Flawed Vessel

Evangelical Christian support for Donald Trump seems bizarre to me.

Trump himself is a programmatic anti-Christian; a serial adulterer, slanderer, liar, and hedonist. When asked, he couldn’t even come up with his two favorite Bible verses. When asked what he had asked forgiveness for, he couldn’t come up with anything. He only attends church for weddings, Christmas and Easter (and not always).

But the rationale Evangelicals have for their support of Trump is that he is a “flawed vessel” of God.

The Guardian newspaper said:

A sustained effort by influential Christian voices to justify Trump’s personal misdeeds and political cruelty has led to the frequent portrayal of Trump as a flawed vessel for God’s will. In particular, Trump has been compared to King Cyrus, who, according to the Bible, liberated the Jews from Babylonian captivity, despite himself being a Persian ruler.


Cyrus is the wrong model. I think the Kingdom of God would be better served if Evangelicals listen to Jesus rather than the Trump apologists:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Matthew 7:15–20 ESV

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus was a leftist?

I will confess that I was a little fuzzy about the definitions of “liberal,” “progressive,” and “leftist” so I ask Perplexity (an AI) and it explained:

The terms “liberal,” “progressive,” and “leftist” represent distinct political identities and ideologies, though they are often used interchangeably in public discourse. Understanding the nuances between them requires examining their historical contexts, philosophical underpinnings, and policy preferences.


Liberals generally embrace values rooted in the Enlightenment, such as individual liberty, freedom of speech, scientific inquiry, separation of church and state, due process, racial equality, women’s rights, human rights, and democracy. They see government as a means to help the people it serves, defending programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. Liberals are suspicious of large corporations and support government regulation of commerce to benefit citizens. The term “liberal” has evolved over time, and in the U.S., it often refers to those who support a mixed economy, social justice, and progressive social policies2.


Progressives focus on using government power to enforce a set of rules on large institutions and advocate for significant reforms to achieve social equity and environmental sustainability. They differ from traditional liberals not just in the degree of their beliefs but in kind, holding distinct views on equality, diversity, and identity. Progressives are more likely to support policies that mandate diversity and publicly censure discriminatory views. They aim for more radical changes to address systemic issues, such as economic inequality and climate change, and are less inclined towards incrementalism compared to liberals45.


While the term “leftist” is less precisely defined in the sources, it generally refers to individuals or ideologies that are further to the left on the political spectrum than mainstream liberals and progressives. Leftists often advocate for systemic changes to society and the economy, including socialism or communism, to address issues of inequality, capitalism, and imperialism. They may prioritize class struggle and the redistribution of wealth more than liberals or progressives and often seek more radical transformations of society.In summary, while liberals focus on individual rights and government’s role in protecting those rights and ensuring social welfare, progressives push for more significant reforms and systemic changes, particularly regarding social equity and environmental issues. Leftists, though not explicitly defined in the provided sources, typically advocate for more radical changes to address systemic inequalities, often through the lens of class struggle and sometimes embracing socialism or communism.

Perplexity AI

This website was titled without those definitions. Yesterday I was confronted by a thoughtful video that offered the idea that Jesus might be better labeled a leftist. The argument went roughly: A leftist is essentially an anti-capitalist. Was Jesus a capitalist? How did he react to the money changers at the temple? What did he say about rich people getting into Heaven? It concluded that however Jesus might be authentically characterized, it is not “right-wing authoritarian.”

I’ve always been one to say that Jesus was apolitical, and I still think that is reasonable. Jesus talked about Christians being “salt and light.” He said, “my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world then my followers would fight to keep me from being turned over to you.” Mixing religion and politics has never gone well because politicians only want power, while true Christians want to be servants.

Posted in Jesus' Teaching, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Fundamental Flaw in Christianity

Forgive me Father. It has been 14 years since my last confession.

It seems to me that the fundamental flaw in Christianity is Christians, and particular a lack of humility in them (and as a Christian, when I point a finger, there are three pointing back at myself).

One can find factions plaguing the church reported by St. Paul in the New Testament itself, and the history of the Church is spattered with intolerance of one Christian group for another. Catholics excommunicated Martin Luther. The United States arose in the context of religious intolerance, leading to freedom of religion being foundational to the Constitution. A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America isn’t welcome to take communion in a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation. Several paragraphs of other examples is left to the reader to fill. Christians, many at least, think that they know better than others Christians. They have opinions far above their pay grade.

We should have been warned. Jesus himself said (paraphrasing Matthew 7:13-14): “Most people get it wrong.”

Here, I want to talk about one current example of lack of humility. I wrote an article very long ago, I Don’t Know When Jesus is Coming, but Neither Do You, that touched on the general subject; some Christians believing that they know God’s cosmic plan, and in particular apocalyptic events just over the horizon. Jesus was rather explicit putting the quietus on that idea here in Acts 1:7 (among others):

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

Acts 1:7 ESV

Christians have nevertheless been climbing the mountain to to greet the returning Jesus since at least the 2nd century. Such speculation has been mostly harmless, except when some cult leader persuades his followers to sell all their possessions, or drink the Kool-Aid. Today, however, there is a particularly dangerous variety among the authoritarian MAGA movement in the US that somehow believe that Donald Trump is the “flawed vessel” of God, along with Vladimir Putin.

In a recent interview, Tucker Carlson tried to push this narrative with Putin in an interview. The relevant portion is:

Tucker Carlson: So do you see the supernatural at work? As you look out across what’s happening in the world now, do you see God at work? Do you ever think to yourself: these are forces that are not human?

Vladimir Putin: No, to be honest, I don’t think so. My opinion is that the development of the world community is in accordance with the inherent laws, and those laws are what they are. It’s always been this way in the history of mankind. Some nations and countries rose, became stronger and more numerous, and then left the international stage, losing the status they had accustomed to. There is probably no need for me to give examples, but we could start with Genghis Khan and the Horde conquerors, the Golden Horde, and then end with the Roman Empire.

Mirage News transcript

Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, is acting like Donald Trump is the president already and he (and Franklin Graham) seems to believe that MAGA will bring on the end times.

While we can strive to do our best, we must recognize our limitations. At best, we can hope to do the right thing perhaps more than half the time. Bowing down to evil people is never a wise choice.

Posted in Controversy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sons of Light

I have two scriptures in mind of late. The first is Jesus’ parable of the crooked manager in Luke Chapter 16. The moral of that story is in verse 8

And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

Luke 16:8 ESV

As I Christian, I take that as a warning because I would put myself in the “sons of light” category. Christians, who love their enemies, refrain from judging others and strive to put our neighbors’ actions in the best possible light are at a disadvantage at the hands of demagogues and fraudsters. I’ve been around a long time and I pride myself (note the “p” word) on being sophisticated and not easily fooled, but I am fooled, and I sometimes withhold judgment when I shouldn’t, and fail to take the moral stand that I should. You see, I’m a sinner like the rest of you, and I fall short.

The other scripture is:

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Matthew 10:16 ESV

Jesus warns us that there are wolves out there, and we cannot trust blindly in others. We must be innocent, but we musn’t let ourselves be eaten. Christians have an obligation to be discerning. What troubles me is that so very many Christians in the United States seem to be under the thrall of Donald Trump, a populist politician who says the right things to white Evangelical Christians, but speaks hatred, slander and violence. We as Christians are not very good at dealing with someone like that, as Jesus warned us. We must strive to do better.

Psychologist Bob Altemeyer cites psychological research that shows that Evangelical Christians tend to have authoritarian follower personalities. He presents this research in his book, The Authoritarians, written in 2006. I recommend it.

Posted in Controversy, Jesus' Teaching, Social Issues | Leave a comment

The sins of our fathers

I was presented with the question: “Is the U.S. doomed to follow the ‘sins of its fathers?'”

Yes, I think we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers, because we are made of the same stuff. The prophet Elijah says in 1 Kings 19, “I am no better than my fathers.”

I believe that sins, both individual and societal, have long-lasting consequences and I believe that human nature is sinful. While individuals can make their own choices, we cannot change our genes, and we operate under the same political system that our parents inherited from theirs. We are no better than our fathers.

For some reason I have been thinking about Abner Louima this week even though it was 20 years ago when this Haitian immigrant was beaten and brutally sodomized by New York policemen. I looked up a retrospective article on the story just now to include for my answer. If you’re too young to remember the case, read the article. The repercussions of this horrendous sin remain with us today, because police misconduct still exists, and because there is widespread distrust of the police among significant parts of the population.

The rape of the environment was a sin of our fathers, and just now we have elected a president whose administration is steadily rolling back environmental protections, calling the scientific consensus on climate change a Chinese plot to weaken America. “Beautiful clean coal” really?

Discrimination against immigrants, whether slave, Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian or Irish is still with us directed at new populations, Latino and Muslim.

Are we callous and greedy? Do we believe just what we want to hear? Are we vain? Are there far too many sexual predators among us? Do we stereotype? Are we uncivil and disrespectful? Do we sell addiction, overcharge? Is there usury? Are our prisons overcrowded? Are we killing people on the street and in undeclared wars? I think the realist would conclude that we’re doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers. We should combat sin as we can, and perhaps make some things better, but carry no illusions about the sinful nature of our species.

Some historical sins, colonialism and slavery, are not alive and well in the US. but then there is sex trafficking and debt bondage. The forms evolve, but the underlying nature remains.

The words of the hymn come to mind:

Sometimes I feel discouraged
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.

Posted in Christian Life, Controversy, Sin | Leave a comment

The parable of the tool

Luke 15:8-10

Two summers ago I was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. I often bring some of my own tools with me, and on this occasion I brought a battery-powered impact driver. I must have been pretty tired at the end of the day because I left some of my tools behind. Over the following couple of weeks I was able to find all of the tools either among the Habitat tools on site, or noticed by a Habitat staffer and returned. I found the impact driver, but not the pricey rechargeable battery.

I looked for the battery. I asked people about the battery. Each time I went to a new job site, I searched the Habitat panel truck, and the onsite container. No luck. I participated at some training at the Habitat warehouse some months later and I went through all the similar batteries they had in storage there, but mine was not among them. Logically it should have turned up, but it hadn’t.

Our local Habitat affiliate moved its warehouse, reorganizing and reshuffling its equipment. I was there doing maintenance last week when I remembered my battery. While I had resigned myself to the fact that the battery was gone, I looked one last time and found it–my battery with my initials engraved among a dozen other similar ones.

I was elated. I went to the other volunteers and said: “Look, I found my battery!” I felt as happy as could be.

Yesterday I was volunteering on a Habitat site doing framing. I have a small flat bar that I carry with me and use it all the time. Somehow it went missing. I looked all over the house and on the grounds around it. Bummer. I’d already lost one of those some years ago and this was #2. Anyway, I was nailing some sheathing low on the side of the house, and I found it easier to nail while sitting on the ground. As I shifted my position, I saw my flat bar almost invisible among the wheat straw spread over the damp ground and mud. I was happy again, but this time I remembered the parable of Jesus about the lost coin. Then I realized how joyful God feels when someone lost is found. I finally got the point of the parable.

Posted in Jesus' Teaching | Leave a comment

Heaven v. Retirement

All Saints Sunday 2012

Pastor Maria was supply pastor this morning. She is a hospice chaplain and when she talks about the departed saints in Christ, there is a special concreteness about a topic often discussed in platitudes. She talked briefly about heaven and that got me to thinking about where I am in my life journey, and that led to this essay.

Most of the articles on this blog are more than a decade old. A lot has happened to me since then. They represent where I was at one point in my life. What I wrote then is authentic and it stands as a snapshot in time with its own validity, but I daresay if I were writing these articles today, they would be different, and the topics would be different.

I retired from the paid workforce at the end of 2010. I’ve saved enough money so that now I can do pretty much go where I want and do what I want (I don’t have extravagant desires). I have a wonderful wife and friends. I’ve certainly attained rest and haven’t had any tears of sorrow for a while. Is this heaven?

With the exception of not being reunited with my departed loved ones and the occasional minor physical ailment, I think that I’m in the popular view of what heaven is often thought of. Is that it?

Eternity  is a problem. One of the problems with being retired and seeming to have “all the time in the world” is that it never quite seems the particular time time to do something. To really have all the time in the world and beyond would seem to take any sense of urgency out of everything. I could be wrong, but it seems that just doing nothing but feeling blissful would get old.

I try to stay busy in my blissful estate. I write a lot on another blog that has become somewhat popular. I volunteer with a civic organization, I work on Habitat for Humanity houses, I sing in the church choir and run their web site. Life, however, isn’t particularly challenging and it can be boring sometimes.

So I think that Heaven, if it’s all it’s cracked up to be will not be like retirement. It will surely be rest for the weary, healing for the troubled soul, and the putting right of what was wrong before, but eternal rest? I think not. Perhaps I need to learn more about living in the moment from the Buddhists to appreciate heaven more.

Posted in Christian Life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mark of the Beast discovered

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Rev 13:16-18. NASB

imageIn Hebrew, like Latin, letters stand for numbers. The Hebrew transliteration for “Nero Caesar”, the inscription on the Roman coin shown on the right, is NRWN QSR or 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200 = 6661.

The inscription is on the forehead. There are also Roman coins with a figure on the obverse side whose right hand points to the word “Augustus.”

1The calculation comes from Bruce M. Metzger’s book, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation.

Posted in Eschatology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

First International Conference on Sexuality

Perhaps this is a good opportunity to take a historical perspective and to recall the very first conference on sexuality.

Minutes of the First International Conference on Sexuality

[Editors note: Some of the early parts of this transcript have been damaged due to extreme age and in particular the exact date of the conference has been lost–however it is known to have been several billion years B.C.E..]

… recognizes the Delegate from the Western Gondwanaland Coast

First, I want to make it clear that the entire concept of “sexual reproduction” is one which I find abhorrent. Mitosis was good enough for my parent and this idea of (ugh) “mingling” genetic material goes against the very integrity of our cell walls.

I want to read into the record at this time the entire text of our sacred scriptures: The Book of Creation.

“In the beginning was the ooze. And God moved across the face of the ooze and he divided the silt from the pure water. And God saw that it was good. And so the evening and the morning were the first day.

“Then God said, “Let there be LIFE!” and the water teemed with single-celled asexually-reproducing organisms. And God saw that it was good. And so the evening and the morning were the second day.

Then God saw all that he had created, and behold it was good and it was perfect. And on the third day God rested from all of his labors.”

The End

Our scientists have speculated that this “mingling” of genetic material may lead to DIVERSITY and even SPECIATION! We know from the BoC that each of our original ancestors was created perfect. We have asexually divided faithfully from that ancient time, each mitotic division perfectly reproducing each new generation without variation–without error.

We are each made in the IMAGE OF GOD and to change that would be wrong. God made Adam, not Adam and Eve.

Those genetic minglers (I say meddlers!) say that they are genetically different from the rest of us and that it is natural for them to divide both sexually and asexually. But this is impossible. We are each perfect replicas of our original prototypical ancestor.

There are those, the so-called “evolutionists” who raise the false hope that we can become something better through what they call “selection”. But I say, that we were made directly by God himself.

There CAN BE NO IMPROVEMENT. Change can only lead to decay and to death. I hesitate to talk about this, but it is known that there have been a few cases when the cellular division has not been completely faithful to the ancestor cell–and in such cases the divided cells die or are horribly deformed. Is this what we want to bring on ourselves and our next generation?

At this time the chair recognizes the representative from the Tropical Seas of the Antarctic.

My fellow creatures. I will be brief. I have the greatest respect for all of the other speakers who have been heard here today. But I feel deep in my protoplasm, that there is something more for us to become. I don’t think that we were made perfect, but with potential. I think that there are more chapters to be written in the Book of Creation and that we today have the opportunity to begin the course that will let them be written.

[At this point the document is again damaged beyond recognition except for a brief fragment regarding an “unfortunate accident” which befell the Tropical Seas representative. Ed.]

Posted in Social Issues | Leave a comment


“A revelation should be revealing,” Martin Luther.

The New Testament book of Revelation (or Apocalypse) is viewed in different ways:

Hands Off

Some folks don’t think much of  Revelation. It’s either too obscure or too bizarre to be worth the trouble. Some, like Luther, distrusted the book, giving it a subordinate status. The problem with this approach is that there is some good stuff in Revelation that gets overlooked.

Historical Analytical

Revelation, by its own words, was written to 7 churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Reason dictates that the book had a comprehensible message to those original recipients. When in Chapter 13 it says “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six”, Revelation must refer to a person that readers in the first century knew about, and later when it says (Rev 17:9 NRSV) “This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated…” we should call to mind the ancient city that was built on seven hills (Rome). 666 is Nero, the two prophets are Peter and Paul, the baby attacked by the beast is Jesus–all fairly straightforward stuff. The problem with this approach is that Revelation was not written for the primary purpose of being a coded history–its original hearers already knew the history. Continue reading

Posted in Eschatology, Popular Christianity | Leave a comment