Friday, October 23, 2020

A Time for Clarity Not Muddy Waters

I think we can already call who will lose this election – the church, especially The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now.

With notable exceptions, even supposedly orthodox church leaders have utterly failed their people and the country this election.  The Trump is a Messiah guys have failed us.  The Woke Church crowd has failed us, to say the very least.  

But it is not only these churchly extremes that have failed us.  There is an element that has muddied the waters with nuances and moral equivalencies when clarity is called for.  Sadly, this video from the ACNA Diocese of Christ Our Hope is an example of this failure.

There may be elections when such videos would be helpful.  This is not one of them.  What we are facing is too awful, too destructive, and too difficult to reverse should the electorate (augmented by election fraud) make the wrong choice.  What is at issue is not policy differences that good people can disagree on, but the destruction of our American society itself.

Yes, that may sound alarmist.  But it is a time for clarity, for reality checks, not for excuses and high-sounding fig leaves for evil.  So some reality checks:

1. His “bi-partisan commission” cop-out aside, Biden refuses to disavow calls to pack the Supreme Court, i.e. to increase the number of Supreme Court justices and appoint Constitution-tearing Leftists to the new open spots not unlike Hugo Chavez.  The Constitution would then be a dead letter.

2. Democrats have been open about other plans to turn us into an unconstitutional Leftist One-Party State should they gain the White House and the Senate.  Combine statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, open borders, and amnesty and eventual citizenship for illegals, and the electorate would be so changed that Democrats would control the White House and the Senate for decades to come.  Again, you can kiss America and the Constitution good-bye if that happens.

Really these two reality checks alone make voting for Biden and the Democrats either grossly disloyal to this country or grossly ignorant, hardly acceptable in a Christian citizen.  I mean, really, if a “Christian” hates America that much, they should do the right thing and leave.  (Or if they are that ignorant, they either should not vote or should get informed before voting.)  One doesn’t have to love America to be a Christian.  But a Christian should not vote to destroy the society and the Rule of Law that gives him the freedom to be a Christian in relative peace.

But that’s not all.

3. It is now quite obvious that Biden and his family have sold influence to China, Russia, the Ukraine and God knows who else.  Biden literally sold us out to China.  It is criminal and beyond.  If you haven’t seen the details, then may I suggest reading the New York Post or watching Tucker Carlson rather than the New York Times, CNN, and the rest of the Democrat Fake News media.

I could give many more reality checks, but most would pertain to policy.  I will give one obvious one.

4. Biden and Kamala Harris (spit) are baby killers.  They want open season on the unborn for all nine months of pregnancy, no doubt paid for by taxpayers.  Yes, I am well aware that such despicable “Christian” prevaricators such as the AND Campaign are trying to justify Christians voting for baby killers.  They and the baby killers will have a lot to answer for in the Judgement.  

But even if it wasn’t for reality check 4, for Christians who wish to be good American citizens, a vote for Biden or for most Democrats for that matter is not a viable choice.  Democrats are pretty open now about what they have secretly wanted to do for some time - trash the Constitution, turn the Supreme Court into their rubber stamp, import an un-American electorate, and turn America into a Leftist One-Party State.  Under these circumstances, voting for Democrats is profoundly disloyal and destructive.  

(No, you don’t have to vote for Trump although I have.  If you find both major choices unacceptable, a vote for a Third Party sends that message honorably and well.)

Again, if you hate America so much as to vote to destroy America, then instead do the right thing and leave or at least remove yourself from politics.  But cut it out with using the name of Christ to support such evil or to deceive the sheep like the AND Campaign or to muddy the waters like the ACNA Diocese of Christ Our Hope.  You are harming both church and country.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

St. James and Works: a Sacrament of Faith?

I still remember as a teenager first coming across St. James’ rather cranky assertion that faith without works is dead and wrestled with that.  Did not St. Paul write that faith is what saves and that “not a result from works”?  (My understanding is a bit more exact and adamant now that God saves “by grace through faith.” Eph. 2:8, 9)

It took me a while to digest St. James.  Calvin’s dictum that faith alone saves but faith that saves is not alone was helpful.

But it was not until this week that I came across another enlightening take of St. James from Dr. Benjamin Bernier of Providence Reformed Episcopal Church, Corpus Christi:

James tells us that Faith without works is dead. Faith and works, theory and practice, the sacred and the profane, are not separate spheres as it is commonly presumed. They relate to each other as the body to the spirit, in such an intrinsic way that we may characterize their relationship as sacramental.

As we know from our catechism and The Offices of Instruction, a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward invisible grace.

So, I would like to propose to you that the relationship between faith and works is sacramental in nature.

Works are the outward and visible expression of an inner, invisible body of belief, which defines both the inner character of our souls and the profile of our whole lives.

Accordingly, faith and works are inseparable. They are like the fruit to the tree, different aspects of the same thing, the truth, and the love of God in faith and practice.

It had not occurred to me before that good works are a sacrament of faith.  But it makes sense.  And we know from St. Paul that faith is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8)  Perhaps works out of true faith, like the traditional sacraments, are also gifts of God and manifestations of invisible Truth.  At least that is food for thought on this Eve of the Feast of St. James, the brother of our Lord and the likely author of that difficult Epistle.

And on this Feast of St. James, may God bless you both with faith and with good works flowing out of your faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

By the way, the rest of Fr. Benjamin’s sermon may be found here and on YouTube.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Shameless: Biden Blames Trump for Michigan Plot

Yesterday I mentioned the plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan as an illustration of what Psalm 37 teaches us not to do.  Little did I know the accused are a bunch of strange anarchists, at least one of whom hates Trump.  

I have to admit even I was thinking we finally had a violent plot of significance from Trump-supporting “right-wingers.”  I was wrong.  The remarkable record of non-violence from Trump supporters in the face of grievous provocations continues. 

But that did not stop Joe Biden from using this episode to smear and blame Trump.  He keeps pushing that “both sides” myth, so what do you expect from such a shameless liar?  Thank God Robby Starbuck has captured video of one of the ringleaders denouncing Trump in no uncertain terms.  (Sorry I had to link that tweet instead of embedding it, but embedding is not working for some reason.) 

This has gotten to be par for the course from Joe BigLie.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Psalm 37 – A Psalm for Our Time

Yesterday, because it was the Evening of the 7th day of the month and I use the traditional Book of Common Prayer as the Lord intends, of course, I read and recited Psalm 37.  And it’s a good thing, too.

For Psalm 37 is a timely reminder to me and to anyone sorely provoked during this election season to “fret not thyself because of the ungodly” for God will take care of them and of his people in his good timing.  God will execute justice, and he’s a lot better at it than we are.  So we should “leave off from wrath, and let go displeasure; fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil.”  Yes, if we allow ourselves to get so worked up that we foolishly take matters into our own hands, we can easily fall into evil and be the wrongdoers ourselves.

Note that this is not a call to passivity.  As in just about all things, there should be a balance.  Namely we should “put thou thy trust in the Lord and be doing good.”  But if we fret and do not trust in God’s timing and faithfulness to bring about justice, we can too easily fall into doing foolishness and evil.

Today we get a reminder of that from Michigan where an alleged plot to kidnap Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state government has been foiled with alleged perpetrators arrested. 

Now should the tyranny of Whitmer be opposed through legal means (which have had some success lately)?  Yes.

Should we not presume the guilt of those accused as the Feds have been known to make politically motivated prosecutions before elections? Yes.

Should we question why the four year long coup against President Donald Trump has not been prosecuted? Yes.

But, at the very least, have the accused acted foolishly and gone about opposing Whitmer’s tyranny in a completely wrong way?  Yes, and if the accusations are true, they were plotting awful crimes and should be prosecuted accordingly.

Assuming there is any truth to the accusations, what the accused have done is a sad illustration of what can happen if we ignore the Lord’s guidance to “fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil.”

Frankly, I fear what I would be capable of if it were not for my faith in Christ and in his coming justice.  Those of us who care deeply about justice and hate tyranny especially need to remember that God, not our foolishness, will make all things right in the end.  Yes, we should care about the society God has placed us in and be active good citizens but, again, we should avoid getting so worked up that we allow ourselves to “be moved to do evil.”

So if you did not read Psalm 37 yesterday, do so today.  Maybe you, too, need a reminder during this trying time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

On the Edge of a One-Party State

How about that debate? :D

Sorry. I know last night’s debate was not pleasant viewing.  I don’t know who said shut up more, Biden at Trump or me at my television.  And, like many, my IQ may have decreased last night.  So forgive me if this post is not my most eloquent. 

Having said all that, there was one moment last night that disturbed me more than the whole rest of the debate, and that was Biden refusing to say whether he would end the filibuster and pack the Supreme Court:

Chris Wallace, in one of the few tough questions he posed to Biden, said this:

So my question to you is, you have refused in the past to talk about it, are you willing to tell the American tonight whether or not you will support either ending the filibuster or packing the court?

Biden refused to answer, something the Trump quickly challenged.  Here's the colloquy:

BIDEN: Whatever position I take on that, that'll become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You're voting now. Vote and let your Senators know strongly how you feel.

TRUMP: Are you going to pack the court?

BIDEN: Vote now.

TRUMP: Are you going to pack the court?

BIDEN: Make sure you, in fact, let people know, your Senators.

TRUMP: He doesn't want to answer the question.

BIDEN: I'm not going to answer the question.

TRUMP: Why wouldn't you answer that question? You want to put a lot of new Supreme Court Justices. Radical left.

BIDEN: Will you shut up, man?

TRUMP: Listen, who is on your list, Joe? Who's on your list?

WALLACE: Gentlemen, I think we've ended this —

BIDEN: This is so un-Presidential.

TRUMP: He's going to pack the court. He is not going to give a list.

And this is not the first time Biden has refused to answer.  I hope he does not get away with his non-answer.  Given what passes for jurisprudence from Democrat hacks-in-black, if Democrats do pack the Supreme Court, you can pretty much kiss the Constitution and the rule of law good-bye and America with it.  We would be on the road to Venezuela.

Think I’m exaggerating?  Early in the Hugo Chavez regime, the Supreme Court of Venezuela had the temerity to say no to some of his designs.  His response?  He packed the Supreme Court.  He, like the current leadership of the Democrat Party, expected judges to do his bidding regardless of trivialities like a constitution or the rule of law.   So he packed the Court and got just that.  

Should Biden get elected and Democrats win the Senate, we are in serious danger of that happening right here in the United States.  Democrats have already long demonstrated they think the purpose of judges is to do their policy bidding regardless of the Constitution and the rule of law.  Should they gain enough power to pack the Supreme Court, that is what they, and we, will get.  And we will no longer be a Constitutional republic but a Leftist One-Party State.  Why?  Because elections do not matter with Leftist Dictators in Black Robes.  If we are not wise enough to vote for untrammeled Marxism, a Democrat-packed Supreme Court will shove it down our throats . . . for “justice”, of course. 

And, also of course, should Biden be elected, he will reopen the floodgates of illegal immigration (or just make it legal) and give away amnesty and citizenship like candy on Halloween.  Democrats are not pleased with the current electorate, so they will change it by importing a more pliable, less American one.  Even if they do not pack the Court, so changing the demographics of the electorate will make us a Leftist One-Party State just like they did with California.

Democrats make even create two new states from Washington, D. C. and Puerto Rico to pack the Senate with four more Democrat Senators.  I have my doubts whether they will be able to do that in the near future.  But that is on the DemocRAT agenda as well.  And, again, you can pretty much kiss America good-bye if they succeed.

So there is much more on the ballot this year than public policy.  What is on the ballot is whether you will have much say on public policy in future elections.  For if Biden wins, we are in grave danger of being on the road to a Leftist One-Party State.  And if Democrats take the Senate as well, we are practically there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Brace for a Contested Election

I hesitate to add to the unpleasantness that is 2020.  But I think it likely we will have a contested election fueled by massive fraud.  Before you dismiss my alarm, I am a former election judge with more than an average knowledge of how elections work.

Part of my experience was verifying absentee ballots.  The number of ballots we had to go through is nothing compared to the wave of mail-in ballots on the way this year.  But it was not an easy process; much of the time, we were just guessing which ballots were for real and which were fraudulent.  We gave the benefit of the doubt to questionable ballots, so who knows how many fraudulent ones snuck through.  Thankfully, the numbers were small enough no outcome was affected if memory serves me right.  But this year with mail-in ballots becoming a norm?

With the mail-in ballots regimes in many states this year, it will be too easy and too tempting to commit massive election fraud.  Anyone who tells you that mail-in voting does not enable fraud is na├»ve or lying.  Adding to its likelihood are Democrat judges extending the reception of mail-in ballots for days and even weeks after Election Day.  Democrat hacks-in-black have long extended elections to enable vote manufacturing.  Some are already doing that on steroids.  So expect convenient Democrat ballots to be “found” well after Election Day accompanied by mindless chants of “Count every vote.”

Speaking of election fraud already in progress, Ilhan Omar and friends have just been caught committing massive vote buying.  And Biden’s Texas Political Director is implicated in a ballot-harvesting scheme.  Yes, we are still over a month away from Election Day, but election fraud is already being discovered.  How much will go on undiscovered?

With this likely to be a close election, the potential for it being contested for weeks at least is great.  First, with many ballots being mail-in, we probably will not know the results on election night.  Trump will probably be ahead, well ahead due to his voters more likely to shun mail-in ballots to vote in person.  But then as mail-in ballots are counted for who knows how long afterward, that lead will grow smaller and smaller.  

One scenario is Trump being successful enough in throwing out questionable ballots to retain narrowly his lead in keys states and win.  Another scenario is that he loses his lead in a crucial state due to questionable mail-in ballots, and you get President Harris, er, Biden.  This could too easily happen in Detroit where incompetence, if not corruption, has already made a hash of this year’s primaries.  Will a likely Trump Michigan lead be able to survive Detroit and its corruption?

Of course, a contested election will severely strain our already torn civility.  How would the Antifa and BLM crowd respond to a Trump victory, much less a close and contested one?  And should there be a widespread perception that Biden stole the election, will red-blooded American Trump supporters continue to be peaceful?  Their votes in 2016 never were respected.  Democrats and RINOs have engaged in a non-stop coup against Trump ever since.  If they then steal or seem to steal the 2020 election and put Harris, er, Biden in the White House, will the Trump people take that peacefully? Frankly, if it weren’t for my faith and trust in God’s sovereignty and justice, I couldn’t trust myself to act peacefully in such a situation.  And even if they do continue to act peacefully, how corrosive to our civil society will it be to have a President that a third or more of the electorate considers illegitimate?

You get the picture.  In just over a month, 2020 may get worse in this country, much worse.

Pray . . . and vote wisely and in-person, documenting your vote as much as possible.

Friday, September 25, 2020

The “Beauty of Holiness” or “Popish Baits”?

When I picked up Graham Parry’s Glory, Laud and Honour: The Arts of the Anglican Counter-Reformation, I expected a heavy academic read, which would have been fine as it covers a subject matter of interest to me.  

Was I wrong!  The book begins with Puritan Peter Smart’s furious indictment of John Cosin and Durham Cathedral in 1630:

…your popish baits and allurements of glorious pictures, and Babalonish vesturs, and excessive numbers of wax-candles burning at one tyme…

Ah yes, the candles.  Always the candles.  Smart was unhappy with much else as well, particularly Cosin’s “upstarting, downesquattings, east-turning, crossings and kissings” and more.

I found myself laughing uproariously.  I was reminded of the Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass except that Smart was quite serious.  Thus I soon discovered that Glory, Laud and Honour is not only scholarly and helpful to further study, but is actually a fun read.

And, yes, much of the fun does come from the adversarial relationship between the Puritans and the Laudians along with others who thought the worship of the Lord called for “the beauty of holiness”.  This holy combat was reflected in church architecture and furnishings and often the destruction of the same.  Parry pays not a little attention to Dowsing’s visitations of Cambridge for one thing.  And he notes that much of what we know about church furnishings under the influence of John Cosin, William Laud and cohorts comes from the Puritans’ disapproving documentation of them.

The Puritans (with an exception or two I will note another time) were rather nasty.  Beheading statues was not enough for them.  They eventually beheaded Laud, Lord of Canterbury and Charles, King and Martyr.  But (And now I will show my talent for alienating just about everybody.) the Archbishop and King in part lost their heads by not following Hooker more closely on the subject of ceremonies and images in worship.  

As Parry points out at length, Hooker approved of traditional ceremonial worship “in the bewtie of holiness,” not unlike the later Laudians, but he considered such to be adiaphora, i. e. among matters on which the faithful can and should be able to agree to disagree.  He thought parishes should be allowed discretion on details of ceremonies and ornaments as long as they stick to the Book of Common Prayer.  Further he thought disputes over such matters risk “a kinde of taking of Gods name in vaine to debase religion with such frivolous disputes, a sinne to bestowe time and labor about them.”

But neither the Laudians nor the Puritans were very interested in allowing discretion in matters of worship.  Instead they bestowed a lot of time and labor and venom upon them indeed, greatly contributing to the ugliness between them.  Many on both sides eventually paid with their lives, both on the executioner’s block and in civil war.

Well, I got rather dark there, didn’t I.  But that does not keep me from having a good laugh or two or three at their liturgical combat.  Yes, I am rather warped that way.

There is much more that is both fun and helpful about Glory, Laud and Honour, to which I may return at a later time.