The Daily Trinity – Blinded by "The Painter of Light," John Ortberg, Evangelicals on Immigration, and Shirley Sherrod

The Daily Trinity – Blinded by "The Painter of Light," John Ortberg, Evangelicals on Immigration, and Shirley Sherrod July 23, 2010

For quite some time, I posted what I called the “Morning Report” — although it sometimes took so long to assemble that it appeared in the afternoon rather than the morning.  Indeed, constructing the Morning Reports, which had links and commentary to 12, 16, even 20 different stories, became so time consuming that it was no longer a pragmatic use of my time.

So I am going to begin a different feature, this one called The Daily Trinity.  It is actually two trinities, but let’s not sweat the small stuff.  I will, with minimal commentary, post 3 links to secular news stories and 3 links to Christian/religious/evangelical material.  As, for example, in today’s Daily Trinity:

The Christian Trinity:

1.  BLINDED BY “THE PAINTER OF LIGHT” (TM).  Joe Carter displays the writing talent and discernment that have made him the editor of First Things, in this article about Thomas Kinkade, “The Painter of Light” (TM).  My brother and I would snicker whenever we saw that little “TM”.  Can you believe, my brother would ask, that he trademarked his own nickname for himself?  Well, the Painter of Light has fallen on dark times, as Joe Carter explains, and often-mediocre art is a part of the problem.

2.  CONSCIOUS COMPLEXITY.  David Hart reflects on consciousness, and why reductionist approaches to its explanation ultimately fail, in this commentary on Marilynne Robinson’s book, Absence of Mind.

3.  GOD’S PR.  John Ortberg reflects on Who Speaks for Evangelicals?  Consider it a warmup for our upcoming (starting August 2nd) discussion of the Future of Evangelicalism. As he writes, “I suppose ever since Moses and Aaron the struggle to find the right faith spokesman has been chronic.”


1.  A NEW EVANGELICAL COALITION?  The debate on where evangelicals ought to stand on immigration reform continues. Check out this article from The New York Times. (H/t Scot McKnight.) I have to agree with Scot that this is the most interesting comment:

“I’ve had some older conservative leaders say: ‘Richard, stop this. You’re going to split the conservative coalition,’ Dr. [Richard] Land continued. ‘I say it might split the old conservative coalition, but it won’t split the new one. And if the new one is going to be a governing coalition, it’s going to have to have a lot of Hispanics in it. And you don’t get a lot of Hispanics in your coalition by engaging in anti-Hispanic anti-immigration rhetoric.”

2.  CONFISCATION OR AUSTERITY?  Michael Gerson’s column this morning puts the major options directly before us, and includes this little gem:

“It is easy to close a budget deficit with massive new taxes — but it is also massively destructive to economic growth. So Cameron has proposed about four pounds in spending reductions for every pound in tax increases. A recent study of 44 major fiscal adjustments in developed nations since 1975 found that a one-percentage-point increase in taxes as a portion of gross domestic product cuts annual economic growth by an average of 0.9 percentage points. Reducing government expenditures by one percentage point, in contrast, increases average annual growth by 0.6 percentage points.”

But this too suggests the kind of broader social transformation we need, if we are not going to fall directly back into the same problem 5 or 10 years down the line:

“[Cameron] calls deficit reduction his “duty.” He refers to his social agenda — the “Big Society” — as his “passion.” Cameron has paired his emergency budget with a series of measures designed to encourage volunteerism, empower local communities, create charter schools, reform welfare and fund the work of private charities. The problem with centralized, government-oriented policies, he argues, is not only their expense. They have “turned able, capable individuals into passive recipients of state help.” The alternative is a “thoughtful re-imagination of the role, as well as the size of the state.””

3.  SHERROD SHAFTED.  I go to Powerline when I want a well reasoned conservative argument on just about anything — and in this reflection on the Shirley Sherrod tragicomedy, Powerline does not disappoint.  Andrew Breitbart is surely correct that the point of the video was never Sherrod herself–he was not out to get Sherrod–but in the context of the whole video, her comments, or at least the ones that were highlighted for the world by artful editing, and the response of the audience to those comments, do not show what they were alleged to show.  While I agree with Andrew McCarthy that some ugly sentiments were still communicated in that speech, they are not the kind of sentiments for which a woman should be fired and nationally disgraced.

It is, on the other hand, disingenuous of David Vitter and the NAACP to blame the conservative press for her firing.  Even conservative blogs were wary of drawing conclusions, noting that she seemed to be transitioning toward an “it’s not about race” lesson at the end of the video.  Vitter and the NAACP are responsible for their own reactions — and doubtless Obama, paranoid about his plummeting support amongst whites, pushed for a decisive, message-sending reaction.  They are responsible for their own responses.  Breitbart is responsible to apologize as well.  Although the video was given to him in its edited form, he should not have run the video until he had the whole.

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