The strongman syndrome

Russian president Vladimir Putin has been praising Donald Trump, who has been returning the favor.   When it was brought up that Putin has a habit of killing his critics, Trump said that our country also does a lot of killing.  (See details after the jump.)

It isn’t just that the two have a mutual admiration society going.  David Ignatius says that Trump is America’s Putin.

I think what we are seeing is the strongman syndrome.  Democracies, by their nature, make for weak central governments and so have trouble “getting things done.”   So when things get bad, at some point, the very people who constitute the democracy, turn to a “strongman” to solve their problems, even though he will also do away with their rights.

This happened with the Greek democracy and the Roman Republic.  It happened when the French revolution turned to Napoleon and when the Russian revolution turned to Stalin.  It happened again after the fall of Communism, when the Russian people turned away from the messy democracy they had been trying in favor of the authoritarian Putin.  It happens regularly in Latin America.  Isn’t this what is happening in this country with the popularity of Donald Trump? [Read more...]

Letting the culture do the work of the church

Political scientist James R. Rogers (a member of the LCMS) argues that a big part of the problem in American Christianity today is that, for a long time, churches have relied on the culture to instill morality, rather than instilling Christian morality themselves.  Ever since the Sixties, though, the culture has been taking a different turn. . . . [Read more...]

What were the top news stories of 2015?

Patheos is compiling the news stories of 2015 that were most important to “each faith community.”  My editor, former student Barton Gingrich, who runs the “evangelical channel,” has asked for our input.  What I’d like to give him are the opinions of what we could call the Cranach community, those who read this blog.  Lots of you are Lutherans, so that would give the viewpoint of a strain of “evangelicals” who are not always heard from in that group.  But not all of you are, and I want to hear from you as well.   So, in your opinion and from your perspective, what are the top news developments of the last year? [Read more...]

3rd century fragment of John’s gospel offered on eBay

A priceless fragment of the Greek New Testament, a text from St. John’s gospel, was discovered on eBay, with an opening bid of $99.  (Similar texts have sold for $500,000.)  A relative of a deceased Bible scholar and collector came into possession of the document, not really knowing what he had.  Another scholar saw the eBay offering, contacted the seller, and persuaded him to pull the auction and make it available for study.  It turns out that the fragment is especially significant because it appears to come from a scroll, whereas all other ancient New Testament texts are from the book-like pages of a codex. [Read more...]

The seal of Hezekiah discovered

Archaeologists have discovered the seal of King Hezekiah near the Temple Mount.  It is a small piece of clay bearing the imprint of a ring, inscribed with various symbols and the words  “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.”  The seal must have been placed on a document ratified by the king’s ring, on the finger of a Biblical hero, one of Judah’s most godly rulers. [Read more...]

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year

Time Magazine‘s Person of the Year is German Prime Minister Angela Merkel.

Interesting choice:  Prime Minister Merkel is a Lutheran, a conservative (relatively speaking, for Germany), a woman, an economic hard-liner, by all accounts a skillful leader.  She has been compared to Margaret Thatcher, a formidable figure, though now she is being accused of being too generous when it comes to immigration.

Who would you have chosen for Person of the Year, the individual who has most impacted the world for better or for worse in 2015?

[Read more...]


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