He’s No Saint: It’s Time to Talk About the Real Nicholas of Myra

Note: We are issuing this statement anonymously because in the current political climate it is important to protect the safety of dissenters and those whose views may be challenging to the powerful Santa Claus Lobby.

Earlier this week we celebrated the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra. In the popular imagination, Saint Nick is a warm, cheerful, and giving man. Yet the real Nicholas could not have been more dissimilar and his canonization as a saint is deeply problematic. The so-called “saint” Nicholas was a violent, judgmental, and divisive man unworthy of the title Christian.

We, the writers at Mere Orthodoxy, are calling upon all Christian leaders to denounce Nicholas and for the Vatican to strip him of his status as a saint. Upon the briefest examination of Nicholas’ legacy, one finds a seemingly endless pit of aggression, hate speech, dogwhistling, and exploitative tendencies. For brevity’s sake, we will limit ourselves to six theses on why Nicholas is unfit to be held up as a saint in the church. Continue reading

Rejoicing and Weeping After Election 2016

Our latest post is from Dylan Pahman.

The end of our long, tiring, and often vitriolic presidential election season in the United States came last Tuesday when Donald Trump became our new president-elect. Trump won more electoral votes but lost the popular vote, the fourth time in U.S. history such a result has occurred. The race was close, tempers were high, and reactions have ranged from apocalyptic despair to unexpected jubilation and everything in-between. How should Christians – regardless of how, or even if, they voted – respond? Continue reading

How to Deal With Erratic Corpulent Ginger Authoritarian Much-Married Rulers: Options for Christians in Public Life

Note: Some of these Options are better than others.

The Wolsey Option

Through an excess of personal ambition, tie your whole career to the favor of an unpredictable and potentially vicious master. Lose his favor anyway.

The Cromwell Option

Facilitate your master’s bizarre, persistent and destructive attraction to a sexy fascinating Pepe-meme generating femme fatale whose appeal has to do with the pleasure of transgression, leading to huge rents in the social fabric and the overturning of established norms of behavior.

The Edward Option

DOUBLE DOWN

The Mary Option

ROLLBACK

The More Option

If, in the context of your work, it is conceivable that you might receive a 3 a.m. order to… oh, hit this button, say; deploy that weapons system… and that refusing such an order could potentially trigger a court martial, rehearse saying the following phrase: “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

The Elizabeth Option

Keep your own counsel. Don’t deliberately alienate anyone.  Bind together a fractured nation full of mutually antagonistic, mistrustful and confused people. Carve out a space for the preaching of the Gospel. Reform, with moderation and prudence. Seek the common good. Trust God. And survive.

Susannah Black received her BA from Amherst College and her MA from Boston University. She is associate editor of Providence Magazine and of the Davenant Trust’s journal Ad Fontes, is a founding editor of Solidarity Hall (which now appears as The Dorothy Option on Patheos), and is on the Board of the Distributist Review. Her writing has appeared in First Things, The Distributist Review, Solidarity Hall, Providence, Amherst Magazine, Front Porch Republic, Ethika Politika, The Human Life Review, The American Conservative, and elsewhere. She blogs at Radio Free Thulcandra and tweets at @suzania. A native Manhattanite, she is now living in Queens.

#NeverTrump and President Trump

This will be the note I sign out on this year. I’ll be off the next seven weeks but we’ll continue to publish other authors during that time.

In the build-up to the 2016 election, American evangelicals were a pessimistic bunch. We racked up an impressive (and depressing) run of unfavorable court rulings and legal battles, featuring photographers, bakers, and florists. These defeats all ran parallel to our biggest cultural defeat, the Obergefell decision. In addition to this, we saw our standing in the Republican party fall sharply as the party nominated a candidate who by every traditional standard held by the religious right was an abysmal failure. (The fact that we supported him anyway will almost certainly teach the GOP that evangelical voters will go with them no matter what. This realization, of course, robs evangelicals of all their political capital that they might use to influence the GOP.)

Add to that the ever-growing number of “nones” that Pew and Gallup found in their religion surveys, the remarkably hostile response to the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, this summer’s Supreme Court ruling against many state-level abortion regulations, and the alarming court case in Massachusetts that would result in the policing of religious speech from Christian ministers and, well, things looked grim. Continue reading

Courage, St. Crispin’s Day, and the 2016 Election

It’s a fortunate quirk of our calendar that this year St Crispin’s Day, the day on which Henry V led the English to victory against the French in 1415 and made immortal in Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” fell two weeks before the presidential election, a day on which a sizable portion of our nation’s evangelicals will demonstrate precisely the sort of cowardice Henry’s words so beautifully condemn. Continue reading

The Christian Statesman and the Gospel to the Poor: A Christian Classical Liberal Perspective

Over the next week we’ll be running pieces multiple pieces on political economics. The chief question we are addressing is “What duties a Christian magistrate has to the poor?” In today’s post, Dylan Pahman of the Acton Institute is giving a classical liberal answer to that question. Tomorrow we will be running a response to the same question written by a Christian socialist.

“My picture of man,” said the German Ordoliberal economist Wilhelm Röpke,

is fashioned by the spiritual heritage of classical and Christian tradition. I see in man the likeness of God; I am profoundly convinced that it is an appalling sin to reduce man to a means … and that each man’s soul is something unique, irreplaceable, priceless, in comparison with which all other things are as naught.

This conviction animated his support for classical liberalism and free market economics. And so it does for me. Thus, I believe the duty of the Christian statesman (or stateswoman) to the poor requires defending human rights, supplying urgent needs, reducing barriers to market entry, and guaranteeing access to the institutions of justice, seeking realistic, gradual reform as possible and prudent. Continue reading

How Evangelicals Can Build a Responsible Political Witness

Our latest contribution on this year’s election comes from Dr. Greg Forster.

Russell Moore is right that self-appointed evangelical political leaders are destroying the credibility of American evangelicalism by endorsing Donald Trump. One implication, which Moore doesn’t speak to, is the urgent need for American evangelicals to develop a responsible political witness. These charlatans and hucksters are only able to get into the spotlight because of the vacuum left by the absence of an authentic gospel presence in our culture’s civic forum.

Yes, it’s dangerous to try to build a political witness for the church. The failure of the Religious Right, the bankruptcy of social conservatism and the scandal of evangelical leaders selling their souls for Trump all point to these dangers.

Yet it is fear of these very dangers that has prevented responsible leaders from building an authentic gospel witness to politics. That paralysis has created the vacuum within which fools like James Dobson and Tony Perkins, glory hounds like Eric Metaxas and prostitutes like Ralph “I Need to Start Humping in Corporate Accounts!” Reed operate. Continue reading

Dr. Moore and the Politics of Dinner Parties

I’m pleased to publish this essay by Susannah Black reviewing Dr. Russell Moore’s recent Erasmus Lecture given last weekend in New York City.

On Monday night I got on the E train in Forest Hills and headed to the Union League Club on East 37th Street to hear Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, announce the end of the Religious Right as a political force in America.

So that was interesting.

This was, of course, the Erasmus Lecture: First Things’ signature annual lecture; a sort of State of the Nation or Setting of the Agenda for politics and religion in America, straight to your computer’s livestream from Murray Hill in Manhattan. It’s been going on for 29 years now, and past speakers have included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Timothy Dolan; past subjects have included Islam and Christianity; the crisis of conservative Catholicism in the age of Francis; the development of Catholic moral teaching; genealogies of modernity… the gamut of the topics of conversation that those who can’t help but talk about politics and religion at the dinner table have been talking about for the past quarter century plus. Continue reading

On Voting and Civic Participation: A Response to Wayne Grudem

I’m delighted to publish this incisive review of Dr. Grudem’s Trump endorsement written by Drs. Matthew Arbo and Jeremy Kidwell.

This has been a strange and bewildering year for American politics, and for certain segments of the American church. Some commenters have felt confident to call the church’s reaction to the general election a “schism” in the religious right—quite strong language. The candidacy of Donald Trump has been inordinately mystifying for many of us, Christians included, but “schism” is far too vague a diagnosis in attempting to capture the state of this discourse, just as “religious right” is a rather unimpressive sociological descriptor. We would like to suggest that this and a great many other takes on “evangelical politics,” reflects a troubling confusion about the nature of Christian political citizenship that has finally been drawn from the background into the foreground of political discourse. This confusion is on clear display in Wayne Grudem’s 19 Oct piece “If You Don’t Like Either Candidate, Then Vote for Trump’s Policies.” Continue reading