OK, now it's a depression

The Dust Bowl has returned to my native Oklahoma.  A huge  dust storm hit Blackwell, Oklahoma, causing a 30-car pileup on I-35.  Blackwell is where my daughter, son-in-law, and three grand-daughters live!

Dust storm causes thirty car pile-up with injuries near Blackwell Oklahoma

 

 

 

Dust storm in Oklahoma causes highway to close and thirty car pile up – Oklahoma City Everyday People | Examiner.com.

Why Paleo-Evangelicals are leery of Republicans

Thomas Kidd coins a useful new world–paleo evangelicals–and says why this brand of conservative Christians do not identify with the Republican party:

The paleo evangelicals are not liberal in any sense. They come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives: some are deeply conversant with the ancient history of the church, and with the Reformation; some are sympathetic to Roman Catholic social doctrines and traditions (if not all Catholic theology and ecclesiology); some are deeply conscious of the church’s mission outside of America; some gravitate toward outlets such as The American Conservative or the Front Porch Republic, publications and blogs focused on the conservative themes of local culture, limited government, and ordered liberty.

These paleo evangelicals keep the Republican party at arm’s length for three main reasons:

First is a deep suspicion of American civil religion. Civil religion seems to be a particularly prominent tenet of evangelical Republicans. But as this summer’s controversy over David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies illustrated, there are many evangelicals who have reservations about the blending of American national history with their faith. Last week’s post at the Anxious Bench by Miles Mullin represents yet another example of a young, conservative evangelical who believes that Barton and other Republican activists have conflated American history too closely with evangelical theology and conservative politics.

Our faith needs to be focused on Christ, the paleos say, and rooted in the deep, wide tradition of orthodox church history. We do not base our faith, in any sense, on the personal beliefs of Jefferson, Washington, or Adams. Especially when viewed from the perspective of the global church, American civil religion looks peculiar, at best. Yes, Christianity played a major role in the American founding, but that fact does not place the founding at the center of Christianity. The paleos admire many of the founders, but do not wish to read the founders alongside Scripture, as Barton would have us do in his new Founders’ Bible.

A second reason they are reluctant Republicans is that the paleo evangelicals do not place much hope in any political party doing that much good in this world. Big political promises of hope and change typically come to naught, whatever party is making them. Although some might agree that churches and pastors have the constitutional right to endorse particular candidates, paleos think doing so mistakenly implies that, as a church, we put our trust in that candidate or party to advance the Kingdom of God.

A third reason that paleo evangelicals may only tepidly support the Republicans is because of problems with certain Republican positions. Among those is a reluctance to keep getting involved with new overseas conflicts, such as what happened in Iraq. Paleos may wonder whether a President Romney would draw us into a precipitous war with Iran. War really should be a last resort, the paleos argue. Another problematic issue is immigration. Though these evangelicals undoubtedly support tough border security, they understand that the illegal immigrants among us are largely here to stay, and they should dealt with as charitably as possible. Churches should always be welcoming to the stranger, and the paleos — including some non-Anglo evangelicals among them — hesitate to endorse policies that seem angrily anti-immigrant.

But on some of the most compelling issues, the Republican Party still seems like the best option for many paleos. [Daniel McCarthy writes about similar electoral choices facing traditionalist conservatives, at The American Conservative.] Are Republicans really committed to doing anything about abortion? Maybe not, but at least they’re likely to nominate judges who are open to allowing states to protect unborn children. Likewise with preserving the historic meaning of family and marriage, and honoring religious liberty: many Republicans may just pay these issues lip service, but at least they’re not fundamentally opposed to the traditional evangelical positions on marriage, religious freedom, and the unborn, as some Democrats seem to be.

via Paleo Evangelicals as Reluctant Republicans.

Does this describe you?

“Paleo” means “old,” as opposed to “neo,” which means “new.”  There are “neoconservatives” and “paleoconservatives.”  The word “neoevangelical” is already being used, referring to evangelicals who are trying to be new and up to date.  But there is a semantic space that needs to be filled for evangelicals who are trying to be classical and archaic.  Thus, “paleoevangelicals.”  (Whether those morphemes should be run together or hyphenated or kept as two words, as Dr. Kidd has them, will be sorted out with further usage.)  Can we speak of “neo-Lutherans”–ones that love contemporary worship styles–and “paleo-Lutherans”?  Those who resisted the Prussian state church and immigrated to America, among other countries, and who would later form the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod were called “Old Lutherans,” so “paleo-Lutheran would fit.

So are you paleo or neo?

What did you think would happen in an Obama presidency?

Frank Sonnek points to this post, which rehearses all of the dire warnings made four years ago about what would happen if Barack Obama were to be elected, most of which never amounted to anything:  “This is the most important election of all time!” (again).

He asks, “What were other Republican predictions of an Obama presidency? Did they pan out?”

That’s a fair question.  Was he as bad as we thought he would be?

He did not unmask himself as a Saul Alinsky communist, despite his community organizing days, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, at least as far as I know.  So we should give him credit for that.

Of course, we could also turn the question around, asking those who voted for him the first time, was he as good as you thought he would be?

What were your expectations, and, for better or for worse, did Obama fulfill them?

(For example, I figured that he would at least stop the wars.  But our people are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan.  I thought stopping the wars would at least be a benefit of his liberalism.  And now we have the drone wars, straight out of Star Wars.  I didn’t see such bloodshed coming out of an Obama administration.)

I suspect that the reason Americans tend to re-elect incumbents is, paradoxically, their conservative nature.  The current guy may not be very good, but at least the Republic has survived while he was running things.  We don’t know if it will or won’t under the other guy.

 

Tolkien's new book on King Arthur

J. R. R. Tolkien has a new book coming out next year, a 200-page narrative poem about King Arthur.  From the British newspaper The Guardian:

It’s the story of a dark world, of knights and princesses, swords and sorcery, quests and betrayals, and it’s from the pen of JRR Tolkien. But this is not Middle-earth, it’s ancient Britain, and this previously unpublished work from the Lord of the Rings author stars not Aragorn, Gandalf and Frodo, but King Arthur.

HarperCollins has announced the acquisition of Tolkien’s never-before-published poem The Fall of Arthur, which will be released for the first time next May. Running to more than 200 pages, Tolkien’s story was inspired by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory’s tales of King Arthur, and is told in narrative verse. Set in the last days of Arthur’s reign, the poem sees Tolkien tackling the old king’s battle to save his country from Mordred the usurper, opening as Arthur and Gawain go to war.

“It is well known that a prominent strain in my father’s poetry was his abiding love for the old ‘Northern’ alliterative verse,” said Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, who has edited the book and provided commentary. “In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight he displayed his skill in his rendering of the alliterative verse of the 14th century into the same metre in modern English. To these is now added his unfinished and unpublished poem The Fall of Arthur.”

Tolkien began writing The Fall of Arthur a few years before he wrote The Hobbit. Its publication is the latest in a series of “new” releases from the author, including The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in 2009 and the unfinished Middle-Earth story The Children of Húrin in 2007.

For the book’s editor at HarperCollins, Chris Smith, the news that Tolkien had finished work on The Fall of Arthur was an unexpected surprise. “Though its title had been known from Humphrey Carpenter’s Biography and JRR Tolkien’s own letters, we never supposed that it would see the light of day,” he said.

He described the previously unpublished work as “extraordinary”, saying that it “breathes new life into one of our greatest heroes, liberating him from the clutches of Malory’s romantic treatment, and revealing Arthur as a complex, all-too human individual who must rise above the greatest of betrayals to liberate his beloved kingdom”.

He added that, “though Tolkien’s use of alliterative verse will mean the poem is of more specialised interest than his other work, we would like to think that the subject of King Arthur is one that will resonate with readers of his more celebrated works.”

“In The Fall of Arthur we find themes of lost identity, betrayal, and sacrifice for greater glory, which have their echoes in other works, such as The Lord of the Rings, but anyone looking for closer connections will find no wizards or magic swords. In this respect The Fall of Arthur is closer to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.” . . .

John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, said that from the fragments he had seen, the omens looked good. “In The Fall of Arthur, Tolkien depicts Arthur going off to fight the Saxons in Mirkwood – not the Mirkwood of Middle-earth, but the great German forests. Whether it’s as good as the best by Tolkien will have to wait on the full publication, but snippets published so far are encouraging, showing him in darkly evocative mode writing about one of the great English villains, Mordred: ‘His bed was barren; there black phantoms/ of desire unsated and savage fury/ in his brain brooded till bleak morning.’

“Any addition to the Arthurian tradition by a major author is welcome; this one is also exciting because of what it adds to our picture of a great modern imagination.”

via ‘New’ JRR Tolkien epic due out next year | Books | guardian.co.uk.

I’m excited about this.  I’m even excited about the narrative verse, which uses the alliterative patterns of very early English poetry, as in Beowulf.  Here are the opening lines of The Fall of Arthur, as quoted in the Guardian:

“Arthur eastward in arms purposed

his war to wage on the wild marches,

over seas sailing to Saxon lands,

from the Roman realm ruin defending.

Thus the tides of time to turn backward

and the heathen to humble, his hope urged him,

that with harrying ships they should hunt no more

on the shining shores and shallow waters

of South Britain, booty seeking.”

Can you handle a story told in this kind of poetry?

Whatever happened to narrative verse?  Other cultures and other times have loved stories told in poetry (think Chaucer, Milton, Longfellow).  Have we just become too prosaic?  Do you think Tolkien can bring back the form?

HT:  Jackie

Machiavellian reformer

British author Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize for her novel Bring Up the Bodies.  This is the second time she won this top award for British fiction.  The first time was for Wolf Hall.  Both novels are about Thomas Cromwell, the consigliere to Henry VIII.   And they are both spellbinding.

Cromwell is typically presented as a Machiavellian villain who made it possible for Henry VIII to marry Anne Boleyn and then cynically framed her and engineered her execution.  Mantel, though, in her thoroughly-researched imagining of those tumultuous times, presents him sympathetically.  Her Cromwell is a man of high ideals who wants a more just society and will do what it takes to make those ideals reality.  Specifically, he is a man of the Reformation, someone with a brilliant intellect who has memorized the Bible, possesses books by Luther that would earn him the death penalty, and who does what he can to rescue Protestants from the torture chambers of Sir Thomas More.  But his effectiveness depends on how well he can work with the volatile, passionate egotist who is the King of England.

Mantel’s books capture the texture and nuances of a complicated time, and her characters are complex, historically-grounded, and utterly believable.  And her handling of the religious issues of 16th century England is especially illuminating.  King Henry breaks from the Pope and makes himself head of the English church because of his marital intrigues, but he retains the medieval Catholic dogmas, inquisitorial spirit, and  hatred of the Lutheran Reformation.  (Did you realize that it wasn’t the Catholics but King Henry after his break with Rome who had Tyndale burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English?)

Anyway, if you like historical fiction written at the very highest, most sophisticated level, and if you enjoy tales of intrigue, you will love Hilary Mantel’s books.  You need to read them in order, so start with Wolf Hall.  Then you will want to read Bring Up the Bodies (which deserves another prize just for its title).  She is reportedly working on another volume to round out the Cromwell trilogy, which may well earn her a third Booker prize.

 

Fired for signing a gay marriage petition

The Maryland state legislature has legalized gay marriage.  Some citizens, though, as is their right, have circulated a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.  So the D.C. area gay newspaper, The Washington Blade, published the names of the people who signed the petition, opening them up to harrassment, intimidation, and punishment.

T. Alan Hurwitz, the president of Gallaudet University, the federally-funded college for the deaf, learned from a Lesbian couple on his faculty that one of his employees, Angela McCaskill, the college’s diversity officer for 24 years, signed the petition.  So he suspended her from her job.

McCaskill, a deaf African-American, insisted she was not anti-gay; rather, she is pro-democracy, thinking that a question like gay marriage needs to be decided by the people as a whole.  She said she signed the petition at her church.

She said, via signing, “I am dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, a university that manages by intimidation, a university that allows bullying among faculty, staff and students.”

See  Gallaudet worker: ‘Pro-democracy,’ not anti-gay – The Washington Post.

Should citizens be in jeopardy for their employment for exercising their political rights?

What does this case suggest about how opponents of gay marriage will be treated?  Do you believe those who oppose gay marriage, including pastors and churches, will be tolerated once gay marriage becomes the law of the land?


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