internet—which was not a factor in the 1986 survey and only in its infant stages in 1996 for the second survey—was mentioned quite often as a way in which these Lewis fans have participated in activities. Six noted their membership in a Facebook page devoted to Lewis, three specifically mentioned working in connection with “NarniaWeb,” and one is a participant in the “Into the Wardrobe” website. Another stated, “I am an administrator on, an online encyclopedia about the Chronicles.”

Overall, thirty-nine of the eighty-seven respondents have had some connection with a Lewis organization, a percentage that probably will only increase in the coming years as more Internet possibilities for participation increase.

Next Saturday’s post will detail the opinions of the respondents on the Shadowlands productions, covering both the BBC television film from the 1980s and the Hollywood version of the 1990s.

Random Debate Thoughts

I’m just going to do a bit of stream-of-consciousness writing today with regard to last night’s GOP debate. As thoughts come to me, I’ll put them down in no particular order or preconceived outline.

January 2016 Debate

Ted Cruz took the center spot, so he was subject to the greatest scrutiny. Great start with his humorous swipe at Trump, but he mystified me by his complaint about the questions. Was he serious or attempting humor again? If the former, stop complaining. If the latter, it didn’t work.

Too bad he had that little hiccup because he was superb on certain questions later, particularly on how to replace Obamacare and with his explanation to an Iowa audience why no one should support subsidies. That was risky in ethanol country, but it showed his knowledge of limited government and sound economics. It also revealed his willingness to stand on principle. Hope people in the audience learned something.

Marco Rubio, despite not doing very well in his back-and-forth with Bush on immigration, was otherwise excellent. Many think he “won” the debate, as much as anyone can “win” any debate. Sometimes he comes across as too intense, but he had some great laugh lines along the way to relieve that tension.

I’m impressed, of course, by Rubio’s strong Christian faith but not sure his insertion of Jesus as his Savior fit into that one answer. I understand he was responding to the question about how many in the GOP had been looking at him as their “savior,” but I don’t think anyone really was confusing the two.

Back to Cruz: afterwards, in a sit-down with Megyn Kelly, he got some good news from her. She said she and her colleagues had combed over all his comments about illegal immigration and that they came away impressed he truly has been consistent throughout his Senate tenure. I’m sure he appreciated that affirmation.

Bush was stronger than at any other debate. He came across as very comfortable in his own shoes for the first time. I don’t despise Jeb Bush; I think he is a good man. But I won’t be voting for him.

Likewise, Ben Carson is a good man who deserves much praise for his life and faith. I just don’t believe he should be president.

Chris Christie always has some good lines, and he was quite up front about the murder of innocent children via abortion. However, I think he made sure he said that to counter his past support for Planned Parenthood. He might be a fine attorney general in a Republican administration, but he should not be president.

Rand Paul offered some valid comments along the way and appeared relaxed and confident. That might be because he knows the end is near for his campaign and he still has his Senate job. While I have always disagreed with his basic worldview with respect to foreign policy, I do believe he is a man of principle. His voice is welcome, if not in the presidency.

Did I forget anyone? Oh, yes, John Kasich. Well, nothing to add there.

I watched the first debate of the evening also. I’m always impressed with Carly Fiorina’s ability to cut to the chase and offer intelligent commentary. I hope she gets a high-level position somewhere in the government.

I was saddened by Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum’s decision to go the Trump event after the first debate. Regardless of their reasons, I think that act may have ended both of their campaigns.

The Fox moderators were fair to all. I actually liked that they used videos of what Rubio and Cruz had said earlier to make them answer for what appear to be inconsistencies. They need that practice, and they have to be able to offer solid rationales for what they have said and done.

As I said in a previous post, my two top candidates at this time are Cruz and Rubio. What I really hope for is a decisive Trump defeat on Monday and a 1-2 finish for those two. Then I will continue to watch them closely and be able to come to a personal decision by the time the Florida primary comes around in March.

Evangelicals & Trump: Decision Time

So Donald Trump is not going to be present at tonight’s debate. He says Fox News doesn’t treat him fairly. Never mind that he has been omnipresent on their evening programs ever since he announced his candidacy. Last night, he was on The O’Reilly Factor—that’s after he declared he was boycotting the debate because Fox is so unfair.

This stems from that question Megyn Kelly asked him at the first debate. He’s never forgiven her; apparently it has become a point of bitterness for him. Of course, all Kelly did was remind him of the derogatory words he had publicly used to describe women. No one is allowed to remind The Donald of his rude and demeaning behavior.

He then demanded that Fox exclude Kelly from this upcoming debate; Fox refused, so Trump will be a no-show.

Not Fox News

Fox was right in not bowing to his demand. No candidate, no matter how important in his own mind, should be allowed to dictate who is permitted to question him. He may have forgotten that there are other candidates on that stage as well and that he is not the whole show—but that would be foreign to his character, I fear.

I’ve provided in previous posts a litany of the reasons why I do not support Trump. I won’t go into as much detail today, but I would like to address those in the evangelical community, where I also reside spiritually and philosophically.

I continue to be saddened by the number of adherents Trump has accumulated among evangelicals. The latest endorsement, coming from Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University, has prompted the most head-shaking from evangelicals who see the dangers of a Trump nomination.

This is not a denunciation of my fellow believers but an appeal.

When you provide credence to a candidate who has boasted of having sex with a large number of women, many of them married, how is that a testimony to the Gospel you want to promote?

When you ignore the steady stream of diatribes emanating from Trump in his Twitter world, describing anyone who disagrees with him or takes him to task for his views as bimbos, losers, jerks, etc. (I won’t grace this post with some of the more vulgar terms he has used), how does that help point others to a Savior who tells us to be lights in this dark world?

When you promote a man who would love to put his pro-abortion sister on the Supreme Court, would offer the vice presidency to a pro-abortion Republican, who would have jailed Kim Davis over her objection to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and who has no problem overall with same-sex marriage, how are you at the same time promoting Biblical morality?

I’ll stop there, even though there are many other issues I could raise.

It has been terribly dismaying to read all the defenses of Trump from those who say they have put Jesus Christ first in their lives.

In this latest eruption over the debate, Trump, I believe, has simply displayed his basic nature: bitterness, lack of forgiveness, massive ego, and sense of entitlement.

Trump is used to getting his way on everything. He did so in business; he has been masterful at manipulating a compliant media. When he doesn’t get his way, as with the Fox debate, he resorts to rather childish behavior, reacting the way a child might when he picks up his marbles and goes home when others don’t do what he wants.

One cartoonist has a suggestion on how to set up the stage for the debate tonight:

Trump High Chair

Trump and his supporters might consider that suggestion mean-spirited. It might cause a new round of Twitter denunciations. Sadly, it captures the essence of how Trump has been acting.

Let me say this now, prior to the choice of a Republican nominee: if Donald Trump is the nominee, I don’t see how I can fill in that little oval next to his name in the general election. I know. I’ve always counseled people to hold their noses and vote for a bad nominee because the alternative is worse. However, when both choices are equally bad, what then?

Evangelicals need to go before the Lord, earnestly seeking His mind and His heart, as we help make one of the most momentous decisions for this republic in our lifetime. May God guide us and lead us to His wisdom.

Chambers: Higher Education & Despair

Book Cover 1What led Whittaker Chambers to become a communist? His university education was one source, not because it taught him communism per se, but because it offered nothing to believe in. Faced with a choice between nihilism and communism, he chose the latter. Here’s an excerpt from my new book that I hope you will find enlightening with respect to the decline of higher education.

Chambers chose to attend Columbia University, close enough to home that he could save money by staying there his freshman year. “When I entered,” he explained, “I was a conservative in my view of life and politics, and I was undergoing a religious experience. By the time I left, entirely by my own choice, I was no longer a conservative and I had no religion.”

It is a statement that begs for more. How did this happen, precisely? What exact role did Columbia play in this dramatic turnabout? Who and what were the influences on Chambers at this time in his life?

He entered Columbia in the fall of 1920. Already damaged from his upbringing, having viewed the less seemly aspects of life in D.C. and New Orleans, and contemplating the social and economic crises that resulted from the recent Great War, now known as World War I, Chambers was soon to be firmly convinced that the world was on the brink of catastrophe.

He referred to it later, when he could explain it better, as a fault line. As with a physical earthquake, so also society was cracking under pressures and stresses that would ultimately lead to a cataclysmic upheaval. The problem was that most people did not understand what was happening; therefore, neither did they have a solution. During his time at Columbia, he sought to figure out the nature of the crisis and to discover the solution. In the end, the university did not provide the answer.

In effect, I was asking: Please tell me what our civilization means in terms of God and man, for I cannot make head or tail of it.

It was very much as if I had gone to a madhouse and said, cap in hand: Please explain to me the principles of sanity and sane living. Again, this is entirely without any special animadversions upon Columbia University. Exactly the same thing would have been true, in one degree or another, if I had gone to any other of the top secular universities in the country. Nor would the colleges have been at fault. Their failure merely mirrored a much greater disaster which was the failure of Western civilization itself.

Columbia was, he declared, “a citadel of the mind swaying in the vertigo of a civilization changing (without admitting it) the basis of its faith from a two thousand-year-old Christian culture to the new secular and scientific culture.” Whereas the Christian culture “placed God at the center of man’s hope,” the new secular faith, which was “exclusively rational and scientific,” replaced God with Man.

This was not indoctrination into communism, at least not explicitly. “No member of the Columbia faculty ever consciously guided me toward Communism,” he stated. “Columbia did not teach me Communism. It taught me despair.” That despair opened the door for the communist solution.

Searching for meaning in life, Chambers found that his university education provided only despair. Only much later did he finally come to realize that true meaning is found only in God, to Whom he eventually surrendered his will.

The Campaign Show

This presidential campaign is certainly a show, if nothing else. I do believe it is something else, however; most of the GOP candidates are at least addressing the issues. But we have had our fair share of strange moments.

When’s the last time the supposed frontrunner for one party was being investigated for federal offenses, the kind that could land a person in prison? The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail server handling top-security matters and the manner in which she enriched her family through a phony charitable foundation has become increasingly serious.

In her last debate with the other erstwhile Democrat challengers, Hillary uttered words that were immediately applied to her by many:

Too Big

The irony seems to have been lost on her. What is particularly galling is that Gen. David Petraeus, for a lesser violation, is being singled out for possible reduction in rank and prison time. Can anyone say “double standard”?

Change Your Name

What’s really funny—in the sense that anything about this can be labeled as funny—is that a man who should be merely an also-ran in this race, Bernie Sanders, is picking up momentum:

Feel the Burn

Sanders, an outspoken socialist (as opposed to the rest of the Democrats who don’t want it to be known that they too are socialists), is ahead of Hillary by double digits in the New Hampshire polling and is about even in Iowa. This is not the way Hillary’s shining path to the nomination was supposed to happen:


The Republican side of the race has attracted even more attention, thanks to the Trump circus. The media just can’t seem to help themselves:

Pied Trumpeter

Trump has taken advantage of the failed leadership in the Republican party to attract a devoted following, so devoted, at least in his estimation, that they will never desert him no matter what he says or does. As he infamously joked a few days ago, he could shoot someone on a public street and his supporters would still vote for him. As I commented in yesterday’s post, the saddest part of that statement is that it’s probably true for a significant segment of his loyal fans.

Yet when his rhetoric is analyzed without bias, there isn’t really much “there” there. Is it possible that may change in the upcoming debate on Thursday?

More Serious