‘Raca’ or Beloved Creation? Learning to Be a Peacemaker in a Divided Country.


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“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.”  Robert Louis Stevenson


I used to love politics. Maybe I’m showing my age but there was a time that Democrats talked to the Republicans and vice versa. In my life, I’ve been both a Democrat and a Republican. With most people, I could argue my point or disagree, tell some jokes, and go to dinner together. A number of years ago, I attended a gathering of women who were dedicated to getting women into office. I got a taste of ugly Christians and it stunned me. I was sitting with some women who were involved in their local churches. They were making derogatory comments aimed at a successful businesswoman. They were upset that this woman was not a Christian “like them.”  I couldn’t contain myself. I told them that this gathering was political and open to all comers. It was not another women’s, fill-in-the-blank, Bible study.

Over time, I would occasionally work on campaigns and discovered that the evangelical crowd was quite judgemental of those who didn’t see things their exact way. Just like I drifted away from typical megachurches, I turned away from active involvement in politics.

The word *Raca* is alive and well in 2020 as it was 2,000 years ago.

In 2016, I was further schooled in the problem of politics by two people who, sadly,  I can no longer call friends. This wasn’t my choice. One person became angry when I mentioned for whom I was voting. What transpired from there was downright disturbing. The other former friend, whose candidate I supported, was angry that I would choose to be friends with those who supported the other guy. At first, I was deeply hurt. But as time passed, my pain in losing two friends lessened as I began to contemplate how Christians, on both sides of the aisle, declare their candidate to be the one who *acts like a Christian.*

I have come to the conclusion we are looking for a Savior in all the wrong places. On both sides, I have seen people who think that they are the ones who are following God, and the other side are those who are despicable human beings. Jesus had something to say about that in Matthew 5:22 (NIV). The word, *Raca * signifies contempt of another person.

22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,” is answerable to the court.And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

What does Raca mean?

The Jews used it as a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit.”

In fact, one of those two ex-friends accused another friend of *spitting on the grave of veterans* by his vote. I was shocked.

We forget that we are people with feet of clay that elect people with feet of clay.

Do you remember Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? I am focusing on Daniel 41-43 NIV.

I think describes our country and our people today.

Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

Sadly, we are that kingdom, partly strong and partly brittle. We all assume that we are totally correct in our various judgments, forgetting about our shared weaknesses. And we are a nation headed for trouble. We are pretty evenly divided with both candidates receiving @70 million votes. How do we relate to one another in this situation? Civil war? Contempt for the other side?

I was disturbed that well known Christian leaders like Al Mohler and John Piper weighed in on the election-taking opposing views. It is in this that we see our feet of clay. Who’s correct? And before you write in the comments saying that they have a right to do this, I acknowledge that right but that’s not what this post is about.

Peacemaking in a divided country

I have decided that I will not make politics my dividing line. I will only discuss my political views with those who love me and care enough to hear me out. Instead, I will seek to become a peacemaker. Recently, I heard about a group Matthew5:9 which is advocating for a similar approach.

As evangelical Christian leaders, we are deeply concerned for our church communities and for our country.

We are called by God to walk in Christ’s footsteps to be peacemakers—not merely peacekeepers—in a nation grappling with toxic levels of polarization and the targeting of specific religious, racial, and political groups with violence. Peacemaking is not passive but rather an active commitment to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. As the Apostle Paul admonished the Roman church, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Gen 4:9-10, Matt 5:9, Matt 10:22, Mark 9:50, Rom 14:19)

I particularly liked this part.

We recognize and affirm the dignity and worth of all humans as divine image-bearers that Jesus died to save (Gen 1:26, John 3:16).

However, I am not endorsing this group since it is a closed group for most Christians. Apparently, this peacemaking effort is only open to Christian leaders/pastors. The average Christian appears to have no place in this group.

Participation in the Matthew 5:9 Fellowship is by invitation only. Please contact us for more information.

…The Matthew 5:9 Fellowship is a group of Christian Pastors and leaders from traditionally evangelical backgrounds, denominations, and institutions who began working together out of concern for the divisions in the United States. The Fellowship is a loose collection of leaders and has no formal institutional affiliations or structure other than a shared statement framing the group’s work.

Matthew 5:9 receives resources, training, and support from peacemaking organizations, including the One America Movement and Over Zero, working to address divisions in the country. None of those organizations have a partisan or political agenda or advocate on behalf of political candidates or parties.

Instead, I will seek to bring peace to my neighborhood. My church has been particularly adept at sidestepping politics while praying for our leaders and praying for peace.

A Christian response for us Christian non-leader types.

The Christian Post published Why the 2020 election has been so divisive, how Christians can respond redemptively

  • Politics have become more personal and all-consuming than ever
  • Politics today are focused on some of life’s deepest and most divisive issues
  • Political parties and elections have become platforms for personal advancement

I was canceled by two former friends and have become increasingly aware of how Christians have co-opted politics for their mistaken belief that God is on their side. I always thought it was weird when Christians prayed for their sports team to win. We have moved those prayers into politics where, instead of merely being weird, it’s become ugly and divisive.

Here is a quote from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in the Christian Post. He wrote a book on his thoughts: Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times.

And we will lose our ability to relate to each other with civility. Rabbi Sacks notes: “To be sure, many elections in the past have been raw, rude, and raucous in their rhetoric. That is part of the competitive nature of electoral politics. But something new is happening: the sense that the other side is less than fully human, that its supporters are not part of the same moral community as us, that somehow their sensibilities are alien and threatening, as if they were not the opposition within a political arena, but the enemy, full stop.”

A quote by CS Lewis from The Weight of Glory on how to live out our concerns was also included.

“I have received no assurance that anything we can do will eradicate suffering. I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts, or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace. I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can.”

So where do things stand for me?

  • I will reveal my political beliefs only to those who love me and care to understand me.
  • I have political beliefs and I will vote for those beliefs.
  • I will seek a way to be all things to all people, as far as it is possible.
  • I will never consider those who think differently than me to be an enemy but a creation of God with tremendous worth and dignity. Besides, someone who thinks differently is far more interesting than those who parrot a political meme.
  • I will continue to deal with the horrors of abuse in the church. Excusing abuse is not loving or peaceful. Abuse is evil and must be called out. Think Tom Chantry.
  • I will pray regularly for our leaders and citizens.
  • I will remember that Jesus came to those who lived in occupied territory. Yet, He did not call for a political overthrow of the oppressive Roman government. In fact, it was the witness of the Christians as they faced the lions that would cause the church to grow. Odd thing that…How Christians acted influenced a jaded Roman culture and Christianity would become the dominant religion in that part of the world.
  • Humans are not such good judges of character. They crucified Jesus and He was perfect, kind, and loving.
  • I will fail regularly. Thankfully, my church has a weekly time of confession
  • I really like CS Lewis. (See quote.)

Comments

‘Raca’ or Beloved Creation? Learning to Be a Peacemaker in a Divided Country. — 240 Comments

  1. Astros & Democrats: I am a life long Astros fan. I have followed them since they were the Colt ’45. I was excited that they won the World Series in 2017 despite the discovery that they had used unapproved technology to steal the signs the catcher was giving to the pitcher, thus giving the batter an unfair advantage.
    The impact of a Presidential election far exceeds that of a World Series title but both point to our need of a reminder that we are ultimately accountable to Him.
    So I will leave the 2020 Election in the hands of those humans responsible for addressing any ballot misdeeds knowing that God can and will access ultimate accountability.
    I thank God for the reminder that my role is to fulfill the Great Commission … and that has an eternal impact!

  2. I just get unhappy (like today) when someone calls me a leftist, because I work and have worked for Capitalist Central, an evil too big to fail bank, for over two decades! My whole day is consumed in making sure critical applications are up and running so that all sorts of money moving can take place. If I was a leftist would I be working for a capitalist tool? Whatever.

  3. Reading through Dee’s post and the links included broke my heart. And reading her heading “Peacemaking in a divided country” got me thinking that much of her post (and the links included) could be applied to the idea of peacemaking in a divided world.

  4. Let me be the first to say that I applaud this post. There are many reasons why things are getting so unnerving around us, not the least of which is social media which this blog is a part of. Outrage is what sells news and advertising and so there is a lot of that just for the sake of getting clicks and likes. Last night I saw a TED talk that has had over 3 million views in one week talking about the process that is now starting and encouraging their followers to outshout the other side. Which side he was on is not important. They were pushing political action groups to be the answer. I looked at the comments, in the tens of thousands, and they were just people on both sides yelling at each other and ready to spit on them. I have never seen things like this in my 55 years on this planet. God’s been warning me just how dangerous this is going to get and I would say that Civil War is certainly a term that is not overblown at the moment here.

    “Blessed are the Peace Makers” – Jesus. We will see many leaders on both sides pushing some degree of violence as an answer and none of them are really Christians no matter what label they give themselves. Some already are and many others are using strong rhetoric that suggests that violence may be necessary, if not explicitly stating it. This includes the partisan with a TED talk getting millions of views and many more things like that on social media. The reality is that narcissists rarely spill their own blood as they fight over political power. Throughout history it is the little guy fighting for his human idol who gets his teeth knocked out or gets killed. These politicians of ours are certainly not of such a great quality that they deserve this from anyone. The challenge to all true Christians is how to actually be a peace maker and it will get more challenging the more heated things get.

  5. When I think of division (in families, in churches, in nations), I’m reminded of Jesus’ prayer for unity:

    “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one — as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17)

    May God answer Jesus’ prayer in each of our lives for the rest of our journey on earth.

  6. So, how can I take an axe to the root of division in my life? I find it helpful to get back to the basics on what Jesus taught:

    Love God
    Love my neighbor as myself
    Repent
    Forgive
    Love my enemies
    Don’t judge others

    (I need to work harder on the last two)

  7. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Whatever

    In a number of professions, it is well-advised to keep one’s politics to oneself, while treating everyone with dignity, and with zero tolerance for bigotry in any form. Last Tuesday a colleague wore blue pants and a red shirt.

  8. FYI, something that should be of some interest to everyone here at this blog. Over the weekend the Indian equivalent of the IRS raided offices and churches of the international scam Gospel for Asia for fraud and tax evasion. They seized 145 Million Rupees in cash they were hoarding as “black money.” Black money is money that never gets moved through internal banks where it can be tracked, and where questions can be asked that might lead to additional taxes. It has been reported that before they demonetized a few years ago, that fully half of all transactions there were black money, untraceable back to crimes and nontaxable. GFA had almost a full 2 million US worth in Indian currency hidden and hoarded away. They also reported that over a five year period that GFA transferred close to a billion dollars from various overseas accounts in various countries. You have to see the huge piles of cash in their pictures. Read about it yourself here: https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/dramatic-events-during-i-t-raid-at-believers-church-priest-tries-to-destroy-iphone-kerala-1.5195047

  9. I believe that God’s “perfect will” is for us to love each other, ant to rely on God’s love for us to teach us how to do that. The best way to accomplish that is to humanize ourselves and others. I refuse to dehumanize someone else, regardless of what they say or who they vote for.

    BUT when someone else is de-humani zing someone, I WILL work to protect that person from being abused. Sometimes, to the person doing the abusing, it may feel as though I am abusing them. But I nevertheless refuse to allow abuse to happen.

    When someone says they are a Christian, but they are name-calling, belittling, hurting, mocking or denigrating someone, I won’t say that they aren’t “saved”. But I will try to stop them and remind them that this is not Christ-like.

  10. Ava Aaronson: keep one’s politics to oneself

    Having lived in this area over 30 years, I can pretty much guess anyone’s politics. Many folks can guess mine too.

    But I’ll tell you what: when people guess my beliefs incorrectly and start “safely” talking smack about things I hold dear, it’s very hard to take. I politely excuse myself.

  11. “The acts of the flesh are obvious… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy… I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-23).

    I am no less prone to tribalism than the next person. These verses have been a helpful self-barometer in this season.

    Thank you, Dee, for your words especially tonight.

  12. Ava Aaronson: In a number of professions, it is well-advised to keep one’s politics to oneself, while treating everyone with dignity, and with zero tolerance for bigotry in any form. Last Tuesday a colleague wore blue pants and a red shirt.

    It’s not something we discuss at work, in large part because we’re incredibly busy *cough* shorthanded *cough*. Moreover, right now we’re all remote; none of us are at a worksite and not likely to be at one any time soon. (Not if I keep getting emails about ongoing infections in my building.) So any discussions we have are either on our phone bridge lines or in chat and they are mostly about work stuff, family, pets, things we’re doing, what we’re cooking for dinner or doing for the weekend, that sort of thing. Friendships really build up over the years. I was completely devastated when one of my coworkers, someone I’d closely worked with since 2009, but hadn’t seen in person since about 2016, died suddenly at the end of July due to complications from appendicitis. I took a week off from work with the blessing of my manager, because everyone knew Carol and I were thick as thieves and I was just *stunned*. And Carol and I disagreed on politics but again, we were thick as thieves. I miss Carol so much!

  13. Loving politics for much of my 62 years , I have seen things really change especially in the last few years. One issue is back in the 70’s and 80’s there wasn’t much of a difference between the two parties except in just a couple of areas, today unfortunately hardcore radicals have taken over both parties, thus the hatred. There is no middle ground, your either for one party or the other.
    I think the old guard like Tip Oneill, Hubert Humphrey, Barry Goldwater and others would be shocked if they returned today to see what has become of their parties.

  14. Reading this post got me to start singing in my mind a song, Everybody Loves a Holy War, written by Mark Heard about 40 years ago. Mark was a brilliant lyricist who passed away much too early. Mark was a Christian, but not what most would consider a gospel music artist. I think the last few lines of the last verse sum up what Dee wrote about in this post: “Righteousness and truth can be weapons in the hands of fools while innocents go to their deaths.”

    Everybody Loves a Holy War

    Some say that God has approved of their mob
    Esteeming their purposes alone
    Choosing sides with a definite pride
    And taking their cause for His own

    Chorus:
    Everybody loves a holy war
    Draw the line and claim divine assistance
    Slay the ones who show the most resistance
    Everybody loves a holy war

    Many’s the man with the iron hand
    Supposing his own thoughts to be Divine
    He will break any bond –
    ‘Coz the other man’s always wrong
    It’s a handy excuse for his crimes

    Repeat Chorus

    Dissident cries are met with cold eyes
    And treatment the devil would get
    Righteousness and truth
    Can be weapons in the hands of fools
    While innocents go to their deaths

    Repeat Chorus

    You can play this song on Spotify. The lyrics flow so much better when accompanied by the music.

  15. I left my former party in 2015 after they sent me a fake debt collecton letter with “DEBT COLLECTION” in big red letters on the envelope. I found out that both parties like to play that game with people, tricking little old ladies into sending them at least $500 from their retirement funds. The disclaimers are so small that it’s nearly impossible to read them without a magnifying glass. It’s despicable. I reported it to the post office.

    I’ve become very anti-institutional, more because of my former involvement in evangelicalism than politics. Whenever anything becomes an institution, it nearly always becomes painfully bureaucratic and often becomes a tool for someone to control and take from others for their own benefit. Institutions can be anything from the government to businesses to churches to celebrity cults to local groups. I’ve seen how even smaller churches and groups can dominate decisionmaking in an area or bully others into things. I’ve seen people hurt and withdraw because of bullying from a group who wants to get their way and will do anything to get it.

    I’m so tired of bullying. Adults are worse than kids, because they often have power kids don’t. We’ve seen with these big church scandals people who have bullied everyone around them for years suddenly get exposed for the terrible people they are. And they always still think they deserve to keep bullying everyone in the same way!

    I could wish that we would learn to all work together, even if that means giving up things or just accepting a vote you don’t like, but I’m pretty sure that will never happen. I feel like the media is also pushing everything to extremes, because that gets people to watch and click and buy from their advertisers. Extreme views are good entertainment, but terrible for creating division.

  16. I was struck by the way you clarified your political understanding as framed by ‘beliefs.’ This is the proper framing of that word, especially in a Christian context as belief is not the same as faith – Jesus never said ‘your beliefs have made you well.’ Beginning with the Lord himself, the early church was careful to regard these differently, and the New Testament uses different words for these, and never regards them synonymously. Beliefs are equivalent to a scientific theory in that they are provisional. We can have a living faith in our God, and our country, though specific beliefs may differ. The clue to look for is whether espoused beliefs illuminate one’s faith – or expose a lack of faith. The ability to accommodate differences and complexity, as you demonstrate, is a sign of faith.

  17. Good thoughts all. I recently read, “God rules the world through sinners” and that little thought helped me to put things in perspective. The more obnoxious among my relatives this Thanksgiving will be reminded that the Red sinners are no better than the Blue sinners, and visa versa, especially when one considers that their worship of a political idol is responsible for many of their children not showing up at the dinner table.
    My son and I have pledged not to divide over politics, no matter what happens. We also have taken up the peacemaker idea, and are actively discussing how to bring peace to a divided family.
    I have lived through my 7th “most critical election in the history of the world”, and several administrators that I didn’t agree with. Time and life marches on. My message to my obnoxious political brethren this year will be to take the log out of their own eye. I will ask them why they are condemning their own children while ignoring their soul and their own soul. And I hope to be able to help them see that the God they claim to believe in has been pushed aside by an ugly idol of their own making. Politics never saved anyone.
    Thanks for your post. It is a timely reminder of what is more important.

  18. Thank you, Dee, for this.

    —-

    I am reminded of a famous saying of Lincoln, which, adapted to present circumstances, might go

    “I earnestly desire that it may be the case that the Almighty is on my side, but I must have Pennsylvania”

    ——

    For my own evolution, I’ve tried to adopt a stance of “marking political beliefs to reality” to the extent that is possible. This has been a deeply unsettling experience, because I’ve come to question some long-held verities (this is similar to my theological evolution, which has also been unsettling, though in the end liberating).

    I’ve also begun to wonder about the motives of the “great men of the age.” As in the churches, I’m not confident that, in other areas of society, the leaders are genuinely public-spirited. I once believed that they might be. My present views might be regarded to be a cynical stance, but it seems to me that it’s just a realistic assessment of how “power” works in the present day (and perhaps it has always been like this). It’s hard for people who seek high office (in any part of society) to preserve their idealism and integrity through the course of the process that is required to reach power.

    This isn’t a counsel of despair. Choices still have to be made, but one should be realistic about what one is dealing with. If you get one thing, get understanding.

    Of course, then there is Eccles 2:14

    “The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.”

  19. However hard to obey, I must do what Jesus said :

    Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV

    ” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and with all your mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

  20. Tumbleweed: The more obnoxious among my relatives this Thanksgiving will be reminded that the Red sinners are no better than the Blue sinners, and visa versa, especially when one considers that their worship of a political idol is responsible for many of their children not showing up at the dinner table.

    What a wonderful comment. I know one man who refused to celebrate a holiday with his family because he didn’t like who they voted for. They passed away soon after. But, he stood with his political beliefs and cut ties with those who didn’t see things his way.

  21. Dee: I know one man who refused to celebrate a holiday with his family because he didn’t like who they voted for. They passed away soon after.

    One can hope that he will eventually regret that, and wish that he had been willing to listen “in the living years”

  22. Juulie Downs: When someone says they are a Christian, but they are name-calling, belittling, hurting, mocking or denigrating someone …

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22)

  23. ishy: Whenever anything becomes an institution, it nearly always becomes painfully bureaucratic and often becomes a tool for someone to control and take from others for their own benefit.

    Every institution eventually takes on the personality of its leader.

  24. Dee: he stood with his political beliefs and cut ties with those who didn’t see things his way

    I have stood with my Christian beliefs, resulting in family who have cut ties with me. I have not been obnoxious in sharing my faith (or political beliefs, for that matter), but some family members are just uncomfortable by my presence. I have truly experienced Jesus’ teaching in this regard:

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword [of division between belief and unbelief]. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his [own] household [when one believes and another does not].” (Matthew 10:34-40 AMP)

  25. Proffy: Everybody Loves a Holy War

    Reminds me of SBC Founders (slave-holding Calvinists in the South) who declared that God was on their side during the Civil War … until early Confederate victories turned to defeat.

    In all things, it would be better for us to be on God’s side, rather than trying to pull Him across to ‘our’ side. I can’t find any Scripture where God has declared political affiliation … He is neither Republican or Democrat … but truly Independent.

  26. I was taught in my youth not to discuss politics or religion with people you do not know well. It seemed to work pretty well at keeping the peace.

    People will say nasty things on Twitter and Facebook that they would never say to a person face to face. This is one reason I don’t have either of them.

    Regarding politics, a pastor of a church where I was a member in the 90’s said “God is not a Democrat. God is not a Republican. In fact, God isn’t even an American.” Wise words.

  27. Ken P.: People will say nasty things on Twitter and Facebook that they would never say to a person face to face. This is one reason I don’t have either of them.

    Wisdom. There is a dark side of social media, that even the best of folks can be drawn into.

  28. Ken P.: God isn’t even an American

    Have you noticed that every POTUS ends national addresses with “God bless America”? I would like to see an honest one sometime mix it up a bit by saying “America bless God”, “God forgive us”, “God have mercy on us” or other appropriate closing remark.

  29. Ken P.: People will say nasty things on Twitter and Facebook that they would never say to a person face to face.

    NET DRUNK SYNDROME.
    AKA “Instant A-hole; just add Broadband.”

    On Social Media, EVERYONE goes off their meds.
    Something about being anonymous behind a handle and safely out of fist range.

  30. Chuck: radicals have taken over both parties, thus the hatred. There is no middle ground, your either for one party or the other.

    Welcome to Deutschland, 1932.
    Or Yugoslavia, 1990.

  31. Mr. Jesperson:
    FYI, something that should be of some interest to everyone here at this blog.Over the weekend the Indian equivalent of the IRS raided offices and churches of the international scam Gospel for Asia for fraud and tax evasion.They seized 145 Million Rupees in cash they were hoarding as “black money.”Black money is money that never gets moved through internal banks where it can be tracked, and where questions can be asked that might lead to additional taxes.It has been reported that before they demonetized a few years ago, that fully half of all transactions there were black money, untraceable back to crimes and nontaxable.GFA had almost a full 2 million US worth in Indian currency hidden and hoarded away.They also reported that over a five year period that GFA transferred close to a billion dollars from various overseas accounts in various countries.You have to see the huge piles of cash in their pictures.Read about it yourself here: https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/dramatic-events-during-i-t-raid-at-believers-church-priest-tries-to-destroy-iphone-kerala-1.5195047

    Warren Throckmorton has been covering Gospel for Asia (and Pope Yohannon) for some time.

  32. Christians are people whom God picked to not achieve without prayer. Someone else’s first, then yours.

  33. Headless Unicorn Guy: Welcome to Deutschland, 1932.
    Or Yugoslavia, 1990.

    My grandparents had a “___ for President” sign in their yard. Someone spray painted their garage, “F*** ___.”

    When we went over to help clean it up, my grandma said tearfully, “This reminds me of Hitler times. They just kill you if you don’t do what they want.” She was born in Germany in 1932 and emigrated as an adult; she’d know.

  34. From the article up-top:

    “At first, I was deeply hurt. But as time passed, my pain in losing two friends lessened as I began to contemplate how Christians, on both sides of the aisle, declare their candidate to be the one who *acts like a Christian.*”

    They were never your ‘friends’ to begin with.
    Real friends don’t let religion and politics get in the way.

  35. The election has left me with a decision and some discernment needed that I never saw coming.

    One thing good about this coronavirus is that I get my sermons straight, without the music or the smells and bells I love. They are available online but somehow fall flat, so I tend to skip to the sermon. That means I get a lot more out of the sermons.

    But this week left me with a whole lot of questions. First off, the audio was on the fritz at church and words did cut out now and then. Because of that I want to listen to the sermon several more times before I make any decisions.

    But it sounded to me like my pastor was saying those out in the streets celebrating the election results were guilty of idol worship. I need to discern if it was the idea of celebrating the results no matter who won (I would disagree but we could deal with it) or idol worshipping because the side he preferred lost. (That would be a whopping concern for me, no matter which side won.)

    I hope he meant to encourage folks on both sides to look to Jesus as our Savior, not either political leader. But if he does equate supporting one side with fighting the good fight and supporting the other side as idolatry, that would be a horse of another color.

    Ya’ll pray for me. Seriously do not accept the mixing of politics and the faith in church.

  36. Muff Potter: Real friends don’t let religion and politics get in the way.

    Exactly! This blog piece reminded me of Robert Fulghum’s book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”:

    Share everything.
    Play fair.
    Don’t hit people.
    Put things back where you found them.
    Clean up your own mess.
    Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
    Wash your hands before you eat.
    Flush.
    Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

    Perhaps Republicans and Democrats just need to sit down over some warm cookies and cold milk and try to get along. But, I suppose, the rift has become too wide to resolve with that simple fix at this point … life and death are literally at stake on some issues.

  37. Max: There is a dark side of social media, that even the best of folks can be drawn into.

    Absolutely. When you hear what some folks are believing from social media, I wonder “what planet are these people living on?” I had a patient tell me ‘No’ today to Flu shot because there are ‘chips’ in Flu shots – huh?? Hope she doesn’t die from the Flu this year, or from another ailment when there are no hospital beds remaining.

  38. linda: Ya’ll pray for me. Seriously do not accept the mixing of politics and the faith in church.

    Praying for you as you navigate this.

    A similar situation was the catalyst for us just leaving our most recent church. It hurts, and is rarely easy.

  39. A few minutes ago I tottered off Facebook, sad and discouraged at the displays of corrosive “dialogue” (if you can call it that) between red and blue friends. My stress level has been high for weeks and I’ve wondered if I should pick up a copy of The Benedict Option to figure out how the monastic life could be adapted for a suburban female.

    Came over here and found your post. God bless you, Dee, for your wise and strengthening words. I feel a little bit better now. It’s been a while since I stopped in at this site, but it feels like an island of sanity. Thank you!

    (And thanks to Headless Unicorn Guy for a very much needed laugh –Net Drunk Syndrome.)

  40. Great post, Dee! Since I live alone, I discuss most of my politics with myself (sometimes the cat listens, but she has not yet revealed her political bent). I was talking with an old friend last month, and she stated yelling at me when I casually mentioned I wasn’t voting for her candidate. She was so aggressive that I had to tell her I couldn’t continue the conversation (which really wasn’t a conversation at that point). I haven’t tried to call her back. We have been “besties” for almost 40 years, but I’m wondering if this might be the end. I like discussing current events with folks of different viewpoints, but this was nowhere near a discussion. I’ll probably try a Christmas card as a trial balloon.

  41. If people ask, I tell them exactly how I voted…

    “by secret ballot, and I hope you did, too!”

  42. How do we look after the integrity and individuality of the next person (both Christian and non-christian)?

    Over-centralisation is causing abuse of power, in churches first, then the world copies.

    How do we safeguard others’ access to honesty and logic?

    God sees the inside and not the outside only: does He not want us to discern how to apply Scripture, also?

  43. I am VERY concerned where this is all heading…..
    Democracy, or a Republic in our case, is actually quite fragile. When the general population is so divided, and more often than not, unable to even comunicate, where are we headed? In many ways, all of the “stuff” we deal with on TWW is a bell weather of the deep problems we are experiencing…
    If “religious leaders” are not modeling righteous behavior, nor the church willing to deal with corruption within itself, which is called to do, heaven help us…

  44. One comment not approved. Once again. I would like to focus on our reponse as Christian to.national discord as opposed to discussing the political contenders.

  45. Dee: If this post is too political please delete it. I will do my best not to cross the line. I am a Done as of the summer of 2019. I have been a follower of Christ since I was 16. I have and continue to take this following very seriously. I have even pastored 4 Southern Baptist Churches. The 3rd pastorate ended because I dared to speak up publicly for a local church who had called a Female Pastor. I was told by the Chairman of the Deacons at the last church that I did not preach “strong” enough. I still do not know what that means.
    The local voting results for President were 75% for and 25% for. I am not even talking about preaching, if I made it public who I voted for President I do not believe I would be welcome in any of these churches. I was heartbroken 4 years ago and continue to be heartbroken this morning regardless of the final Presidential results.

  46. Lizzybeth: My stress level has been high for weeks and I’ve wondered if I should pick up a copy of The Benedict Option to figure out how the monastic life could be adapted for a suburban female.

    Funny you should say that. The Benedict Option is iintriguing and I’ve bee thinking about it for awhile. Gven what is going on in the world, that might be good for a discussion here. Thank you.

  47. Jeffrey Chalmers: the “stuff” we deal with on TWW is a bell weather of the deep problems we are experiencing…

    As the church goes, so goes the nation. American politics and culture are a mess because the church is a mess … it is divided, prayerless, powerless.

  48. readingalong: I had a patient tell me ‘No’ today to Flu shot because there are ‘chips’ in Flu shots – huh??

    That’s only in vaccines made in China, right?

  49. dee: I am as well.

    The clear answer is for the nation to appoint a board of elders, and everyone in the country to sign a membership covenant agreeing to be disciplined for not following vague guidelines. And we would need a 50-min motivational speech each week accompanied by loud rock bands. And, of course, each person would be assigned to a care group.

  50. Ken F (aka Tweed): The clear answer is for the nation to appoint a board of elders, and everyone in the country to sign a membership covenant agreeing to be disciplined

    Mark Dever for President!!

  51. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Care group= “the party minders”… just like on Soviet Submarines, they had a “party” officer, who was not a true Soviet Naval officer, that made sure the crew followed “party line”

  52. I think that a lot of the anger one finds in disagreements is rooted in a pretty simple assumption: that perceived flawed beliefs in another person are an indication of some kind of moral deficiency in that person. This is clearly present when the beliefs concern theological matters — believing the wrong things is generally reckoned to destine one to the hot place, and it’s not hard to demonize people that one believes one is already ultimately separated from.

    I think that something similar may take place in political disagreements.

    ———-

    This thread called to mind an intriguing detail in a book I read decades ago; IIRC it was “The Creationists” by Ronald Numbers. Numbers is an historian of science, with a focus on the science/religion conflict in US. The edition I think I saw this in was the original 1992 version. The book has since been updated but I have not read that one.

    I may be getting the names wrong, but I’m pretty sure that there was discussion of friendship between Henry Morris II and Walter Hearn (IIRC, HM was teaching at VPI; WH may have been a student at the time; he later became a respected chemist). IIRC, Hearn vigorously disagreed with Morris about natural history, but it didn’t poison his attitude toward HM, the human being. IIRC, there was a quote from Hearn along the lines of “I don’t like your [ie, Morris’] ideas, but I sure like you.”

    I think this is increasingly a rare attitude. Perhaps people believe that “so much is at stake that I can’t overlook the disagreement for the sake of the friendship.” I’m confident that “high stakes” does play a role in the hostility one finds in theological disagreements. Perhaps there is also an element of “anyone who believes that must be morally obtuse”, which makes that person a fit object of moral outrage and hatred.

    A bit of humility and a sincere effort to understand the other’s point of view might go a long way toward preserving relationships. This might help even if the stance is not reciprocated from “the other side.”

    How blessed are the peacemakers. They shall be called sons of God

    ——

    I’ve been affiliated with both of the main-stream political flavors at different points in my past, and have a measure of sympathy with some of the core concerns that I think motivate “man in the street” partisans of each side. At present, I’m thoroughly disgusted with both sides of the political duopoly, and I think that the mutual hatred one is seeing among partisans toward “the other side” may be being encouraged by the leaders of the respective sides (and by co-oriented media). It’s a way of cementing allegiances and discouraging self-reflection — distracting the respective bases from the very real flaws in their own movements, neither of which is IMO actually serving the interests of the majority of its constituency.

  53. dee,

    While it is tempting to “withdraw”, now is the time in history that our society needs “level headed” “striving to be objective” people to become more engaged..
    History is full of examples of where a culture/society “went off the rails”…
    Good people withdrawing will only speed up the crash…..
    Conversely, true leaders both small and large emerge during crisis.. we all need to strive to be “good leaders”, whether we are “small leaders” or “big leaders”….

  54. Jeffrey Chalmers: true leaders both small and large emerge during crisis.. we all need to strive to be “good leaders”, whether we are “small leaders” or “big leaders”

    America – in all compartments – has a leadership crisis … from the Church House to the White House. America and the Church have always been at their best during times of persecution and crisis. Unfortunately, wars seem to be the only thing which have united Americans in recent years. As you note, true leaders will come to the front during such times. In the meantime, we will all just fuss with each other. Those who are wise, will lead effectively within the corners of their influence while the multitudes wait for ‘something’ to draw us all together on a bigger scale. It’s a dirty shame that God’s people won’t humble themselves, repent, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways so God will forgive our sin and heal our land.

  55. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    In reading and re-reading your comment, as I have the comments of many other TWW commenter’s comments in this and other conversation(s), the thought crossed my mind to struggle through another attempt at adding something to the conversation.

    In the struggle to find the words to express myself, I keep (and kept) thinking of examples in which I might unintentionally hurt or cause pain (to others or to myself), or that I might communicate something that might leave me unsafe and / or unprotected.

    I struggle with this almost every time I attempt to communicate, even with people who are abusive, that I end up pretty much completely withdrawing.

    I am left with nothing to add…This time, I merely add a variation on my earlier comment in this conversation that my heart keeps breaking with everything I read.

  56. When have elections come to the point where all I focus on after the election is that I am glad that one of the politicians lost? (Actually I focus on that before the election as well, that all is not bad because one of them will lose.) Or was I naive about politicians of the past? *sigh*

  57. Samuel Conner,

    After all of the GOP “declarations” that the winner isn’t the winner, I’m probably going to re-register as an independent. The main reason I didn’t vote for Mr. T was that I don’t believe he represents anyone but himself and his own selfish interests. I don’t like many things on the Dems platform, either, so I might as well just be the non-party voter that I seem to be.

  58. Jeffrey Chalmers: “season” ( to use trendy evangelical speak)

    Your phrase reminded me of something funny, though not funny in the humorous sense…

    I don’t remember encountering the phrase “for a season” used as a “trendy” phrase until I encountered the similarly “trendy” phrase “moral failure” used in an evangelical “church”.

    Sometime later, I encountered the “trendy” phrase “for a season” used in many stories of abuse in, and by, the Evangelical “church”.

    But then, I am pretty naive….until that time, I had also not understood the potentially huge difference(s) between lowercase “e” evangelical and capital letter “E” Evangelical.

  59. Linn,

    I have read that the outcome of the general election is often determined in the Primary, and that primary voters have far more influence (because they are fewer in number) than general election voters. The relatively low participation in primaries — only the most highly motivated voters show up — may be contributing to polarization by rewarding candidates who have more extreme views.

    If your state does not have an “open” primary, there’s something to be said for deciding which primary to vote in on a election-by-election basis and registering in that party in order to be able to influence the later general election outcome toward what you think is best. After the primary, you can switch your formal registration back to “I”.

  60. Samuel Conner: deciding which primary to vote in on a election-by-election basis

    I do that every time, depending on who I want to vote for (or usually against) that particular election.

  61. Linn: After all of the GOP “declarations” that the winner isn’t the winner,

    An interesting “wrinkle” on these claims is that there actually are documented vulnerabilities in the electronic voting infrastructure used in US elections. It appears to me that the claims thus far have been about illegally cast ballots, but the far more interesting question, IMO, is the security of the county-level hardware/software systems that accumulate and report the vote tallies. If these databases are not secure and the transactions records fully auditable, one’s confidence in the outcome is based purely on trust.

    Google C-SPAN election system vulnerability

    Most of the rest of the developed world is still using paper ballots, marked by hand and hand counted in public. And these other advanced nations manage with these superficially “primitive” methods to get their election results faster than we do, in spite of all the technology we have introduced into the elections process.

    I am dismayed by the state of the election, but I am hoping that there will be some recounts of the available physical (paper) ballots simply for the sake of assessing whether there may have been break-ins to the systems used to aggregate and report the results of the vote counts. The vulnerabilities are real and it would be useful to have some measure of whether they are being exploited.

    I think we should go back to paper and 100% hand counting until there are strong standards for the security of the commercial election systems that we have been using.

  62. Linn: After all of the GOP “declarations” that the winner isn’t the winner, I’m probably going to re-register as an independent.

    It was the same thing in 2020 but with the sides switched. I have no doubt that if the numbers were switched this time each side would basically be making the same arguments as the other side. There is no way the current winner would concede if the shoe were on the other foot. Both parties behave badly. And it’s not likely to change since the current process causes the sludge to rise to the top for both parties. To make it worse, the media is so bad at dragging candidates through the mud that most decent people are too smart to put themselves through such a gauntlet. It would be great if independents actually had a chance, but all they typically do is siphon votes from only one side.

    The current situation reminds me of a great quote I heard once: “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you are now getting.” Maybe this will cause the populace to rethink some things. At a mimimum, it seems reasonable to impose some consistent voting integrity standards.

  63. Samuel Conner: I am dismayed by the state of the election, but I am hoping that there will be some recounts of the available physical (paper) ballots simply for the sake of assessing whether there may have been break-ins to the systems used to aggregate and report the results of the vote counts. The vulnerabilities are real and it would be useful to have some measure of whether they are being exploited.

    If the current winner is serious about uniting a divided country, it would be good to join the other side’s calls for recounts and verifications. The outcome is not likely to change, but it would put an end to fears that the election was stolen. Unless the currently winning side believes they would lose.

  64. Samuel Conner: Solomonic wisdom

    But I decided to stop with just one mother-in-law. How wise is it to have hundreds of mothers-in-law? (disclaimer: I have an awesome mother-in-law)

  65. I’m wondering if it would help if we had either ranked voting or a federal requirment for states to do a runoff if no presidential candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.

  66. Ken F (aka Tweed): Unless the currently winning side believes they would lose.

    I do not believe that is the other sides concerns. If Trump had not brought up all this nonsense about fraud before the election and to this point in time unverifiable fraud, this election would be over. If the Democrats held the White House and the Democrats were doing what Trump is doing right now all heck would break lose IMO! Enough is Enough-Goodbye Trump!

  67. Ken F (aka Tweed): Unless the currently winning side believes they would lose.

    I do not believe that is the other sides concerns. If Trump had not brought up all this nonsense about fraud before the election and to this point in time unverifiable fraud, this election would be over. If the Democrats held the White House and the Democrats were doing what Trump is doing right I can only imagine! Enough is Enough-Goodbye Trump!

  68. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I would add to this suggestion the idea of “non-partisan redistricting.” But that would require the state-level parties to surrender some of their power. The great men of the age may not be enthusiastic about that.

  69. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Indeed! The last time this happened, the winner wasn’t declared for several weeks after a careful count of the votes in question, followed by a Supreme Court decision which settled the recount dispute. IMHO, we have journalistic malpractice going on. You have to see that regardless of which political party you are affiliated with. As my father used to say “It’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

  70. Max:
    Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Indeed!The last time this happened, the winner wasn’t declared for several weeks after a careful count of the votes in question, followed by a Supreme Court decision which settled the recount dispute.IMHO, we have journalistic malpractice going on.You have to see that regardless of which political party you are affiliated with.As my father used to say “It’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

    But this is nothing like 2000.

  71. Samuel Conner: An interesting “wrinkle” on these claims is that there actually are documented vulnerabilities in the electronic voting infrastructure used in US elections. It appears to me that the claims thus far have been about illegally cast ballots, but the far more interesting question, IMO, is the security of the county-level hardware/software systems that accumulate and report the vote tallies. If these databases are not secure and the transactions records fully auditable, one’s confidence in the outcome is based purely on trust.

    GoogleC-SPAN election system vulnerability

    Most of the rest of the developed world is still using paper ballots, marked by hand and hand counted in public. And these other advanced nations manage with these superficially “primitive” methods to get their election results faster than we do, in spite of all the technology we have introduced into the elections process.

    I am dismayed by the state of the election, but I am hoping that there will be some recounts of the available physical (paper) ballots simply for the sake of assessing whether there may have been break-ins to the systems used to aggregate and report the results of the vote counts. The vulnerabilities are real and it would be useful to have some measure of whether they are being exploited.

    I think we should go back to paper and 100% hand counting until there are strong standards for the security of the commercial election systems that we have been using.

    Don’t you think they run the ballots through more than once to get the counts?

  72. Samuel Conner: I would add to this suggestion the idea of “non-partisan redistricting.” But that would require the state-level parties to surrender some of their power.

    That is a tough nut to crack because the partisans set up the gerrymandering. Neither side has any incentive to fix it.

  73. Bridget,

    Different jurisdictions may use different methods, depending on their technology. Optically scanned punched ballots might be run through the scanning hardware again. Or they might be inspected by hand. Assuming that the scanner hardware was operating properly both times, the recount should match the original count. A discrepancy might indicate a problem in the scanning hardware, but it also might indicate post-counting modification of the vote totals somewhere higher, perhaps in county-level reporting systems. This possibility is very disheartening, but it is real. We don’t have nation-wide security standards for the electronic systems that are used everywhere for elections management. I don’t even think there are state standards, and in the absence of standards, the manufacturers may not have a lot of incentive to patch known security holes. One doesn’t like to promote conspiracy theories, but it is possible to conceive of other motives for leaving known vulnerabilities uncorrected.

    The Georgia recount that was announced today will be a by-hand recount. Incredibly laborious, but presumably there will be monitors from both parties at every counting table, and there will be an undisputed result agreed by both sides, for Georgia, at the end of the process. The Europeans use methods like this — hand counting in public of hand-marked paper ballots — for their election-day vote-counting, and they generally know the result by the next day. Imagine that.

  74. Samuel Conner: The Georgia recount that was announced today will be a by-hand recount. Incredibly laborious, but presumably there will be monitors from both parties at every counting table, and there will be an undisputed result agreed by both sides, for Georgia, at the end of the process. The Europeans use methods like this — hand counting in public of hand-marked paper ballots — for their election-day vote-counting, and they generally know the result by the next day. Imagine that.

    Should all 50 states do this for this election?

  75. Does anyone think if the other side was leading right now, that they would even entertain recounting any votes or allow the other side to have a recount? Why now? Are all this year’s election results wrong?

    I for one want this madness to stop.

  76. mot: Does anyone think if the other side was leading right now, that they would even entertain recounting any votes or allow the other side to have a recount? Why now? Are all this year’s election results wrong?

    If the count was the other way the sides would just swap arguments. Don’t think for a moment that the side that is currently winning would not go to court of they were losing. Every election has irregularities, but those irregularities only matter in close races. In 2000 there was only one close race where it mattered. In this election there are a handful of close states where it could matter. If it turns out that initial recounts change the outcome, you can be sure that the the new losers will come out swinging. If they are not worried about the recounts they should embrace them. If for no other reason than to rub it in for the losers. The fact that they protest so much suggests to me that they suspect they could possibly lose.

  77. mot: Should all 50 states do this for this election?

    Following Tweed’s suggestion, it would probably ease a lot of anxieties if the disputed states did this, to the extent possible. A recount requires some kind of paper trail, and the same-day voting systems in the different states differ in regard to the material traces that are left behind to permit audit of the electronic records. But mail-in ballots can be recounted by hand, and there are a lot of those in all the disputed states. Those at least could be unambiguously verified.

    I don’t think there is much point in doing this in states that are either “deep red” or “deep blue”, since even if there was some fraud (and there probably always is a little at the margins), it doesn’t affect the outcome (of the top-line race, anyway; who knows what chicanery lurks in the hearts of men in down-ballot races that might be swung with a smaller perturbations?).

    One of the uneasy intuitions that I have (and that I hope is not valid) is that both parties might like the present system. As Tweed mentioned, partisan gerrymanders benefit the party in a position to use its domination of a state legislature for that purpose. And the out-of-power party can hope to some day be in power. So there is not a lot of motive to agree on non-partisan oriented district boundaries. There might not be a lot of motive to agree on tamper-proof elections systems.

    It’s interesting to me that the claims of fraud thus far have been limited to “casting of illegal ballots” which is IMO the least pernicious form of fraud — it’s the hardest to implement because you have to physically modify or create the fraudulent ballots. That’s real work and is hard to do at a large enough scale to swing a state-wide result.

    Exploiting vulnerabilities in the county-level reporting systems, OTOH, is much less laborious in terms of “time and effort” though obviously it requires more skill. And this kind of fraud is not being alleged by either party even though there is no reason to think that it cannot have happened. One would think that both parties ought to be keenly interested in this problem, but they generally don’t talk about it. Again, one doesn’t like to promote tinfoil hat thinking, but this silence is puzzling. Maybe both parties like the idea of vulnerable reporting systems that they can manipulate. As Dee noted, both parties seem to be more about personal advancement than public interest. Tamper-proof elections systems clearly serve the public interest. But we don’t have them.

    Sorry to be so cynical. I’m not advising people to give up. No, get informed, get involved. Demand better representation and better systems.

  78. Ken F (aka Tweed): The fact that they protest so much suggests to me that they suspect they could possibly lose.

    We will just have to agree to disagree. This not 500 votes, it is thousands. What is happening right now should not be happening. IMO if he does not find enough votes to change the election he will come up with another strategy. It is so sad how one man has caused so many to lose confidence in a voting system that had worked up to this election.

  79. Samuel: Why is the accuracy of these votes being called into question? He started this idea of fraud months ago. If he had won he would not ask for a recount. Voting machines, etc are not Republican, Democrat, Independent. I like to believe there is a lot of checks and balances with our voting system.

  80. Ken F (aka Tweed): The fact that they protest so much suggests to me that they suspect they could possibly lose.

    What if Hillary Clinton had called for a recount in 2016 we might have had another President. Close elections happen, but you do not question the accuracy of the votes only when you lose.

  81. I will stop commenting as I keep going into moderation. The election will be decided some day. I suppose in the future there will have to be Red or Blue churches so that people can get along with each other in church. I am done in more ways than one.

  82. mot,

    I agree at every point, and I would like to believe the same.

    But “like to believe” and “have reason to believe” are not the same.

    Our reporting systems are known to be vulnerable. It’s quite inexplicable that these vulnerabilities are allowed to go uncorrected. Microsoft would not get away with such large vulnerabilities in its code.

  83. mot: It is so sad how one man has caused so many to lose confidence in a voting system that had worked up to this election.

    You seem to oppose recounts. Why? It seems to me that recounts would be the best way to restoring confidence in the system. And it would be the best way to shut him up. I read today that around 3/4 of Republicans doubt the election was fair. Recounts would help to convince them the count is fair. I don’t see the downside.

  84. mot: Voting machines, etc are not Republican, Democrat, Independent.

    If I may be suffered to use a Dr Who quote, “It’s never the security, it’s always the people”

    These systems are run at county level by humans. And they generally are connected to the internet. They databases can, in principle, be modified by individuals with physical access to the hardware running the reporting software, or by outsiders who break in.

    You may recall that there were concerns a few years ago about intrusions into county-level voter data systems by external adversaries.

    Again, Google

    C-SPAN election system vulnerability

    One doesn’t have to go looking at conspiracy sites to find grounds for concern.

    I don’t understand why there aren’t national standards for the security of these systems.

  85. Ken F (aka Tweed): You seem to oppose recounts. Why?

    I don’t oppose recounts. But why 2 states, 3 states, 4 states, 5 states, etc. He has been setting this up for months. I wonder why 3/4’s of the R’s do not think the election was fair? Nothing will ever convince them–and I truly believe that. Nothing.

  86. mot: ts. But why 2 states, 3 states, 4 states, 5 states, etc.

    Because those are the only states where it could make a difference. It would be a waste of time to do it in the other states inless there are true widespread irregularities.

  87. mot: He has been setting this up for months.

    Agreed, and shame on him. There was similar rhetoric from him in 2016. It’s deeply selfish and unpatriotic to pre-emptively cast doubt on an outcome for one’s own advantage.

    (And, sadly, this seems to have been normalized this cycle; a prominent Party elder from the other side was making similar “never concede” noises earlier this year. T has broken many norms and the country will in future be worse off for it)

    I think you’ve read the man right. I also think it would be prudent for there to be recounts in the disputed states. Part of my interest in that is that this might provide a test of the extent to which there has been exploitation of the known vulnerabilities in the elections systems for aggregating and reporting the vote counts. I would sleep better knowing that this did not happen — that, as you say, “the system does work” and is not simply an artifice for manufacturing the consent of the governed.

    In the end, the legal process will work itself out. If it’s any comfort, the state courts have not been too sympathetic to the challenges thus far.

  88. Ken F (aka Tweed): Recounts would help to convince them the count is fair. I don’t see the downside.

    Every day matters to national security.

    The 9/11 Commission report cited the certification delay in 2000 as something to be avoided. Bay of Pigs also happened early in JFK’s term. Thousands of people need to be vetted and cleared before they are entrusted with information about our nation’s vulnerabilities.

  89. Samuel Conner: Following Tweed’s suggestion, it would probably ease a lot of anxieties if the disputed states did this, to the extent possible. A recount requires some kind of paper trail …

    A recount costs millions.

    Also, how widespread is fully electronic voting? My state abandoned it years ago and went back to paper ballots that we scan into the machine.

    I have to say I’m STUNNED at the impressive level of security in our election this year. Look at all the vote counting on camera. In every state, election officials from both parties have taken fraud allegations seriously, and promptly investigated allegations of irregularities.

  90. Friend,

    This is all true, and again “shame on him” for not allowing a parallel two-track process of contesting the election and accommodating a hypothetical transition in order to protect the national interest in the event he doesn’t prevail in the final certification of the outcome.

    But it’s not an argument to not proceed with recounts in the disputed states. Given who he is, it seems likely that dispute or no, the GSA will not cooperate with the transition until the electoral college meets to vote — December 14, whether or not there are recounts. There is no president-elect, constitutionally speaking, until that happens (this is arcane — but there are actually potential problems with ‘faithless electors’ or, even more extreme, state legislatures overruling the popular vote and appointing a different slate of electors. I dearly hope that we do not see something like that).

    The presumptive president-elect should raise funds independently and proceed, to the extent possible, through back-channels to begin a transition process.

    I wish it were not so, but that is where we are. One could wish that the 2016 general (or the primaries!) had turned out differently. As someone well-known has put it, “it is what it is.”

  91. Samuel Conner: In the end, the legal process will work itself out.

    I share your hope.

    It’s hard to make the case for fraud against one party, when candidates down ballot from the same party win their races.

    Candidates should just encourage voters to vote, instead of telling them that specific methods of casting a ballot are inherently bad. My state let any registered voter mail a ballot, but it was positively inspiring to see people lined up by the block to vote in person, day after day, in a generous number of locations.

    Greater voter participation could really help the country.

  92. Friend,

    I think that “vote fraud” at the polling places, or even via mail-in ballots, is probably not a major problem. It’s simply too hard to do this, without detection, at large enough scale to change state-wide outcomes. Hooray for that!

    The issue is “how secure are the vote aggregation databases that are operated at county level, and that aggregate the counts from the counting machines, and that are queried to report real-time and final results”. This is what I am worried about. These systems are designed and maintained by privately owned for-profit corporations. There are no nation-wide security standards for them and AFAIK there are not even security standards imposed at state level. It’s a relatively new field and not well-regulated; this is a familiar story — technology often runs ahead of the law. For the sake of being able to sleep at night, one can assume that these systems are hardened against both external and internal threats (including the local officials who have admin privileges to the hardware on which they run), but I’m not aware of evidence that that assumption is valid, and I am aware that the security of these systems is a matter of concern to reputable people knowledgeable about computer security.

  93. Samuel Conner: I wish it were not so, but that is where we are. One could wish that the 2016 general (or the primaries!) had turned out differently. As someone well-known has put it, “it is what it is.”

    Pandora’s box was opened in 2016 and we will live with this for a very long time IMO.

  94. Friend: Greater voter participation could really help the country.

    Amen and amen!

    My perception is that both parties would prefer fewer voters, but do try to get the vote out for every election for the sake of that election. If there were more participation, the parties would have to compete for more votes, and would have to serve the interests of a wider cross-section of the population.

  95. Samuel Conner: The presumptive president-elect should raise funds independently and proceed, to the extent possible, through back-channels to begin a transition process.

    In general, it is easier for a party to return to the White House after 4 years than after 8. The presumptive winner has spent some time there. Like him or not, that experience helps to facilitate the transition.

    In 2000, Bush behaved like the president-elect the second his opponent capitulated (prematurely, before realizing Florida was a toss-up). I see that happening again now, very much in the open. Transition planning has to happen, even in the unlikely event that the race is overturned.

  96. Samuel Conner,

    Yes, we do need better security. Although our atomized system has all sorts of arcane local rules, I think it safeguards the election. Every election official nationwide has been hearing predictions of challenges for years now, and they were ready.

  97. @ dee
    Love the pic up-top!
    The Baja Peninsula, the Sea of Cortez, the Salton Sea, and my neck of the woods is clearly visible.

  98. readingalong: Absolutely. When you hear what some folks are believing from social media, I wonder “what planet are these people living on?”

    Remember the Tide Pods Challenge?

    We had to recruit “social media influencers” to tell people NOT to Eat Laundry Detergent.

    “BUT I SAW IT ON FACEBOOK!!!”

  99. D Adams: Go to Warren Throckmorton’s blog, he’s been reporting on GFA for years.

    Who do you think got him started? I wrote a post about them years ago when Dee asked me to but she never published it, nor gave me any feedback as to why? I think I can guess why…

  100. What is a challenge for me is when I see people who seem to be spreading false narratives that really do harm our society and specifically our children. Also, we are supposed to have a democratic system but are being undermined by fascist ideology. In hearing certain rhetoric I am concerned about freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I get the impression that some in power really do want to impose their viewpoint and if you differ you will be “canceled.” Do we really want to live in a society where you are afraid to speak? I see this coming and since God has blessed us with freedoms, I think it is our responsibility to speak out. Our freedoms can be taken away. Certain politicians want to keep tabs on those in opposition to them. We are seeing Facebook and Twitter censor those who do not agree with their ideology. These are bigger issues than who will be our next president. I hope and trust that the courts will be honest and straightforward. It is in everyone’s best interest that we have safe and free elections and that no person has their civil rights denied them.

  101. readingalong,

    Once, commerce and administration accepted (in better countries) that our commitment to this or that was conditional and provisional. It’s natural that people should want to know what is the deal.

    But, who gave them their articulacy?

    People aren’t always “making a statement” even when they “look as if” they are “making a statement”. Button pushing problems can’t always be satisfactorily resolved wholly within a button pushing system (Godel’s theorem).

    We need critical everything theories and lots of them (and always have).

    God is going to ask stern questions of “leaders” who “use methodologies” on ordinary mortals.

  102. Friend: Every day matters to national security.

    And so does confidence in the process. During the first debate Chris Wallace asked one of the candidates this question: “Will you urge your supporters to stay calm while the vote is counted, and will you pledge not to declare victory until the election is independently certified?” Do you remember the answer?

  103. mot: Nothing will ever convince them–and I truly believe that. Nothing.

    I don’t think this kind of thinking is helpful by either side. Perhaps it is thinking like this that is at the root of the polarization. We nees to find common ground, which is mot likely if be believe the other side is hopelessly entrenched in their conclusions.

  104. Ken F (aka Tweed): mot: Nothing will ever convince them–and I truly believe that. Nothing.

    I don’t think this kind of thinking is helpful by either side. Perhaps it is thinking like this that is at the root of the polarization. We nees to find common ground, which is mot likely if be believe the other side is hopelessly entrenched in their conclusions.

    (Reply & quote selected text) (Reply to this comment)

    Do you believe after multiple recounts and complete hand counts–(I’ve never heard of a state recounting all votes by hand) that the side that is currently losing will accept the final results?

    My thinking is very realistic.

  105. mot: Do you believe after multiple recounts and complete hand counts–(I’ve never heard of a state recounting all votes by hand) that the side that is currently losing will accept the final results?

    My thinking is very realistic.

    gonna try to keep my head mostly down, today, but I want to heartily concur with this concern.

    And, sadly, I think that the 2020 cycle will not be unique; there was pretty obdurate refusal on the part of the losing side in 2016 to affirm the validity of that outcome — a narrative of foreign interference in the outcome was quickly propounded and I’m not sure that even today it has been renounced. I don’t see why similar narratives would not in future be deployed by one side or the other to explain disappointing outcomes. That these narratives rile the “base” is an added bonus from the standpoint of those who promote them — it cements allegiance and discourages self-reflection.

    It has been said (IIRC Cardinal Jaime Sin reflecting on the governance of the Phillipines in the era of Marco) that “nations get the rulers they deserve”, and if that is true of US, I fear it may be a sign of Divine displeasure with us.

    Perhaps US is like a giant megachurch experiencing an internal power struggle among two factions of the elders. The church members are instruments of the struggle.

  106. Ken F (aka Tweed): I read today that around 3/4 of Republicans doubt the election was fair. Recounts would help to convince them the count is fair. I don’t see the downside.

    Yeah, I see this in my family. One member of my family keeps ranting about how all absentee ballot counted are fishy. He voted absentee. I don’t get it.

    I don’t think the recounts are going to change the results much, but I think they will become the norm in presidential elections if the race is within a few percentage points. And maybe recounting will make people aware that it’s harder to commit election fraud than so many people think.

    I just want to point out that calls for fraud happen in almost every major election on both sides. It’s just a part of big game politics.

  107. Samuel Conner: “nations get the rulers they deserve”, and if that is true of US, I fear it may be a sign of Divine displeasure with us

    Why would He be pleased with us?! It’s been said that you can’t legislate morality … yet, America has some of the most immoral laws on the planet. We have liberated evil. We have forsaken God. Churches are playing with the things of God. Church leaders have been exposed for a multitude of sins. We have turned from God in the White House and Church House … we shouted “Give us a King!” and boy did He sure give us some doozies!

  108. Samuel Conner: Perhaps US is like a giant megachurch experiencing an internal power struggle among two factions of the elders. The church members are instruments of the struggle.

    One group has boxcutters trying to take over the flight.

  109. mot,

    More mercy for me, please. We have spam words that cause comments to go into moderation. I have to approve those. If you look at the next post, you will see that I have a situation at my house that has throw things into tizzy. My kitchen got gutted and now the floor I thought could stay, can’t ,so I have to pick out flooring today bedfore they start tearing it up. I have dishes, etc all over the first floor of the house. Now there is a structural engineer here needing to make some changes. I had to go to the doctor yesterday because I have an infection and five days ago, the eye doctor found something on my retina, probably due to meds I take for my psoriatic arthritis. I am seeing a retina specialist tomorrow.

    Mercy, mot, mercy. Believe it or not, my own comments get held for approval when I use spam words. But, I can approve myself.

  110. Headless Unicorn Guy: We had to recruit “social media influencers” to tell people NOT to Eat Laundry Detergent.

    “BUT I SAW IT ON FACEBOOK!!!”

    Here’s another instance that makes me think of the film Soylent Green, where the old timey actor Edward G. Robinson weeps into his hands saying:
    “… How did we come to this…?”

  111. Ken F (aka Tweed): And so does confidence in the process. During the first debate Chris Wallace asked one of the candidates this question: “Will you urge your supporters to stay calm while the vote is counted, and will you pledge not to declare victory until the election is independently certified?” Do you remember the answer?

    A young adult in my life, worn down by pandemic and unemployment, watched that whole debate in horror and lost even more faith in our battered America. This young person decided not to vote, at all, not even about the local school funding issue. I’m not sure what it will take to restore their belief in our ideals.

    The projected winner in this case has in fact urged calm, and downplayed the risks of delaying an official transition. More important: the entire country has reacted with admirable restraint. Yes, a few people are out in the streets, yelling at each other, as is their right. But most are staying home and paying attention to the news.

    Earlier elections were “independently called” by election officials’ projections and media announcements. That has also happened this time, although a few states are still counting ballots according to their own established deadlines.

    Hypothetically, if a mayoral candidate is up by 4%, with 98% of ballots counted, and the certification deadline is in mid December, is it OK for the apparent victor to make announcements in November about a plan to fix the roads?

  112. ishy: I don’t think the recounts are going to change the results much, but I think they will become the norm in presidential elections if the race is within a few percentage points. And maybe recounting will make people aware that it’s harder to commit election fraud than so many people think.

    I agree. One thing that’s helping me is to read the details about counts and recounts, which vary by state. In Pennsylvania, the count is slower because they are not even allowed to open ballot envelopes until Election Day. They also go to the trouble of checking coroners’ reports to make sure the voter did not die after mailing the ballot.

    In some places, a __% gap allows a candidate to request a recount, but they have to pay for it. If the gap is smaller, the recount is automatically triggered, and funded by taxpayers.

  113. Vance,

    Good comment. More people need to wake up that covid-1984 is part of the overarching plan to censor truth and get people to submit to technocracy. Ever wonder why most of the libraries across the country are shut down because of the Temporary Access Service agreement? It’s because most of them are participating with Google in digitalizing books for a central information hub that they will control via the Hathi Trust. Not good!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_fGfjZrPfM

  114. Friend: A young adult in my life, worn down by pandemic and unemployment, watched that whole debate in horror and lost even more faith in our battered America.

    I worry about the young; their prospects (even prior to the pandemic) are not as bright as ours appeared to be decades ago.

    I have a habit of trying to interpret visible world things in “theological” categories, and my tentative interpretation of the above observation is that there is (and probably always has been) a tension between “Divine generosity” and “creaturely parsimony”.

    The Creator lavishes gifts on His creation. We image-bearers are amazing creatures and can accomplish amazing things.

    Human societies seem to have difficulty “absorbing” all this lavish Divine generosity and putting it to productive use. I don’t think that this under-use of human giftedness is an inevitable law of nature; I think it’s a consequence of how we organize society and, specifically, how we organize “work.”

    An interesting fact is that Central Banks all over the world regard “unemployment” more to be a “policy tool” or “instrument of policy” than a “policy goal”. The policy goal is price stability. Unemployment is managed to achieve that (the NAIRU concept, that “too low” unemployment will result in accelerating inflation).

    I don’t think it has to be this way.

    For an argument (IMO a persuasive one) in that direction, please consider Stephanie Kelton’s “The Deficit Myth”. This would not be a bad gift to that young person. It might engender hope that the future can be better and motivate re-engagement with our flawed democracy. The young mustn’t give; their future is on the line.

  115. Samuel Conner: That these narratives rile the “base” is an added bonus from the standpoint of those who promote them — it cements allegiance and discourages self-reflection.

    That’s a wise point.

    Foreign countries, though, are indeed constantly trying to meddle in US things—elections, business, military secrets, power grids, etc. In our elections, we need to recognize and thwart that activity without delegitimizing results.

    Sometimes it’s just agonizing to see one’s candidate lose… anybody who has voted the past 20 years or so has likely experienced that. This year, landslide victories for both sides were predicted, and so was a close count and delayed resolution.

    The delay is hard for everyone, but the public was so very animated before the election that I’m not sure a landslide for either side would have led to easy acceptance either.

  116. Samuel Conner: The Creator lavishes gifts on His creation. We image-bearers are amazing creatures and can accomplish amazing things.

    A beautiful reminder.

    The young adults I know feel like the burden is on them to solve their own problems, when all they can really do is go along with whatever conditions they face. I try to acknowledge the disappointment, and assure them that the country will recover, as it did after 1918 and after 1929. Meanwhile their patience and compliance are impressive, even as it takes a huge toll on them to protect themselves and others.

    They are amazingly open to older adults’ love and kindness these days. When I ask how they’re spending their time, they open up, and their pain and worry are obvious. We can comfort and encourage them.

  117. dee: More mercy for me, please. We have spam words that cause comments to go into moderation. I have to approve those. If you look at the next post, you will see that I have a situation at my house that has throw things into tizzy. My kitchen got gutted and now the floor I thought could stay, can’t ,so I have to pick out flooring today bedfore they start tearing it up. I have dishes, etc all over the first floor of the house. Now there is a structural engineer here needing to make some changes. I had to go to the doctor yesterday because I have an infection and five days ago, the eye doctor found something on my retina, probably due to meds I take for my psoriatic arthritis. I am seeing a retina specialist tomorrow.

    Mercy, mot, mercy. Believe it or not, my own comments get held for approval when I use spam words. But, I can approve myself.

    Dee: Please accept my apology.

  118. Friend: Hypothetically, if a mayoral candidate is up by 4%, with 98% of ballots counted, and the certification deadline is in mid December, is it OK for the apparent victor to make announcements in November about a plan to fix the roads?

    4% is unlikely to be overturned, so starting the transfer in that situation appears reasonable. But in the current situation, right now there are 47 electoral college votes among three states whose vote counts are less than 1%, and the total vote difference is less than 80,000. That’s a pretty slim margin for such a large number of electoral votes, so it does make sense to double check the count in those three states. Also, in those three states neither candidate got more than 50% of the vote. I suspect it would make a positive difference if runoff elections were required in states where no candidate gets at least 50% of the votes. But I don’t believe the federal government can mandate that.

  119. Friend: They also go to the trouble of checking coroners’ reports to make sure the voter did not die after mailing the ballot.

    While they are at it, I hope they check to see if the voter was already dead before mailing the ballot 🙂

  120. Vance: We are seeing Facebook and Twitter censor those who do not agree with their ideology. These are bigger issues than who will be our next president.

    Yes, I’ve seen this happen to left and right leaning groups and individuals. But what I see is that they are blocking unsubstantiated information, not ideogies.

  121. Max: While they are at it, I hope they check to see if the voter was already dead before mailing the ballot

    One guy did try to vote on behalf of his long-dead mother. Hint: Don’t use a typewriter. Pro tip: Choose someone who died less than five years ago. 🙂

  122. Ken F (aka Tweed): If the current winner is serious about uniting a divided country, it would be good to join the other side’s calls for recounts and verifications.

    Seems to me he is minding his own business and carrying on with getting an administration gathered without the usual help from the current administration. Not much talk coming from that side. They seem to be letting T carry on in his usual fashion.

  123. Samuel Conner: “nations get the rulers they deserve”, and if that is true of US, I fear it may be a sign of Divine displeasure with us.

    Perhaps US is like a giant megachurch experiencing an internal power struggle among two factions of the elders. The church members are instruments of the struggle.

    Bingo on that one. Instead of railing against the other party we should be looking a long careful look in the mirror. Repentance will get us out of this mess. Partisan politics is only going to be like quicksand on both sides where we are too outraged at their sinking in the sand to look down at our feet and see we have the same problem. Hypocrisy is no answer for our own moral deficiencies.

  124. Friend,

    An utterly straight fact finding question if I may.

    Separate from all other grave ills threatening every country,

    – why don’t public authorities certify the count?

    – why don’t public authorities count the count?

    – why are there protests about recount requests?

    In Britain a recount takes hours or even minutes, or in remote islands an extra day. We have observers. And we have lots of polling stations. Even at general elections the rate of business would not have been impacted by social distancing. In one municipality once, it was authorities that faked some votes but they were found out.

    This is aside from the electoral college problems.

    I tried this question in an international forum and met with little comprehension. When practical matters are dealt with, is strife going to find its true level and is attention going to be given to real issues?

    The BBC and the Guardian differed by 11 in the delegate count for one of the candidates, for several days.

    I lived through several church splits and it breaks my heart to see the world copy the churches’ method of fake rows.

  125. ken,

    A new conspiracy theory.

    But since you bring it up, Hathitrust is an absolute boon to researchers like me, who can’t always visit the libraries at Cornell and UCLA on the same day. And it’s free to use!

  126. Bridget: But what I see is that they are blocking unsubstantiated information, not ideogies.

    Yes and no. As an example, both Twitter and Facebook blocked Babylonbee for awhile even though the site is very clearly marked as satire. And Snopes has done multiple fact checks on them, which makes Snopes look like a satire site.

  127. A new statement just released by two committees within our own Department of Homeland Security, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee, and Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinate Council (SCC):

    “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.

    “When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.

    “Other security measures like pre-election testing, state certification of voting equipment, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) certification of voting equipment help to build additional confidence in the voting systems used in 2020.

    “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

    https://www.cisa.gov/news/2020/11/12/joint-statement-elections-infrastructure-government-coordinating-council-election

  128. ken: Good comment. More people need to wake up that covid-1984 is part of the overarching plan to censor truth and get people to submit to technocracy. Ever wonder why most of the libraries across the country are shut down because of the Temporary Access Service agreement? It’s because most of them are participating with Google in digitalizing books for a central information hub that they will control via the Hathi Trust. Not good

    I’m not saying it’s aliens but……it’s aliens.

  129. ken,

    I watched the vid you linked to.
    It’s thought provoking.
    Not to worry about, or suggest that the sky is falling, but if they (Hathi Trust) can do that, how long before the possibility of Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 becomes real?

  130. Ken F (aka Tweed): Yes and no. As an example, both Twitter and Facebook blocked Babylonbee for awhile even though the site is very clearly marked as satire. And Snopes has done multiple fact checks on them, which makes Snopes look like a satire site.

    Yeah, but even my dad believed the Babylon Bee was a serious news site because a certain famous person did. My dad claimed there could be no such thing as “satire news”.

  131. ishy: Yeah, but even my dad believed the Babylon Bee was a serious news site because a certain famous person did. My dad claimed there could be no such thing as “satire news”.

    Thus proving Poe’s Law. I noticed today that BB does not have the word “satire” on its front page anymore. I don’t know how to help people who are unable to recognize satire on their own. Maybe they deserve to believe it is real.

  132. Muff Potter: if they (Hathi Trust) can do that, how long before the possibility of Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 becomes real?

    I’ve had jobs in several libraries. Mice, mold, spilled drinks, acid paper, borrowers who don’t return books, deliberate book thieves, flood waters, fire, and other causes have consumed libraries and archives since ancient times. Libraries discard books for lack of space or interest. The National Archives fire of 1973 consumed over 16 million records, things like 80% of Army records from 1912 to 1960. So if you want to know what your forebears did in the world wars, you’re out of luck.

    Digitization makes books and records available on a screen. Nope, you can’t turn a paper page. But I’d rather read on a screen than not at all, especially if the book is a thousand miles away and I need the information now.

    Books under copyright might not be fully searchable, but I can use a limited search to see if a particular word is in the book, and what page it’s on. This saves time when I go to an actual library: I pluck one book off the shelf and go straight to page 59.

    Here’s a handy list of destroyed libraries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_destroyed_libraries

  133. Michael in UK: This is aside from the electoral college problems.

    The reason the US system appears so confusing is because we are a republic, not a democracy. Per our constitution, the popular vote has no bearing at all on the election of presidents. Each state gets to choose their electors according to the laws of those states. This is not a bad description of the process:
    https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/article-ii/clauses/350

    I found another article that shows how T could be elected president by the electors even if all the current vote counts in all the states stand. But that article might ruffle too many feathers.

  134. Michael in UK: – why don’t public authorities certify the count?

    – why don’t public authorities count the count?

    – why are there protests about recount requests?

    Each of the fifty states plus DC has an established schedule for certifying the count. Deadlines are as late as December 8.

    There are different kinds of recounts, canvasses, and audits—everything from quickly re-adding tallies from precincts, to manually recounting millions of ballots in a secure location, with observers and challengers.

    There are two processes at issue: counting and about recounting.

    Counting. Some states allow ballots to be received a certain number of days after Election Day. Some candidates and members of the public have challenged the counting of these late-arriving ballots.

    Recounting. A 0.3% gap might look tiny, but might be 10,000+ votes. In 2000, only one state (Florida) was a toss-up, and the tiny gap was eventually found to be 537 ballots—along with all of Florida’s Electoral College votes to break the stalemate. Recounts very rarely change the initial result.

    People want the correct answer on Election Day. If it’s not clear, sometimes they try to shorten the process (stopping the count, opposing recounts, going to court). Sometimes they try to drag the process out (asking for recounts, challenging ballots, going to court).

    Since you’re in the UK, I’d wager that the Brexit campaign put British voters through the same emotional wringer that American voters have experienced in 2000, 2008, 2016, and this year.

  135. Friend: I’d wager that the Brexit campaign put British voters through the same emotional wringer

    Thank you Friend and I realise some of the others provided some of the details also. I see that in some localities it is normal for the count to be slow for reason of extra thoroughness. Some of your states clearly deal with these matters better than others.

    In 2016 we weren’t asked to say yes or no to a specific proposal and also weren’t given more than two choices. The actual votes got counted quickly. We had at least one sinister assassination and there have been a great deal of exceedingly strange manoeuvrings, in fact I think it’s not safe to comment publicly on British politics per se.

    Our first past the post constituencies during actual elections provide the same sort of problem as the U.S. Electoral College, but for electing MPs and unmagnified. If the candidate who has been President didn’t like the way the Electoral College operates (and neither do I) he should have made a case four years ago.

    There seems to have been a lot of propaganda against the actual concept of counting, and disturbingly part of the British media are buying into that. One of the things that worried me was that part of the count “didn’t need counting” because it was in “leaning” counties.

    We have occasionally had crooked officials (in the course of their duty) in London or Yorkshire putting a few hundred forged votes into the count but I get the impression they quickly get caught. There are still far too many wrongs in politics generally, but the principle of counting, and of the Returning Officer announcing a count, hasn’t been publicly called into question here yet.

    My parents, once we were old enough to let them do their thing for a day or two and not be attended by them, and before they got too old to feel like doing it any more, volunteered to count votes a number of times. Television has often shown the scenes at counting tables in town halls / municipal leisure centres. These scenes are also often described on the radio. There are often requests for recounts / discussion of same, and these apparently get dealt with in pragmatic fashion. A recount tends to produce a figure within a couple of dozen of the earlier one. (I believe recounts are sometimes of selective wards only which I don’t approve, but it seems accepted across the board when it has occurred.) Returning Officer declarations get televised and put on the radio (subject to several simultaneous ones sometimes). We have a result when that person actually speaks it out audibly. Not very often, a slight amendment gets published after if there has been a small error in the actual announcement.

    I appreciate the care which some parts of the U.S. take to count slowly.

    My questions were because I was honestly worried. Thank you all heartily for your understanding of my concern. I think it’s important to not overreact and lose sight of pitfalls coming from another direction. I think most of those claiming to support certain politics on the grounds of supposed religion should think twice about their tactics towards their own public (and the wider public) in future.

    I took lessons in British Constitution (and yes there is one, and yes it is fragile) between the ages of 16-19 and am catching up in logic and sciences now I’m older, and I see procedures whether in governing a country, or running a church or a business, or conducting investigations in sciences, as needing to respect solid internal logic (the principle of principle). Some of my work was in language and I know the meaning of meaning.

    I’m reassured so many commenters on this thread have witnessed a bulk of calm conduct.

  136. Alarmingly there is little or no distinction, in many countries, between administration and commerce.

    I don’t know how accurate this report is but it seems to me that advertising revenue = mob rule:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/12/%5B****%5D-prop-%5B**%5D-law-%5B**%5D-ab5-gig-workers

    { **** company name, proposition serial number and profession of workers redacted from URL }

    (There are numerous similar instances in the UK not involving referendums.)

  137. Ken F (aka Tweed): The reason the US system appears so confusing is because we are a republic, not a democracy. Per our constitution, the popular vote has no bearing at all on the election of presidents. Each state gets to choose their electors according to the laws of those states. This is not a bad description of the process:
    https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/article-ii/clauses/350

    I found another article that shows how T could be elected president by the electors even if all the current vote counts in all the states stand.But that article might ruffle too many feathers.

    The article won’t, but if T actually tried to get states to do that . . . I’d certainly be ruffled.

    The electoral college was created for a certain purposes that no longer exist . . . mainly the low population of southern states due to many being counted as less than a whole. The electoral college was never meant as a winner take all scenario. It was meant to have electors vote by districts, much like two states still do today.

  138. Bridget: The article won’t, but if T actually tried to get states to do that . . . I’d certainly be ruffled.

    Here is the article:
    https://americaagain.net/how-trump-won-constitutional-election-process-explained/
    While this could be possible I think it is highly unlikely because of the ramifications. However, if B’s team comes across as taking the US on a hard left turn, it might not be as unlikely as I think. I believe the vast majority of Americans want something in between the two extremes, but it seems like the extremes are dominating both parties right now. I am hoping moderation and sanity will prevail.

  139. Bridget: The article won’t, but if T actually tried to get states to do that . . . I’d certainly be ruffled.

    That makes two of us Bridget.
    A long time ago and far away…, there was a certain Senator Palpatine who probably used similar machinery to sweep away the powers of their Senate, and declare himself Emperor.

  140. Ken F (aka Tweed): I am hoping moderation and sanity will prevail.

    Me as well. But “moderation” as well as “a hard left” need to be defined. My guess is they have different meanings to different people.

  141. Muff Potter: That makes two of us Bridget.
    A long time ago and far away…, there was a certain Senator Palpatine who probably used similar machinery to sweep away the powers of their Senate, and declare himself Emperor.

    If he did that he would be declaring himself emperor . . . a bridge to far.

  142. Bridget,

    Nothing gets substantiated on those media, but arguments in all matters are adduced elsewhere. All matters should remain open and improved methods of articulacy and inference explored. Data is not the same as a conclusion. One would do well to study Windelband, Rickert, Quine and Godel who not long ago were foundational to social and all other sciences.

  143. Dee,
    Thank you for this thoughtful and heartfelt post. Your writing here is an oasis in the desert. I’m reminded of lyrics in an old Christmas song: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

  144. Bridget: My guess is they have different meanings to different people.

    That is a huge part of the problem. And the divide seems to be getting worse. It would be good if we could get back to the days where people with opposing political views can still be good friends and still find waya to work together. Leading politicians used to model that behavior. I have not been impressed by politicians on either side.

  145. Bridget: The electoral college was never meant as a winner take all scenario. It was meant to have electors vote by districts, much like two states still do today.

    I’m not confident that the original US constitutional design was as representative as this view suggests. The franchise was much more limited at the beginning. I’ve read that there was a property ownership test for standing in and voting in elections for the state legislatures. Only males could vote. Some states had religion tests for state office; I don’t believe that these were overthrown by the adoptive of the Constitution of the Federal Government (for which religious tests are expressly forbidden). The actual “voters” at the beginning were a considerably smaller fraction of the total population than at present. The property ownership test was later relaxed. As is well known, it was many decades before the franchise was extended to females.

    My sense is that the EC may be becoming an obstacle to national unity (not the only one; we are much less culturally homogeneous than we were at the Founding); it was originally implemented to promote internal unity among the States at a time when State governments were much more powerful vis-a-vis the Federal government than they now are and sectional economic interests (most obviously slave S versus free N, but there were also other sectional divides) were more in conflict than they are today.

  146. Bridget: But “moderation” as well as “a hard left” need to be defined.

    This is a real problem. If it were not (IMO) so frustrating, it would be amusing to hear present candidates and office-holders who advocate widely favored policies (and an approach to policy like that of FDR, who is still widely respected by many [but also still hated by some]) dismissed as “extremist.” Though, to be fair, he was called that at the time, too.

    The “Overton Window” has shifted, and some things that were once mainstream are now regarded to be “extremist.” My sense is that both parties have cooperated in this.

    Dee — please clip this one out if I’ve gone “too far.”

  147. Samuel Conner,

    The US also did not have the secret ballot until the last two decades of the 1800s. Voters could be intimidated and threatened. Votes could be bought. This played a role in states’ decisions whether or not to secede.

    Not to mention that think about voters having to be white male property owners. I was recently reading a journal from the era, in which the writer ridiculed the idea of people who did not own land thinking they should be allowed to help elect politicians.

  148. Samuel Conner: I’m not confident that the original US constitutional design was as representative as this view suggests.

    I wasn’t suggesting it was representative at that point. I didn’t bring up the free, landowner, white, male voters only scenario. To me, anyway, the EC is completely out dated just as the free, white, male, landowner is outdated.

  149. The reason I wrote this post is to discuss how we treat those who disagree with one another. It was especially aimed at Christians.

    Please try to stick to this theme.

  150. Friend: I was recently reading a journal from the era, in which the writer ridiculed the idea of people who did not own land thinking they should be allowed to help elect politicians.

    Yes, an originalism view of the constitution has the same problems as the literalists view of scripture.

  151. dee: The reason I wrote this post is to discuss how we treat those who disagree with one another. It was especially aimed at Christians.

    It seems to me that many Christians treat those with a differing political view worse than they treat other Christians with a differing scriptural view. And if your not a Christian and have a differing view, you’re pretty much dirt. It’s all very unChristlike as far as I can see.

  152. Samuel Conner: My sense is that the EC may be becoming an obstacle to national unity

    But the alternative could be worse. The problem is we won’t know until well after we get rid of it. It will be interesting to see how things go for CO in 2024 – it could be a way to test it. I suspect none of the candidates will campaign in CO because it won’t help any of their campaigns – the best way to get the CO electoral votes will be to skip CO and get the votes from the big cities in places like CA and NY.

    An alternative to getting rid of the EC, which would require a constitutional convention (which opens Pandora’s Box), could be to divide the larger states into multiple smaller states. But they would probably have very odd shapes due to gerrymandering.

  153. Ken F (aka Tweed): It would be good if we could get back to the days where people with opposing political views can still be good friends and still find waya to work together.

    I second the motion.
    I do remember (when I was a little kid) that you could wear your I LIKE IKE button without fear of getting the poo-poo beaten out of you by thugs from the other side.
    Times have changed and not for the better in some ways.

  154. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I strongly share your concern about discarding the Electoral College, even though the US has gradually moved closer to direct elections.

    I don’t think a constitutional convention is the only way to start the amendment process, though. According to Archives.gov, “The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution.”

    (None of this is happening in the foreseeable future.)

  155. dee,

    In keeping with the Christian trend theme. The American table is becoming increasingly diverse. American democracy hasn’t really changed but the American milieu has. At one time the majority of folks came from less diverse backgrounds, mostly Christian in outlook but now most Americans seem to embrace other views. Social conservatism is eroding and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
    I see the constitution taking the place of the faith in more interactions. More voices want to be heard & we’re seeing the effects of that. Some are not taking the changing status quo as well as others.
    What this means is Christianity will become a voice not the voice. Maybe this is an opportunity not something to be lamented. Freedom for all means freedom for you.
    There’s a lot to be thankful for. Even in contention Americans still look to the constitution as their foundation. That respect runs deep. For the us armed forces it would be anathema to intervene in a civilian election. That isn’t the same everywhere.
    Christians have an opportunity to be a voice of reason in an unsettled time.

  156. Muff Potter: I do remember (when I was a little kid) that you could wear your I LIKE IKE button without fear of getting the poo-poo beaten out of you by thugs from the other side.

    That’s what bothers me about the old adage that people shouldn’t talk about politics or religion. It seems to me that politics is an awkward silence between good friends nowadays.

    And it’s ill defined. Recently I mentioned to a friend, who works at a hospital, that an Economist article tried to calculate the economic benefit of wearing masks. All I managed to say was that the article existed. Thought this was a safe topic with someone I’ve known 10 years. Then her husband suddenly joined the discussion to rant about the Economist oversimplifying the economy, and yell about the GDP. I apologized and back pedaled and felt like a heel and changed the subject.

    I would have loved to ask if my friend’s husband had read the article, and what he thought about it. The family wears masks, which are not even mandatory here. It’s not clear to me why the topic was radioactive. But I was the one who “mentioned politics,” eh?

    Maybe we need to be less fragile, in addition to being less mean.

  157. Jack: Christians have an opportunity to be a voice of reason in an unsettled time.

    But will we? There are sincere Christians on both sides of this. Both sides, whether Christian or not, appear to believe that the other side is destroying our democracy/republic and pushing us toward a dictatorship. Both sides accuse the other of trampling the constitution. Both sides appear to believe they have unimpeachable evidence for ttheir views. Both sides appear to believe the other side is either evil, deceived, or both. Both sides appear to believe that responsibility for change is on the other side. I don’t see a way for the two sides to find common ground without some kind of significant emotional event. And Christians don’t seem to be any better at bridge building right now than anyone else.

  158. Friend: Maybe we need to be less fragile, in addition to being less mean.

    “If you smile at me I will understand
    ‘Cause that is something
    Everybody everywhere does in the same language…

    I can see by your coat, my friend you’re from the other side
    There’s just one thing I got to know
    Can you tell me please who won?”

    — Stephen Stills and David Crosby 1969 —

  159. Ken F (aka Tweed): But will we?

    Ken F, you seem to be so I don’t believe it’s a lost cause. Tensions are high, but more people voted in this election than ever, so people care.
    I don’t live in the states so all my news comes from the media but my sister in law lives in New Jersey and they’re not seeing mass insurrection in the streets. Most people want to live their lives. The tensions are higher than normal due to the current economic situation, the political rhetoric reflects that.
    I still think this a symptom of demographic changes within the American population.
    Is there trouble brewing? I don’t know but if it gets the ratings up, I’m sure it’ll be in the news cycle!
    I’ve travelled through the states extensively. Lots of driving holidays, never felt unsafe. I remain optimistic.

  160. Jack: I remain optimistic.

    I try to be optimiatic. Even though I lean one way more than the other I try to maintain healthy relations with people from both sides. In doing this I find myself too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals. It turns out that the ground near the middle is more like a “demilitarized” zone with landmines and snipers posted on both sides. And both sides think there is something wrong with anyone in this zone.

  161. Ken F (aka Tweed): both sides think there is something wrong with anyone in this zone.

    At a luncheon, a friend of mine mentioned that she and her husband cancel out each other’s votes. Two other people pounced: what do you find to talk about, isn’t that impossible these days, I’m shocked that somebody who works as a ___ would vote that way, etc.

    I really admired my friend, who calmly listened to this palaver and said, We’re fine, it’s just not a topic.

    This kind of “mixed marriage” is probably harder now than at some other times. Still, it was dismaying to see people challenge a person’s marriage, as if one spouse must see the other as subhuman.

  162. Ken F (aka Tweed): It turns out that the ground near the middle is more like a “demilitarized” zone with landmines and snipers posted on both sides. And both sides think there is something wrong with anyone in this zone.

    Isn’t this the truth! So sad it is though.

  163. Ken F (aka Tweed): I try to be optimiatic. Even though I lean one way more than the other I try to maintain healthy relations with people from both sides. I

    Well, all actions start with one person. So keep doing what you’re doing.
    America has seen polarization before, there were huge riots in the sixties. Keep in mind, though a given protest may seem to have large numbers, it is really a gathering of like minds. On the whole it is likely a minority that takes such action. Most people just want to live their lives in peace.
    This will pass.
    Jesus won’t make the problem go away but I do think that Christians who follow the example of the Gospels will weather the storm better than those who cling to a golden age that never was.

  164. Ken F (aka Tweed): I don’t see a way for the two sides to find common ground without some kind of significant emotional event. And Christians don’t seem to be any better at bridge building right now than anyone else.

    Christianity has lost its voice in America. The only things that have drawn Americans reasonably together in the last few decades have been war and natural disasters. A plague is not even doing it this time.

  165. Remember last week I asked for prayer? It is beginning to sound like my church is embracing the idea the election is the end of the world, and those on the “wrong side” really are more or less fighting in Satan’s army. UGH! I do realize that may be my perception and be quite wrong.

    But just to try something different today, or convince myself it isn’t all that bad, or something, I went to the local SBC mega wanna-be website and took a listen.

    Imagine my surprise: clear message that if you are upsetted off with the election results, not getting your guy elected IS NOT PERSECUTION. And if your guy did get elected, that is not a halo on your head. It was an election. About a nation and its politics. It will have ramifications we may or may not like down the line, but is not of eternal consequence as a stand alone issue.

    Kept reinforcing we are dealing with an election, with a pandemic, and with economic issues BUT what really matters is a person’s relationship with Almighty God through Jesus Christ. It was not an end times get ready for the rapture (he is not dispy) although many views of the rapture were explained. It was not a fundy scream fest that demonized either side.

    What it was was a very clear presentation of the gospel, a clear presentation that no one really knows EXACTLY the details on the hows and whens of creation or the end times, but that here IN THE MIDDLE we need to focus of loving God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and loving others as ourselves.

    Even in an election year. Even in a pandemic. Even in an economic downturn.

    I must admit I found it refreshing.

  166. Max: Christianity has lost its voice in America.

    It depends on what you mean. Christianity doesn’t have a monolithic ‘voice’. There are competing christianities. But if you mean that demographic shifts mean there are less people identifying as Christian (or a specific brand of Christian) then I would agree. But what’s happened to create that shift? Is it the rise of authoritarianism? Is it the losing battles like same sex marriage? Is the excess that we see with clowns like Falwell? Is it the asinine pathological patriarchy of 9 Marks et al? Abusive RC priests?
    Probably all of the above to varying degrees depending on your Christian experience. Ultimately there is no explanation for the suffering that we call life, and the structure that we call religion doesn’t really help.
    I’ve mentioned before that my wife’s family are actually converts. She comes a Muslim/Buddhist background – though her grandfather was mostly secular in outlook. It was kindness and tolerance that led to whole family converting.
    If christians can focus on the message of redemption and tolerance that’s found in the gospel then people might listen. No one wants to live in the Old Testament.

  167. Jack: If christians can focus on the message of redemption and tolerance that’s found in the gospel then people might listen.

    Meanwhile, the comments in today’s e-church post are becoming FB worthy. Sigh…

  168. Ken F (aka Tweed): Meanwhile, the comments in today’s e-church post are becoming FB worthy. Sigh…

    I don’t listen to sermons anymore. I was curious about this one. What I know of his guy is he’s hard right. The felony violation & adultery are the least of it. History of mocking school shooting victims, a history of stating slavery wasn’t so bad and blaming liberals for 9/11. Tww seems aware of this. What I heard here was someone saying all the right things. Playing to the house. It had all the authenticity of a three dollar bill. Nothing I haven’t heard before and no acknowledgement of any past transgression. Dinesh might not be ordained but certainly had the jingoism down pat.
    Don’t follow twitter but one of the commenters stated this guy defines Christianity by your political affiliation. Sin leveling and a king David defense? Maybe that’s how Enid rolls but I don’t expect it from tww.
    But I’m with you, the name calling was not required but people have placed tww on a bit of a pedestal and can be nasty when they don’t meet the perceived ideal.
    Don’t do FB so don’t know what happens there. Don’t worry, Ken F. this’ll pass.

  169. Jack,

    Blinkers. You could turn the word ‘don’t’ into a drinking game with my comment. I really need to buy a thesaurus

  170. Jack: I don’t listen to sermons anymore.

    I’m getting close to that. I got off FB the fall of 2018 and….I don’t miss it. I’ve found other things…to waste my time on. I don’t have a twitter account. But I do sort of miss extended family and friend pics. But close family and friends share some via phone texts, too, so that helps.

    I had to look Dinesh up and took note of not being in his political camp. I did listen to his testimony. I don’t plan to watch the movies. After looking him up, I am glad that others pushed back a bit. Of course, it’s better when push back is civil. Disclosure: I haven’t been perfect in that regard either.

    It would be nice to see more Zacchaeus type repentance from Christian leaders who’ve publicly taught inaccurate things. I think, though, that that has gotten harder and harder to feasibly do with some(not all) media taking things out of context and just the increasing speed of technology. So, admittedly, I don’t know what that would look like exactly. But, I think that it might be really “winsome”(a TGC teacher’s word). In one video that I watched of Dinesh being interviewed he said that Obama was not a philanderer. If that is true then it would be nice and civil to hear that acknowledged repeatedly. Maybe it has been and I just have not been diligent in checking things out. I am new to learning who Dinesh is.

    I like Roger E Olsen’s posts on Christianity and politics- John Rawls – maximizing the minimum.

    Jesus saying “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” keeps coming to mind and reminds me of a government department head where I worked long ago saying “Everyone wants to make policy, no one wants to implement it.” I could be wrong but I don’t think Jesus was saying we need more policy makers and non-first touchers. Admittedly, Roger E Olsen acknowledges, I think, that the ideas of John Rawls haven’t been easily implemented. I’m rambling a bit, but hope this is somewhat understandable.

    Some of my close, good friends are a physics instructor and his wife. I took classes from him as a young adult. We’ve stayed in touch a bit over the years. He is Danish. We have great “spiritual” conversations and he and his wife always start them. I just share what I’ve read and what I’ve seen in church experiences. I don’t feel a need to convert them. I can tell he’s already read the science battle front and he sees the line, I think. They tell me that in Denmark a college professor can talk to a coffee shop barista peer to peer, that there is not as much of an educational or economic caste system there. It sounds refreshing. I’m sure it’s not perfect.

  171. Jack: Don’t worry, Ken F. this’ll pass.

    I bought one of D’Souza’s apologetics books probably more than 10 years ago, before I knew of him as a political figure. I don’t recall any red flags in that book, and in the meantime I have not been keeping up with him.

    I’ll go out on a limb and state that both sides of any issue, political or otherwise, are rooted in valid concerns or fears. The problem is the other side almost always misunderstands those fears and concerns. We appear to be developing a culture where any attempt to understand the other side is viewed as some kind of foolish compromising. And it does not take much for one side to rile up the other. We need a way to have vigorous disagreement without dehumanizing the other side because most issues are not binary.

  172. Ken F (aka Tweed): I bought one of D’Souza’s apologetics books probably more than 10 years ago, before I knew of him as a political figure.

    I learned long ago that it’s entirely possible to assess ideas on their own merits, regardless of the sexual proclivities and/or the political views of their authors.

  173. Muff Potter: I learned long ago that it’s entirely possible to assess ideas on their own merits, regardless of the sexual proclivities and/or the political views of their authors.

    Using the example of this week’s echurch sermon, if Mr DeSouza had paid his debt to society, expressed remorse for his marital infidelity (really only his partner can forgive him but I’ll concede he can be sincere in remorse) then ok, I give the guy a hearing.
    If he has opinions about politics and political figures that are strong, that’s fine. Pundits can be Christian and sincere in their beliefs. If he’s earning a good payday as a political commentator, then he’s got a product folks are buying into, and that’s cool.
    However, if he has not walked back from his mocking of school shooting victims, his position on slavery in United States past, his assertion on 9/11 then we have a problem. If he continues to define a true Christian by political affiliation as some commenters allege (sorry I don’t do social media) then any message falls into the same junk mail category as John Piper, mark Driscoll, Doug Wilson, Mark Dever and the other parade of clowns.
    From what I heard in his testimony, he brought up that he came to Christianity at Calvary Chapel, which I understood to be one of the quasi cult churches mentioned here. I didn’t hear him bring his Catholic upbringing or Jesuit education. Anyway the testimony didn’t resonate with me, pastor Wade claimed it brought three people who don’t usually attend church to Christ, which I find odd as I understand reformed folks are irresistibly drawn to Christ – meaning Dinesh could have just danced the hokey pokey and got the same result. I have to be honest, comparing the guy to King David made me roll my eyes
    Emmanuel Enid isn’t my faith community so who they listen to is their business. It probably would not be community that I would find common ground with even if I was still a believer so it’s cool.
    I do think it was an odd choice of sermon for tww but they found it interesting so vive la difference. The comments are fairly balanced and hopefully continues to stay so.

  174. Jack: The comments are fairly balanced and hopefully continues to stay so.

    Let me clarify that. The comments in general on the site not the name calling at echurch. While I disagree with the guest speaker, the site as a whole is not bad.

  175. I am so distressed by the troubled state of our country, and I am especially grieved by the fact that Christians are playing a large role in it.

    It seems that we no longer have a shared respect for truth. I’ve been stunned to see Christians embrace the idea that truth can be relative, and that ethics change depending on the situation. A certain sin disqualifies one person, yet is completely overlooked in another person, from whom we stand to gain. Facts can be ‘alternative.’

    I have been so disheartened to see Christians grow callous towards the welfare of other people and disregard any duty towards those who are weaker. Some have taken on a prideful sort of bravado.

    Many, if not most, of the Christians I know have cut themselves off from the most reliable sources of factual information. They are not aware of the role of an independent press in the foundation of our liberty. They are unaware of what is involved in ethical journalism. They know nothing of the organizations that support excellence in journalism. They only trust partisan or ‘Christian’ sources, which gives them a very one-sided and incomplete view. They do not seem capable of discerning the difference between the front page and the opinion page, or between propaganda designed to influence them, and neutral, factual information. They are unwilling to grapple with information that does not confirm what they already believe.

    I would say, I think that every Christian I know has embraced some kind of conspiracy theory. Some have even embraced extremely bizarre ones. They find it believable to think that almost everyone in the world is lying. They don’t trust people who have lifetimes of study, experience, and distinguished service. They are easily persuaded to believe the worst about anyone. They do not check the record to find out if accusations are true before passing them on. They spread misinformation and hoaxes. They dehumanize those on ‘the other side.’

    Sadly, I do not know any Christians who make use of fact-checking organizations, even though there are several that are easily accessible online.

    Most of the Christians I know have strong opinions about politics, yet I don’t personally know any who felt the civic responsibility to watch hearings or testimony themselves and exercise their own ability to discern truth. They readily take someone else’s word as to what they should believe.

    Another thing that bothers me is that, instead of looking at the other side’s platform and learning about it, they let the opposing side tell them what it is. And, of course, this tends to be very inaccurate.

    I feel a call to act as salt and light. To encourage people to treat others with respect and kindness, to question information and double-check it, to believe in and seek truth, to beware of simplistic answers, to beware of those who flatter and pander to you.

    I’ve not told anyone how I voted, yet I’ve found that if I simply question a political belief, I am assumed to be a ‘radical’ from the other side. I’ve been attacked on a personal level and called silly, derogatory names just for asking questions or asking what the evidence is. I have lost friendships. This divide has split my own family down the middle and has broken my heart. But I continue to reach out and seek peace and mutual respect and understanding.

    “My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.”

  176. Ken F (aka Tweed): I’ll go out on a limb and state that both sides of any issue, political or otherwise, are rooted in valid concerns or fears. The problem is the other side almost always misunderstands those fears and concerns. We appear to be developing a culture where any attempt to understand the other side is viewed as some kind of foolish compromising. And it does not take much for one side to rile up the other. We need a way to have vigorous disagreement without dehumanizing the other side because most issues are not binary.

    I think that this is so very true, and I also think that both sides are needed and bring different perspectives to issues that should, ideally, balance each other. I think of the biblical analogy to the body, where all the parts of the body have their important place and must work together in order for the body (in this case, society) to be healthy.

  177. Jack: I do think it was an odd choice of sermon for tww but they found it interesting so vive la difference. The comments are fairly balanced and hopefully continues to stay so.

    Let me add:
    Wade Burleson and I are parsecs apart on political views, and I dare say on some theological issues as well.
    Nonetheless, I still enjoy many of his articles immensely, especially his historical vignettes.

  178. SiteSeer: I’ve not told anyone how I voted, yet I’ve found that if I simply question a political belief, I am assumed to be a ‘radical’ from the other side.

    It’s not only the USSR and its imitators who turned Politics into a Fundamentalist Religion.
    “DIE, HERETICS!!!!!!”

  179. SiteSeer: I would say, I think that every Christian I know has embraced some kind of conspiracy theory.

    Christians have been suckers for Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory since at least the Burning Times.

    Here’s my go-to-essay on the subject since before Y2K:
    http://www.acts17-11.com/conspire.html

    Some have even embraced extremely bizarre ones. They find it believable to think that almost everyone in the world is lying.

    “If your Conspiracy Theory doesn’t fit the facts, INVENT A BIGGER CONSPIRACY!”
    — Kooks Magazine

    Until you reach the ultimate theoretical end state: Everybody in the entire Universe except YOU are part of The Conspiracy.

    The Prophet Robert Zimmerman sang prophetically of this process:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AylFqdxRMwE

  180. Jack: From what I heard in his testimony, he brought up that he came to Christianity at Calvary Chapel, which I understood to be one of the quasi cult churches mentioned here.

    Where I live (near Ground Zero), there was NO Salvatrion outside of Calvary Chapel, it so Utterly Dominated the Christian scene. From my experience with Calvary Chapel Bots, any association with them is a warning flag.

    CC struck me as distilling down into one concentrated package all the ways a church could go wrong.

  181. Jack: I didn’t hear him bring his Catholic upbringing or Jesuit education.

    Calvary Chapel is HEAVY-DUTY Anti-Catholic. Alberto Rivera, Hislop’s Two Babylons Mystery Babylon Revealed/Nimrod/Semiramis/Tammuz, I heard them quoted as SCRIPTURE on Christian radio back in the Seventies (which was locally dominated by CC). One of the CC celebs, PastorRaulReesCalvaryChapelWestCovina (all one word) — from what I heard on his radio program, let’s just say his anti-Catholicism was literally impossible to exaggerate.

    Anyway the testimony didn’t resonate with me, pastor Wade claimed it brought three people who don’t usually attend church to Christ, which I find odd

    Remember “Souls” (NOT people) are the currency of Heaven, determining your favor before God on the Last Day. Apparently at the Great White Throne, the only question God will ask you is “How Many Souls Did YOU Lead to Christ?”

    When Mike Warnke was exposed as a fraud, one of his taunts to his accusers was “How Many Souls Did YOU Save?”

    In a lot of Evangelicalism, the End of Saving Souls(TM) justifies any Means.

  182. Jack: She comes a Muslim/Buddhist background

    That’s an odd combination.
    The only other place I heard of “Buddislamic” was when I read Dune in my college years.

  183. Friend: The US also did not have the secret ballot until the last two decades of the 1800s. Voters could be intimidated and threatened. Votes could be bought. This played a role in states’ decisions whether or not to secede.

    Do you remember the Election Day scene in the movie Gangs of New York?
    That was no exaggeration.
    Hiring street gangs as pollwatchers (the Plug Uglies got their name from this; they were hired as pollwatchers to “Plug the Ugly”, i.e. Stab any voter who Voted Wrong). The repeaters, changing clothes and shaving off first beard, then mustache between trips to the polling place (some of them gang members, others “knock-and-dragged” off the street and press-ganged by the gangs). Results known (and paid for) in advance. Street gangs sponsoring their own political party blocs like “The Native Americans” (political wing of The Bowery Boys (gang), totally anti-Irish at a time when Irish weren’t white people).

    “I seed my opportunites and I took ’em.”
    — George W Plunkett, NYC Alderman (city council), Plunkett of Tammany Hall

  184. Friend: Sometimes it’s just agonizing to see one’s candidate lose…

    Especially when your candidate has become your Personal LORD and Savior.
    (I first saw that happen with my parents regarding Ross Perot in ’92. Bad craziness.)

  185. SiteSeer: I also think that both sides are needed and bring different perspectives to issues that should, ideally, balance each other.

    I generally agree. But it remains possible that one side is still wrong.

  186. SiteSeer,

    Your whole comment is great, so I won’t quote any particular piece of it. It seems to me that the people wearing tinfoil hats on both sides are all loudly arguing why the hat looks great on me but not on you.

  187. Headless Unicorn Guy: That’s an odd combination.
    The only other place I heard of “Buddislamic” was when I read Dune in my college years.

    Depends on what part of the world you’re from. Her grandmother’s family came from a Muslim ethnic group, with Chinese mixed in & her grandfather was full blooded Chinese. It’s a very eclectic society.

  188. Headless Unicorn Guy: From my experience with Calvary Chapel Bots, any association with them is a warning flag.

    Yeah. That’s kind what I felt. And I haven’t even had the experience of meeting a chapel bot.

  189. Headless Unicorn Guy: In a lot of Evangelicalism, the End of Saving Souls(TM) justifies any Means.

    Today the pastor of Emj’s church called. I’m so cynical that I’m not sure if it’s sincere or trying to drum up business. I felt Dinesh’s sermon was the same way. A scripted event. Just lacks authenticity. But I never understood the evangelical experience.

  190. Headless Unicorn Guy: Until you reach the ultimate theoretical end state: Everybody in the entire Universe except YOU are part of The Conspiracy.

    I think we are getting real close to that stage.

  191. Ken F (aka Tweed): SiteSeer: I also think that both sides are needed and bring different perspectives to issues that should, ideally, balance each other.

    I generally agree. But it remains possible that one side is still wrong.

    Absolutely. But being forced to work things through with those who think differently forces someone to think through what they believe or what their goals are, to examine and analyze them, to check for blind spots, and to make adjustments that give it a wider appeal so that it works for more people.

    Now, I’m talking about two honest parties, that each love this country and each want the best, but have two different perspectives as to what kind of policies work best. This is the normal situation.

    Unfortunately, what happens when one party has been overtaken by the lust for power to the point it no longer stands for anything else? And has no goals beyond more power? No policies, no solutions, no concern for the welfare of the people of the country? When they embrace any kind of dirty tricks in the pursuit of power? Then you have the situation where one normal party is trying to reason with and work with a psychopath. It can’t work and we all end up losers as a result. And I think we are in that very dangerous place in this country.

  192. SiteSeer: being forced to work things through with those who think differently forces someone to think

    As a culture we seem less and less willing to do this as time goes on. It’s possible that it has always been this bad, but it seems to me that it’s getting worse. And it’s not confined to just a few spheres. Pick a topic and one will find it dominated by extreme views attacking the other side.

  193. SiteSeer: Unfortunately, what happens when one party has been overtaken by the lust for power to the point it no longer stands for anything else?

    Unfortunately, both sides believe this is true about the other, and both sides have good evidence to believe their side. And it appears that people on one side cannot possibly imagine how their side could be wrong. This dynamic is not limited to politics. It can be seen in church splits, ideological takeovers of churches (e.g. New-Calvinism), what to do with abusive church leaders, or even how to install a roll of TP.

  194. SiteSeer: And I think we are in that very dangerous place in this country.

    I think the vast majority of people agree with this. But there is huge division over what are the best solutions.

  195. Ken F (aka Tweed): I think the vast majority of people agree with this. But there is huge division over what are the best solutions.

    We can’t do anything on the macro level so at a grass roots level keep the conversation civil.
    This division is a challenge but one that needs to happen. There is a shift in the American demographic on the ethnic, religious, and social fronts. More people from a wider spectrum voted in this election, far different from the traditional ‘blocs’ (of which evangelical Christianity was one). From a Christian trends perspective, this shift scares the blink out of the majority bloc. They feel threatened and now are doubling down on authoritarian tactics, trying to stop this flood. Christianity is controlling less of the conversation than it used to. Combine that with this pandemic and it’s social and economic fallout and it’s no wonder conspiracy theories abound. Because it can’t possibly be that our ‘system’ has issues that need challenging. It must be some shadowy cabal of (insert favorite bad guys here).
    America’s political structure will survive this. There’s going to be some painful moments, maybe uncomfortable conversations, court challenges and protests but this is far from civil war.
    America will come out stronger in the end. what Christians need to do is evangelize on the strongest points, the tolerance an kindness that Jesus embodied. Jesus could have turned over the Roman Empire as easily as he turned over the tables in the temple but he didn’t. Christianity is still here and the Roman Empire is not.
    Nobody is going back in the closet, the table is now crowded with people who traditionally had little or no voice. They are going to be loud and they aren’t all identifying as Christian.

  196. Jack: We can’t do anything on the macro level so at a grass roots level keep the conversation civil.

    I have family and friends on both sides, so I do my best to not ruffle feathers. But that has limited success. It seems that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. All this turmoil will be for good if it shakes people back to a reaonable sense of sanity where real dialogue can occur without a threat of being cancelled.

  197. Ken F (aka Tweed): All this turmoil will be for good if it shakes people back to a reaonable sense of sanity where real dialogue can occur without a threat of being cancelled.

    I’m not even sure what ‘cancelled’ means in this context. Some folks want to return to the golden age that never was. At my wife’s church the pastor once waxed nostalgically for the time when you knew what your neighbors were all. I’m suspecting he meant of good Christian values.
    But there was still abuse and much injustice was lingering the surface. As I was growing up, Christianity in both Catholic & protestant forms controlled the conversation. We said the Lord’s prayer in our secular public school (we also had to sing ‘god save the Queen’ in addition to the national anthem.
    We don’t now, and that’s a good thing. The neighbors aren’t like me and that’s also a good thing. People talk about abuse openly, we generally are pushing towards a greater good. Some folks who use ‘cancel’ are unhappy their voice has lost dominance. They now have to compete with other voices that were always there but often were subsumed by that majority.
    Anyway, for me Americans can still be assured that whoever sits in the white House is a citizen born in America.
    Canada still has a foreigner as her head of state. Bugs me no end.
    Keep doing what you’re doing, Ken F. It’ll all work out.

  198. Ken F (aka Tweed): As a culture we seem less and less willing to do this as time goes on. It’s possible that it has always been this bad, but it seems to me that it’s getting worse.

    This is due to media sources that gain from dividing us. There is a great documentary called “The Brainwashing of My Dad” that traces this trend from the beginning. You can find it on a lot of streaming sites for a fee or you can see it for free on imdb.com

  199. Ken F (aka Tweed): have family and friends on both sides, so I do my best to not ruffle feathers. But that has limited success. It seems that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. All this turmoil will be for good if it shakes people back to a reaonable sense of sanity where real dialogue can occur without a threat of being cancelled.

    I do, too. The problem that I have is that one side accepts that truth exists and can be known; that facts have evidence that can be sought and checked. The other side does not. Those of us who agree that truth exists and facts can be checked can discuss ideas and policies and have differences of opinion in good will. But it’s pretty much impossible to have a discussion with someone whose opinions are based on false information that has no evidence behind it and who reject all other sources of factual information. They only trust their own partisan sources, which do not fact check and present fabricated stories as though they are facts. How can a person ever come to recognize truth in any area and base their ideas and opinions on reality if they don’t trust or accept any news source or journalism as trustworthy? They are cut off from reality and trapped in a world where they are dependent on a leader to tell them what is true.

    It is so similar to what I’ve experienced in church. It brings to mind the BITE model, where information is tightly controlled. Any information coming from outside the group is to be distrusted. This leaves the group leaders free to lie and manipulate because there is no avenue for the members to seek information elsewhere. Those of us on this site, most of us have experience of how this works out. This is the basis of a cult.

  200. SiteSeer: This is due to media sources that gain from dividing us.

    Are any media sources trying to unite us? It seems to me they are all catering to their respective right/left bases. Most of them don’t even try to pretend to be objective anymore. We need a free press, allegedly to expose things like corruption. But there is apparently not much money to be made in being objectivity. I suppose we get what we pay for.

  201. SiteSeer: The problem that I have is that one side accepts that truth exists and can be known; that facts have evidence that can be sought and checked. The other side does not.

    Unfortunately, both sides believe this to be true only about the other side. Both sides believe the facts are on the other side and that only the other side is deceived.

  202. Ken F (aka Tweed): Unfortunately, both sides believe this to be true only about the other side. Both sides believe the facts are on the other side and that only the other side is deceived.

    They may believe this, but let’s go a step further and check. When a claim is made, facts can be looked up. For instance, a claim was recently made about the manufacturer of certain voting machines. Those claims were easily proven false because the manufacturer can be looked up. So, at that point, you have one side that accepts evidence as fact and the other side that then goes a step further and decides that business records and patent filings are also lies. I don’t know how to find common ground with those who think every person and every agency is lying, if it doesn’t align with what they already believe.

  203. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    There are many sources of media. Some are slanted left, some are neutral, and some are slanted right. Here is a good chart https://library.fvtc.edu/News/BiasCheck

    Personally, I like AP and Reuters. NPR is very good.

    There are journalism organizations with codes of ethics https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp and reputable sources hold to these ethics. They also employ fact checkers and do not print stories that don’t pass them. They print retractions and corrections if mistakes are made, and they will fire reporters who fail to live up to the standard.

  204. SiteSeer: When a claim is made, facts can be looked up.

    As amazing as this seems, whenever I have a conversation like this one side or the other always ends up accusing me of not seeing how wrong the other side is. The only difference is which particular topic it is – each side seems to have its favorite hot spots and blinders. I have family and friends on both sides, so I am very familiar with the arguments from both sides. What unites the two sides is their firm conviction that their side is right and the other side is wrong, that their side is dealing in facts and reality and the other side is dealing in lies and illusions. If you have not experienced this yourself it could be that you don’t closely know enough people on the other side. It would be comical if the results were not so damaging. More of the same is going to yield more of the same.

  205. SiteSeer: There are many sources of media.

    Can you recommend any sources that are trying to unite people from both the left and the right. Not just sources who are neutral, but ones that are actively promoting unity?