Live-blogging the final presidential debate

I’m on the road, but I hope to get back to my hotel room in order to comment on the debate.  If I’m not here, you go on without me.  (Just add your “comments,” refreshing the page periodically to follow what other people are saying.)

The debate is supposed to focus on international relations.  (We’ll see how well the candidates adhere to that topic.)  Take a drink of your caffeine-free-diet-soda or other beverage every time you hear the following:

(1)  “jobs in China”

(2)  “another war in the Mideast”

(3)  “throw under the bus”

(4)  “America’s respect in the world”

 

Vocation as sacramental

A paragraph from a piece by Peter Berger, via Anthony Sacramone:

The Lutheran understanding of the Eucharist implies a view of creation itself being a sacrament. All of nature, the world as perceived in ordinary experience and in empirical science, is sacramental—in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, displays “outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace.” In one of my earlier ventures into unauthorized theologizing, I adumbrated this proposition by the phrase “signals of transcendence”: God, as it were, hides in the universe, but here and there we can find signs of his presence. In their understanding of the Eucharist, Lutherans used the phrase finitum capax infiniti—“the finite can contain the infinite.” The finite, perishable elements of bread and wine can, invisibly, contain the infinite, eternal presence of the risen Christ. But so can the finite, perishable reality of the empirical universe. George Forell, one of the best American interpreters of the Reformation, opined that the phrase finitum capax infiniti expressed the very core of Lutheran faith.

via Luther vs. the Proto-Pentecostals « Strange Herring.

I would just observe that the Lutheran doctrine of vocation is also sacramental in this sense.  Not a sacrament, I hasten to add, but an example of how God works through and by means of the physical world.  Vocation, according to Luther, is all about how God works through human beings (giving daily bread by means of farmers and bakers, creating and caring for new life through parents, protecting us through lawful magistrates, granting healing by means of the medical professions, teaching through teachers, expressing beauty by meaning by means of artists, proclaiming His Word and administering His sacraments by means of pastors, etc., etc.).  other gifts

What presidential debates do

Tonight is the final presidential candidate debate.  Help me live-blog it tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET.

I think the significance of the debates is not so much whether one candidate scores more points than another, zings his opponent more effectively, or makes or avoids gaffes.  What the debates do for us voters is to allow us to see the two candidates side by side.  We can also hear them unfiltered by the news media, the punditocracy, or political advertising.  What the public wants to see is whether or not the two candidates are articulate, intelligent, can think on their feet, can master a host of complicated facts and information.  Granted, being able to do all of that will not make a person a good president.  But the absence of those traits is, for most people, a disqualifier.  Notice how so many of the candidates in the Republican primary could not measure up to those relatively simple standards.

Mitt Romney has benefited from the debates because, in the comparison with Barack Obama, he has emerged as presidential, someone who comes across, at least, as equal to the current president.  So he has become, in many voters’ mind, a plausible candidate.  He didn’t really seem that way in the scrum of the primary, but now he does.

I know, scholars have made the case that debates don’t matter, that polls don’t matter, that campaigns don’t matter.  They have said that the economy is all that matters.  But this time we are seeing that the economy may not matter either; otherwise, Romney would be running away with the election.  The point is, no one can predict the outcome with certainty, any more than a mere mortal–Biblical prophets excepted– can predict any other future event.

By the way, I am not backing off my mere-mortal-and-thus-uncertain prediction that Obama will win, even as Romney rises in the polls.  I think Obama still has an advantage in the electoral college.  But, as is so often the case, I will be glad to be wrong.

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.

 


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