Will David Jeremiah Lead an Exodus Out of the Minimalist Corner?

We are grateful that the Bible King has inadvertently helped lead a caravan of America’s Christians further into the minimalist corner.

That has so opened our eyes to how we may be able to stifle the growth of Christianity in China, while also changing and taking the Christians off desperate ground.

But, you also need to know that our team realizes that the Bible King is a Dangerous Man to us.

You see, Paula discovered something worrisome about the Bible King. It turns out he also embraces the idea that the Bible is a story and that story is powerful. Look what we found… it’s really rather amazing…


The Bible is one book–it has one ultimate author (God) and one storyline with a beginning and an end — but it can also be viewed as a collection of individual books with different authors, settings, and themes.

Dr. David Jeremiah, The Jeremiah Study Bible

In response to those who were suspicious about the power of story to present truth, Lewis said, “Reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” He was saying that stories can align reason with imagination and mind with emotion. When truth is put in imaginative form, it can be driven not only into the mind but also into the heart.

So I asked myself, Could stories be used to drive the message of Revelation into the human heart? ….

Capturing these players through the lens of story allow Revelation to come to life in a new way. It enables us not only to see the overarching truths of Scripture but also to experience them vicariously. It gives us the chance to see the actions of these individuals up close and personal as they play out his cosmic drama.

David Jeremiah, Agents of the Apocalypse

We have a direct line to the One who knows what happens on the next page because He has written the whole story.

David Jeremiah, Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World

When we hold the Bible in our hands, we aren’t holding an anthology or a bundle of scattered and miscellaneous thoughts. We’re holding one comprehensive, cohesive volume with a logical beginning and ending, telling us one story centered around one Person – Jesus Christ.

It’s as though a Master Author was behind it all, which there was.

David Jeremiah, Journey: Moments of Guidance in the Presence of God

And that makes him a dangerous man — if he ever begins to study Robert McKee and connect the dots.

Because if the Bible King ever comes to see that the Bible is the very kind of archplot story which human beings so deeply desire, well, he is in a position to cause that to go viral in America.

And it’s possible such a thing could help the Christians in America begin an exodus from the minimalist corner of the story triangle. And then America’s drama really could take an unexpected turn in a direction which our Party does not want.

So perhaps David Jeremiah is faced with the same kind of choice facing  American Christians who have been inadvertently led into the minimalist corner of the story triangle…


All Christianity concentrates on the man at the cross roads. The vast and shallow philosophies, the huge syntheses of humbug, all talk about ages and evolution and ultimate developments. The true philosophy is concerned with the instant. Will a man take this road or that? —  that is the only thing to think about, if you enjoy thinking. 

Gilbert K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

And look at this, from an email which he sent to his supporters…


It’s easy to see that integrity is no longer a priority in our world, especially when it comes to business. However, you could argue that integrity is one of the main foundations of a healthy and successful culture.

If you were with us last Sunday, we learned how the concept of integrity is like a beam of light divided into its many colors by a prism. If you direct that light we call “integrity” through the Word of God it reveals all its important dimensions.  

First, integrity means “honesty”—telling the truth no matter the cost. It means telling the same thing to everyone. Integrity means being transparent, too—not living behind a mask; being a real person. It means being honest in all our dealings. But integrity also means being loyal—being a person who keeps his word, being a friend at all times. It means defending the helpless, standing up for truth, being accountable, and not selling out—at any price.

Dr. David Jeremiah, Email, November 8, 2017

And this…


No doubt, the day David fell into sin with Bathsheba was a day he followed his usual routine. He probably had no sense that his entire destiny would change in only hours and that his choices would impact generations to come.

Days of destiny do not typically look much different than other days–until we find ourselves at an unexpected fork in the road with the rest of our years on earth hanging in the balance.

Dr. David Jeremiah, The Jeremiah Study Bible

He doesn’t have many years left, does he?

So, will he go quietly into the West … or will he change and begin to lead America’s Christians on an exodus out of the minimalist corner?

Because he has clearly been thinking about how your story may turn out…


I wish I could announce to you that the decline I have noted in these nine areas is going to undergo a major reversal by such and such a date. But I cannot. No one knows the future. America is at a delicate tipping point in her national life, and only God knows which way she will tip.  

David Jeremiah, I Never Thought I’d See the Day!

The Central Military Commission needs to keep an eye on him.

What is the Binary Core Value in the Story in the Bible?


We really were heating up as we were exploring the Christian Story through McKee’s eight stages of story. But, we went to white hot when we stepped into looking into the question of Binary Core Values in the story in the Bible.

Paula caught our attention on it first when she showed us how the core value is the first step of Stage Two…


Identifying the consumer’s unfulfilled need in Stage One leads to the first step of Stage Two: identifying the core value that best dramatizes the solution to this problem, the cure to this pain.

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

There is so much to say about this, and it’s something McKee helped us see which is so relevant to America’s unfolding drama.

And the more we explored it, the more we came to realize it shines a spotlight on why Christians in America are marching themselves onto desperate ground and letting their country come apart.

It’s about the core value in the story…


Storifled thought interprets every event in terms of its core value. In story creation, however, the word value does not refer to mono-concepts such as success, truth, loyalty, love, or freedom. Those words name only half a value. Dynamic events affect our lives not as singularities but as binaries of positive/negative value charge. They pivot our lives around experiences of success/failure, truth/lie, loyalty/betrayal, love/hate, right/ wrong, rich/poor, life/death, winning/losing, courage/cowardice, power/weakness, freedom/slavery, excitement/boredom, and many more. Values pump the lifeblood of story. 

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

It seems difficult to overstate the importance of this concept of Core Value. Look at this…


Core Value is the essential yardstick of your story.

Discover Your Story’s Core, By Anne Hawley, Story Grid

Core value.

Not something we talk about every day. But our team has come to see how we live it every day.

And Paula showed us that one of your famous pastors sees the importance of core values…


We have made many changes over the years, and I anticipate more. While the church will be in constant change, the elders have tried to keep us focused on some core values.

Francis Chan, Letters to the Church

When our team came into contact with the concept of core value, we realized we thought about “values” like most people do…


[I}n everyday conversation, when someone says an individual or institution has “values,” he means positive qualities such as truthfulness, love, generosity, hard work, loyalty, and the like. But for the story-maker, the values he invests in his telling come not as singularities but binaries of positive/negative charge: truth/lie, love/hate, generosity/selfishness, hard work/laziness, loyalty/betrayal, life/death, courage/cowardice, hope/despair, meaningfulness/meaninglessness, maturity/immaturity, justice/injustice, and on the list goes, naming all those qualities of human experience that can shift charge dynamically from positive to negative and back again.

A telling may incorporate any number, variety, and combination of values, but it anchors its content in one irreplaceable binary – the story’s core value. This value determines a story’s fundamental meaning and emotion. 

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

A story’s fundamental meaning and emotion? In binary form?

Binaries.

So our team began to ask ourselves–what is the binary core value in the story in the Bible?

What are some good options?

Someone on our team suggested Grace/Wrath … and someone else wondered if it all basically boiled down to Justice/Injustice.

That’s when I jumped in with what I thought may be the only real option in this discussion, what I saw in so many sermons we’d listened to, and so many proclamations by your Christian stars.

“Clearly,” I said confidently, “the core binary value in the Christian story is Good/Evil. Just think of the inciting incident in the garden all the way to the cross. It’s God’s good triumphing over Satan’s evil.”

“But Chow, what if it’s not?” Paula asked with her gorgeous knowing smile.

I said, “Do we need to revisit that video we watched from the Bible Project?” I asked.

“Yes, lets,” she said. And the whole team, loving our banter as much as we did, sat down to watch this…


After it was over, I felt a lot more confident about my opinion that Good/Evil was the core value in the Christian story. So, I turned to her and asked, very curious about what insight she might have up her sleeve, “Well Paula Wong, how do you explain the inciting incident in the garden, then?”

“Well,” she replied, unshaken, “you’re exactly spot on to go to the inciting incident and jump to the inevitable, yet surprising climax in the Christian story just like they did in that video. But is the Christian story really about Good vs. Evil? Is it focused on the fight between God and Satan?”

“No, of course not,” I shot back with a smile. “We’ve already determined we have multiple protagonists in the Christian story, and that it’s a story about God AND Man.”

“Right,” she said with a revved look on her face. “A story about God and Man.” Then she grew silent.

And I have never loved her more than I did at that moment. I knew she was about to blow us all away.

“What then?” I challenged, my confidence in my Good/Evil binary core value assertion beginning to waver.

Her smile only broadened as she asked, “So, what exactly was the disruption of the balance about in the garden? Was that all about Satan and his role in the story?”

“No,” I stammered, losing confidence by the second. “The disruption…was about Man’s relationship with God…”

“Right. Listen to what you just said. Relationship.”

The eye of every team member was on me. We all had the sense that we were about to get our next epiphany.

What if,” she asked slowly, “the core value of the Christian story is about relationship? What if the binary core value of the Christian story is Loyal love/Betrayal?”

I was blown away, along with the rest of my team. “Of course,” I whispered.

Then I turned to my team, who were all laughing by now. “Of course it’s relational,” I cried. And turning to Paula I asked the next thing in my head, “just like the Trinity?”

“Just like the Trinity,” she smiled.

Everyone nodded with agreement, as I spewed a further thought, “Made in His image?”

“Made in His image. Made for relationship with him,” she nodded.

We sensed right away that she was right. It rang true.

I’ll include a portion of our discoveries here. Let’s start the positive side of your binary core value– loyal love. Check out how very intense it is…


Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

While we were elated with our discovery, thanks to Paula, we were also filled with a troubled feeling. You can understand this,of course. Because, even though people who embrace our version of the story we are in, desire that intensity like everyone else…


A character that displays devout loyalty to his or her own family, friends, mentors, or peers has a character trait that audience members respect and cherishloyalty.

7 Ways Screenwriters Can Create Better Character Empathy, By Ken Miyamoto, ScreenCraft, August 11, 2018

… it doesn’t make sense for them to be so passionate, given the ultimate meaninglessness of our version of the story.

But yet, this is our experience…


We celebrate loyalty even though we may sometimes despair of experiencing it. Perhaps its rarity just makes us value it all the more. By contrast, all too common is betrayal. There are little betrayals (the friend who repeats a minor secret told in confidence) and big betrayals (treason) and all manner of betrayals in between (from the husband who clears out the joint bank accounts before running off with his mistress, to the business deal done by buddies on a handshake, later undone for want of an enforceable contract). Betrayal is so common, in part, because of how easy it is for betrayal to undo loyalty. It would have taken but one person to sell out Bonnie Prince Charlie for him to have been captured. Perhaps loyalty appears scarce not because there is none to be found but because all it takes is one traitor to render the loyalty of forty-nine reliable men useless. 

Eric Felton, Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue

And, there is something else we’d like to tell you about this question of binary core value. Something which is very relevant to your dividing house.

As we’ll explore in this report, it looks like an embrace of a good/evil binary core value naturally leads to division…


Haidt and Lukianoff note how humans are constructed genetically for this kind of tribal warfare, to divide the world instinctively into in-groups and out-groups almost from infancy. For homo sapiens, it is natural to see the world, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it, as radically “divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad.” It is much harder to see, as Solzhenitsyn did, even after he had been sent to the gulag by his ideological enemies, that good and evil run through every human heart.

America, Land of Brutal Binaries, By Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Intelligencer, September 21, 2018

More on that later, though. But, you may want to meditate on this…


According to Paul, Jesus Christ as Lord and as Giver of God’s Spirit came from God to identify with us humans in our weakness and despair, in order to offer us life with God (1 Thess. 5:9—10), while he represented God in righteous and merciful agape (Rom. 5:6—8). As God’s befriending mediator for humans, Jesus aims to represent, and to offer a personal bridge between, God and humans. Specifically, he seeks to reconcile humans to God with the gift of companionship anchored in merciful agape as the power of God’s Spirit. This Good News, according to Paul, is inherently theological and Christological and hence cannot be reduced to a story of morality or ethics.

Paul Moser, The Severity of God

If you want to keep your country from descending into divorce or another civil war, you ought to take that Moser man seriously.

And now we’ll show you something else we came to see…



The Core Character & the Binary Core Value

The binary core value in the story in the Bible flows from the core character’s very nature – and, if Christianity is the story we are in, your God is the ultimate cure to the pain we’re in.

But that very realization made us agree with McKee, because beginning with the core value immediately leads you to the story in the Bible which connects to the audience in a very dynamic way…


The form of story, at its simplest, goes like this: As the telling opens, the central character’s life, as expressed in its core value (happiness/sadness, for example), is in relative balance. But then something happens that upsets this balance and decisively changes the core value’s charge one way or the other. He could, for example, fall in love (positive) or out of love (negative). The character then acts to restore life’s balance, and from that moment on a sequence of events, linked by cause and effect, moves through time, progressively and dynamically swinging the core value back and forth from positive to negative, negative to positive. At climax, the story’s final event changes the core value’s charge absolutely and the character’s life returns to balance.

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

As we noted previously, the story in the Bible is a story of God and humanity.

But your God is the core character.

Yet, each and every human being is also in the story in relation to him. And each of us has our own unique stories.

And that interwoven reality so fits with the core value – which is relational.

So, we are wondering if this may be relevant…


Therefore, regardless of the story you choose to tell, all brand stories must follow one simple principle: The core value of the story must match the core value of the brand. If these stories do not align, if promises made are not kept, the public feels betrayed and their sense of injustice indicts the brand as detrimental to their lives. 

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

Because we discovered how the core character in the story in the Bible is connected to loyal love in an astonishing way…


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:7-11

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:14-19

You can’t separate the protagonist in the Christian story from his love.

Consider the following from a famous American scholar we came across named J.I. Packer…


‘God is love’ is the complete truth about God so far as the Christian is concerned. To say ‘God is light’ is to imply that God’s holiness finds expression in everything that He says and does. Similarly, the statement ‘God is love’ means that His love finds expression in everything that He says and does.

J.I. Packer, Knowing God

And Paula showed us this…


Salient evidence of God in a Gethsemane context includes, as we cooperate, evidence of God’s deep, volitional deliverance of us from our tendencies to disobey God in our selfishness, pride, des­pair, and superficiality. Such evidence emerges in Paul’s epistemologically important remark: “Hope [in God] does not disappoint us, because God’s agape has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). This is arguably the most important epistemological statement in the New Testament and in Christian literature generally, but its importance is widely neglected among philosophers and theologians. Paul would endorse a similar view about the evidential foundation of faith, or trust, in God. As a result, hope and faith in God are not groundless in Paul’s perspective; they have a salient evidential foundation in agape from God that floods a human person inwardly. Accordingly, the agape in question is genuine evidence of God, and from God. This cru­cial lesson is widely ignored among philosophers, theologians, and others; so, correction is overdue.

Paul Moser, The Severity of God

And this also helped us to understand it…


To say, “God is love” is not the same as saying, “Love is God.” Those are very different statements. God and love are not identical, though this seems to be what some people think. They think that saying, “God is love” is all there is to say about God, that love and God are one and the same, and there is nothing further to talk about. 

It is correct to say God is love, if you are very careful with your meaning. Love is a true attribute of God, but he is more than just love. Other qualities are essential to God, too. One of them is justice. Wrongs must be punished; debts must be paid. 

Greg Koukl, The Story of Reality

And his love is a very intense and loyal love. Here are just two of the many passages from your Bible which make it very clear…


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.

For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.

Isaiah 54:5-8

And look at this…


One of the most important words in the Bible, and certainly in the Book of Psalms, is the word khesed, most often translated as “lovingkindness.”  Not only is the word descriptive of a divine attribute, but it is also the key word for covenant relationships, whether between God and people, or between people themselves.

……

God’s “loyal love” brings redemption and guidance to his people.  Exodus 15:13 records the words of Moses extolling the LORD for leading and redeeming his people at the Exodus by his steadfast love.   Accordingly, in times of war or famine (Ps. 33), the people of God pray for the outworking of God’s loyal love (v. 22).

God’s “loyal love” preserves the life of his people, even in discipline.  So the psalmist can pray at such times for the LORD to save his life because of his steadfast love (Ps. 6:4).

God’s “loyal love” brings forgiveness of sins.  David’s appeal for forgiveness is based on this: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love” (Ps. 51:1).

God’s “loyal love” brings restoration to the physical and spiritual life of his people.  Psalm 109:21-26 demonstrates this, laying out the need before praying for God to deliver by his steadfast love.

Allen P. Ross, Khesed, God’s “Loyal Love, Lovingkindness”, Christian Leadership Center

The Hebrew word חֶסֶד variously translated “kindness” (JB), “lovingkindness” (KJV, NASB), “love” (NIV), or “steadfast love” (NRSV), has the basic meaning of “unfailing love” or “loyalty.”

……

Yahweh’s “loyal-love” is an undeserved, selective affection by which He binds Himself to His people for their sake. He graciously and sovereignly grants gifts and blessings beyond anything they might hope for. And He grants these blessings contrary to what people deserve. His abounding חֶסֶד will never diminish or be exhausted since it is founded on His character and covenant commitment. And so the psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His חֶסֶדis everlasting” (Ps. 136:1).

Carl Laney, God’s Self-Revelation in Exodus 34:6-8, Bibliotheca Sacra, January 2001

There is a feminine noun khasidah, “stork,” so named because of its kind and affectionate care for its young (see Ps. 104:17).  We have an interesting illustration for our word in the usage of this word. In Job 39:13-15 the LORD compares the ostrich to the stork (or to “love” as some versions translate the word).  The ostrich is the opposite of the stork, or love (khasidah), for it abandons its young to the sand for the foot to crush or the predator to devour.  It does not have “loyal love” for its own. So by contrast the “stork” and “loyal love” are essentially synonymous.

Allen P. Ross, Khesed, God’s “Loyal Love, Lovingkindness.” Christian Leadership Center

And look at this, from your guy Peter Kreeft…


Love is also the fundamental value. It is the answer to Kant’s second question, “What should I do?” On the two commandments to love God and neighbor “depend all the law and the prophets” (Mt 22:40).

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You

This gets very emotional. And, it also looks like there is a connection between love and mystery…


So, in the Christian context, we do not mean by a “mystery” merely that which is baffling and mysterious, an enigma or insoluble problem. A mystery is, on the contrary, something that is revealed for our understanding, but which we never understand exhaustively because it leads into the depth or the darkness of God. The eyes are closed-but they are also opened.

Thus, in speaking about God as mystery, we are brought to our second “pole.” God is hidden from us, but he is also revealed to us: revealed as person and as love.

Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

And the connection between love and mystery then helped open our eyes to something huge about your God, which I could see right away when Paula revealed your binary core value–Loyal Love/Betrayal.

It’s about the ‘Trinity.’

And as one of your scholars points out… 


In the doctrine of the Trinity, we encounter one of the truly distinctive doctrines of Christianity. Among the religions of the world, the Christian faith is unique in making the claim that God is one and yet there are three who are God.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology

That so surprised us.

But it also raised another question…


Can the Trinity be a Protagonist?


Well, it puzzled us at first, but then Paula Wong discovered this…


THE PROTAGONIST

Generally, the protagonist is a single character. A story, however, could be driven by a duo, such as THELMA & LOUISE; a trio, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK; more, THE SEVEN SAMURAI or THE DIRTY DOZEN. In THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN an entire class of people, the proletariat, create a massive Plural-Protagonist.

For two or more characters to form a Plural-Protagonist, two conditions must be met: First, all individuals in the group share the same desire. Second, in the struggle to achieve this desire, they mutually suffer and benefit. If one has a success, all benefit. If one has a setback, all suffer. Within a Plural-Protagonist, motivation, action, and consequence are communal.

Robert McKee, Story

So, you can see how this got our attention…


Our God is not an egotistical, self-absorbed deity alone looking at and worshiping himself in a mirror from eternity past. Instead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in loving communal life with one another, speaking to one another, working together, giving and receiving, and delighting in each other for all eternity.

The Trinity and the Doctrine of Love, Alexander Strauch,  Emmaus Journal (Winter 2003)

And look what else Strauch wrote…


When we read that “God is love,” we are compelled to think of the triune nature of God. William Clarke writes in his book, The Christian Doctrine of God, “Love is a matter of relations and does not exist outside of them, for it implies two, lover and the beloved.” The God of the Bible is one God, yet tri-personal—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is one God in three persons; there is one-in-three, and there is three-in-one. Thus there has always (eternally) existed an amazing, dynamic inter-relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit characterized by love. Each member in the holy fellowship of the Godhead loves and is beloved.

The Trinity and the Doctrine of Love, Alexander Strauch,  Emmaus Journal (Winter 2003)

And then Paula Wong showed us this, which helped us begin to see more how story and your belief in the Trinity fit together…


Any reading of Scripture across the canon leads to one undeniable conclusion: this is a God-centered universe. From the opening verses of Scripture, God alone is presented as the primary actor, the sovereign Creator, the Sustainer, Life-giver, and Redeemer. He is the central figure of the story who alone is independent, self-sufficient, transcendent yet personal, magnificent in all of his perfections, utterly glorious, and worthy of all of our love, devotion, and praise.

….

However, what is crucial to note is that at the heart of Scripture’s presentation of our great and glorious God is the doctrine of the Trinity. …. [U]nderstanding God as triune is central to everything Scripture says about him, and it is what distinguishes him from all other conceptions of “god.” In fact, the entire storyline of Scripture in terms of the plan of salvation would not even make sense without God being triune.

God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity, Stephen J. Wellum, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (Spring 2006)

And notice how your doctrine of the Trinity fits with the power of the plot…


By progressive revelation, I mean the gradual unfolding of God’s truth throughout history as recorded in Scripture. In other words, progressive revelation emphasizes more development or enlargement of early truth than was given in the Old Testament. In the process of time, God gave more information about things that He began to reveal in the Old Testament. For example, let’s talk about the Trinity. While I believe the Trinity can be defended from the Old Testament, I certainly can’t do it as easily as I can from the New Testament. That truth was revealed gradually over a long period of time. You need the whole of the revelation to understand it, but the emphasis is on the development not change.

Progressive Dispensationalism, By Robert Lightner, Conservative Theological Journal, April 2000

And look at how your Trinity connects with the needs and wants of the audience in a very deep way…


Psychologists tell us that our deepest need is to be loved and to feel love. Theologians tell us that the Trinity is Christianity and that the best quest of the human being is to know God. To know God deeply and fully is to know him as Trinitarian. But to know him as the Trinity is to know him through his expression of love to us, through his willingness to send his Son to become man with us, to die in our place and to redeem us, and to bring us into fellowship with himself. It is also revealed through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit, allowing us to have personal, intimate, and regular communication with God.

The Trinity and the Christian, by Kenneth Daughters, Emmaus Journal (Summer 2005)

So, do you realize what we’re dealing with here?

If Christianity is the story we are in, then the core character in the story is an eternal, tri-personal being.

And that means, in the Christian story, relationship has always existed


The Trinity means that relationship is the fundamental category of reality. Relationship goes all the way up into ultimate reality, into God. God is a society, an I-Thou relationship; God is love. Because we are made in the image of the Trinity, love and family and community and friendship are not peripheral but central, not accidental but essential to us, at the very core of human existence.

Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics

And look how this would tie so much together in the story…


The doctrine of the Trinity makes the most concrete and practical difference to our lives that can possibly be imagined. Because God is a Trinity, God is love. Because love is the supreme value, it is the meaning of our lives, for we are created in God’s image. The fact that God is a Trinity is the reason why love is the meaning of life and the reason why nothing makes us as happy as love: because that is inscribed in our design. We are happy only when we stop trying to be what we were not designed to be.

Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity

And this too…


Because of love he created the world, because of love he was born into this world as a man, because of love he took up our broken humanity into himself and made it his own. Because of love he identified himself with all our distress. Because of love he offered himself as a sacrifice, choosing at Gethsemane to go voluntarily to his Passion: “I lay down my life for my sheep…No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (John 10:15,18). It was willing love, not exterior compulsion, that brought Jesus to his death. At his Agony in the garden and at his Crucifixion the forces of darkness assail him with all their violence, but they cannot change his compassion into hatred; they cannot prevent his love from continuing to be itself. His love is tested to the furthest point, but it is not overwhelmed. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not swallowed it up” (John 1:5). To Christ’s victory upon the Cross we may apply the words spoken by a Russian priest on his release from prison camp: “Suffering has destroyed all things. One thing alone has stood firm-it is love.”

Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, we began to seriously think about how the binary core value of loyal love/betrayal runs through the story in the Bible.

And one fascinating thing which caught our attention is that many Christians point to God as the true source of happiness…


God is a fountain of happiness, a pulsating activity, a drama, a dance, a fountain of energy and beauty at the heart of reality. No wonder Wesley, Lewis, and countless other Christian thinkers and writers have made the point that our only true satisfaction will be found in God. It is because we are made in his image that nothing else will do the trick. He is perfect love, and joy, and truth, and beauty, and goodness. That is what we were made for, and that is what will bring us the true happiness and satisfaction we naturally and persistently crave. As Lewis remarked, there is nothing arbitrary about the fact that there is no other possible way to the fountain of happiness, the eternal dance of love and joy.

How Could God Create Hell?, by Jerry Walls, in God Is Great, God Is Good, By William Lane Craig, Chad Meister

We believe Pascal is right. And, with Pascal, we believe God purposefully designed us to pursue happiness.

Does seeking your own happiness sound self-centered? Aren’t Christians supposed to seek God, not their own pleasure? To answer this question we need to understand a crucial truth about pleasure-seeking (hedonism): we value most what we delight in most. Pleasure is not God’s competitor, idols are. Pleasure is simply a gauge that measures how valuable someone or something is to us. Pleasure is the measure of our treasure.

We know this intuitively. If a friend says to you, “I really enjoy being with you,” you wouldn’t accuse him of being self-centered. Why? Because your friend’s delight in you is the evidence that you have great value in his heart. In fact, you’d be dishonored if he didn’t experience any pleasure in your friendship. The same is true of God. If God is the source of our greatest delight then God is our most precious treasure; which makes us radically God-centered and not self-centered. And if we treasure God most, we glorify Him most.

Does the Bible teach this? Yes. Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn people for longing to be happy. People are condemned for forsaking God and seeking their happiness elsewhere (Jeremiah 2:13). This is the essence of sin. The Bible actually commands us to delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4). Jesus teaches us to love God more than money because our heart is where our treasure is (Matt. 6:21). Paul wants us to believe that gaining Christ is worth the loss of everything else (Phil 3:8) and the author of Hebrews exhorts us to endure suffering, like Jesus, for the joy set before us (Heb. 12: 1-2). Examine the Scriptures and you’ll see this over and over again.

The Life-Changing Discovery of Christian Hedonism, by Sam Storms,  Desiring God, November 17, 2011

If Christianity is the story we are in, then he does love you.


Donald the Anger Enhancer



Let’s look at your anger first, because it has been very revealing to us.

Paula showed us this, from Shawn Coyne, which caught our attention…


Once we can no longer bullshit ourselves about our circumstances, we get ANGRY. We blame others or the gods for what has stricken us, lash out, usually making our circumstances even worse.

Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid

And the anger is another indication of how America is changing…


I’ve never in my adult life seen so many people so angry about things they cannot control.

Charity in an Angry Time, By David French, National Review, November 25, 2017

And that helped us to begin to see how you have experienced that anger in America’s unfolding drama.


He Puts Your Rage on Stage

Donald Trump is fuel on your anger fire, proudly intensifying and increasing the rage.

Look what he said in an interview before his selection as the Republican candidate…


BW: In the Republican Party, I mean . . . there is a lot of angst and rage and distress.

DT: A lot. Record-setting.

BW: Record-setting.

DT: I bring…

BW: And you have to tame that rage, don’t you?

DT: Yes, yes, but I bring that out in people. I do. I’m not saying that’s an asset or a liability, but I do bring that out.

BW: You bring what out?

DT: I bring rage out. I do bring rage out. I always have. I think it was . . .  . I don’t know if that’s an asset or a liability, but whatever it is, I do. I also bring great unity out, ultimately.

Transcript: Donald Trump interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Washington Post, April 2, 2016

He brings out the rage, he boasts. Not exactly what’s needed in the traffic jam of hateful, violent political rhetoric in your country, which has gone on for some time now.


When you traffic for decades in hateful, violent political rhetoric, you have lost the moral authority to effectively condemn others for doing so. Indeed, Democrats arguably bear much of the blame for creating Trump. One of the reasons voters rallied behind Trump is precisely because, after years of seeing their standard-bearers act like punching bags, Trump presented himself as a counterpuncher who isn’t afraid to fight back and gives as good as he gets. The results are ugly. Trump is wrong to call the media the “enemy of the people” and to celebrate a congressman body-slamming a reporter, and the host of other terrible things he has said. But Democrats were dragging us into the political gutter long before Trump came along. If they think Americans elected a Frankenstein’s monster, they are Dr. Frankenstein.

Our descent into vitriol began long before Trump — and Democrats are culpable too, By Marc Thiessen, Washington Post, October 30, 2018

I guess there’s gutters on both sides of that street. But, consider how all that fits with this warning…


You cannot create a free society on the basis of hate. Resentment, rage, humiliation, a sense of victimhood and injustice, the desire to restore honour by inflicting injury on your former persecutors sentiments communicated in our time by an endless stream of videos of beheadings and mass murders are conditions of a profound lack of freedom. What Moses taught his people was this: you must live with the past, but not in the past. Those who are held captive by anger against their former persecutors are captive still. Those who let their enemies define who they are have not yet achieved liberty. 

I learned this from Holocaust survivors. I came to know them when I became a rabbi, and they became one of the great inspirations of my life. At first it was difficult to understand how they survived at all, how they lived with their memories, knowing what they knew and having seen what they saw. Many of them had lost their entire families. The world in which they grew up was gone. They had to begin again as strangers in a strange land. 

Yet they were, and are, some of the most life-affirming people I have ever met. What struck me most was that they lived without resentment. They did not seek revenge. They did not hate. They cared, more than anyone else I knew, when other people were being massacred in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo and Sudan. They let their pain sensitise them to the pain of others. In later life they began to tell their stories, especially to young people. They used to visit schools. Sometimes I went with them. They spoke about what had happened, and how they survived. But their fundamental message was not about the past at all. What they wanted young people to know was how precious freedom is, and how fragile; what a miracle it is that there is food to eat, windows you can open, gates you can walk out of, a future to look forward to. They spoke about tolerance and how important it is to care for the people who are different from you. Never take freedom for granted that was their message. Work for it, fight for it, stand up especially for minorities, and never give way to hate even when others do.

Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, and your God is the Great Storyteller, what if Donald Trump was chosen to play a role which in putting the Christians on stage?

We wonder, because it’s sure creating a flashy clash, a real attention getter. Look at this…


When planning your story, it is important to remember that small clashes result in stories that seem relatively trivial. Larger clashes resonate for the reader. Ask yourself these questions: Does the conflict you are working on lead to profound unhappiness, injury, or death? Or is the conflict over an object that is exceedingly valuable to the main character? Is the conflict over an important life decision – to move far away, to change one’s career, to leave for another partner, to follow a hazardous opportunity, to avoid intolerable circumstances?

Ask yourself, will the clash between your protagonist and your antagonist seem inevitable to the reader? Have you avoided coincidence as the cause of their clash? Will the clash take place in a highly visible environment so that the reader will see the action?

Sol Stein, Stein On Writing

And keep in mind how Donald sees his life…


You’ve heard the phrase, “Life is a performance,” and it’s true. No matter what field you’re in, large parts of life and business involve acting. Acting encompasses people skills, negotiation skills, public relations, salesmanship, and the ability to read your audience, whether your audience consists of four people in your office, or 40,000 watching you television show.

….

If you take the time to think about what your audience wants, and what you have in common with them, you can create a bond that didn’t exist before. It also frees you from being nervous and allows you to focus better. Think of yourself as a performer, with a responsibility to your audience (who may also be your customers). Showmanship means being prepared for every performance, and the more prepared you are, the more effective you will be. Learn, know, and show: it’s a proven formula.

Donald Trump, Trump University Wealth Building 101: Your First 90 Days on the Path to Prosperity

Where Your Anger May Take You

We’re very curious. Have you given much thought to where else your anger could take you – and your country?

Remember what McKee wrote…


Story gives you foresight to see the consequences of future events long before they happen. A leader prepares for change no matter how illogical its cause. In fact, sensitivity to irrational change is quintessentially rational … if you wish to lead. 

WHITE PAPER STORY-IN-BUSINESS: Why Story Works, Overcoming Negaphobia, and Authoring the Future, BY ROBERT MCKEE

So, you may want to look ahead, because it looks like the anger is going to keep increasing…


Do you find yourself getting ticked off more often than you used to?

If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

Some 84% of people surveyed said Americans are angrier today compared with a generation ago, according to the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health poll.

When asked about their own feelings, 42% of those polled said they were angrier in the past year than they had been further back in time.

Poll: Americans Say We’re Angrier Than A Generation Ago, By Scott Hensley, NPR, June 26, 2019

And look where your increasing anger may take your story…


A loss of adequate income and social stagnation causes more than financial distress. It severs, as the sociologist Emile Durkheim pointed out in The Division of Labour in Society, the vital social bonds that give us meaning. A decline in status and power, an inability to advance, a lack of education and health care, and a loss of hope are crippling forms of humiliation. This humiliation fuels loneliness, frustration, anger, and feelings of worthlessness. In short, when you are marginalized and rejected by society, life often has little meaning. There arises a yearning among the disempowered to become as omnipotent as the gods. The impossibility of omnipotence leads, as the cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote in The Denial of Death, to its dark alternative – destroying like the gods

Chris Hedges, The American Farewell Tour

Beefy Nihilism makes sense in that world. And the temptation to destroy is real and dangerous for your country.

But, can your anger be dangerous too? Can that tricky anger lead you in a dangerous direction?


America has a more serious, long-term problem coming down the pike than one bad election: the people have lost confidence in the government, but they want the government to do more.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it represents a slow-motion crisis for the country. Public trust in the government has languished at historic lows for years. A poll last year found only 19 percent of Americans were willing to say they trust the federal government to do what’s right. Other polls show that only a quarter of the country thinks America is on the “right track,” 17 percent approve of Congress, and more than 80 percent are angry or frustrated with the government.

America’s Dangerous Crisis Of Confidence, By John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist, MAY 18, 2016

More than 80% are angry? A fair number of you Christians are in that group, right?

One thing we understand has sparked your anger has been how you were being treated by your opponents. But, both sides are angry.


Nearly half of Republicans regard Democrats as more “immoral,” “lazy” and “dishonest” than other Americans; seven in 10 Democrats view Republicans as “more closed-minded.”

And altogether, about half of respondents in a new poll said the other side makes them “angry” or “afraid.”

While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton suffer from unfavorable images that are worse – in Trump’s case, much worse – than previous presidential hopefuls, it’s not simply because of their own words and deeds. Their unpopularity exists in a political environment increasingly defined by voters’ negative views of the other side.

The extent of the negativity is central to a detailed survey of the electorate from the Pew Research Center, which found that anger and fear of the opposing political party increasingly drive how American voters think about politics.

Indeed, the survey found, negative perceptions about the other side have emerged as a key motivator for voters, often outranking even how much they believe in what their own party stands for.

This is not politics as usual. Although partisans have long harbored some dislike of the opposition, voters’ views of the other party are now more negative than at any time in the nearly quarter of a century Pew has asked about them, the new study found.

Immoral, lazy, closed-minded: How Democrats and Republicans feel about each other, by David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2016


Wow, that anger stuff sure leads to division, doesn’t it?

Take into consideration this haunting reminder of a time not so long ago in America’s story…


Thus did Southern bullying pave the road to civil war. Rage begat rage, and Northern noncombatants became fighting men, making cross-sectional discourse ever more difficult. As one Northerner put it, given the ongoing Southern “threats and menaces” in Congress, cooperating with Southerners “would destroy their position at home” by suggesting that they had voted “under the influence of these belligerent taunts.” Anger, entitlement, manhood, and politics: This potent brew shaped the nation’s sectional crisis.

Now it is shaping our current crisis. Emotions are rising every day, with social media leading the way. Within the past few weeks alone, Rand Paul voiced concern that someone will get killed, and Jerry Falwell Jr. took to Twitter to urge the election of fighting men to beat “the liberal fascists Dems.” “Conservatives & Christians need to stop electing ‘nice guys,’” he tweeted on September 28. “They might make great Christian leaders, but the US needs street fighters like @realDonaldTrump at every level of government … & many Repub leaders are a bunch of wimps!” The echo of the 1850s is deafening; the implications are alarming. Politics is becoming war by other means.

Such is the impact of a politics of anger. For a time, it attracts followers and cements loyalties, breeding a spiraling mass of dangerous passions, inspiring some Americans to cast their opponents as a dangerous “other,” dividing the nation, and linking manhood with authority in rhetoric as well as fact.

America Descends Into the Politics of Rage, By Joanne Freeman, The Atlantic, October 22, 2018

The politics of anger — and there is Jerry Fallwell, Jr. – whom our team is so grateful to!

But, anger can be a dangerous and tricky thing. Will you consider that your anger may have blinded your vision?

There’s plenty of examples of what angry extremism has done in your past…


Americans tend to forget the angry, bitter, and even violent extremism on both sides of the political spectrum from roughly 1880 through the start of World War II. We forget the politically-motivated assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Anarchists targeted leading political and business figures with numerous mail bombs in 1919.

….

Extremism during this period was certainly not limited to the left. During the 1920s, membership in the Ku Klux Klan peaked at somewhere between 4 to 6 million members—a significant percentage of the eligible population of the time. During this period the Klan not only advocated white supremacy, but was anti-Catholic, pro-Prohibition (part of its anti-Catholicism), anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant. During this time the Klan’s violence targeted political outsiders, as opposed to the political and business leaders the anarchists targeted. Moreover, the Klan’s violence was concentrated particularly in the South in support of Jim Crow oppression of blacks, with some violence aimed against bootleggers.

American Polarization and Extremism Are Just a Return to Normalcy, by JAMES R. ROGER, Law and Liberty, JANUARY 18, 2019

Here’s another trick anger can play. Check out this Jeroboam character from your scriptures, who your God used to play a key role in breaking up Israel–he reveals some of the danger of passionate anger…


Jeroboam stands forever as a caution against the danger of becoming passionately angry about a rightly perceived evil, yet blinded by that passion to such an extent that all measures taken against it seem right. When this happens there is almost inevitably a failure, ironically, to distinguish between right and wrong.

J. G. McConville, Chronicles

Look at that — a failure to distinguish between right and wrong.

What might that mean when it comes to how you view others on the other side of your great divide?…


Othering

Here, the barren and inhospitable new civic space is dominated along looming, fortified lines. Warring identities have concluded that the only solution is the complete submission of the enemy party, and both sides are beginning to prepare for an ultimate showdown. Othering is a transforming process, through which former kin are reimagined as evil, an American inner-enemy, who once defeated must be punished. The most familiar metaphor of American othering was the 1770s practice of tarring and feathering. This less-than-lethal mob punishment corresponds—in shaming power and severity—to mob vengeance pervasive today on social media outlets such as Twitter.

Hence, to work fully as othering, the process must be public, result in the shame of the transgressor, and show that true virtue is in command. More than anything, othering is a ceremonial act designed to bring shame not just on the single person being tarred and feathered, but the entire community to which he belongs. The political object of #MeToo is not the numerically bounded set of guilty men, but rather the entire population set of all men. The political object of Black Lives Matter is not racists, but rather all white people. The political object of the LGBT movement is not homophobes, but rather the whole of straight cisgender society whose reality compass they seek to transform.

The targeted other, equally seized by virtue, operates today from an angry defensive crouch.

Were Americans Made for Civil War? by Michael Vlahos, The Imaginative Conservative, November 9, 2018

An angry defensive crouch? That sounds like fighting words to us. If Christianity is the story we are in, is that the posture God wants you to have toward your neighbor? Are you viewing them the way God wants you to view them?

And if anger can skew your vision like this, could it have influenced who you embrace as leaders?

Paula found another haunting quote about some Christians during the rise of Nazism…


We need to abandon the post-Cold War myth that liberalism must be the natural end point of human evolution because it triumphed over communism. Five thousand years of recorded history suggest that it isn’t. And this is not because dictators prevent their people from choosing liberalism and self-government, which they would if only given a chance. Our belief that peoples at all times share a desire for freedom, and that this universal desire supersedes all others, is an incomplete description of human experience. People also seek order and security and may welcome a strong leader who can provide those things, even if he does not allow them the full panoply of rights and freedoms. In troubled times, and not only in troubled times, people seek outlets for anger and resentment, for fear and hatred of the “other” in their midst. Those who have suffered defeat and humiliation, such as Germans after World War I or Russians after the Cold War, often find that democracy offers insufficient solace and insufficient promise of revenge and justice, and they look to a strong leader to provide those things, too. They tire of the incessant arguing over national budgets and other trifles while the larger needs of the nation, including the spiritual and emotional needs, go unaddressed. We would like to believe that, at the end of the day, the desire for freedom trumps these other human impulses. But there is no end of the day, and there are no final triumphs. Human existence is a constant battle among competing impulses-between self-love and the love of others, between the noble and the base, between the desire for freedom and the desire for order and security-and because those struggles never end, the fate of liberalism and democracy in the world is never settled. It is an illusion to believe that the present democratic age is eternal rather than transient, or that it can survive without constant tending and constant defense. 

Robert Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back

That tricky anger. It flows from humiliation, which you certainly have experienced from your enemies on the left. Did this make you open to a strong man like Trump?

But it gets even trickier. Have you considered that your anger could make your nation vulnerable?


If you’ve spent as much time talking to inmates over the years as I have, you know that there is that seed of anger and resentment that would take very little to exploit.

Charles Colson, My Final Word

Some who feed off of the fears and anger that are felt by some of us and exploit it feed their own insatiable desire for fame or attention. That could drive America down into a ditch, not make us great again. 

John Kasich, Two Paths

We need a new political poet who can weave a story that vibrates energetically with the experiences of most Americans, that explains our current problems, and that is relentlessly sunny.  Americans usually require that their myths express a basic optimism.  If our newest version of the American myth is more angry than hopeful then we risk the worst dangers of democracy—populism and demagoguery.

A New American Myth, by TED MCALLISTER, Law and Liberty, NOVEMBER 8, 2012

We’re also curious about whether you have thought much about how anger may eventually explode as your abortion conflict intensifies?


I have been thinking, like so many people this week, about rage. Who I’m mad at, what that anger’s good for, how what makes me maddest is the way the madness has long gone unrespected, even by those who have relied on it for their gains.

For as long as I have been a cogent adult, and actually before that, I have watched people devote their lives, their furious energies, to fighting against the steady, merciless, punitive erosion of reproductive rights. And I have watched as politicians — not just on the right, but members of my own party — and the writers and pundits who cover them, treat reproductive rights and justice advocates as if they were fantasists enacting dystopian fiction.

This week, the most aggressive abortion bans since Roe v. Wade swept through states, explicitly designed to challenge and ultimately reverse Roe at the Supreme Court level. With them has come the dawning of a broad realization — a clear, bright, detailed vision of what’s at stake, and what’s ahead.

Our Fury Over Abortion Was Dismissed for Decades As Hysterical, By Rebecca Traister, The Cut, May 18, 2019

But, how easily can that go awry, even in a democracy?


Such is the dynamic of politics in the time of Trump. The politics of outrage is fast becoming a political norm, each flare-up lowering the bar of acceptable rhetoric and producing an upswing in belligerent posturing.

But Trump didn’t invent this emotion-laden mode of political warfare. He’s certainly promoting it to an extreme degree, but it has a long and storied history that predates even that notorious poisoner of the political realm, Newt Gingrich. As tempting as it may be to assume that American politics has been an oasis of civility until the semi-recent past, at moments of intense polarization and strife throughout our nation’s checkered history, politicians have appealed to our lowest common denominator, using the power of anger and intimidation to spread their message and get their way.

We often link such outrage with protest, but in truth, political power holders have long used anger, fear, and intimidation to preserve the status quo, bullying their opponents into compliance or silence, and frightening the public into surrendering rights for the sake of security—though with mixed results.

America Descends Into the Politics of Rage, By Joanne Freeman, The Atlantic, October 22, 2018

So, your leaders use anger to manipulate. But what about the anger of the common man in politics?


It is just such an air of extremeness on the field now, and it reflects a larger sense of societal alienation. We have the fierce teamism of the lonely, who find fellowship in their online fighting group and will say anything for its approval. There are the angry who find relief in politics because they can funnel their rage there, into that external thing, instead of examining closer and more uncomfortable causes. There are the people who cannot consider God and religion and have to put that energy somewhere.

America isn’t making fewer of the lonely, angry and unaffiliated, it’s making more every day.


The Two Americas Have Grown Much Fiercer, By Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2019

Where Trump May Take the Anger

We are wondering how this may unfold…


The president vaulted to political prominence by promoting the racist and false conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the United States, launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers, and routinely describes his enemies, including the intended recipients of the pipe bombs, as “evil,” ″dangerous,” ″the enemy of the American people.”

“That let loose a period of incivility, which is too mild a word; it’s potentially explosive anger that can turn into violence,” says Bob Shrum, a former Democratic strategist who last month started the Center for the Political Future, a program at the University of Southern California designed to restore sanity and bipartisanship in politics.

He’s watched with frustration as some liberal politicians respond to Trump’s presidency by imitating his divisive style. He describes it as a “cold civil war,” where people consider those who disagree with them bad, un-American — their enemy.

“Is there a tipping point? I don’t know,” he says. “I do believe we’re in a dangerous moment, unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime, and I’m 75 years old.”

There is little evidence the tide will turn soon.

Americans crave unity amid violence, anger, By CLAIRE GALOFARO and MARGERY A. BECK, Associated Press, October 28, 2018

Is there a tipping point? If there is, what if Trump is like a match to a gas burner already on?


Animosity between parties has been growing for decades now, to the point that studies show Republicans and Democrats don’t want to date one another, don’t want their children to marry one another and don’t want to live in the same neighborhoods at a rate unprecedented in modern America. At the same time, politicians began using increasingly apocalyptic language. Willer says those two forces — the splintering of society along party lines and the ascent of vitriolic campaigning — merged to create a breeding ground for violence.

“It was simmering,” says Parker. “It’s like the gas burner was on, then Trump lit the fire.”

The president vaulted to political prominence by promoting the racist and false conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the United States, launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers, and routinely describes his enemies, including the intended recipients of the pipe bombs, as “evil,” ″dangerous,” ″the enemy of the American people.”

“That let loose a period of incivility, which is too mild a word; it’s potentially explosive anger that can turn into violence,” says Bob Shrum, a former Democratic strategist who last month started the Center for the Political Future, a program at the University of Southern California designed to restore sanity and bipartisanship in politics.

Americans crave unity amid violence, anger, By CLAIRE GALOFARO and MARGERY A. BECK, Associated Press, October 28, 2018

The Decision

Othering’s most decisive effect is to condition the whole of society to believe that an existential clash is coming, that all must choose, and that there are no realistic alternatives to a final test of wills. Remember, in past times, Jacobins on both sides were small minorities. Yet for either one of these two angry visions to win, there must be a showdown. This demands, perversely, that they work together to bring on open conflict, successfully coercing the majority of Americans to buy into its inevitability. At that point, only a trigger pull is needed.

This was what the Boston Massacre did to push colonials against Britain in 1770, and this is what John Brown’s Pottawatomie Massacre and Congressman Preston Brooks’s caning of Charles Sumner on the Senate floor did to push people toward civil war in 1856. This is what the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh and the nearly two-year effort to delegitimize and overthrow President Donald Trump may doing today: getting the two halves of the former nation to pull that trigger.

Were Americans Made for Civil War? by Michael Vlahos, The Imaginative Conservative, November 9, 2018

A match? A trigger? Does this fit with the kind of leader your God would have you choose?


Certainly, some will say God has raised up Trump not to bless America, but to judge her. But if God has raised him up for certain divine purposes, it behooves us to ask what those purposes are.

….

I believe Trump has been elected president by divine intervention.

I’m aware, of course, that some people believe that everything happens by the will of God, which means that whoever wins the presidency wins by God’s express will.

Yet there are times when there are so many odds against something happening, when it so greatly defies logic, that it is easier to recognize God’s involvement.

….

But here is the major caveat, even if all (or most of these things) are true: If Trump, indeed, is a divine wrecking ball, then he could do as much as harm as good, and to the extent that he is appealing to the fears and frustrations and anger of a nation, he is channeling some potentially dangerous emotions.

….

In short, if Trump indeed is president by divine intervention, we should pray for divine restraint on his life as well, lest this divine wrecking ball wreak havoc on the nation while tearing down what is wrong. May he be a divinely guided wrecking ball!

Donald Trump – president-elect by the sovereign intervention of God, By Dr. Michael Brown, OneNewsNow, November 9, 2016

So, do we dare connect these dots? Is the Donald tapping into your rage? Was Trump chosen to put your rage on stage?

As you line up behind Trump, snarling and snapping, ask yourself: is Trump channeling these dangerous emotions? And when the curtain opens, is your rage what your God sees on stage?

Because Paula showed us this, from your book of Ephesians…


Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Ephesians 4:25-31