Trumpism, Not Donald Trump: Conclusion

As is often the case when a thought is stretched out over time, as in the occasion with this blog of several parts now, it loses its oomph if you will.  I mean that in the sense that it’s now time to move on to bigger and better things that I typically write about, even though I felt it necessary to at least attempt to explain from the perspective of a Christian who walks on the narrow path with a distinct limp, as to why one could even vote for the current Nemesis and Chief.  However, to wrap things up, I want to refer those who have not read the first three parts to this drama to please do so, and then pick it back up here.  Equally insightful I pray, are the two blogs that kind of evolved into me eventually seeking to explain the quandary of thinking and believing Christians in regards to Trump entitled, The Light in Christendom is But a Flicker Now: Part 1 https://marknealprince.com/2017/02/24/the-light-in-christendom-is-but-a-flicker-now-part-i/ and The Light in Christendom is But a Flicker now: Part 2 https://marknealprince.com/2017/03/03/the-light-in-christendom-is-but-a-flicker-now-part-ii/.  I did so in my own unraveling in regard to this oxymoron of a President, as I reluctantly pulled the lever as one of the “secret Trump votes”; all the while praying that lightning would not strike nearby in the aftermath.  So far, so good.  Nonetheless, it’s off to the finished line!

     Who Will Fill the Vacuum of World Leadership?

 As I began in Part 2, and finished off in my last blog (Part 3), I attempted to give a microcosm of an explanation of how Christians could vote in large masses for Donald Trump by seeking to give a proper explanation of an “understanding of the two kingdoms” (The world and the church).  I’ll leave those blogs to speak for themselves.  However, in addition to this understanding, there is an overarching fear of friend and political foe alike as to who will rise to the vacuous rift in leadership on the world stage if the United States is found MIA?  What country’s globalist values will rule the day or call the shots; and one with the equal ability to back up, or better yet “stand up” to the bullies longing to have their shot at being the new “big dog” on the block?  For many, this is an overarching question that causes much chagrin and consternation that equally factors in our current and thus necessary allegiance to this President.

To be sure, we are not so gullible as to think that the U.S. does not have it’s on “blood on its hands” from its past, present and in the foreseeable future.  But as I have always reminded my sons: To whom are we being compared to in the final analysis?  And it is the answer to this question that our country’s own constituents, like never before, seem to be having a difficult time answering, as many of us secretly wonder whose history class they actually took notes and listened in.  We talk about being the world’s police and the desire to rid ourselves of this nickname, but since hating America is a new world sport (now from within its own ranks), most of us fail to realize that we are both damned if we do and damned if we don’t.  As Condoleezza Rice once said in her speech at the Republican National Convention in 2012, “Either no one will lead and there will be chaos, or someone will fill the vacuum who does not share our values”.  However, fast forward to 2019, and it becomes sort of obvious to insightful onlookers that the problem is that our once commonplace values from the greatest to the least of us have fallen on serious hard times!  That of course is why most who still think that discussion is a big frickin deal are scared as Hell as to where this brave new world will take us, and I think rightfully so.  For when the thought of God and the accompanying ethic permanently leaves the public square among the plausible considerations, then Dostoevsky’s words have come to pass, and indeed anything and everything is now permissible.

     Roll the Dice Again Please

And so our country rolled the dice on a classic narcissist, quite frankly like all the rest, yet with one stark difference: A narcissist who doesn’t hide behind politically correct language that disguises this obvious fact, and also one who actually sought to represent the people who voted him in office.  Go figure.  And rather than a globalist agenda, he is one who put forth the agenda of and for the working man of his own country.  For the people who can’t buy a job and for whose voice had long been forgotten, and whose values had been repeatedly trampled on as having no justification in the public domain of ideas.  A President who relentlessly and tirelessly put forth those ideas, making them once again a mainstay in American public life with equal footing to the ones that if not for the 2016 outcome, would have closed the coffin and nailed the lid shut to the future possibility.  All the while, these policies for the common man are continually being put forth, while relentless attacks are hurled at a man who will respond to each one with an equal left jab or uppercut, much like you and I would if someone was attacking us at every move we made.  And while all this was being done, we finally realized that people don’t like the President, much like they don’t care for deplorables like us.  After all, he’s not “Presidential”, and for once in our life, or maybe twice, we have someone in the office who cares more for his own country and its values which supersede what the entourage of globalist nations incessantly mutter on about.  A concept the left equally finds akin to the unpardonable national sin.

And That’s a Wrap

 And so, for once we have a nation that desires to get its own house in order before it seeks to help the rest with checks that the (unemployed) working man has been forced to write for far too long.  A country that is seeking to make peace with its enemies as a new strategy or experiment for prosperity for all, as opposed to one forever in a battle to tell everyone else to do with their own country with the threat of war looming not too far in the distance.  And so as one looks out at this now going on three-year experiment we’ve entered into, we realize still that it was and perhaps still is a risk; but a calculated one, nonetheless.  A businessman rather than a politician for a change.  Crazy right?  But its kind of got a nice ring to it don’t you think?  Worth a college try we still think.  And of course, the reason is, that when something is broke, sometimes it takes a billionaire narcissist who can’t and will not be bought, to finally “stick it to the man” for us and finally fix it.  Donald Trump, or Trumpism, is just that experiment; and for most of us in the “Dreg” camp: so far, so good!  But for those who can’t wait for the well done with ketchup steak-eating Commander and Chief to once and for all leave Pennsylvania avenue on the horse he rode in on, I only hope everyone is ready for what comes next.  As I once heard someone say, “Be careful what you wish for, because sometimes you just might just get it”.

Selah

Trumpism, Not Donald Trump: Part 3

For the last two weeks, I diverged off of the beat and path of my usual meanderings of this cracked up American life in order to talk about something that had been on my mind for some time now.   I had been desiring to first of all introduce the idea primarily as to why Christians showed up to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but also speak to the fact that it has more to do with “Trumpism” and not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump.  I introduced that thought process in the blog entitled https://marknealprince.com/2019/07/18/trumpism-not-donald-trump-part-i/as well as last week’s post https://marknealprince.com/2019/07/23/trumpism-not-donald-trump-part-2/.  I left off last week beginning to unpack why Christians actually voted for the avant-garde Commander and Chief, speaking along the lines of understanding the difference between two kingdoms; the world and the church.  I’m going to pick back up where I left off as we plundered the narrative of the scriptures as a whole from the Old Testament, and this week I hope to zero in on how that progressive understanding also further shaped the sentiment of the New Testament writers.  Hopefully, as we progress a little further, we can at least get a better understanding as to how people who claim to be about love, care for the poor and needy and the alien and the stranger, can also be for their own country’s kingdom and values simultaneously.

An Understanding of Two Kingdoms(continued)

As we enter into the New Testament world with the introduction of Jesus on the scene, the consensus of “kingdom” and what it means to the Jews is still on the minds of everyone.  Mostly, that idea of kingdom is very wrong in that the majority of the people, as well as the disciples at first, still think prematurely of a Kingdom of power that will come and rightfully restore the Jewish people  to a renewed Davidic kingdom, finally free from their oppressors and a force of both good and strength for the world.  Others such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2), who hang around and pray in the temple all day, know this is indeed not the case.  Ironically, as we fast forward to Jesus’ ascension at the birth of the early church (Acts 1) we still find many of the Lord’s followers asking basically, “Is this the time that you will establish your kingdom on earth”?  Jesus reply is both telling and frustrating to his hearers, as Jesus has been speaking about the kingdom to them for days and yet they still don’t get it.  He essentially lets them know that this time of which they speak is only for the Father to know, but for now His kingdom will enable them to receive power to be “witnesses” of a kingdom that will instead be one of a reordering of the heart.  And also, one that empowers those who heed its message to be a transformative “salt and light” in how they live their lives, show love and compassion to others, and who also speak kingdom truths regardless of the costs associated with doing so.

     Slow to Learn

It would take both Peter and Paul a little later on, as the New Testament was being penned and circulated, to help the early church broaden its view on this subject.  However, it was Jesus that first homed in on the differences of the two kingdoms people thought they knew something about; many of which had forgotten their very costly Old Testament lessons.  The first case we’re given for our instruction is when Jesus is taunted by the Pharisees in an effort to catch him in a trap, where they ask him whether or not it is lawful to give taxes to Caesar or not (Luke 22:19-26). And here it is that we have the statement that has no doubt changed the world that we exist in, and that is equally educational in this tale of two kingdoms, where Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”.  The clear idea here that Jesus wants to get through people’s heads first of all, is that the kingdom of power they envision now is not the one He has come to set up.  His synopsis for the crowd is that governments have a job to do in that they render law, order and protection; and as a result of that representation, taxes are due to them for that service they provide.  Likewise, Jesus is stating that the Kingdom of God is a different matter altogether, but that is also has things (time, tithes and talents) that it also will require of us, but that are to not to be confused with what Caesar is about.  But stay with me here.  Let’s fast forward now after Jesus has been arrested and taken to Pilate, where we witness another teachable moment to the inquiring minds who truly want to know that is put before us regarding this two-kingdom motif.  Pilate in essence asks who Jesus is and whether or not he is indeed King of the Jews.  Jesus’s reply is that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and that if it were, His servants (like all worldly kingdoms) would be fighting forcefully to overthrow it, and because they are in fact not fighting, this explains that the kingdom He proclaims is not a worldly kingdom. Case in point: The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world are two kingdoms with vastly different agendas and purposes.

     The Pillars of the Faith Guide Us Onward

From here, gleaning from the pen of the two most famous apostles who laid down what the church was to believe and practice in these matters was both Peter and Paul.  And ironically, both in fact took these same things to mean a clear distinction between the two kingdoms, both positively and negatively.  Negatively in the sense that we are to be separate in terms of our values from the world’s, and rather to instead of conforming ourselves to them, be transformed by reorienting our minds to thinking Godly (Rom. 12:1,2).  Positively, in the sense that we are compelled to pray for all people, including our rulers and those in authority. Timothy in fact tells us this, under the tutelage of his mentor Paul, by admonishing us that we are to do this so that we might have the possibility of having quiet and peaceable lives, even in the midst of an ungodly society (I Tim. 2:2). Peter in fact tells us in I Peter. 2:13-17 this very thing as well where he writes:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (ESV)

And for those who might be inclined to think he said this because they had such a well-mannered Emperor in office that everyone simply adored, we need to be reminded that Nero was his name-O!  And far from “liking” Christians as a people, history tells us that he did however appreciate their usefulness for lighting up his gardens at night, and the very pillars that gave us these instructions were both “given the ax” under his reign!  And yet Paul nonetheless correspondingly tell us this in Romans 13:1-7:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore, one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV)

     A New Understanding

And it is here that we begin to see the formulation of the church’s two kingdom variances.   And through the teaching of the scriptures, the church begins to understand that though they are to speak boldly as to the truth they have been commissioned with, they are likewise; where it does not conflict with thwarting the preaching of the gospel, to be the best of citizens.  They do so by cooperating with the worldly kingdom in the good that it does and the order that it provides, and which is indeed sovereignly set up by God to enact justice for their specific kingdom of which they are residents.  Conversely, this does not mean that all kingdoms are good, and in fact many throughout history have wreaked havoc on their constituents in the most brutal of ways.  In this case, the early church always used its influence to speak in the right way to power, trying to change the things they saw as grave injustices, even at great cost to themselves.  Some such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, went so far as to join a band of Christian brothers to assassinate Adolph Hitler, however unsuccessfully.  And yet even Paul in Acts 22, uses his own rights as a citizen of Rome that he was indeed born into to stop the powers that be from treating him like and dog and beating him unjustly.  The term “wise as serpents, and gentle as doves” is pregnant with meaning in order to discern the right approach in our day to day lives here, however it will always be done so with both pluses and minuses along the way.

Selah

Stay tuned for Part 4

 

Trumpism, Not Donald Trump: Part 2

Last week, I wrote a piece entitled: Trumpism, Not Donald Trump: Part 1 https://marknealprince.com/2019/07/18/trumpism-not-donald-trump-part-i/.  In that piece I spoke briefly about my normal apprehension in writing posts that are political in nature.  I’ll urge you to read that piece first if you missed it, and simply jump right in to what may take another post or two to complete.  However, just to have some cohesion to what I began to introduce, I opened my thoughts on the matter with an explanation of the danger of putting all “deplorables” and “Dregs of Society” in the same basket.  Afterwards, I also wanted to talk a bit more about giving genuine inquirers several reasons why “so-called” Christians voted for Donald Trump, or what I like to call Trumpism instead.  My first reason was due to the fact that it was a reaction to what they and others like them believe is a now full-scale attack on what made the West great, which I gave some very brief thoughts on.  The second one is this:

An Understanding of Two Kingdoms

 By saying two kingdoms, what I simply mean is that the vast majority of Christians, I believe rightly understand the difference between the Kingdom that is of God, and the one that is of this world.  In fact, they understand it properly only from mining the whole of scripture to do so. As a result, one emerges with a clear and glaring difference between what the church is supposed to do and teach, and what the government is to be about; and how they differ.

     The Anomaly That is America

It is of course no secret then in saying that, as we discuss America, we rightly understand that we are somewhat of an anomaly in the world as a true Republic.  A Republic in which all citizens (red, yellow, black, white, Christian, non-Christian, etc.) are protected by law in being able to both speak freely, and more importantly; in being given the great privilege of the right to vote.  And of course it should be no surprise to anyone, that regardless of the country’s now militant desire to eradicate religion from public life altogether, it is virtually impossible (even for those who want to rid us of it) to exercise our free speech and cast our vote without also bringing our worldview to bear on the decisions that we make.  To deny that this is the case, or that it should not be the example at all times is not only preposterous, but a clear denial what has always been—which applies to both sinner and saint among us.  Equally worth noting, is that to live in stark opposition to what we say we believe, no matter who we are, is to in fact believe nothing at all.

     Failure to Legislate a Religion

However, since blogs are to be “short and sweet”, I want to explain briefly what I mean by the difference of which I speak in these two kingdoms.  For instance, if we (speaking of Christians here) take an honest look at the entirety of scripture as I said earlier, we understand this distinction all too well.  This is after all why true thinking Christians do not wish for a theocracy as some might think, like many of our Muslim friends, due to the fact that a full legislation of morality or a religion is a failed experiment time and time again in the kingdom of this world.  For it underestimates that it is indeed the law that gives sin in us the opportunity to further enslave us, thus stoking our “middle finger’s” defiance towards it, as well as our continual failure to meet its holy demands (Romans 7:8-25). For indeed it is the letter that kills, but only the Spirit that gives new life a fighting chance to actually desire from the heart to do the right thing (2 Cor. 3:2).

     The Kingdom of God on Earth Begins to Crumble

 But back to the division of kingdoms.  We begin to see this dichotomy most clearly in the life of Samuel (I Sam. 8) where he is rightly upset that the Israelites have rejected God as their King, yet who instead desire a human king like the rest of the nations “to judge for them” and to “fight their battles”.  Samuel is of course taken aback by this and inquires of the Lord about it, at which point the Lord simply says for him to go back and let them know what they are getting into.  In other words, he wants them to understand that having a King and a Kingdom will require their sons and daughters, money, land, and taxes–as well as their full devotion to his and his kingdom’s service.  He concludes by reminding them that the byproduct of this wish fulfillment of theirs, is that a people called by God to be free moral agents, will in fact be enslaved to their King instead.  This is of course the history of most of the world until the radical idea and experiment of self-government was introduced by our founders.  Of course one would think that once they heard this, they would relinquish their naïve request, and ask God to put the crown on instead. Nothing happening.  The people replied to Samuel that this slavery stuff actually sounded pretty good and cried out nonetheless, “Give us a King”. As Samuel then reports back to God, the creator lets him know to go ahead and give them what they wish for. The Kingdom of God is not yet to be ushered in.  In other words, God sovereignly allows it, and the rest is in the annals of history.

     Still Giving It a College Try

As a result of this track record, also like other nations, they were continually enslaved to both good and bad Kings, all the while over and over claiming to want to put God somehow back on the throne (Judges).  Afterwards, as Kings were commissioned to at least stand in proxy for God as administrators of righteousness for the public good, everyone from wicked Saul to righteous David, and from the virtuous reforms of Josiah to the decadence of Ahab and Jezebel, each failed abysmally.  The irony in all of this is that even the most righteous King David, who it was said was a “man after God’s own heart”, during his reign of office, cut down a man in cold blood on the battlefield in order to cover up his romp in the sack with his wife while he was out fighting for his country.  This is of course not to rule out all the good that was done in the Davidic kingdom, nor is it the purpose of this blog to go all the way down memory lane of the good, bad and ugly of Israel’s leadership.  However, suffice is to say that God himself begins to separate the idea of permanent shalom and his righteous kingdom this side of eternity, even while calling his remnant of good men to continually speak out and fight for what is right to have its place in a continually rebellious, idolatrous and degenerate culture.  In fact, even during Israel’s deportation under mostly oppressive Kings who initially raped, pillaged and enslaved their people, the remnant of God’s people were still asked to buy, sell and trade and seek the welfare of their particular city as they assimilated in a foreign land that was not their own.  And in fact, even under such oppressive Kingdoms, two Kings (Cyrus and Artaxerxes) actually gave their blessing and funding both to rebuild the holy temple and also to build a wall.  And without going into a much longer discourse on the Old Testament’s obvious teachings around the distinction of the two kingdoms that God is historically fleshing out before us, as well as the fact that both his chosen men and men of the world are often in place both for good and for ill, God in fact also uses even men who eat their steak well done with ketchup in order to accomplish His purposes in the world.  In fact, as a Christian, to not believe so is to either be asleep at the biblical wheel, or to not give a rat’s ass as to what we find behind it.

Selah

Stay tuned for Part 3

 

Trumpism, Not Donald Trump: Part I

I’m not a Politician

 I’ve been cautioned in my own spirit as a given rule not to write about anything political in nature. My reasons are manifold.  One has to do with the fact that I am not a political pundit, nor do I have a degree in political science, and neither do I sit around reading news articles all day for fun.  This of course led to my decisive resolve to simply heed the “stay in your lane bro” advice and talk about what I might know a thing or two about. You know, things such as talking about my cracked up American life in search of the Jesus missing in America and all that.  And this indeed could be sage advice.

On another note, I did have at least one friend that encouraged me to write about hot-button issues that people were actually interested in.  His analysis was that nobody really cared about what kind of day I was having, or about Jesus and the narrow path and all that.  I tried to tell him that though I’d love to be known for my writing, I really just want to write about what actually moves me, with the hopes that maybe that in itself would be enough to gather a few readers.  With that being said, and with much trepidation, I took his advice a couple of times after writing “The Light in Christendom is But a Flicker Now” parts 1 and 2, when I wrote one blog in particular entitled: “Trump vs. Everyfrickingbody: Our New Mascot for Sticking It To The Man” https://marknealprince.com/2017/06/09/trump-vs-everyfrickingbody-our-new-mascot-for-sticking-it-to-the-man/,and one more a little later entitled “As It Turns Out, Freedom is Not Actually Free: On Flags, Freedom and Racism in America https://marknealprince.com/2018/05/28/as-it-turns-out-freedom-is-not-actually-free-on-flags-freedom-and-racism-in-america/.  And the truth is, it felt really good to write those pieces at the time.

Fast forward till now, and I of course survived unscathed and even got some positive responses, even though I’m sure my liberal friends either unfriended me or put me on a long snooze vacation.  Although sadly, as my friend and I continued to have discussions, mostly about our Christian faith and encouraging one another in it, our clear political differences became a topic he most wanted to talk about.  And as usual, I tried to do so by allowing myself to both be challenged by his thought process, and to likewise challenge him with my rebuttal. He came to the conclusion that Fox news had blinded me to the light, concluding that was responsible for my total thoughts on these matters, and that every black person on the planet that had views even similar to mine (honkey that I am) were mere “Uncle Tom’s” or “house niggas”.  For him, that was an open and shut case, no matter how I tried to invoke logic and reason into the discussion.  He wasn’t having it.  And the more and more I tried to bring us back to being brothers in Christ, he decided he could no longer have a relationship with me.  I was hurt about this, because I don’t have too many “brothers” as it is, which is all the more reason why politics and religion don’t make good bed fellows.  Yet here I go again appealing to both.

Not all Deplorables Are Cut From the Same Cloth

My theory is that it doesn’t take a Rhode’s Scholar after 2 ½ years now into the Trump experiment, to realize that the designation of “deplorables” to half of the voters in this country has not served the democratic party well.  In fact, as of recently (enter “The Squad”), my contention is that this type of tirade is the gift that keeps on giving quite frankly.  First of all, this is because lumping all people into the same basket of a particular voting block is to have taken one’s thinking cap “off”, which should be a slap in the face to people as learned and intellectual as the other side claims to be.  But the truth is, that “deplorables” voted for Donald Trump for a variety of both gullible, selfish and even very noble reasons.  Imagine that!  Secondly, as any good American knows, when you start the name calling, the “Hatfield and McCoy” gloves come off.  And as a result, a fight will ensue until the cows come home, and for many generations hence. So then, what should have been instructive for the democratic party, has instead caused them to dig their roots down deeper into this overarching narrative and ramp it a notch further; by bestowing an equally appealing naming convention to the uninformed masses called “the Dregs of Society”.  So to wax Forrest Gumpian here, “I may not be a politically astute man, but I do know what needing a new game plan is”!

How Can Christians Vote for Trump?

 Of course, among other things, one of the questions on everyone’s mind has been, “How can those who claim to be Christians vote for Trump”?  And though there are a myriad of reasons why voters who have no faith to speak of have also cast their ballot for the Tweeter and Chief, I’ve been somewhat desperate to expound further on why many Christians have actually done so.  And though it will take several blogs to attempt to unpack my thoughts on Trumpism, my explanation for the Christian part in it are fourfold.

First of all, it was due to a reaction to the current vitriol against what made the West great in their eyes. And as a result, like other people who also love their country, the Christian vote was for “Trumpism” and not necessarily for Donald Trump.  Now to be sure there are many who actually now like the guy in spite of himself (myself included), and who will again vote for what he represents.  And so for them, Donald Trump is a “middle finger” to the liberal mayhem and the now popular hatred of America among our own ranks! And yes, even Christians, for what they would call “Just war” reasons, signed off on the not so affectionate hand gesture! And like other voters in this block, they cast their silent Trump vote in a reaction to this vilification of what they believe has made the West great, and in the judgements of many (both foreign and domestic) who have studied its history.  The West of course also includes the American Republic experiment and “idea”, whose founding documents have equally been both admirably studied, wrongfully canonized, and painstakingly scrutinized by those near and far as well.  In short, their concern is that the ideals of reasoned discourse in the market square; freedom of religion; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of any kind of happiness they can find; free market capitalism that either makes or breaks us; taxation with representation from a government that stays out of our business and our pocketbooks; and one who also protect its country from those who mean it harm have fallen on very hard times.

Now it is not in the scope of this blog to deliberate on all the explanations of all these things while equally positing their opposition, nor is it in my time allotment or particular pedigree to do so from a purely academic sense.  Nonetheless, it is these particular things that grateful Americans are in a fuss about.  And this includes those born on our soil, and those red, yellow, black and white grafted in by becoming its co-equal citizenry.  Those who are still just deplorable enough to believe that these principles and what once made America great is actually a big frickin deal, and those of which are currently under blatant attack by spoiled-rotten, postmodern anarchists!   And though admittedly America is not without her faults and colorful past, I would like to propose that those of us on this side of the isle would like to know what nation we are being compared to as the standard in course correction.  So yeah, we get that people have the right as America’s sons to whine and complain about everything under the sun that was provided for them with blood, sweat and tears. But just like an ungrateful teenager gloating in parental provisions, we think perhaps the time has come for someone to send them to their damn room without any supper.  Which could also be another phrase for “go back to where you came from” from someone caught up in the continual insolence in the current national room.

 

Selah

 

Stay tuned for Part II

 

 

 

The Poor Still Sit On The Back Row With The Baptists

I’m pretty sure that my Baptists friends (if I still have any), don’t always appreciate my affectionate humor when it comes to them.  However, in my defense, since I am an ordained Baptist preacher (I know, I know), I feel like I can poke fun at the “fan damily” and hold my head high while chewing gum at the same time.

You see in America, Baptists get pegged as being the group that sits as far in back of the church as humanly possible, thus we call them “back-row Baptists”.  Yet the truth is, this is a tendency of American Christianity I think as a whole.  The reason is, that most of us are eternally inoculated to any chance of catching the real stuff of Christianity, so sitting on the back row suits us as the perfect way to get just enough of something churchy without getting the real thing.  It’s safe there, no one is really going to call us out, and we can exit out the back door before the preacher finishes the closing prayer without anyone giving us a passing glance.  It’s like we really do have a cloak of invisibility.  I guess that’s why I decided to sit the poor on the back with us for this short visit to church, because they too hardly get a notice anymore inside of an institution that used to be notorious for championing their cause in the world.

Back In The Day

Now as one can imagine, this is much too broad of a subject to unpack rightly in a blog post.  But hopefully, I can at least chime in on something that I think we should be able to notice readily.

Of course, it’s no secret that the church in its early beginnings was one that attended to the cause of the poor, the widows, the sick and dying; and took in all of the dregs of society the roman world deemed expendable.  In fact, several of the Pauline epistles were written in the context of Paul and others collecting funds to give to the church in Jerusalem for a famine that they were experiencing.  In addition, the book of Acts tells us that the early apostles had to appoint men for outreach to the poor because the need had become so great; and as they took up the quandary of the poor, the watching world took eye-dropping notice, which is documented historically ad nauseum.  In fact, even as the apostle Paul was coming into the faith after his persecution of Christians, biding his time till he would be released to the gentiles in full measure; in the book of Galatians, he reminds us that he was given the “right hand of fellowship” by the other apostles, and was simply asked to “remember the poor”.

And the truth is, the old testament also bleeds care for the poor and the needy, and it’s obvious extension into the new testament adds to the already exhaustive case for it being one of the people of God’s highest priorities in complementarity of taking the good news to those who have not yet had the chance of either accepting or rejecting it’s truth claims.  And yet, if this is the case, one wonders if we are by and large now still known for being those with this task as our chief modus operandi.

Part of the Problem

And of course, you can bet dollars to doughnuts, that the first rebuttal in questioning my brief thesis here are accusations of the church not wanting to be accused of a mere “social gospel” stance, where we give people a sandwich as a cheap substitute for the “good news” as if the two were somehow mutually exclusive.  The truth is, as lines are drawn in the sand, one can’t help but notice the irony, in that the more conservative branch of the church (who actually still believe the scriptures) have a tendency to err on the side of rejecting the social gospel’s implications, as the mainline branch of Christianity (which seems to believe anything the cultural wind now blows up their skirts) seems to be holding up the biblical standard of ministry to the poor as the only thing that now keeps their skin in the Christian game. And as I contemplate this with a watching eye, I wonder how we have come so far as to separate two things that seem to be a part and parcel of the same gosh-darn message.  As a result, I think those looking in at what we’re up to these days are rightfully bewildered.

Equally problematic, is the fact that part of our hesitation in aligning our cause to the poor is due to not wanting to be guilty of helping those who should have been helping themselves all along (we’re almost sure there is a verse that says that somewhere). The equal faulty logic is that of lumping all the poor into the same basket, which causes us to overlook or simply ignore the obvious casualties that living in a capitalistic economy (the best we’ve come up with yet) can leave lying on the ground all around us unawares.   This includes those of us who can no longer continue to adapt and reinvent ourselves vocationally, or who have no support network to help us pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps; and as a result, can be left holding up a sign clearly visible on our way to Walmart.  This is not to mention the vast number of poor children and the elderly who are the real tragedies of the never ending story which is simply not accurately told by left or right leaning pundits, and whose book has been shut and simply tossed into the “Obama phone” basket.

The Expediency that Crept In

 O.K. I realize we all know these things, if we are at least honest with ourselves a little longer than a nanosecond, but for those of us who call ourselves Christ’s followers, our reaction should not be so simplistic and superficial.  You see part of the problem is that the church, who was once known as the defender of the true poor caught up in the tailspin of this thing we call life, has turned what was once a calling and apprenticeship to Christ as true followers on a mission, to a career path whose specializations have choked out the remaining month at the end of the money.  And in this current hour of the mass marketization of the franchise of the church and its mavens in tow, what we find is that sometimes 80 to 90% or more goes to the upkeep of the now finely oiled machine.  As a result, very little is left to send true pioneer missionaries to unreached lands, or to help subsist the poor in the household of God (whom we’ll always have with us); or to also reach out and own the cause of the homeless and poor just outside our stain glassed window.  It is of course no secret that with a church on every corner, and some that span the circumference of a city block, the church collectively (Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants) could solve the problem of homelessness in mere seconds flat.

At the very least, we could do so among those who failed the “dog eat dog world” of our American experiment, and simply need to buy much needed time to reengage in a world that virtually ignores their true existence on any given day.  To be sure there are multiple variables in this equation for consideration outside the scope of this blog.  However, the fact remains, that while the church by and large will continue to bypass the implications of my brief critique and other voices like it, those we are supposedly called to reach with our “good news” secretly know that we are the last true beacon of hope for those who have no power and no voice, and yet they sit back and wonder why we’ve abdicated our one last true apologetic in this late hour.

Back to Business As Usual

And the truth is, the poor really aren’t on the back row though with the Baptists.  That’s my bad.  Oh, they are there with us, but they are in the front and in the middle, desperate for all the hope they can muster before Monday’s realties settle in like an all too familiar friend.  They are there with their predicament, yet afraid to show their true hand for fear of the waxing generalizations of their circumstances, which is always nothing more than a problem of their own making.  They are also down the street, they’re the neighbors who went and took our neighborhood, and to be sure they are also the basket people walking around and mumbling for perhaps some of your loose change.  They are also the kids with a heap of family dysfunction and yet always broken pocketbooks, and those who can’t even buy a job, much less “get” one that can take them out of the “working poor” status.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch; the back-row stumbles in.  Hush now! For the show is about to begin.

Selah

 

As It Turns Out, Freedom Is Not Actually Free: On Flags, Freedom, and Racism in America

Dedicated to Paul, John and The brother from Another Mother

I typically shy away from hot button issues, first of all because they are “hot”, and secondly, because I mostly only wanted to write about The Narrow Path and the few that find it; and how the one leading us on that path is oftentimes found immeasurably missing in America.  Nonetheless, a friend of mine encouraged me to reconsider after reading my blog from last year titled: https://marknealprince.com/2017/06/09/trump-vs-everyfrickingbody-our-new-mascot-for-sticking-it-to-the-man/  He’s a black man (don’t you hate that we have to make that distinction), who is my brother from another mother, but who happened to think that particular blog struck a cord and was funny, and that I should reconsider writing more along those lines.  So here goes an experiment.  Who knows where the wind will take us, but at the very least, you will get a piece of my mind on the matter for whatever it’s worth.

Oh, and last but not least, this blog is a tribute to my two new friends (Paul and John), who reminded me just yesterday that gentleman can disagree agreeably, and that white boys can talk about the race issue too, and have something equally to say to add to the conversation as long as we are willing also to actively listen.  This is of course something that I did not realize I could do in the public square given my particular shade of melanin.  Thanks Paul and John for the reminder, and for the olive branch to take part.

First of all, my other friend I mentioned truly is a brother from another mother, and he has come to the conclusion that I would make a great black guy, or that perhaps I actually am one and just haven’t come out of the closet yet.  However, I must say that my friend and l and I differ politically, about as far as the Cleveland Browns are from a Super bowl win.  He lives in the Bronx, and probably secretly attends Farrakhan rallies, believes all black conservatives are “Uncle Tom’s”, and though I didn’t know it until I experienced it recently, has a hard time holding back his anger due to some of the racism he has both seen and experienced growing up in this country.  After emphatic listening, I still then chide him on the fact that the left already has his vote without any effort, just for the hair on his neck to raise up a little bitJ.  And after we piss each other off real good, we part with “I Love You Man” and we pray for each other.  And for the record, if I were in a foxhole, he’s exactly who I would want with me without reservation.  You see the thing is, it’s the Christian flag that binds us together and not an American one, yet it has some faint similarities at least in theory that we should talk about.

My Battle Against Racism

I’ve never experienced the kind of racism that many blacks have by a long shot, but I have experienced it nonetheless.  You see I wasn’t raised a racist.  My family didn’t talk about it.  We never heard or used colorful language to describe black people, and quite frankly, in my heart of hearts I’ve always despised those who take part in it. Likewise in my own family, I never spoke of it, never talked about it, walked away from family and friends who participated in it, and starved it’s folly from ever gaining a foothold of any kind! And so primarily the racism I experience is one of looking at my black brothers and sisters with my “I love black people” heart, and them refusing to engage me with eye contact, talking behind my back, and refusing to let me get too close. That’s about the extent of the racism as I have experienced it, and I’m not looking for a trophy, a history month, or my own channel as a result.  But it’s racism just the same.  A fact many of us I believe fail to miss.

In fact, I often talk to my friend and I ask him why we all have to draw identity flags in the first place. Why can’t we as Christians just be for “people” and not black or white?  It seems that’s the first step to fighting it to me.  We stop racism by not being a racist ourselves.  A novel idea I suppose.  He says I just don’t understand, but then as I seek to understand, though I get it, as a Christian with a broken halo I really do believe this is where the rubber meets the road.  I would even be so bold as to say as I have shared with my brother, the fact that years ago when racism was “systemic” (a loaded word for sure), it’s a damn miracle black people didn’t rise up and decrease the surplus white population!  Thank God, they found a leader who knew better and had the secret love sauce, and I pray his message continues to resonate, because I believe it has been long forgotten.  And the fact that black people have used restraint for the most part is a testament to them, yet I really believe it is by and large due to the God that they serve, whom they know is the only one who can cure the sickness that is the individual human heart. You see racism isn’t just found in America.  It’s found in humanity, and it has been so since man first put his foot on the floor.

NFL and the Flag

As I got into a somewhat political conversation on Facebook yesterday (never advisable), I was reminded by some of my new black friends that the racism issue is somehow behind this whole NFL and the flag thing, something I guess us white boys miss.  Though admittedly I think it shouldn’t be about that, I guess I’m starting to see why.  However, there is one thing I’ve learned in my almost 54 years of life sometimes the frickin hard way, and it is that people reject what they don’t understand.  And thus the genius of communication always lies in making sure people have been communicated to properly about what all the fuss is about. Until then, we’re just throwing pearls to swine.

And so my personal perspective is that kneeling on a field doesn’t actually protest anything that accomplishes whatever end game is envisioned.  It’s kind of like trying to get someone to do something you want and then you start talking about his or her mama!  The gloves then come off, and there’s not much anybody can do but pick up the broken men pieces.  Case in point.  Wearing a t-shirt saying, “I can’t breathe” is easy.  Kneeling is also easy and sexy, but it does nothing but tick off the very (majority) of people (right or wrong), who equate Americanism not too awfully shy of the Holy Grail, and of whose flags and blood of their black and white fathers also runs deep into the sinew of their bones.  As a result, I think the strategy misses the mark, and I also refuse to buy into the “systemic” narrative as an overarching belief system. What I do believe however is that there are people who are racist (shocker), and there are systems than can have racism as an overarching demon as it’s marionette, pulling long term belief system strings that now run on autopilot.  When and where those systems are exposed, after peeling back the layers of that complex onion (a rarity), it is at the apex of the matter that protests and communicative voices have their most dramatic effect.  And believe it or not, that core is found in our very constitution that cries out, even when not always practiced, that “All men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”and that “among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  Now to deny that America has been grossly hypocritical in holding up that standard at times would be uncritical (in a Republic, not a democracy), yet it is still those very laws that a wise Atlanta bred and born turned Alabama preacher once used to push a new narrative to replace an old one. And he was descriptive of the biblical dictum, as one who was “wise as a serpent, and gentle as a dove”.  Where may I ask are his descendants?

Now to Really Piss You Off

On a very sensitive note, if I really wanted to piss my friend off, all I needed to say (however guarded and thoughtful) was that I didn’t think Obama was a really great President.  I said I believed that he is a good man, one of the greatest orators of our time, is a faithful husband and father, but quite frankly was a liberal ideologue that did not deliver “hope and change”.  In fact, I believe that by his tone deafness or subtle racist innuendo, he pushed the narrative away from what seemed to white people at least, to be a country having for a couple of decades gone in the right direction, back to where racism was again all up in our grill. He would then get on to me and say, “Mark, what is it about you white boys?  Can’t we have just one damn black President and be proud, when yall have had so many crackers”?  And to that I’d say, “Well, we’ve had a ton of terrible white ones, why can’t you have one bad black one”?  And perhaps we need to be reminded again that the same people that voted Donald Trump into office, were those that voted for the hope and the change twice!  That seemed to tell us that at least individual people and a good majority of the collective whole were starting to look past that dark period of our history and actually vote as thinking people on issues instead of skin color.  However, I’ve been informed that this is now no longer the case across the board.  Perhaps I’ve been sleeping under a rock, or so it seems.

Freedom Is Not Actually Free

The truth of the matter is, that freedom is not actually free; something I’m afraid that we have long disregarded.  It wasn’t free for Martin Luther, for MLK, or for Rosa Parks.  Our founders knew this as well as they risked their own lives from threat of the crown should they have failed.  And so they gave us a Republic and not a democracy, with limited government accept to protect its citizenry, and to uphold laws that would ensure their initial vision, where all men would be given the freedom to equally be able to live as they so wished without oligarchies, dictators or the sole will of majority rule.  And though the experiment was not perfect by a country mile, as an anomaly that it was in terms of nations, it created correctives and checks and balances so that the people would sense when it ran amuck (assuming the people are good), and would challenge the laws that were to be upheld to reform itself, and as such as a nation always reforming.  But in a Republic, we cannot legislate people into being non-racists, as much as you and I might wish that we could.  In fact, this can only be accomplished at around the same time that pigs start to fly, or when politicians want anything more than another vote!  Because you see, individual sin-sick hearts are free also to be bigots, yet all the while you and I are free to ignore and not concede to their intolerance, and equally to collectively call it out when we see it; while in the meantime “refusing” to be the racists looking in our mirrors reflection.

This is a tribute to Paul and John who also believe in my right to disagree, and to my brother from another Mother; and to those who died for our freedom to equally protest the motive and sacrifice they made.  But it is more so a tribute to all my black brothers and sisters, to let you know some of us crackers are really listening, and we hate racist bastards right along with you. But if it’s OK, we’d really like to talk about it with you, and not at you.

Selah

Trump vs. EveryFrickingBody: Our New Mascot for “Sticking It To The Man”!

To be honest, I really didn’t have much I wanted to say today, but then I really did. Nonetheless, I cautioned myself on not doing so. And now here I am doing so and have thus thrown caution to the wind. However, the reason for the betwixt and between is because I mostly focus on writing about spiritual things like how we’re missing the mark in that endeavor, my own struggle with the outworking of it in my own life, the Jesus missing in America, and thus the shape all of the cracked up people like you and I are in. After all, those meanderings can keep a man occupied with a lot to say; at least in my case, and I hope to continue to do so for anyone who actually cares to continue watching me get naked with verbal transparency for your amusement and hopeful catharsis. However, over the last couple of days, as I have watched both the shock value of the enigma that is Donald J. Trump, and the visceral attack of both the left and the right lining up to gut him like a fish in the public square, it has evoked a lot of thoughts and emotions within me that I can’t hold back any longer.

Some of those thoughts are in wondering why in the Hell I ended up reluctantly voting for this bloke in the midnight hour of the election as I wrote about in a previous blog (The Light in Christendom is But a Flicker Now: Part 1 and 2). Other thoughts focus around perhaps still being bloody well glad that I did, and yet more so about the eruptive emotions deep inside that cause me to almost get to the point where I might even want a Trump bumper sticker and one of those damn hats too! In fact, I’m almost to the point that if the election were held tomorrow, I might actually vote for that crazy genitalia-grabbing commander and chief again–and even volunteer to be his campaign groupie! In fact, I’m pretty sure that the more everyone hates him; it just makes me want love this guy even more. And then I ask myself, why is that? Why is it that so many love to hate this man, and so many others of us, though unsure as to exactly why, love him all the way to heaven and back? Why has he caused this “shock and awe”? And why is it that both the left and the right go to bed at night with orgasmic dreams about his eventual undoing, and who are even willing to forgo the cigarette afterwards?

Well of course by now, some 5 months into his dark horse Presidency, most of us have already theorized as to why. We’ve read no shortage of blogs and articles from our favorite spin doctors, and maybe even a book or two. Others have chosen to strictly force feed ourselves with the steady stream of media overload piping into our phones, computers and TV screens from our favorite left or right leaning news outlets, and have formulated our opinions there. And though I realize we all think we know a little something about it, my contention is that most of us really don’t know “diddly squat”– which of course is a big part of the problem.   But I do think that one thing we should all perhaps agree on by now is that part of “The Trump Factor” is due to (as we’ve heard about relentlessly now) the fact that a large population of America has been forgotten about, laughed at, put down and compartmentalized into a now popular category of “deplorables” resigned to classroom Dunce cap status, with nothing to say that the teacher or the elitist class cares to listen to. And yet the amazing thing is, now all of us who have gotten sick and tired of the way the world has been heading from what they say is our own particular shade of grey glasses, we now have a new mascot: And his name is Donald J. Trump.

And so now, on any given day, as we reminisce about days gone by when we wanted to tell our boss to “take this job and shove it”, or when we wanted to ask questions in that dumb and severely boring company meeting as to why we still do it “this way” and refrained because we didn’t want to upset the applecart or lose our job, we now have a new hero and villain all in one who has come to save the day. And though some might think he’s a fool to do our dirty work, he has nonetheless volunteered to do the job for free.  And so, Donald J. Trump is none other than our “altar ego, who “sticks it to the man” for us when we really can’t afford to. He’s Buddy Love who lives out everything Professor Clump wishes he could do, say and look like. He’s Jerry “Freakin” McGuire who writes his life mission (or a tweet) and sends it out without a thought or repercussion. He’s the imprisoned Andy Dufrane who locks the doors, turns the music up as loud as he can and kicks back in his chair like a boss. He’s the big brother that goes out and kicks the school bullies ass and dares him to ever mess with us again. Or if you will, he’s our John Wick, and he’s pissed off about us killing his dog and stealing his car, and thus; he “is” our Bogeyman n Chief!

And so when people ask me how I could vote for such a man, or why when folks on the left and right both disdain him with vitriolic fervor that knows no bounds, the more I actually like him and want to say, “Thank you sir, can I have another”, I now know why. And the more jokers to the left and jokers to the right say “he’s done”, the more I want to lift him up.  And the more I want my altar ego to wipe the floor with the whole lot of them bitches, and perhaps “drain a swamp” or two while he’s at it. And part of the reason that I feel this way is because of the postmodern conspiracy theorists that run amuck in the American political system and in the culture of which we are apart. Every Tom, Dick and Harriett has an opinion that should be heard regardless of whether it’s true or not, and rather than argue through the vehicle of reason, logic and skillful debate we deconstruct everything into oblivion and instead “lawyer up” or launch ad hominem attacks. Instead, if we can’t win, we just won’t play at all, or perhaps we’ll just burn the damn playhouse down!

Now enter, Donald Trump. Everyone is so sure that he’s the Anti-Christ, or Hitler, or Mephistopheles perhaps; and on and on it goes. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Absent from the discussion is that instead of those things, it’s plausible that he’s actually crazy like a fox, and quite frankly refuses to play the same games we’ve all been playing–win or lose, sink or swim. In fact, if they say po-ta-toe, he says po-ta-to. If they say up, he’s says down. If they say you can’t do that, he says, “Why the Hell not”? And as we sip our non-fat latte’s, eat organic food, and claim to be “in the know” about almost everything, yet we are appalled at steaks eaten well done with ketchup, or disgusted with the lack of etiquette of a tweeter n chief, or someone who quite frankly my dear couldn’t give a good damn what any of us think! And perhaps that is exactly what the Dr. ordered in order to cure our disease that is wasting us away.

And the elitists on both sides hear Trump scraping his nails down the chalkboard on any given day, and the sound is starting to deafen them in more ways than one. And while everyone is fighting and protesting against someone who neither gains or loses sleep regardless, we are oblivious to the fact that our land, our children, our institutions and our world is about to fall off into the freaking sea with California! And on any given day, many might think our toleration of Trump is somewhere between the Scylla and the Charybdis, but never ponder the thought that our big brother might actually be the good guy who’s in town for a short while to stop the bleeding of an American experiment that almost no one who’s truly looking recognizes anymore. A quick history of leadership should awaken us to the fact that one would have to be a narcissist to actually want the job in the first place, and that if we are going to measure our particular brand of character as the sole arbiter of who is fit or not to hold the office, we might ought to look back into our very checkered Presidential history with a keen eye. And for those of us with the dunce cap hat on, and who’ve been drowned in political correctness enough to upchuck a political party, we have grown just deplorable enough to roll the dice in favor of someone who actually wants to do what he’s promised, even though his medicine may taste like milk of magnesia at first; rather than placing our bet again with those who simply want another vote just so they can get reelected and leave their “so-called” legacy. Pardon me, while I vomit and have diarrhea at the same time if you please!

Oh I get that our world now prefers truth as an opinion poll; and like buttholes, everybody’s got one and all but theirs stink real good. But have we now become so sure that our particular community of victims is right about whatever freak flag we’re flying that particular week, that we can no longer see anything that looks like truth even it walked up and slapped us upside the head! Can we not see that the British are coming? Can we not see the smoke on the horizon? Do we not believe that perhaps Chicken Little is right, and the damn sky is actually falling in some form or fashion? Can we not be still and quiet enough to listen or to ponder, or to truly think? Can we not read and search and question to find some beacon of truth? Can we not study the past or look into the future; or better yet; to see our own relativistic dust blowing in the wind?

In my previous blog that I mentioned earlier in my post, I declared that perhaps Trump is nothing more than a speed bump to curtail, but for a moment, the prophetic outworking of the writing that for most of us dunce cap alumni has long been written on the American wall. I’m smart enough to know that he probably won’t be able to save us from oblivion, even though I get a sneaky suspicion we should probably give him a college try. After all, it can’t hurt to roll the dice one more time while we still have a few chips on the table. Of course the truth is, no one who owns the information we gullibly digest each day is bound to let that happen I’m afraid. Meanwhile, if only for a moment however, it sure is nice “Sticking It To the Man”!

Selah