Actors vs. Trump

Meryl_Streep_At_The_2014_SAG_Awards_(12024455556)_(cropped)Meryl Streep took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes to give a blistering speech against president-elect Donald Trump.  See Mollie Hemingway’s critique of her speech.

Now actors have the same right as all other citizens to criticize their public officials.  This, along with other recent “public service” spots featuring actors and their political causes, does raise another issue:  acting outside of one’s vocation.
Actors have the vocation of effectively speaking lines written by someone else.  (It has always bothered me that actors get all of the attention in Hollywood, while those who write the scripts that they recite remain largely unknown by the public.)  They generally have no particular expertise in other areas, yet they regularly testify at Congressional hearings on a wide range of non-acting topics. [Read more…]

More Russian dirty tricks

For_Your_Eyes_Only-Ian_FlemingNot only did the Russians hack into the Democrats’ e-mails in an attempt to influence the election.  According to a classified report shared with Donald Trump, the Russians also compiled a dossier of “compromising” information about the president-elect’s personal life and about his finances.

That the Russians released embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton but not about Trump is evidence, according to the CIA, that they wanted to discredit the former but protect the latter.  But now some fear that the Russians may have information to hold over the new president’s head, which they can use to blackmail him into going along with their policies.

What the Russians, perhaps, don’t know is that Trump is uncompromisable and un-blackmailable.  The American public already knows lots of facts about Trump that might sink other politicians, but none of it seems to matter with our new Teflon president.

UPDATE:  The report also claims that members of the Trump campaign went to Russia and directly colluded with Russian intelligence.   All sides are calling “Fake News!” so it’s impossible to sort out the facts and the original document remains unverified, but expect a Congressional investigation to the direct collusion charges. [Read more…]

Living under the law

3619878820_a375c3f2ca_mMore from David Zahl., who distinguishes between the big-L “Law” (of God) and the little-l “law” that people today try, futilely, to live by. . . .

The latter too is a sign of how people today are obsessed with justifying themselves, even though they can’t.   We need to point them to the justification they can have, freely, through Christ.

I would add that those of us who have that justification should remember it more and should apply it when we ourselves fall into these syndromes of perfectionism and the busyness that Zahl analyzes.

[Read more…]

Flipping on Assange

342px-Julian_Assange_August_2014Not long ago, conservatives condemned Wikileaks leaker Julian Assange.  After all, Assange exposed U.S. intelligence operations, possibly endangering the lives of CIA agents.  Donald Trump even said he deserved the death penalty.  But now, after Assange released e-mails embarrassing to Hillary Clinton in support of Trump, some of those same conservatives are all for him.  In fact, they believe him over the CIA!

Conversely, liberals used to praise Assange for revealing the sinister secrets of the militaristic, imperialistic CIA.  Today, now that Assange is supporting Trump and the CIA is saying the Russians were responsible for the e-mail hacks (something Assange denies), the left is vilifying Assange and praising the CIA!

Do you see some inconsistency here?  Michael Gerson does.  After the jump, read his accusations of unprincipled tribalism.  On the other hand, there are civil libertarians on both the right and the left that can make a case for Assange and his exposure of government secrets.

What do you think of Assange now? [Read more…]

The origin of the Bible’s chapters and verses

photo-1470859624578-4bb57890378a_optImagine trying to look something up in the Bible if it didn’t have chapters and verses.  But the Bible didn’t come with them.  They were added to make the Scriptures more accessible.  We have two men from two different centuries to thank for these innovations.

Mark Wood at Christianity Today tells the tale, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

Justification and contemporary culture

15692653361_7e7cf1101b_zLuther-influenced Anglican David Zahl has a brilliant article in the latest Christianity Today about Luther’s distinction between Law and Gospel and his understanding of justification by faith.  These teachings, Zahl shows, go to the very heart of what people are most struggling with today in contemporary culture:  perfectionism, the need for approval, and the futility of self-justification.

These are all symptoms of living under the law–if not God’s law, the other laws that we try to replace it with–and the new high-tech information environment only makes the symptoms worse.  (Zahl quotes a friend saying, “The internet is like the real world, only with all the forgiveness vacuumed out.”)

Luther’s breakthrough, that we do not have to justify ourselves–that is, attain perfection, or try to convince ourselves and other people that we are right and good–but that Christ justifies us, is as liberating today as it was 500 years ago.

[Read more…]