Choose: A Republic or “A Basket of Deplorables”

One of the smarter critiques of today’s American liberalism is that it’s actually mainline Protestantism shorn of its explicitly Christian content. Former First Things editor Jody Bottum makes this critique in his book An Anxious Age but others have made similar arguments elsewhere.

Typically the point of making this observation is to highlight points of overlap between mainline Protestantism and today’s liberalism. But in light of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment from late last week, it seems worthwhile to note where precisely today’s liberalism is deeply at odds with Christianity and how this discontinuity with liberal Christianity figures to be far more important than liberalism’s many continuities with that dying branch of American Christianity. Continue reading

The Problem of Pronouns and Pluralism

From the land of “the culture war is interested in you,” here’s this new report from Eugene Volokh at the Washington Post:

From the official Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination’s Gender Identity Guidance, just released last week:

Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.

Now, churches hold events “open to the general public” all the time — it’s often how they seek new converts. And even church “secular events,” which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.

You should read the whole thing for context, but the upshot is that there are serious conversations happening right now in the state of Massachusetts that could lead to legal action against churches that do not use a person’s preferred pronouns. Legal action may even be taken against churches whose congregants engage in such behavior, depending on how laws are written and courts rule. Continue reading

The Treachery of Narratives

Yesterday, Vanity Fair published a damning investigative article on Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the biotech start-up Theranos. Over the past few years, Holmes has never been far from the spotlight. She delivered a popular TED talk, won countless awards and placements on prestigious lists in publications such as TIME, Forbes, and Glamour for her supposed inspirational achievements, and was celebrated by many as an example of a woman achieving in the male world of big business. Last year, Forbes listed her as one of ‘America’s Richest Self-Made Women’, with an eye-watering fortune of $4.5 billion. Today her net worth is estimated to be nothing. Continue reading

On David Gushee’s Dishonesty

Earlier this week David Gushee continued his sad decline with a cowardly piece for Religion News Service. It’s all par for the course for progressive evangelicals like Gushee, of course, which is why I’m generally not too bothered by what they say. But even so the dishonesty in this particular piece is jarring and merits further comment.

I could quote multiple lines, but this one will suffice, to begin. In talking about those awful backwards bigots (that he used to hang out with), Gushee writes, “(Religious conservatives) are organizing legal defense efforts under the guise of religious liberty, and interpreting their plight as religious persecution.” Continue reading

Global Economies, Immigration, and Precarious Places

I’m pleased to publish this essay by Matthew Petersen.

In response to somewhat shrill claims by some Christian intellectuals that Christians ought to support mass migration, and oppose Brexit, Stephen Wolfe recently published an article at Mere Orthodoxy arguing that Christians can (and perhaps should) oppose immigration. Stephen draws from an impressive array of natural law sources to argue that the differentiation between foreigner and citizen is good, and a natural part of human life. This differentiation is integral in protecting the particularities in and through which communities are formed and given their deep particular character.

This position regarding the deep particularity of places is also argued, persuasively, in a piece by Alastair Roberts published by Mere Orthodoxy on Brexit, and the necessity of making peace between the cosmopolitans who tended to oppose Brexit and the locals who favored it. Alastair lays out the competing anthropologies on which hopes for mass immigration, and opposition to it, are based. According to a liberal anthropology, we are all interchangeable individuals, whose connection to our land, our parents, and our people, is merely accidental; on the other hand, according to a more Biblical anthropology, our person is always deeply embedded in the particularities of a people and a land. Continue reading

Are Religious Liberty Restrictions God’s Judgment on Racism?

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.

– Amos 4:6

I did a number of medical school rotations in a Catholic hospital, which meant morning and evening prayers were offered over the hospital intercom every day. While “morning” prayer often came after I had already been at work for a few hours, it was still often a relief to have God’s mercy invoked on behalf of my patients and my colleagues. Continue reading

The Cross and ISIS

I’m pleased to publish this guest post by Tim Scheiderer on how Christians ought to be thinking about their response to ISIS and other similar terrorist organizations.

Islamic terrorism’s path continues to widen in the West. Last year, it darkened streets in the City of Light on a November evening. Parisians and others were out for an evening of varied enjoyments, only for 130 of them to be murdered by eleven ruthless men. The next month, 5,600 miles away, a husband and his wife brought death to a facility for the disabled in San Bernadino. In 2016, so far, terror has struck geographically-ranging locales such as Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul and two more horrific events in France—the Bastille Day killings in Nice and the slitting of a priest’s throat in Normandy. All incidents were carried out by ISIS soldiers or associates. Continue reading

The Nine Constellations of Donald Trump

I’m pleased to publish this guest post from first time Mere O contributor Michael Graham. It’s a nice complement to this older piece by Alastair Roberts. Both pieces in different ways explain why Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee for the president and force readers to reckon with the real problems Trumpism addresses in the minds of many voters, even while they ought to reject the odious standard bearer for the movement.

We have all heard the never ending refrains of Trump supporters:

“He speaks his mind”

“He is an outsider”

“He will build a wall”

“He is a successful businessman”

“He is self-funded”

“He is a self-made man”

“He stands up to _______…” Continue reading

An Addendum on Evangelicals Endorsing Trump

We really do have plans to turn our attention toward other issues beyond electoral politics next week. (I’ve got submitted pitches I’m currently reviewing on immigration, a general consideration of the cultural norms that create something like the Trump phenomenon, a book review of a new work on the white working class, and an excellent long essay on podcasting. Plus I’m hoping to do some more personal/reflective work in the next month and to review Katelyn Beaty’s important new work A Woman’s Place.) But as I’ve thought about this issue more, I wanted to draw together a few final notes on the question of evangelicals endorsing Donald Trump. Continue reading