Every time the Trump agenda is reshaped or refined to better fit reality, even Trump’s most dedicated critics have reason to applaud.
This is a rare ethical circumstance in which realism and good sense take the form of hypocrisy. On a variety of issues, the sincerity of Trump’s current intentions — or the cynicism of his past intentions — should not matter. If the candidate who gave a wink and nod toward white nationalism now repudiates the alt-right and promises to “bring this country together,” so much the better. If the candidate who promised a trade war with China reconsiders, it is all to the good.
If you’d like a non-religious example of a divide where each side’s common sense sounds like lunacy to the opposing side, try Scott Alexander’s Survive vs Thrive model of political divides. (In brief: do you think the world is pretty stable, and we’re figuring out how to best share this lasting prosperity, or do you think the world is teetering on the edge of near collapse, and unless we’re very careful, everything will crumble).
Survive vs Thrive has become one of the background assumptions I automatically ask about when I’m in a dispute with someone I already know and respect. It’s turned out to be lurking behind a lot of the disagreements I’d find most repulsive or hard to debate — my interlocutor is usually much farther toward the “Survive” end of the spectrum than I am, and is ready and willing to do last ditch things. (When I turn out to be the closer-to-Survive one, the Thrive person tends to feel to me like a Jenga player who hasn’t heard of gravity).
For the record, I stand by my contention that the character of Elihu in the book of Job is a proto-Calvinist. His monologue (chapters 34-37) blasts Job for daring to declare himself innocent and righteous, arguing that Job, like everyone, has earned suffering, punishment and the wrath of a holy God. His argument reads like something straight out of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” or John Piper’s Twitter feed. And Job doesn’t offer any rebuttal to that. Instead, the next line of the play comes directly from God: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” OK, then.
Scriptures are not said to impart right doctrine, but to be useful in training people in living a particular way.Also note that the emphasis is on their usefulness and their beneficial character. Perhaps we ought to start there. Rather than first defining a particular collection of texts as scripture (something 2 Timothy does not do, nor does any other work in the Bible), and then assuming they must be useful and beneficial, perhaps we ought to start with texts that are useful and beneficial, and treat those as not just “scriptures” (which simply means “writings”) but as special, even sacred.This should lead us to ask whether hate-filled texts are useful or beneficial, and if not, what that means for their status as “scripture.”
Source: 2 Timothy 3:16
Because of the way love operates–dying for rather than killing, serving rather than ruling, giving rather than taking–love cannot create a “steady state” in the moral order. Love will not be consistently “in charge” of an evil world because love will not use violence to forcibly keep dissenting others in line.Thus our experience of love–the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven–is experienced as “patchy, intrusive, and unpredictable.” The Kingdom of God is not a location to be defended by arms and high walls. The Kingdom of God is an event.
But in a climate that is so unforgiving, so quick to pounce, so unwilling to accept that mistakes will be made and should be learned from, it’s understandable that leaders trap themselves into promising more than they can deliver.
A desire for accountability does not have to preclude a certain generosity of spirit, or some empathy for those who are performing public service. We seem to have forgotten that.
The following quote accompanied a picture of an obviously western woman wearing traditional Indian religious garb. I like the part about zip-lining to nirvana, but the tension raised between religious appearance and religious practice lands in my sweet spot too.
There is, of course, a difference between delving seriously into the practice of meditation—something the world’s population would no doubt benefit from—and donning another culture’s clothing in what could be perceived as an effort to zip-line one’s way to nirvana. It’s as if the holy experience is in the costume rather than in the practice…
Joshua Clover in TheNation.com, writing about storytelling arcs in Country Music:
The other cycle is much shorter, but no less prevalent. Punching in on Monday, it trudges toward the Friday whistle; the weekend runs from paycheck to the local bar, the working man’s church. Maybe a moment of romantic or domestic happiness, maybe just a hangover; then Monday coffee sings its bittersweet song as all begins again.
Most treatments for doubt are palliative rather than curative.
James McGrath considers a litany of “design problems” with the universe, including natural evils, exploding stars, dark matter, and the all-encompassing weirdness that quantum mechanics and relativistic physics both work but can’t be unified.
I am inclined to respond in the manner that I think the author of the Book of Job was getting at in the speeches towards the end of that book. If you can make a better universe, be my guest!