Daily Bread for 8.18.19

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will see morning thunderstorms with a high of eighty.  Sunrise is 6:05 AM and sunset 7:51 PM, for 13h 46m 45s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.9% of its visible disk illuminated.
Today is the one thousand thirteenth day.

On this day in 1864, the 2nd, 6th, 7th, 37th, and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments take part in the Battle of Globe Tavern.

Recommended for reading in full:

Progressive evangelical (and Sanders supporter) Elizabeth Bruenig writes delicately of Trump-supporting evangelicals in In God’s country (‘Evangelicals view Trump as their protector. Will they stand by him in 2020?’).

Conservative evangelical Michael Gerson writes more fittingly of Trump-supporting evangelicals in Some white evangelicals are difficult to recognize as Christians at all:

Massive budget cuts to hunger-relief programs in Africa, refusing to take in desperate Syrian refugees and separating crying children from their parents at the border are tolerable, but using the Lord’s name in vain is a bridge too far? Pathological lying, spreading conspiracy theories, misogyny, making racist comments and dehumanizing others are permissible, but swearing somehow crosses the line?

How we order our outrage says much about us. Do we feel the violation of a religious rule more intensely than the violation of human dignity? Do we prioritize our religiosity above our anthropology — above our theory of human beings and their rights?

This kind of Pharisaical preference for rules over humans reveals a large gap of spiritual education. In a poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, only 25 percent of white evangelical Christians said the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees, while 65 percent of those not affiliated with a religion affirmed that duty. What could possibility explain this 40-percentage-point gap in inclusion and compassion? For a certain kind of secularist, this reveals cruelty, corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Christian faith. But traditionally, many of the institutions that do refugee resettlement have been Christian.

The problem does not lie in Christianity but in the moral formation of Christians. Are they getting their view of refugees from Christian sources? Or are they taking their view from Fox News, talk radio and Trump? I suspect the latter. And the worship of political idols is ultimately a spiritual problem — a different kind of blasphemy.

These challenges run deeper than politics. Many white evangelical Christians hold a faith that appeals to the comfortable rather than siding with the afflicted. They have allied themselves with bigots and nativists, risking the reputation of the gospel itself. And, in some very public ways, they are difficult to recognize as Christians at all.

(Both Bruenig and Gerson are – in the complimentary language of our era – gifted. Yet Bruening’s admirable intellect fails her here, as she gives too much credence to self-identification at the expense of identity.  Gerson comes closer to the truth that self-identification becomes incredible when in opposition to any reasonable identity. Tabbies can, if they wish, call themselves lions; no one else is obligated to believe them.)

India’s Swimming Camels:

4 comments for “Daily Bread for 8.18.19

  1. joe
    08/18/2019 at 12:26 PM

    Stropping the omnipotent Razor of Occam…

    White Evangelical Christians ring the bell on tribalism. Nobody does it better. White Evangelicals are, by definition, not people of color. Those “other” folks belong to different, and paralyzingly frightening, tribes. Trump is going to save them from the “others”, so he is, despite a certain tendency toward ungodly hedonism, blasphemy, and bearing false witness, their man.

    Race is all that matters, as we are finding out, to White Evangelicals. Bruenig completely ignores the overwhelming importance of white identity to white evangelicals, while Gerson barely waves at it on the way past.

    When the second civil war comes, as is looking increasingly likely, white evangelicals will be Trump’s shock troops. They will consider it doing God’s work. J. Falwell, Jr. will be right up front urging his christian soldiers onward.

    08/18/2019 at 3:53 PM

    I think that’s right: Gerson is closer to the truth, but neither one wants to arrive at the most reasonable (evident) conclusion: it’s racial animosity that has shaped these voters’ support for Trump. In that way, these white evangelicals look like movements from the past that were obviously racially (or ethnically) motivated: Know-Knothings, Confederates, Klan, and Bund.

    They’ve made racial purity a god, and Trump a prophet. (Sometimes it seems as though they’ve made Trump the god.)

    As a religious matter, that’s not an orthodox Christian view; as a political matter, that’s not within the evolved American tradition (although part of foreign and domestic adversaries of that tradition).

    The religious and philosophical problem – sin, truly – is with these defenders of Trump.

    The political and practical problem of their racial nationalism, however, is harm that they are inflicting on everyone else. If they were merely self-destructive, the danger would be less; they are, however, destructive to many others, across an entire continent.

    In that way, they are closer to the Confederates (or Jim Crow states) than to other adversaries of the American tradition who lacked the power that these Trumpists now malevolently use.

    • joe
      08/18/2019 at 7:14 PM

      Ed Kilgore, writing in New York Magazine, tiptoes around the subject some more.

      He thinks that White Evangelicals venerate Trump for his cruelty and vengefulness. What Kilgore either misses, or doesn’t want to admit knowing, is *who* the cruelty and vengefulness is aimed toward. It’s not Norwegians…

      • JOHN ADAMS
        08/19/2019 at 9:27 AM

        Agreed. Reminds me of Katherine Cramer’s Politics of Resentment. Her focus group interviews showed her that blue-collar whites were resentful, but she lacked the insight (or courage) to say plainly & honestly against whom they held those resentments.