Another staff shakeup for Trump and more Russian connections

For the second time since his nomination, Donald Trump has shaken up his campaign staff.  He has brought in Steve Shannon, head of the pro-Trump website Breitbart News to be the CEO of his campaign.

This is presumably a rebuke of his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been trying to get Trump to restrain himself and to act more presidential.  Shannon, on the other hand, has been urging him to be his true outrageous self, which won him the Republican nomination.

Manafort, however, will remain at his post.  Meanwhile, new information is coming out about his connection to Russian authoritarians and their operatives.

Conservative columnist Rich Lowry says that it’s as if Republicans have switched sides in the cold war!

UPDATE:  Manafort quits as campaign chairman.

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Mexico’s one gun store

Mexico’s constitution guarantees the right of citizens to own firearms.  But it also allows the government to regulate them.  So there is only one gun store in the whole country, and should you go there, it is still almost impossible to buy a gun.

Mexico, of course, is plagued with gun violence on a colossal scale, since the criminal class is extremely well-armed. [Read more…]

A comedy-thriller about the Reformation

You have GOT to read The Relic Master, a novel by Christopher Buckley (son of conservative icon William F. Buckley).  It’s about a dealer in sacred relics (bones of the saints, artifacts from Bible stories, etc.) that, when venerated, were thought to provide time-off from purgatory.  The story takes place in the time of Martin Luther.  The cast of characters is a who’s-who of Reformation history.  Buckley, a noted satirist, has written a novel that is funny, exciting, and true to history.  His scathing portrait of the religious corruption and decadence of the time leaves no doubt that Luther, in his effort to reform the Church and recover authentic Christianity, is the good guy.

Dismas is the relic supplier for both Frederick the Wise of Saxony and Archbishop Albert of Mainz.  Some theses posted on a church door by a friar who teaches in Frederic’s university start to make waves, with Frederic protecting him and Albert trying to burn him at the stake.  Dismas, caught in the middle with his livelihood threatened, sees Luther’s point, but gets caught up in a relic forgery scam, aided by his side-kick, the great artist Albrecht Dürer.  The plot thickens, and their plot thickens, leading to a mad-cap scheme to steal the Shroud of Turin. [Read more…]

Outcome-based vs. morality-based voting

A lot of us dislike both of the major party candidates.  Quite a few of us also dislike the minor party and independent candidates.  So we are agonizing over what to do come election day.  Perhaps it would help to think through what factors should enter into the act of voting.

The usual approach is to consider which candidate, in your opinion, would be the best in office.  Or, whleast bad.  The focus is on the outcome or possible outcome of the election.

John Mark Reynolds proposes another approach.  He gives a scenario of an election between three very-flawed 19th century candidates.  (He says nothing about the current presidential election, though we know what he means.)

He argues that one person’s vote will do little to have an impact on the election’s outcome.  But it will have an impact on the person casting the vote.  Voting for an evil candidate–even the lesser of two evils–involves the voter in that evil.  Presumably, though Reynolds does not say this, the best solution would be not to vote at all.  Reynolds is arguing for what we could call morality-based voting.

What do you think of his argument (excerpted and linked to after the jump)?

Is there a moral duty to vote?  Is Reynold’s approach a moralistic quest for purity that evades our responsibility as we live in a fallen world?

What are other ways to think about voting?  What other factors should be considered? [Read more…]

New Zealand’s animal kill-off

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Saying God is transgender

The contours of a new liberal theology, one in accord with the new ideology of sex and gender, are starting to come together.  (Liberal theologians have never found a new leftist ideology that they don’t like and won’t refashion theology around.)  A rabbi has written an op-ed in the New York Times maintaining that God is transgender.

After the jump, read why he thinks so and read a response from a Bible scholar.

The argument hinges on confusing linguistic gender with natural gender, confusing a Being who transcends gender with someone who purports to change the sex he or she was born as, and scholarly bloopers of an embarrassing scale.  But it exemplifies how liberal theologians often twist the Bible so that it can seem to support their ideology.

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