Romney’s good deed

Kathleen Parker draws attention to something Romney did that he really deserves credit for:  When Rick Perry had his 53-second brain-freeze in which he forgot which agency he was going to shut down, Romney tried to help him.

The 53-second eternity has been replayed sufficiently, so we needn’t belabor the cringe-inducing amnesia of the 47th Texas governor. It was so bad that even disciples of schadenfreude ducked under their blankies and prayed for deliverance.

“Oops” was all that was left to Perry when he couldn’t recall the third agency he would stomp beneath the heel of his Texas boot. “I can’t,” he said when pressed by moderator John Harwood. “Oops.” . . .

As Perry was free-falling into the abyss of lost thoughts Wednesday night, he turned to his fellow contestants as if to say, “Please, someone, can’t you tell me what I think?”

Unhelpfully, Ron Paul suggested there were really five agencies he should cut. And then someone did try to help him, and this to me was the most memorable moment of the evening. From somewhere on the panel, a voice reached out to the struggling Texan, a suggestion that might help Perry gather himself and emerge from this utter humiliation.

The voice belonged to Mitt Romney. As Perry’s brain was hardening into arctic pack ice, Romney suggested that maybe the third agency he wanted to eliminate was the EPA. Yeah, that’s it! But no, it wasn’t. Pressed by Harwood, Perry said it wasn’t the EPA, but blast if he could remember what it was. (Later he said it was Energy.)

Romney’s suggestion when most of the others were squirmingly silent was an act of pure kindness and self-sacrificing generosity. It was not especially noticeable. But if you were Rick Perry in that moment, you were well aware that Romney was the one who tried to save you. When Perry finally said, “Oops,” it was Romney toward whom he looked.

Small, but not insignificant, this gesture of active empathy tells much about the man who extended it. He’s a nice guy in a season of nastiness, a trait that may also be his greatest political failing.

via A nice guy in a season of nastiness – The Washington Post.

She goes on to say that Romney’s niceness will hurt him because we are in a time of voter anger.  I would say, though, that anger doesn’t play all that well in a presidential election, which (I argue) is part of the problem with the rest of the candidates.  What voters yearn for is someone who can make them optimistic.  I’m not sure Romney can do that.  But still, I’ll give him credit for trying to help his opponent.

Supremes to rule on Obamacare

The Supreme Court will hear challenges to Obamacare and will hand down a decision probably in July, which will be before the election:

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, with an election-year ruling due by July on the U.S. healthcare system’s biggest overhaul in nearly 50 years.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said oral arguments would take place in March. There will be a total of 5-1/2 hours of argument. The court would be expected to rule during its current session, which lasts through June.

The decision had been widely expected since September, when the Obama administration asked the country’s highest court to uphold the centerpiece insurance provision and 26 of the 50 states separately asked that the entire law be struck down.

At the heart of the legal battle is whether the U.S. Congress overstepped its powers by requiring all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, a provision known as the individual mandate.

Legal experts and policy analysts said the healthcare vote may be close on the nine-member court, with five conservatives and four liberals. It could come down to moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the decisive vote.

The law, aiming to provide medical coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, has wide ramifications for company costs and for the health sector, affecting health insurers, drugmakers, device companies and hospitals.

A decision by July would take the healthcare issue to the heart of a presidential election campaign that ends with a vote on Nov. 6 next year. Polls show Americans deeply divided over the overhaul, Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

via UPDATE 4-US top court to take on Obama healthcare law | Reuters.

Any predictions on what the ruling will be?  And, either way, what impact will a decision have on the presidential election?

More from Chaplain Mike on Lutheranism

Chaplain Mike over at the blog Internet Monk has more to say about his conversion to Lutheranism. He focuses here on how helpful he is finding the Christ-centeredness of Lutheranism and the distinction between Law and Gospel:  How the Lutheran Tradition Answers Many Post-Evangelical Concerns (2) | internetmonk.com.

Read the comments too.  Other evangelicals there are drawn to these teachings, though some of them are stumbling over major misconceptions.  Maybe some of you could help.

[The discussion yesterday focused nearly exclusively on how Chaplain Mike has ended up at an ELCA congregation rather than at a more conservative congregation, such as one affiliated with the LCMS. Perhaps now we could discuss his larger point, how he has found his "post-evangelical concerns" answered in the Lutheran tradition.]

Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk becomes a Lutheran

Michael Spencer ran the blog Internet Monk, which became an important forum for Christians struggling with a whole range of issues in the evangelical world.  Spencer, a Baptist, found lots of help in Lutheran theology, especially in its understanding of the Gospel.  Spencer died of cancer not too long ago.  His blog, though, continues under his successor who goes by the handle “Chaplain Mike.”

Chaplain Mike has just announced that he has taken the step of becoming a Lutheran.

He has started a series of posts explaining how he sees Lutheranism as uniquely addressing the concerns of “post-evangelical” Christians.  Here is the conclusion of his long post, which surveys aspects of contemporary  evangelicalism that he has been struggling with:

 Let me say, by way of concluding this overview, that I have been thrilled with what I have learned and experienced in the Lutheran tradition with regard to these three areas.

The Word and Table liturgy of the Lutheran church, rooted in the historic tradition of the church rather than the revivalist movement, restores the priority of worship in the local congregation.

Pastors are not CEO’s or program directors in the Lutheran church as they have become in much of evangelicalism. Rather, they represent Christ in distributing the means of grace through Word and Sacrament. Preaching is embedded in the liturgy so that worship does not revolve around the charisma of the preacher, but the Word Himself who meets us in the gathering of his people. Pastoral care and catechizing the congregation are essential components of his or her work.

The doctrine of vocation is one of the gifts the Lutheran tradition has given to the larger Church. Luther, himself a monk, came to appreciate the priesthood of all believers and the integrity of every calling, “sacred” or “secular,” as a means of showing Christ’s love to the world.

This is just a start in showing how the Lutheran tradition has answered some of my concerns with the system of evangelicalism dominant in America today.

More to come.

via How the Lutheran Tradition Answers Many Post-Evangelical Concerns (1) | internetmonk.com#comment-613544.

HT:  Rod Rosenbladt

Snake handling

Julia Duin is a Christian journalist who is a real pro.  She has a long story in the Washington Post Magazine on West Virginia snake handlers.  What I appreciate is that she approaches these mountain Pentecostalists with utter respect,without a shred of condescension or ridicule.  She does, though, describe the desperate social context of these folks–the lack of jobs and young people, the rampant drug abuse in these rural areas–though this isn’t the cause of snake handling, which itself is in decline compared to more prosperous times.  Apparently, even these declining churches are trying church growth methods:  They now have electric guitars and drums.  I much prefer the rattlesnakes and strychnine.  Anyway, the profile is very Flannery O’Connoresque and very much worth reading:  In W.Va., snake handling is still considered a sign of faith – The Washington Post.

And now Newt’s turn

Here is the pattern:  A Republican presidential candidate rises to the top as the alternative to Mitt Romney.  Whereupon he or she gets knocked off the pedestal.  Now it is Newt Gingrich’s turn:

Two polls out Friday show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign gaining traction. And both polls show there’s plenty of room for the race to change dramatically: 17% of respondents are undecided.

Newt Gingrich talks to a breakfast crowd during a campaign stop at the Circle Restaurant , Friday, in Epson, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

A McClatchy-Marist poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents finds that Mitt Romney’s poll numbers remain steady – he generally garners the support of about a quarter of the Republican and Republican-leaning voters. That puts him in the lead, with Mr. Gingrich in second and former front-runner Herman Cain close behind.

By the numbers: Mr. Romney, 23%; Mr. Gingrich, 19%; Mr. Cain, 17%;Texas Rep. Ron Paul 10%; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 8%, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, 5%. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum got 1% apiece.

“Romney is still where he’s been. It’s fair to say this is a battle for the anybody-but-Romney candidate,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College. “Gingrich has now begun his 15 days of fame. Whether he is able to maintain that, as others have fallen, is the question. He may be the only one standing when this is all said and done.”

via Polls: Gingrich Grows on GOP Voters – Washington Wire – WSJ.

Gingrich has his own womanizing baggage, but he doesn’t have brain freezes.  Would you consider him?

Notice that if you add up the percentages for all of the non-Romney candidates, the total comes to far more than Romney’s consistent 20-something percent.


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