Weekly Meanderings, 12 November 2016

steeple-812885_640_optAJ Perez reports about Gerald McCoy’s act of forgiveness:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy told reporters on Thursday that he forgave the teen who broke in his house last week, a burglary that left McCoy’s father with a broken wrist.

“I forgive you,” McCoy said.

A 17-year-old male allegedly broke into McCoy’s house in New Tampa hours before the Buccaneers faced the Atlanta Falcons in a Thursday night game on Nov. 3. The intruder pulled a handgun on Gerald McCoy Sr., 59, after the elder McCoy confronted the suspect, according to Tampa police.

USA TODAY Sports chose not to reveal the suspect’s name because he’s a juvenile.

McCoy said at news conference that the suspect is “just a lost kid.”

“He probably just needs some guidance,” McCoy added. “Ain’t nothing to be upset over. It happens.”

This, too, is an act of forgiveness by President Obama:

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Three days after Election Day, President Barack Obama used his last Veterans Day speech to urge Americans to learn from the example of veterans as a divided nation seeks to “forge unity” after the bitter 2016 campaign.

Obama, in remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, noted that Veterans Day often comes on the heels of hard-fought campaigns that “lay bare disagreements across our nation.”

“But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners,” Obama said. “It is to find strength in our common creed, to forge unity from our great diversity, to maintain that strength and unity even when it is hard.”

He added that now that the election is over, “as we search for ways to come together, to reconnect with one another and with the principles that are more enduring than transitory politics, some of our best examples are the men and women we salute on Veterans Day.”

Tuesday’s election of Republican Donald Trump led to protests across the country.

Obama noted that the U.S. military is the country’s most diverse institution, comprised of immigrants and native-born service members representing all religions and no religion. He says they are all “forged into common service.”

With just two months left in his term, Obama also noted how he’s aged over the past eight years.

Katherine J. Cramer, and the politics of resentment:

For people who haven’t read your book yet, can you explain a little bit what you discovered after spending so many years interviewing people in rural Wisconsin?

Cramer: To be honest, it took me many months — I went to these 27 communities several times — before I realized that there was a pattern in all these places. What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they not getting their fair share.

That feeling is primarily composed of three things. First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them.

Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resources. That often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs.

And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists.

So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that. [HT: JS]

She surely gets it; the so-called tolerant crowd has become intolerant; the so-called anti-bullying crowd has become the bully. By Knox College (IL) student Sofia Tagkalogou:

On Wednesday, I participated in the anti-Trump rally on the Gizmo Patio and the subsequent march. After a campaign with such explicit racism and misogyny, Donald Trump’s success in the election was demoralizing for many, including myself. I appreciated the opportunity to hear students share their grievances, and I was comforted by the idea of uniting with my fellow students in a time where so much hate is celebrated.

At the rally, I was pleased to hear positive messages celebrating a new commitment to political involvement and standing up for our values of equality and justice. Unfortunately, I struggled to truly find unity. While I empathize with the angry feelings that were shared, I was disheartened to see my fellow students actively antagonizing Trump’s supporters. I saw our fellow conservative students standing on the sidelines, and I felt their isolation. When we began the march, I heard my fellow students actively shouting derogatory terms toward some of our conservative students. How is it that we were calling for peace while simultaneously firing shots of hate?…

I’m sorry, Knox College. I’m sorry, Galesburg. I’m sorry, United States. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I know I let you down today. While I kept silent when I didn’t agree with the words being shouted, I was complacent in an effort that isolated those who I must embrace most. I admit I am hurt by the election results, but I am not angry at Trump. If I cannot understand the movement that built his success, then I am not equipped to truly solve any of the problems I’m far too quick to identify. It is easy to be tolerant in my echo-chamber of liberalism at Knox, but my humanity is only realized when I accept the differences of others.

Pete Enns has a wonderful, jaunty post on the names of God in the OT — and I agree that we need to use proper names in our translations though we need to have respect for messianic believers who think otherwise. [HT: JS]

The problem is that the divine name Yahweh hardly if ever shows up in our English translations. Instead it is substituted with LORD (the ORD is spelled with small caps, which apparently requires a plug in that I don’t feel like downloading and installing at the moment).

“LORD” is really a title, not a name. So whenever you read “and the LORD said to Moses” or something like that it’s really saying “and Yahweh said to Moses.” The switch to LORD would be like me saying, “Good morning, the wife,” instead of “Good morning, Sue.” The title is a lot less personal.

“So why is the title LORD used instead of the name Yahweh?” you might ask. I’ll tell you.

The divine name is sacred in the history of Judaism. To safeguard its sacredness, Jewish scribes who copied the Bible would write the letters YHWH but insert vowels for an entirely different word “adonai” (lord). That way when reading the text and coming across the divine name YHWH they would be forced to say “adonai” rather than try to pronounce the divine name. All that was out of respect for the sacred divine name and also helped prevent the accidental breaking the 3rd Commandment (the “wrongful use” of the name).

That approach has worked quite well—so well in fact that we don’t really know how YHWH was actually pronounced by the YHWHancient Israelites! “Yahweh” is the conventional guess based on the work of Hebrew scholars, but we don’t really know. Another popular form of the word is “Jehovah” but that’s a guess, too.

Anyway, English translations follow this Jewish scribal practice and put LORD wherever the text has YHWH. The small caps are used to distinguish LORD = YHWH from the other uses of “adonai” that refer to humans, where it is spelled Lord or lord.

If you haven’t yet stopped reading, let me reiterate: although I respect the respect Judaism has for God’s sacred name (we Christians are too casual about it, if you ask me), something is also lost by reading LORD because LORD is a title, which comes across a formal, distant, and not in the slightest personal.

Is the USA a Christian nation? Timfall.com says No, and he’s right.

The United States is not now and never has been a Christian nation.

How do I know? Because the founding document that provides the framework for all laws, rules, decisions and regulations ever passed, enacted or handed down by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government nowhere mentions Christianity.*

It doesn’t even mention God. Not once.

The only time the Constitution of the United States – adopted September 17, 1787 – mentions religion at all is in the negative:

… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Art. VI.)

Religion comes up again in the 1st Amendment, proposed by Congress in 1789 as an additional article to the Constitution and ratified by the States in 1791, and again it’s in the negative:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … .

So if the original text of 1787 said religion has no place in the qualifications of people holding office and if the 1st Amendment leads off with a prohibition on the government establishing any religion, Christianity or otherwise, then how does someone come to the conclusion that the United States is a Christian nation?

Wishful thinking perhaps. Or living in a state of denial. Or blissful ignorance. Or worse, they do it to pander to people and take advantage of them.

In any case, none of these are good models for Christians to emulate. Jesus said we live in a world where there are two governments to live under.

By Jonathan Allen ALGONAC, MICH.

Back in April, there were already early signs in this quiet Michigan town of the rural American discontent that helped propel Donald Trump to election victory, even if it was underestimated by the Washington establishment, pollsters and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

On a return visit after Tuesday’s election, Reuters found that many of Algonac’s 4,000 residents were jubilant that Trump had captured the White House, although there were also echoes of what some people said seven months ago: that he is an uncertain, high-stakes gamble.

But the bare fact of his success drew only shrugs: Who else did city folks really expect would win?

Reuters first visited this town on a bend of the St. Clair River in April after results from the Republican and Democratic parties’ primary elections suggested it might be a hotbed of the dissatisfaction with the status quo that would become a dominant force by November. (reut.rs/2fAVJQY)

It was a town in a county in a state that all disproportionately turned out in the primaries for the unexpected outsider candidates: the Republican Trump, a rich real-estate developer and television star who had never held political office; and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who had emerged as Clinton’s closest rival for the Democratic Party nomination.

Trump went on to win his party’s nomination, while Sanders was beaten by Clinton.

Even though they came at the problem from very different perspectives, both men had fired up a town that was in a sour mood, striking a chord with their talk of a rigged economic system and their loud disgust at the decline of American manufacturing.

Algonac leans Republican, and, on both visits, it took no time at all to find Trump fans, and only a little longer to find Sanders fans. But it took days of asking around to find someone with a warm word for Clinton. On Tuesday, the vote in Algonac was 68 percent for Trump, 27 percent for Clinton.


About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.