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


Abraham Lincoln and America’s Repayment Problem


Abraham Lincoln

As you know, we are so grateful to your Ralph Drollinger dude for opening our eyes to the possibility that, if Christianity is the story we are in, your God still judges nations.

And once again we were reminded that your God is the active protagonist in the story.

So now, we are thinking about another crazy possibility.


What if the story of the breakup of Israel somehow rhymes with America’s story?


Wait — what’s that all about?

Well, you know that we’re speculating…


Is Donald Trump a Rehoboam Character in America’s Drama?


So, this crazy possibility makes sense because of the story in 1 Kings 11, a passage which may upset your “Solomon was the greatest of men” sensibilities…

The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son.  Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

1 Kings 11:9-13


See how the story goes? Your God acted to bring the breakup of Israel, as a result of previous sin.


When it was all over, God’s sovereign will had been accomplished in spite of sin on every side. God had avenged the idolatry that Israel had engaged in during Solomon’s reign. The over-reaching government of Rehoboam had lost control of over 80% of his kingdom, leaving only Judah and the small tribe of Benjamin loyal to the throne.

David J. Shedlock, With Christ in the Voting Booth

So, as you consider America’s future, you ought to at least keep the possibility in mind. Because…


What if Israel’s story reveals that sometimes your God intervenes in human affairs and judges nations for bad things people did previously?


Are you surprised by the idea? Does it seem foreign to you?


But consider, this is just what Abraham Lincoln seems to have had in mind when he attributed the cause of the Civil War to God’s retribution for the evil of slavery. Look at this language from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address:


The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Abraham Lincoln

And one of your famous founders had been very disturbed by the possibility…


President Thomas Jefferson

Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!

Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVIII, 1782

Supernatural interference!

And that reminded us of what your Moser man wrote…


A better formulation is this: what, if anything, is behind all of the world’s changes, including the movements in my experiences, such as the experienced ups and downs, comings and goings, and dyings and risings?

The fact of the world’s changes seems undeniable, at least from where I sit (for a time). Is there, however, something behind it all, not just as a cause, but as a meaning-conferring explanation? In par­ticular, is there a unifying power with constant intentions or purposes behind all of the movement or at least much of it? In other words, is there an intentional agent thus involved in the mix as a superhuman guide?

Paul Moser, The Severity of God

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, and both China and America are killing your God’s children, then maybe your President Lincoln can help you open your eyes to something rather disturbing.

Because, well, remember this?…


For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:30-31


And you know that your foolish revenge wager really has our attention, right?

So maybe this Keillor guy deserves your attention…


God himself, in his long-term sifting out mishpat, caused the final, negative consequence, the Civil War — the judgment for slavery in our narrow sense of that word. That Northern elites would finance and cheer slave revolts showed that they had been sifted out-a-not as a righteous remnant but as an unrighteous faction doubting God’s ability to end slavery. God is merciful, and a revival in 1857-1858 preceded the war. Abolitionists, evangelical and nonevangelical, criticized this revival for focusing on individual conversions and neglecting antislavery reform. To them, and to some later historians, it marked “the failure of New England revivalism to resolve the divisive issue of slavery.”37 Yet, it was then too late to resolve that issue short of war — the Republican rise and Democratic fall were well advanced toward Lincoln and secession-and clergymen warned that God’s judgment was one possible resolution. If God acted when Americans had not, that was not failure. The 1820s revivals helped sift out a Northern anti-slavery faction, but that process was complete by 1857-1858, and that revival only, but mercifully, saved souls before the final cataclysm. Paradoxically, an event (Civil War) can be a condemning catastrophe for the unbeliever and a chastening, refining deliverance for the believer. God uses the same event as salvation to some and judgment to others.

Steven J. Keillor, God’s Judgments

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, and your God is the Active Protagonist, well, you may want to seriously consider the possibility that history is rhyming in America’s unfolding drama.

Because here is another memo I sent my Uncle, which may disturb you…

Intelligence Memorandum

Classified: Top Secret
Mao Tse Tongue!


To: General Tso
Deputy Assistant Minister of State Security
People’s Republic of China

From: Chow Non Phat
Deputy Assistant Minister for Diet Control

Re: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Repayment Problem

This is a famous photo of Lincoln.

Dear General Tso,

Despite the fact that this crazy assignment you have given us has turned my team and I into lepers in the Chinese Intelligence community, we continue to remain loyal to the Party.

And to you too, Uncle.

So, one of our team members has discovered something very disturbing, which I need to tell you about.

Shih Tzu may be right. The Party may be at greater risk than we realize. 

If Christianity is the story we are in, then the King of Kings is on a Quest to restore his kingdom.

But he is not only a King, Uncle…

… he is also a Judge who issues risk assessment warnings.

And so, when one of our team members showed us the following risk assessment warning, it caught our attention…


“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”

Revelation 22:12


You see, Uncle, those are the words of Jesus in the very last chapter in the Bible.

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, when he shows up, it will be repayment time for each of us!

And because none of us — seriously Uncle, you can trust us to be loyal to the Party — believes he is coming back as the King of Kings…

… it would be a Black Swan to us.

But it wouldn’t be a Black Swan to the Christians.

Look at this…


Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-4


And notice how, in that last book in the Bible, that same thief in the night warning is made by Jesus himself…


“Behold, I am coming like a thief!”

Revelation 16:15


But, if Christianity is the story we are in, what about here in the middle of the story?

Are there any Black Swan repayments here in the middle of the story?

It appears that is a possibility.

Remember the material we sent you concerning The Black Swan Rise and Fall of Babylon?

Well, it turns out repayment was tied up with their Black Swan fall… 


“Summon archers against Babylon, all those who bend the bow. Encamp around her; let no one escape. Repay her according to her deeds; do to her according to all that she has done. For she has proudly defied the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

Jeremiah 50:29


“Flee from the midst of Babylon; let every one save his life! Be not cut off in her punishment, for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance, the repayment he is rendering her. 
Jeremiah 51:6


“I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 51:24


[F]or a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; her warriors are taken; their bows are broken in pieces, for the Lord is a God of recompense; he will surely repay.

Jeremiah 51:56


And as we explored other passages in the Bible related to repayment, we came to realize that repayment from the Active Protagonist doesn’t just come at the end of the story.

It also happens here in the middle.

Look at this disturbing passage…


‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds.

Jeremiah 32:17-19


And maybe, Uncle, if Christianity is the story we are in, we need to do more consequence thinking than simply depending on probabilities…


This idea that in order to make a decision you need to focus on the consequences (which you can know) rather than the probability (which you can’t know) is the central idea of uncertainty.

Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

So now let’s explore the possibility we aren’t the only ones who may be dealing with a Black Swan repayment problem.

The Americans could be too!

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln said something very disturbing for them…


The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Abraham Lincoln

And by the way, in February of 2013, at the National Prayer Breakfast, their President Obama said of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address that it “may be one of the greatest speeches ever written.”

President Barack Obama

So, Abraham Lincoln believed the Civil War was payback for sins previously committed.

And look what Paula showed me, Uncle…


His central idea, that the war was God’s judgment on the nation for slavery, has become nearly impossible for some analysts even to identify as the central idea. At the very least, we need to recover judgment as a real category in order to recover Lincoln’s speech. Garry Wills sidestepped God as an actor in history by arguing that “the Second Inaugural was meant, with great daring, to spell out a principle of not acting on principle.” As presidential actor, Lincoln sought flexibility to improvise a Reconstruction policy, Wills claimed. That is an argument from Lincoln’s unexpected silence about the pressing issue of Reconstruction. It avoids the central idea of God’s acting on the principle of judgment. Lincoln had come to realize that it did not matter whether people acted on principle or did not. God’s acts would determine the outcome.

Steven J. Keillor, God’s Judgments

And that sure fits with the reality of how Lincoln saw their God as the Active Protagonist in the story of humanity…


By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation.

And whereas it is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to his chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offences, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action:

And whereas, when our own beloved Country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy, — to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of law, order and peace, throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing, by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence:

Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day, Washington, D.C. – August 12, 1861.

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true — that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.

Abraham Lincoln, Meditation on the Divine Will Washington, D.C., September, 1862

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day Washington, D.C., March 30, 1863

Astonishing!

Look at how what Lincoln wrote there…


But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

Abraham Lincoln

… so fits with this, from our enemy, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn…


More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”…. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Templeton Address, 1983

When our team read those things from Lincoln, we couldn’t believe it!

But maybe Lincoln’s belief that their God was the Active Protagonist came at least in part from the reality that he himself was a Black Swan in America’s story.

Look what we found from Michael Medved…


THE MIRACLE OF LINCOLN America’s Most Unlikely President and His Supernatural Success 

The face and figure of Abraham Lincoln feel so familiar, and his life story sits so comfortably in our consciousness, that we seldom acknowledge just how strange, how downright weird, that story really is.

How did an aging prairie lawyer and frequently frustrated politician, whose only high office involved a single two-year term in the House of Representatives, suddenly claim the presidency of the United States?

How could an ungainly partisan operator with a difficult marriage, a tendency toward clinical depression, and profoundly peculiar habits, with no military experience and less than a year of formal education, best the most celebrated minds of his generation on battlefields both political and military?

These questions offer no easy answers, since nothing in Lincoln’s fifty-two years before the presidency seemed to prepare him for handling the most momentous crisis in the nation’s history. All other presidents who have (even occasionally) earned designation as “great” achieved great things before they won elevation to the nation’s highest office. Lincoln did not.

For Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, both Roosevelts, Wilson, Ike, and Reagan, their pre-presidential careers would have received extensive attention in history books even had they never won the White House. In Lincoln’s case, no one today would recognize his name. Lincoln himself worried in his early thirties that he had “done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived.”

….

His admirers, on the other hand, came to view Lincoln’s rise to power as the most meaningful miracle in the history of the Republic – especially after the uncanny timing of his death as the first chief executive to fall to an assassin’s hand.

On the very morning of his murder, the president took time at a cabinet meeting to discuss a vivid, recurrent dream that he had experienced again the night before, in which he saw himself aboard a mysterious boat hurtling across the water at impossible speed toward a dark and unknown shore. In fact, his entire life possessed a dreamlike, haunted, otherworldly quality that suggested the impact of supernatural forces.

Without recognition of those forces, and an abiding belief in his role as an instrument of a higher power, Lincoln himself couldn’t make sense of his position at the center of the catastrophic conflict that consumed his presidency and convinced his countrymen that even in the midst of unspeakable suffering, God’s hand still shaped and shielded America.

Michael Medved, The American Miracle

And look at this surprise…


In the summer of 1864, pessimists warned that the North could not win the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln faced opposition for the Republican-party nomination, and even if he won it, he was considered likely to lose the November election to Union general George McClellan.

General Grant’s Army of the Potomac was being bled white in Virginia in vain attempts to dislodge Robert E. Lee’s defenders from their entrenchments around the Confederate capital of Richmond. Gruesome encounters such as the Battle of Cold Harbor and the Battle of the Wilderness had given the depressed Northern public nightmares.

Then, suddenly, fantasy became reality. The maverick General William Tecumseh Sherman unexpectedly took Atlanta on September 2, 1864. Euphoria swept the North. McClellan’s sure-thing candidacy crashed.

The mercurial Sherman then headed off with his huge army on the famous “March to the Sea” through Georgia. He next plowed through the Carolinas to the rear of Lee’s army in Virginia.

In less than nine months the entire Confederate cause collapsed. The supposedly endless Civil War ended with a sudden and absolute Union victory that no one had foreseen.

The American Art of Renewal, By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, National Review, August 2, 2018

And what if it was your God who played an active role in bringing about the end of slavery?


Finally, Adam Smith explained why it would be nearly impossible to end slavery in a republic like the United States. He argued, “The persons who make all the laws in that country are persons who have slaves themselves. . . . These will never make any laws mitigating their usage.” Another agent of liberation might be a strong church, “but it was absolutely necessary that the authority of the king and the clergy should be great.”” Americans rebelled against a king and fragmented the church’s authority into many denominations, none with decisive influence on the nation. In competing for members in the South, denominations softened or abandoned anti-slavery ideas and seemed to surrender some of the Son of Man’s authority (over his disciples’ behavior in their local churches) to the secular powers in the process. 

Perhaps Smith (had he lived until 1865) would have seen emancipation, despite no strong king or church, as proof of a third actor: God. As we saw in the Old Testament, God could righteously overturn precedent, the status quo and long-established property rights. God could sort out political and governmental ambiguity. He was not fooled by the Constitution’s omission of the word slavery or politicians’ claims that they could do nothing about it. Two competing political parties did not paralyze him into inaction for fear that if he acted in judgment some Americans would say “God is a Whig” while if he did not act others would say “God is a Democrat.” He acted, as we shall see. Or, if you assume he does not act in history, then how did such a deeply entrenched, profitable institution end, when there was no other actor powerful enough to end it and willing to end it?

Steven J. Keillor, God’s Judgments

But it looks like most Americans no longer want to consider the possibility that God could or would intervene in their story in a painful way…


Lincoln’s Calvinism died with the Civil War: Americans decided that they would rather not have a God who demanded sacrifice from them on this scale – 10% of military-age Northern men, 30% of military-age Southern men. They did not want to be a Chosen People held accountable for their transgressions. They wanted instead a reticent God who withheld his wrath while they set out to make the world amenable to their own purposes. The New England elite went to war as convinced Abolitionists singing of the coming of God who trampled out the vintage of the grapes of wrath and wielded a terrible swift sword. They came back convinced that no idea could be so righteous or so certain as to merit the terrible sacrifices of their generation. …. The war purged them of their Puritan convictions and left in its place the vapid pragmatism that has reigned since then in American elite culture.

In place of the paternal God of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Americans got the avuncular God of Social Gospel and Wilsonian ”Idealism”.  America’s reaction to the Civil War, the costliest conflict between the Thirty Years’ War in Germany and World War II on the Russian front, recalls Sholom Aleichem’s Tevye the Carpenter: ”God of mercy, choose another people.” Americans did not want to be the instrument of a Divine Providence that would hold them to account for their transgressions, in the vision of Winthrop and Lincoln.

When America flew on one wing, By Spengler, Asia Times, April 19, 2011

So, the Americans may be dealing with the same failure to do consequence thinking as we are.

But if Christianity is the story we are in, this Neuhaus guy may be right…


To say that we are a nation under God is to say, first and most importantly, that we are a nation under transcendent judgment. Judgment and promise are inseparable.

Richard John Neuhaus, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

And look at these…


All people are under divine wrath, because everyone has failed to respond positively to the light that they have. But those who have had more light fall under more severe judgment, because they sin with a greater knowledge of God’s will (cf. Luke 12:48). Similarly, national privilege determines national responsibility. The United States has had great privilege, and so has great responsibility to God.

The patience that marks God’s sovereign governing of the world comes out clearly in Amos, too. The phrase “for three transgressions, yes, for four” reminds us that God does not judge nations for only one transgression. Every transgression will receive punishment from God, but judgment does not fall immediately. God could have judged these nations much sooner than He did, but He was patient and waited until they had sinned repeatedly.

In Genesis we read, “The iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete” (Gen. 15:16). God waited to judge all these nations until they had amassed so much sin that He could delay no longer to judge them. Fortunately, God deals with us the same way, or all of us would have died long ago. His dealings with groups of people—nations—depends on the conduct of the individuals in those groups.

Notes on Amos, By Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Sonic Light

The most comprehensive survey of early Christianity on the question of abortion comes from Michael J. Gorman in Abortion and the Early Church. As Gorman states, “all Christian writers opposed abortion.” Every mention of abortion in the early church rejects it, forcefully.

The Apostolic Constitutions, a document from the fourth century, asserts: “Thou shalt not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. For every thing that is shaped, and hath received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.”

Gorman writes: “Writers of the first three Christian centuries laid the theological and literary foundation for all subsequent early Christian writing on abortion. We will see that three important themes emerged during these centuries: the fetus is the creation of God; abortion is murder; and the judgment of God falls on those guilty of abortion.”

Performing Abortion is “God’s Work?” The Real Story of Christianity and Abortion, Albert Mohler, May 15, 2017

He dug out for me a quote from the journalist Murat Halstead’s book “The War Claims of the South,” published in 1867. “The lesson of the war that should never depart from us,” Halstead wrote, “is that the American people have no exemption from the ordinary fate of humankind. If we sin, we must suffer for our sins, like the Empires that are tottering and the Nations that have perished.”

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, By Robin Wright, The New Yorker, August 14, 2017

So, if it’s possible Lincoln was on to something with his belief that the Civil War was payback for slavery, is it possible the same thing could be in play over abortion?

Look at this passage Paula made us begin to wonder about…


And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”

Genesis 9:5-7


A crazy what if. But, if Christianity is the story we are in, is America facing a repayment problem over the embrace of abortion?

Because abortion is nothing marginal in American society…


I cannot think of any reason why we should judge that this movement toward abortion as an indispensable, even if regrettable, presupposition of our way of life has crested. It is a linchpin of our culture.

The stunning fact which upon which any pro-life reassessment must focus is this: Americans’ beliefs and practices about abortion have digested the truth about the unborn with nary a hiccup. A growing number of Americans say that they approve of abortion, even though they regard it as “murder.”

The Pro-Life Movement, Forty-One Years After Roe, by Gerard V. Bradley, Public Discourse, January 22, 2014

This is not just a theoretical issue of interest only to philosophers, for real people are being put to death as a result of these dehumanizing philosophies. We have already witnessed many grotesque horrors, such as the Stalinist and Maoist communist atrocities against class enemies, or the Nazi Holocaust against racial groups. In most Western societies, we have opted for more democratic forms of killing, such as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. On a smaller scale, some mass killers in Western societies, such as the Columbine perpetrators, have been influenced by secular philosophies to despise humanity and scorn prohibitions against murder. Why not kill people, they reason, if we are all just meaningless blobs of protein, and it will give them a thrill?

Richard Weikart, The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life

And the United States is with China in a very unique group of nations…


Roe created a legal regime that Time magazine soon dubbed “abortion on demand.” Forty-one years later, the United States is one of four countries—along with Canada, North Korea, and China—that allow abortion for virtually any reason at any time during pregnancy.

41 Years Later: Why Roe Said What It Did, by JUSTIN BUCKLEY DYER, Law and Liberty, January 22, 2014

[I]n the U.S. today, abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever, and sometimes with taxpayers’ subsidies, putting our nation in the company of North Korea, China, and Canada as the only nations that allow abortion for any reason after fetal viability.

What Will Happen When Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?, By Clarke Forsythe, National Review, November 23, 2016

And like China, American society is busy suppressing the truth about abortion…


Another way to put the problem is that what is known to all is not admitted by all. Hebrew and Christian Scriptures portray the human race as in denial. This may seem an abstract point. In reality it is very practical. Consider for example the abortionist. We say the duty to protect innocent human life is known to every human being. The abortionist says it can’t be, because it isn’t known to him. What do we say? “Forgive us, we are mistaken, we thought you knew but you do not”? No, we say, “You are lying. Perhaps also to yourself, but you are lying. You say you do not know, but you do. On this point, we know what you know better than you know what you know.” It is not from the lowest common denominator that we know this, not from Hallmark Cards, not from the Gallup Poll, but from the Letter to the Romans, from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, from the seven laws given to the sons of Noah and explained by learned rabbis.

The Future of the End of Democracy, by J. Budziszewski, First Things (March 1999)

You asked me Uncle, to run all this through the lens–if Christianity is the story we are in. And when I do, we see that maybe their situation in America is much more dangerous for them than they realize!

Look at this passage we found in the book of Proverbs …


Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Proverbs 24:11-12


There it is. Repayment.

And in light of that passage, consider this …


For me, it is enough to consider that, in America alone, more than forty million babies have been aborted since the Supreme Court invented the “right” that allows for this, and that there are many for whom this is viewed not even as a tragic “necessity,” but as a triumph of moral truth. When the Carthaginians were prevailed upon to cease sacrificing their babies, at least the place vacated by Baal reminded them that they should seek the divine above themselves; we offer up our babies to “my” freedom of choice, to “me.” No society’s moral vision has ever, surely, been more degenerate than that.

A Most Partial Historian, by David B. Hart, First Things, December 2003

So then, here is something we’re wondering about…

What if America’s repayment for the Abortion Elephant in their Room comes through the Black Swan of the Gray Rhino – their divided house?

After all, there have been some serious Americans who believed that the continuation of abortion in America could lead to the end of the United States.

President Ronald Reagan believed the very survival of a free America was threatened by abortion…


We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others, a value of which Malcolm Muggeridge says:. . . however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened.”

Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.

“Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation,” Ronald Reagan, Human Life Review, Spring, 1983

In a January 1984 speech, Reagan stated:

This nation fought a terrible war so that black Americans would be guaranteed their God-given rights. Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some could decide whether others should be free or slaves. Well, today another question begs to be asked: How can we survive as a free nation when some decide that others are not fit to live and should be done away with? I believe no challenge is more important to the character of America than restoring the right to life to all human beings. Without that right, no other rights have meaning. “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of God.”

Those are the words of Christ, applied by Reagan to unborn children.

Hillary’s Hypocrisy, By Paul Kengor, The American Spectator, June 25, 2018

And Uncle, Reagan was not the only one who recognized the threat abortion poses to America. Look what we found from a famous American Christian named Charles Colson…


I can’t cut them much slack, however, on the question of life, because it is the very basis of our entire system of governance, is predicated on the fact that we are preserving the dignity of human life. As a Christian, believing that we are made in the image of God Himself, the Imago Dei is in us, and that Christ became flesh. You have to see the centrality of life through the entire message of the Bible.

Chuck Colson on Christianity in the age of Obama, The Hugh Hewitt Show, February 25, 2009

So what if the elephant in their room eventually plays a key role in America committing suicide, Uncle?

Remember what Abraham Lincoln warned them about…


All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions: Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838

And given what the Americans have done by allowing the private right to kill a child, what if this was very relevant?…


Lincoln’s whole policy, on the contrary, was a denial that things would take care of themselves, that progress would result from anything but man’s foresight, judgment, and courage. The impulse of the Revolution had been a mighty one, Lincoln believed, and great things had been achieved because of it. But the spirit of ’76 and the spirit of Nebraska were utter incompatibilities. The Nebraska bill could never even have been considered if there had not been an enormous change in public opinion, a change for the worse that augured still further changes for the worse, changes which portended the utter extinction of a weary mankind’s hope that there might at last be a demonstration of man’s capability to govern himself. To avert these changes no reliance could be placed on anything so absurd as “soil and climate.” The only reliance, the only rock upon which man’s political salvation might be built, was man’s moral sense, the determination of some men to be free, and the awareness that no man can rightfully achieve freedom for himself or, in the presence of a just God, long retain his freedom if he would deny to any other man, of whatever race or nation, the right to equal freedom.

Harry Jaffa, CRISIS OF THE HOUSE DIVIDED

So, as you think about how the story of America may turn out, are you sure you want to keep pondering from that minimalist corner?

After all, what if …


Donald Trump May Have Been Chosen to Reveal the Minimalist Corner Betrayal of the Unborn by America’s Christians


Crazy, right? But maybe you’ll want to be thinkin’ like Lincoln…


And remember, we really want to know…


What Would Howard Hendricks Do?


It is a sin to bore a child with the Word of God.Howard Hendricks

As we were exploring that question we so want to know your answer to…


Will You Continue to Bore People With the Bible?


…Paula began to show us these insights, by that Howard Hendricks guy, who loudly proclaimed it is a sin to bore people with the Bible…


Unless they’re making their own discoveries on topics that related directly to their experience, Bible study will just bore them to tears. They won’t feel motivated to invest time in it. So that’s really your challenge as a teacher — to offer them a process by which they can uncover spiritual truths for themselves.

Living By The Book, Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks

Have you ever closed your Bible in frustration, wondering why you don’t get more out of your study of the Scripture? Wendy told us that was her experience in chapter 1. Perhaps like her you’ve made an honest effort somewhere along the way to sit down and study God’s Word. You heard others talk about mining the riches of Scripture, and you wanted to grab a few nuggets for yourself. But after pouring a lot of time and energy into the process, things just didn’t pan out. The few specks of gold you did find weren’t worth the trouble. So in the end, you walked away from Bible study. Maybe others were profiting by it, but not you. 

May I suggest two reasons you failed to hit pay dirt: First, you didn’t know how to read. Second, you didn’t know what to look for. 

Now I don’t mean to insult you, but I do mean to instruct you. Our culture has made a radical shift in the last century from a word-based society of readers to an image-based society of viewers. The media of our time are movies, television, and the Internet, not books. As a result, unlike our forebears of just a few generations ago, we don’t know how to read. To a large extent, we have lost that art. 

And yet the Bible is a book, which means it must be read to be understood and appreciated. We’ve got to recapture the skills of reading if we want to become effective Bible students. So in this and the next few chapters, I want to offer instruction on how to read. Then later I’ll talk about what you need to look for. 

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, what if your famous Bible teacher Howard Hendricks missed what your famous Bible Preacher Haddon Robinson also missed?

What if they both failed to see that, if Christianity is the story we are in, then your God is the Great Storyteller, who has given you the very kind of story which human beings – across both time and culture – deeply desire?

But Paula wonders what may have happened if Hendricks would have ever come to see the work of Robert McKee. Look what else she showed us…


Sherlock Holmes, the master sleuth, can sometimes be found on his hands and knees, inspecting the floor for cigar ashes or footprints. Other times he broods for hours, rolling things over and over in his mind, straining for answers. He assumes disguises, feigns sickness, conducts experiments whatever it takes to solve the mystery. 

In the same way, finding clues in the biblical text demands more than one approach. The Bible must be read to be understood. But there is more than one way to read it.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, what if Hendricks had been able to observe how the story in the Bible fits with the teaching of Robert McKee?

He would look into it, wouldn’t he? After all, look what he wrote about the greatest commandment…


Christianity has often been caricatured as the nonthinking man’s religion. 

But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. When you become a Christian, you don’t throw your brain into neutral. You don’t put your head in a bucket of water and fire a .45 into ‘it! You don’t commit intellectual suicide. 

So let me ask, Do you love the Lord with all of your mind? As we turn to the step of Interpretation, I can assure you that if you want to interpret Scripture accurately and perceptively, you’re going to have to use your mind. As I’ve said before, the Bible does not yield its fruit to the lazy—and that includes the intellectually lazy. So get ready to exercise some mental muscle. 

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

That is why we think your famous Bible teacher — who proclaimed that it was a sin to bore people with the Bible — would have extensively explored the work of Robert McKee if he had ever come to observe it.

And look what else Paula showed us…


Make sure you zoom back out to recall the big picture. Remember, you don‘t want to end up with a lot of disconnected fragments but rather with a unified whole in which all the details fit in with the overall message of the book. 

Alter your approach. As we’re seeing, there is more than one way to study Scripture. The more strategies you use, the more insight you will gain. And the way to hang in there for the long haul of Bible study is to vary your approach, just as runners vary their pace.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

It is sad but true that the average person thinks that reading the Bible is dreadfully boring. In fact, the only thing more boring would be listening to someone teach from the Bible. Yet I’m convinced that the reason Scripture seems dull to so many people is that we come to it dully. How different things would be if we employed the sixth strategy for first-rate Bible reading: READ THE BIBLE IMAGINATIVELY

….

Often when we come to the Scriptures, we use the least imaginative, most overworked approaches possible.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

In addition to grammatical devices, the biblical writers communicate their purposes through literary structure. Even if you are inexperienced as a reader, you are probably familiar with literary structure. Film and television screenplays use the same ones over and over again. 

For instance, think how many mystery shows and action thrillers use this structure: (1) introduction of the characters and the setting; (2) committing of the crime, usually murder or robbery; (3) investigation by the protagonist. (4) evasion by the criminal(s); (5) crisis, such as a car chase or shoot-out; and (6) resolution, as when the perpetrators are led away in handcuffs and the protagonist gets the girl. That’s an all-too-common structure for screenplays. 

The Bible has literary structure, too, though it’s usually more sophisticated.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

So, had someone shown McKee’s work to Hendricks, Paula is wondering if the following would have kicked in to gear…


Remember the story of the great scientist Louis Agassiz and his method for teaching students to observe the fish? He left his students in front of their specimens for days and weeks, giving them only one instruction: “Look! 
Look! Look!” If I could give students of Scripture only one instruction, it would be the same: “Look! Look! Look!” The truth of God is in the Bible, but most people miss it primarily because they don’t look for it. They never put forth the time and effort required to answer the fundamental question of Observation, What do I see?

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

When Paula showed us that question, we were grateful to have studied Robert McKee. Because what we saw is that, if Christianity is the story we are in, then your God is the Great Storyteller.

And we now think Hendricks would have pursued the exploration of that possibility…


So the Bible is heavily composed of stories. That makes for interesting reading, but it also makes for interesting interpretation. What are we to make of the stories in the Bible? How do we determine their meaning and significance? 

“There is no method except to be very intelligent,” remarked T. S. Eliot.

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, By Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks

And since McKee is so intelligent, well, we wonder if Hendricks would have also begun to lead America’s Christians on an exodus out of the minimalist corner.

In fact, Paula thinks that because Hendricks wanted to think broadly, he may have connected the dots and come to see this…



MANY thousands of years ago, there were two important inventions, the wheel and the sack. As a traveler, I can’t help wondering why it took so long to put rollers on that sack to create wheeled luggage.

“It was one of my best ideas,” Bernard D. Sadow said the other day. Mr. Sadow, who was at that time a vice president  at a Massachusetts company that made luggage and coats, is credited with inventing rolling luggage 40 years ago this month.

First, the background. Mr. Sadow, now 85, had his eureka moment in 1970 as he lugged two heavy suitcases through an airport while returning from a family vacation in Aruba. Waiting at customs, he said, he observed a worker effortlessly rolling a heavy machine on a wheeled skid.

“I said to my wife, ‘You know, that’s what we need for luggage,’ ” Mr. Sadow recalled. When he got back to work, he took casters off a wardrobe trunk and mounted them on a big travel suitcase. “I put a strap on the front and pulled it, and it worked,” he said.

This invention, for which he holds United States patent No. 3,653,474, “Rolling Luggage,” did not take off immediately, though.

“People do not accept change well,” Mr. Sadow said, recalling the many months he spent rolling his prototype bag on sales calls to department stores in New York and elsewhere. Finally, though, Macy’s ordered some, and the market grew quickly as Macy’s ads began promoting “the Luggage That Glides.”

Reinventing the Suitcase by Adding the Wheel, by Joe Sharkey, New York Times, October 4, 2010

And you may also find this to be of particular interest…


The “Dawn-Mobile”, the first suitcase on wheels, was invented in 1908 by James Cole, a preacher for the Bible Students, to carry copies of the Bible commentary Millennial Dawn. Rolling suitcases were reinvented in 1970, when Bernard D. Sadow applied for a patent that was granted in 1972 as United States patent 3,653,474 for “Rolling Luggage”. The patent application cited the increase in air travel, and “baggage handling [having] become perhaps the single biggest difficulty encountered by an air passenger”, as background of the invention. Sadow’s four-wheeled suitcases, pulled using a loose strap, were later surpassed in popularity by rollaboards, suitcases that feature two wheels and are pulled in an upright position using a long handle, and were invented in 1987 by US pilot Robert Plath.

Baggage, Wikipedia

So, the first suitcase on wheels was invented to carry a Bible commentary!

Go figure. Sometimes the stuff is right there in front of you.

Step back and think about it. Sometimes there are two things of great value which nobody recognizes — which can also be combined together to bring even greater added value.

And Paula wonders if you Christians in America will open your eyes and see how you could take the luggage of Howard Hendrick’s inductive Bible study approach and put the wheels of Robert McKee’s insights about story onto that luggage.

And look what Paula showed us…


The typical business mode of thought is inductive logic. You gather evidence, in a Powerpoint presentation often, or in whatever you’re writing or explaining–but you gather. Point, point, point, point, point, point, point [to] one kind of data, another kind of data, and appeal to an authority data of some kind, and the conclusion –“therefore.” And this was taught to us since junior high school: To learn data, memorize data, put it into an essay that builds to a final paragraph that says “and therefore.”

Inductive logic is the mode of science, and scientific method is inductive logic. Science gathers evidence. Unlike business, scientists gather evidence of a massive kind, and then unlike business, they also gather all the contrary evidence in order to try to disprove the theory. But they gather evidence and they build an inductive argument too, and then “therefore.” That conclusion then becomes the premise of a deductive argument from which they draw out particulars: “all whatever a so and so” and then they draw it up.

How Screenwriting Guru Robert McKee Teaches Brands How To Tell Stories, By Robert McKee as Told To Drake Baer, Fast Company, October 22, 2013

And then she reminded us of this…


Story mirrors life. Story, in fact, mirrors the mind. There’s been a great enterprise, certainly by science of all kinds.Social sciences, but also neurology and others, trying to understand how the human mind works.

And the one grand idea that they’ve, understanding that they have achieved in the last decades, is that first and foremost, the mind organizes life as a story. This is how we put things together and understand things. When we think back, when we remember our life and try to make sense out of our life, how do we remember it, as a series of facts, as a deductive, inductive argument? Of course not. We take it and we create a little story for ourselves, a little inciting incident, in which things went out of balance for ourselves, the struggle we went through to restore the balance, how and why eventually the balance was restored or not. But we put the past together into a little story in order to understand ourselves and our own existence.

Story is a model of expectation, of anticipation, of planning for the future. When you think toward the future toward what you hope will happen or you dread might happen, how do you try and prepare yourself for life? You imagined a little story for yourself, a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and end. A hypothetical story that somehow then prepares you for life.

That is just what we do each and every day in order to organize our own lives.

Legendary Writing Teacher Robert McKee at Thinking Digital

So, if they put those wheels on luggage, it looks like McKee’s insights about story would help solve your crazy love crisis


And that may be the number-one reason people are not studying God’s Word today. They think it’s archaic, out-of-date. It may have had something to say to another generation, but there’s a serious question whether it has anything to say to ours.

Living By The Book, Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks

But, Hendricks is gone. So, we want to know — will you make the exploration?

Like we keep saying, we really want to know what you want.


What Would Haddon Robinson Do?



Haddon Robinson

As we explored that question which so has our interest…


Will You Continue to Bore People With the Bible?


Paula began to open our eyes to a way you could rethink and change.

She showed us how Haddon Robinson, one of your more noted preachers back in the day appeared to be open to thinking more broadly.


Haddon Robinson has used the classroom and printed page to exert a profound influence on the American pulpit during the past 25 years. His text Biblical Preaching (Baker) is the most widely-used preaching textbook of the last quarter century, helping to prepare thousands of young preachers to develop “Big Idea” sermons. (In the March-April 2010 Preaching, the book was cited as the most influential preaching book of the past 25 years.)

As a professor of preaching at three prominent evangelical seminaries, Robinson further influenced many of those who now teach preaching in colleges and seminaries. Michael Milton writes, “Arguably the greatest preacher in North America, Dr. Robinson has influenced pulpits all over America and through his ministry at Gordon-Conwell and Denver Seminary before that.”

The 25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years, By Michael Duduit, Preaching.com

Look at what Robinson said in an interview which came out in 1997, the very same year in which Robert McKee first published his book, Story


The most extensive Bible genre is story, people doing things. We have to ask, Why does the Bible give us so much narrative? Why didn’t God just come right out and say what he meant and not beat around the bush with stories? If I were God and were going to give something that would last until the end of time, I would have said, “Here are five principles about my will.” But he doesn’t do that.

Therefore it’s dangerous to go into a narrative and say, “Here are three things we learn about the providence of God.” That’s not the way the biblical writers chose to handle it. If we believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, we have to consider the methods used to proclaim God’s message.

The Heresy of Application: An interview with Haddon Robinson, Christianity Today, Fall 1997

Robinson revealed in the interview that he did not understand story from the inside out. And that makes sense, since McKee was just publishing his work. But, Paula helped us see that it looks like over time he stayed ignorant of it, as he revealed in his famous preaching book, Biblical Preaching


But, as you can see in his book, he was still open to thinking more broadly…


In the final analysis there is no such thing as “a sermon form.” God’s truth would be better served if we didn’t think about preaching a sermon at all. When we have arrived at what we believe is the meaning of a passage and have thought about the needs and questions of our audience, then the question is, What is the best way for this idea to be developed? The shoe must not tell the foot how to grow; therefore, ideas and purposes should be allowed to take their own shape in your mind. To test a form you should ask at least two questions: (1) Does this development com­municate what the passage teaches? (2) Will it accomplish my purpose with this audience? If your development communicates your message, by all means use it; if it gets in the way of your message, then devise a form more in keeping with the idea and purpose of the Scriptures and the needs of your hearers.

Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching

See that? He would have looked into McKee.

So, we want to know if you will too.


What does the person lost in Manhattan really need? It is tempting to respond, “Directions!” But think for a moment. If you give him excellent directions and he gets from point A to point B, he will get lost again as soon as he tries to get to point C. What he needs is a helicopter view of New York City in his head. If you have the big picture, you are able to orient yourself and move in the right direction.

This is what we all need every Sunday— the helicopter view of life that only the grandstory of redemption can give. Preaching must pull us out of our confusing little corners and enable us to see the grand vista of life. Only this kind of “whole story” preaching can enable us to orient ourselves in every new situation. Only God’s Story can confront the blindness and claustrophobia that continually weaken our functional spirituality.

A Community of Counselors: The Fruit of Good Preaching, By Paul David Tripp, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (Winter 2003)

I am amused when people say that preaching in the 21st century is dead: “We live among a generation raised on television and movies; they will not tolerate preaching these days.” No, what they will not stomach is preaching that is boring. So what do movies possess that the average Sunday message does not? Story. Not stories as in illustrations, but story.

Robert McKee is a leading expert on film screenwriting. He is famous for his seminars on scriptwriting. I appreciate his definition of story: “The creative demonstration of truth.” McKee states, “Master storytellers never explain. They do the hard, painfully creative thing — they dramatize. Audiences are rarely interested and certainly never convinced when forced to listen to the discussion of ideas.”


For me, the creative demonstration of truth — God’s truth — is usually how I summarize outstanding preaching. I believe we are living in the age of story. People are responsive to messages in story form.

Telling the Story for 21st-century Listeners, By Graham Johnston, Enrichment Journal

And your Mohler Man sure has our attention…


In former days, those days marked by the dominance of cultural Christianity, the ministry could be confused as a profession. No such confusion is possible now. The authentic Christian ministry constitutes a counterrevolutionary insurgency on behalf of the Gospel, an insurrection against principalities and powers, a redemptive rescue mission in the midst of late modernity.

What could be more important than the education and preparation of these insurgents and counterrevolutionaries? What could be more important than theological education?

At the theological seminary the twig is bent, the trajectory is set, the minister is molded, the preacher is formed, and the missionary is equipped.

The theological seminary is Ground Zero of the church’s future, and not just on its campus but everywhere its graduates will take their message, ministry, and influence.

….

This is deadly serious business, and they know it. What shows up in the classroom shows up in the pulpit, and fast.

Faith on Earth — The Urgent Mission of Theological Education, by Albert Mohler, AlbertMohler.com, October 2, 2014

So, will your theological seminaries change their way of seeing?

Because we came to see that if you begin to see your Bible through the lens of story, then your focus will shift from yourself to your God, who is the Active Protagonist in the story. That’s just the way it works. Story shines the spotlight on the core character. 

And as we saw, it sure doesn’t look like he wants you to keep hanging out in that minimalist corner.


The Idolatry of Donald Trump


Now we are wondering about another possible reason why Donald Trump may have been chosen to help reveal your crazy love crisis.


For a start, the very category of idolatry has disappeared in much Christian thought, as have the categories of heresy and worldliness in some parts of the church. We tend to think of idols as something ‘over there’, the gods of wood and stone. We forget that in scripture, idolatry is any part of the human creation, even the very gifts of God, on which we rely in such a way that they become a substitute for God.  

Interview with Dr. Os Guinness, By Peter Hastie, Interact Magazine 1992, Volume 3 Number 1

And these two Christians in Hollywood caught our attention…


Modern readers of the Bible quickly skim past the ancient warnings against idol worship, thinking they have little relevance anymore. But should we so casually dismiss these verses? The sin of idolatry was that people created their own idols and imbued them with power. God railed against these imperfect, man-made, self-serving versions of Him. 
Sounds a lot like us. 

Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock, The Way Back


And look what your Drollinger dude warned you about…


[I]dolatry was one of the main reasons God judged the nation. The parallel in a non-theocratic country is this: God will judge the nation due to the idolatry of the believers in the nation. One of the manifestations of idolatry is the distancing of one’s heart from the one true God who has revealed Himself in the Bible – and that void, resulting from the distancing, being filled with other things. Mind you, it is not the other things that fill one’s heart that are necessarily sinful in and of themselves, rather it is the distancing from God and the lack of obedience to His precepts that connote the sin.

The Book of Lamentations As It Applies to America, BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2014

So, consider again that Quest which the King of Kings wants human beings to pursue…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40


But, if Christianity is the story we are in, instead of going that direction, we humans tend to head the opposite way…


The dominant theme of the biblical writers is that people are alienated from God owing to their rebellion against God. The rebellion consists primarily in selfish disobedience to God’s love commands: the command that we love God with all we are and have and the command that we love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). We habitually live our lives as if we have no need of either these commands or the perfectly loving God who has given them for our own good. We thereby reject our God-given status as creatures, and we presume to know better than God regarding what is good for us. In willfully exalting ourselves, we demote God from His status as Lord of our lives.

Forgiveness, by Paul Moser, Idolaters Anonymous

And as we go that direction and focus on “exalting ourselves”, we end up making an idol of ourselves.

And here is an explanation from your Guinness guy, which then expands this…


We tend to think of idols as something ‘over there’, the gods of wood and stone. We forget that in scripture, idolatry is any part of the human creation, even the very gifts of God, on which we rely in such a way that they become a substitute for God.

Interview with Dr. Os Guinness, By Peter Hastie, Interact Magazine 1992, Volume 3 Number 1

What happens then is human beings prefer something else to God.

It’s a relational thing.


As the prophecy of Hosea illustrates beautifully, God intends his people to understand their relationship to him as that of a wife to her husband. Idolatry is depicted as adultery. And so God, as husband, requires fidelity and loyalty to him alone.

D.M. Baillie on the Person of Christ, By Arthur W. Klem, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Spring 1964

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, we are in effect telling the Empathetic Protagonist, the very one who created us in his image and likeness to give us the capacity for a love relationship with him, that we would prefer something else to that love relationship with him.

And look what you give up when you do that…


Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

Jonah 2:8


But, if Christianity is the story we are in, when we tell God “forget you!” in that way, it looks like we may also be showing him the ultimate in relational disrespect.

Paula Wong noticed that in the Ten Commandments, the very first commandment shows you the importance of the idolatry issue in the unfolding story…


And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:1-6


The binary core value comes to the surface there.

And throughout the story in the Bible, we found it not only speaking out against idolatry, but also making the corresponding claim there is only one God.

Here is an illustration of this out of the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah…


I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
….
Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:5; 20-22


If there are no other gods, then idolatry is in essence saying to God, “Instead of you, I prefer nothing at all!”

That just might be the ultimate relational insult.

And think of how it connects with the idea that God is the “necessary being”.

Here’s how the American Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft explains it…


Every being that exists either exists by itself, by its own essence or nature, or it does not exist by itself. If it exists by its own essence, then it exists necessarily and eternally, and explains itself. It cannot not exist, as a triangle cannot not have three sides. If, on the other hand, a being exists but not by its own essence, then it needs a cause, a reason outside itself for its existence. Because it does not explain itself, something else must explain it. Beings whose essence does not contain the reason for their existence, beings that need causes, are called contingent, or dependent, beings. A being whose essence is to exist is called a necessary being. The universe contains only contingent beings. God would be the only necessary being—if God existed. Does he? Does a necessary being exist? Here is the proof that it does. Dependent beings cannot cause themselves. They are dependent on their causes. If there is no independent being, then the whole chain of dependent beings is dependent on nothing and could not exist. But they do exist. Therefore there is an independent being.

Peter Kreeft, The First Cause Argument

So, the idolater is saying to the one necessary being in the universe, the one on whose existence the idolater depends, “Instead of you, I prefer nothing at all!”

And that verbal action creates a self-destructive gap…


Left untreated, our idols empty our lives of peacejoy, and unselfish loveIdolatry begins as theft from God, the gift Giver, as we value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. Idolatry turns back on us, however, to keep us from having what we need for true, lasting satisfaction in life. In the end, the greatest human tragedy is idolatry. It diminishes and even severs friendship with God, the only Giver of lasting life and satisfaction. Out of the tragedy of idolatry come all other human woes, including addictions, worries, selfish fears, resentments, jealousies, hatreds, and so on.

Paul Moser, Stealing God’s Glory, Idolaters Anonymous

In the biblical model, what stops us from being genuine humans (bearing the divine image, acting as the “royal priesthood”) is not only sin, but the idolatry that underlies it. The idols have gained power, the power humans ought to be exercising in God’s World; idolatrous humans have handed it over to them. What is required, for God’s new world and for renewed humans within it is for the power of the idols to be broken. Since sin, the consequence of idolatry, is what keeps humans in thrall to the nongods of the world, dealing with sin has a more profound effect than simply releasing humans to go to heaven. It releases humans from the grip of the idols, so they can worship the living God and be renewed according to his image. 

N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion

So, now let’s think about how your embrace of Donald Trump revealed your avoidance of dealing with this idolatry issue.

Donald Trump is clearly a person who has pushed away the Quest which the King of Kings has commanded him to pursue and has substituted a Quest which ultimately is about self-love.

It’s idolatry, plain and simple…


The essence of idolatry is self-worship….

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment, by Albert Mohler, AlbertMohler.com, March 6, 2017

Self is the great idol that all the world worships, in contempt of God and his sovereignty.

Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

But it looks like focusing on yourself will open up a gap…


God corrects those who disregard His plan and pursue lives of self-gratification, often using talionic justice (i.e., punishment exactly the same as the crime) in His discipline.

Thomas Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on Genesis


And what if Donald was chosen to be a reflector?


In a world where many habitually broadcast photographs of their sandwiches just before they are eaten, we no longer agree that intense self-regard is a sign that something is wrong. It may, instead, be a reasonable reaction to life in a society where extension of the self, through media, is an accepted way to escape feeling insignificant. Donald Trump is not a man apart. He is, instead, merely one of us writ large.

Michael D’Antonio, Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success

The idolatry of the Donald doesn’t end with his self-obsession.

You see, your New Testament connects greed to idolatry…


Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5


And Donald Trump is a very greedy person…


Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday described himself as a “very greedy person,” but also said he wants to be “greedy for our country.”

“Now, I’ll tell you, I’m good at that – so, you know, I’ve always taken in money,” he said at a rally in Iowa. “I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy – I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?

“But, you know what? I want to be greedy for our country. I want to be greedy. I want to be so greedy for our country. I want to take back money,” he added.

Trump: ‘I’m very greedy’, By Bradford Richardson, The Hill, January 09, 2016

In his counter-rally to Thursday’s Fox News debate, real estate mogul Donald Trump said that greed is a good thing.

“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” Trump said. “I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy.But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States.”

Donald Trump Says Greed Is Good, by Aaron Bandler, The Daily Wire, January 29, 2016

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has spent his career being greedy and trying to make money, but “now I’m going to be greedy for the United States and take and take and take,” he told a cheering crowd here Monday night, on the eve of Super Tuesday primaries being held across much of the South and elsewhere.

Trump Promises to Be ‘Greedy for the United States’ in Georgia Speech, by Cameron McWhirter, Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2016

And this connection between greed and idolatry caught our attention because of the changes which have taken place in America…


Well, if anything’s changed, it’s that we regard greed as less of a sin than we used to. So in the Middle Ages you had the Seven Deadly Sins and they went in the order of pride, greed, et cetera. But after awhile, greed went to the top and Martin Luther preached against greed repeatedly and said that the petition in the Lord’s Prayer “Give us our daily bread” is really a petition against greed. But I think with the advent of capitalism and free market economies and so on, the opportunity for wealth creation was much more prevalent and people began to think that there’s nothing wrong with greed because having more and more is a good thing for everyone.

Brian Rosner

Money, Greed, and Generosity, Darrell L. Bock and Brian S. Rosner, The Table, April 4, 2017

We have turned away from God. We are going after the idol of the almighty dollar. The best news out of New York is a vigorous stock market. The best news out of Washington is that which will put more money in our pockets. Money is the god of the present hour. The Ephesians chanted, ‘. . . Great is Diana of the Ephesians’ (Acts 19:28). The cry of America is, ‘Great is the almighty American dollar,’ and God is left out.

J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee

Manasseh, and King Amon, who ruled after him for two years, set up pagan altars all over Judah. These kings encouraged idolatry of every sort, even in the Jerusalem temple. The people departed further and further from the Lord. It was a condition very much like the one in North America in the early twenty-first century. 

Notes on Jeremiah, By Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Sonic Light

One of our team members found something else you might want to pay attention to as you think about how your story is unfolding.

You see, if Christianity is the story we are in, the Donald and his greed could play a role in helping America march further into the Danger Zone of the House Divided…


A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

Proverbs 28:25


So, we’re curious.

What do your Christian leaders, who have embraced Donald Trump, have to say about idolatry?

Do they agree with what Billy Graham wrote in his will? …


We determined many years ago not to be preoccupied with material things, which leads to covetousness and which the Scriptures call idolatry.

Billy Graham, The Will of William F. Graham, Jr.

Or do they push the issue away because of… what?

And there is something else we have wondered about. Did you consider the connection between Donald’s pride and his idolatry?

Look at this…


Are the love of money and pride legitimate issues to weigh when considering support for a presidential candidate?

First, the Bible is very clear that “the love of money” — not money itself — is “the root of all evil.” But Donald Trump is also very clear — he really loves money. In fact, he has reminded us over and over again, relishing and boasting in how “really rich” he is. Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” even used the O’Jays’ song “For the Love of Money” as the theme song.

It’s not often that the Bible speaks with such clarity on what is evil. How heavily should a Christian voter considering supporting Trump take into account his love of money?

Secondly, Scripture declares “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs says that “everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.”

Trump is not just proud. He is proud of being proud. But don’t take my word for it. Just listen to most any speech he gives. Trump has said, “part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump, By John Stemberger, CNN, January 6, 2016

And look what he bragged about…


President Donald Trump slammed reports questioning his mental stability in a series of tweets Saturday morning, writing he’s a “very stable genius” after the publication of an exposé about his first year as President put the White House into damage-control mode.

….

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” the President continued. “Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

….

After his tweets Saturday morning, Trump told reporters at Camp David that Wolff is a “fraud” who doesn’t know him.

“I went to the best colleges, or college,” he told reporters. “I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for President one time and won.”

Trump: I’m a ‘very stable genius’, By Daniella Diaz, CNN, January 6, 2018

Does that bother you? If not, then, if Christianity is the story we are in, what about what your God says in this passage?


Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24


Or this one…


The Almighty—we cannot find him;

    he is great in power;

    justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.

Therefore men fear him;

    he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

Job 37:23-24


And look at this…


Securing all possible physical possessions (wealth, health, and family) and religious credits does nothing to ensure an enduring reward or a meaningful existence after the grave. Riches in fact deceive the individual who places his or her trust in them (5:13–16). They are inherently unsatisfying—they are never enough; someone always desires to take them away; and they produce worry and misery in this life. Riches also are temporary—they provide no true security. They cannot be taken into the next life; they are as fleeting as the wind.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8: Death, an Impetus for Life, By Barry C. Davis, Bibliotheca Sacra, July 1991

It reminds us how easily and foolishly we can become idolaters by treating our lives, careers, wealth, and pleasure as ends in themselves. Life “under the sun” is coming to an end; we will all stand before God’s judgment throne no matter who we are. As such, we must learn to fear God, walk humbly with him, and grasp the things of this life very loosely. Furthermore, especially when we place Ecclesiastes in the larger storyline of Scripture, i.e., in light of the coming of Christ and his redemptive work, the lessons that Ecclesiastes teaches us must be applied in a greater way, as we learn anew to enjoy our lives, to work hard as God’s gift to us, but also to realize that it is only what is done for Christ which ultimately lasts.

Notes on Ecclesiastes, by Dr. Thomas L. Constable

And Paula is wondering whether this famous ‘magnificat’ from Mary, the mother of Jesus, is somehow relevant for your consideration…


And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.

Luke 1:46-53


So, will you consider the implications of what your Drollinger guy wrote?


God did restore Israel to the Promised Land after the severe chastisement of Babylonian captivity. It follows that America could be experiencing the beginnings of God’s multiple forms of judgment at present – and that if the believers repent from their various forms of idolatry – that He could restore the nation to her earlier greatness (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The Book of Lamentations As It Applies to America, BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2014

Please let us know if you push all these things away, because that will help get a better sense of what you really want, here in the story.


What Does Donald Trump Want?

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

When our team began to explore this strange possibility that the Donald is a Chosen One, we embraced Robert McKee’s insight and began to explore the Quest question…


To understand the Quest form of your story you need only identify your protagonist’s Object of Desire. Penetrate his psychology and find an honest answer to the question: “What does he want?” …. [B]y looking into the heart of the protagonist and discovering his desire, you begin to see the arc of your story, the Quest on which the Inciting Incident sends him.

Robert McKee, Story

And you Christians are open to considering that Quest question, right?


For nearly everything else in life, whether it’s technology, health care or even the Super Bowl record of your favorite football team, we demand seriousness, detail, and accuracy. Yet we as a culture are ignoring a basic yet obvious truth: If there really is a God, then who He is and what He might want from us are more important than anything else in the universe.

….

The nature of Truth is that it is true no matter what anyone says about it. In the face of Truth, there is no opinion. Most people already believe that deep down, but they may not apply it to the question that matters most, namely, “Who is God and what does He want from me?”

Andrew Stephen Damick, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

And Donald does want something…


“Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred,” Trump said about himself one time.

18 Real Things Donald Trump Has Actually Said About Women, by Nina Bahadur, Huffington Post, August 19, 2015

Soooo… What does Donald Trump really want?

And how does it fit with what your God wants him to want? 

Because, remember what my team member, Paula Wong, discovered…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40


Is that what Donald really wants, or does he want something else?

As you know, the public expression of Donald Trump’s Quest is to “Make America Great Again!”

It’s just like our China Dream.

In fact, it looks like even as America is coming apart, we are on a similar quest…


Late one afternoon in November, I went to see a professor in Beijing who has studied the U.S. for a long time. America’s recent political turmoil has disoriented him. “I’m struggling with this a lot,” he said, and poured me a cup of tea. “I love the United States. I used to think that the multiculturalism of the U.S. might work here. But, if it doesn’t work there, then it won’t work here.” In his view, the original American bond is dissolving. “In the past, you kept together because of common values that you call freedom,” he said. Emerging in its place is a cynical, zero-sum politics, a return to blood and soil, which privileges interests above inspiration.

In that sense, he observed, the biggest surprise in the relationship between China and the United States is their similarity. In both countries, people who are infuriated by profound gaps in wealth and opportunity have pinned their hopes on nationalist, nostalgic leaders, who encourage them to visualize threats from the outside world. “China, Russia, and the U.S. are moving in the same direction,” he said. “They’re all trying to be great again.” 

Making China Great Again, By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, January 8, 2018 Issue

But that’s not all. Donald Trump wants something else too.

You see, the Donald is a very self-centered, proud man. 


In fact, one of my loyal team members came across a rather stunning comment on the enormity of Trump’s pride from a prominent American Christian named Pat Robertson, who once ran for president himself. Check out the video below, at about the 3:22 mark…


“He’s a very fascinating guy. I’ve known him for a long time, I got to know Marla Maples and she said she read the Bible and one of his directors of security is one of our 1000 club members, so Donald is quite a man, an amazing person, and he’s done remarkable things, but he is full of ego like few people we’ve ever known in history.“


Wow! … “full of ego like few people we’ve ever known in history. “

And a lot of people share that opinion about the Donald. Consider how the following observations about Trump’s unusual desire for self-glorification fit with Pat Robertson’s stunning comment about Trump’s ego…


Donald Trump’s psychiatric status is an overarching question that writers and filmmakers and even psychologists have long tried to answer. Trump was offered as a journalist’s paragon of narcissism at least as far back as 1988. Trump makes an appearance in texts for the profession, including Abnormal Behavior in the 21st Century and Personality Disorders and Older Adults: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment. He also appears in books for laypeople such as The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement; Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist; and When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself.

Many recent books about narcissism echo Christopher Lasch’s landmark Culture of Narcissism (1979), a lament that would have us place Trump in “an age of diminishing expectations.” Lasch saw an epidemic of self-involvement emerging as young adults with a weak sense of identity sought continual affirmation in attention, material comforts and exciting experiences. What Lasch feared, Donald Trump lived with more verve than anyone else on the planet. Others may have matched him in one category, such as fame. But no one equaled him on all three levels of narcissistic achievement.

What I Learned Writing Trump’s Biography, by Michael D’Antonio, Politico, September 25, 2015

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!, by Henry Alford, Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015

To my mind, Trump is the most perfect example I have ever come across of a malignant and, probably, psychopathic narcissist. Of course, he cannot be fully and assuredly diagnosed this way. Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But the overwhelming preponderance of presenting symptoms and visual and textual evidence for tentative profiling is definitely there.

Donald Trump and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: An Interview with Sam Vaknin, By Arlen Williams, The American Thinker, March 6, 2016


The portrait of Mr. Trump that emerges from these books, old or new, serious or satirical, is remarkably consistent: a high-decibel narcissist, almost comically self-obsessed; a “hyperbole addict who prevaricates for fun and profit,” as Mr. Singer wrote in The New Yorker in 1997.

Mr. Singer also describes Mr. Trump as an “insatiable publicity hound who courts the press on a daily basis and, when he doesn’t like what he reads, attacks the messengers as ‘human garbage,’” “a fellow both slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of consequences.”

At the same time, Mr. Singer and other writers discern an emptiness underneath the gold-plated armor. In “Trump and Me,” Mr. Singer describes his subject as a man “who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”

In Books on Donald Trump, Consistent Portraits of a High-Decibel Narcissist, By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times, August 25, 2016

So, the question we had to ask then, is there a way to think about Donald Trump and his Quest? 

A way to help us see it more clearly?

And then Paula saw this from Robert McKee…


Super-Intention


The super-intention motivates a character to pursue the object of desire.

This phrase restates the protagonist’s conscious desire in terms of his deepest need. …. In other words, the object of desire is objective, whereas the super-intention is subjective: what the protagonist wants versus the emotional hunger that drives him.

Robert McKee, Dialogue

So, we began to wonder, was Donald Trump’s Object of Desire to “Make America Great Again”, while his Super-Intention was a desire for self-glorification?

And if so, is the Super-Intention the one which is dominant?

Some people in America clearly think this is the case. Here’s what the son of the now deceased Playboy legend Hugh Hefner wrote about Donald Trump…


First and foremost, Trump doesn’t care about the office of the President. He doesn’t care about the American public. He doesn’t care about anything other than Trump. Many already know this, but it’s important to point out that Trump loves Trump over all else. He loves what the presidential race can do for his brand. It’s as simple as that. I know this because Trump is a family friend, but regardless of his home visits, one can understand this after three minutes of watching him.

DONALD IS A FAMILY FRIEND AND HE’S FULL OF S***, by Cooper Hefner, HOP, March 1, 2016

And that is not an exception. There are plenty of illustrations and observations our team has come across which illuminate how Donald’s underlying super-intention for self-glorification is very powerful.


Trump treats parties and policy positions like toys to be used and discarded at his pleasure. He’s been a Democrat, an independent, a Republican, and briefly sought the Reform-party nomination for president in 2000. He’s been pro-choice and pro-life, pro-Clinton and anti-Clinton, pro–single payer and anti-Obamacare. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for his shifts: The only thing that explains them is his constant pursuit of the one thing that really matters, the glory of Donald Trump.

All of these facts add up to one big problem for America. Most of Trump’s backers believe that the biggest thing wrong about America is that no one in government is working for them. But Trump isn’t the elite guy who’s switched sides, he’s the elite guy par excellence whose pursuit of his own wealth and fame leaves everyone else in the dust. He’s not only not the solution to America’s problems, he’s the biggest embodiment of those problems.

Four Easy Steps for Beating Donald Trump, By Henry Olsen, National Review, September 25, 2015

And consider, for instance, on June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, he spoke about himself being great enough to make America great again…


Our country needs, our country needs a truly great leader and we need a truly great leader now. We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal.

….

We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. It’s not great.

We need, we need, we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.

….

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for President of the United States and we are going to make our country great again.

….

I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you that.

….

Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.


See how the two tie together? 

His greatness can make America great again.

And look at what else one of my team members found from one of Trump’s biographers, Michael D’Antonio, which we imagine you Christians would be interested in…


Donald tried to smooth things over with Ivanna, but the weeks that followed the incident in Aspen were strained. It didn’t help that when he appeared in an article in the March issue of Playboy magazine–which was published in early February– he refused to answer when interviewer Glenn Plaskin asked, “What is marriage to you? Is it monogamous?” In the same question-and-answer session Trump observed that every successful person, including Mother Teresa and Jesus Christ, was driven by ego. “Far greater egos than you will ever understand.” He also acknowledged his publicity seeking: “The show is Trump, and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”

Michael D’Antonio, Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success


You can see Trump’s reasoning, right? 

If Jesus was so driven by ego, why not the Donald?

Do you Christians agree with that?

Is your God a narcissist, like Donald Trump?

Anyway, we agree with what the Donald wrote about himself in the year 2000…


Well, I’ve lived my life as an open book and I don’t claim to be something I am not. What you see is what you would get.

Donald Trump, The America We Deserve

And now you Americans get to experience what he wants. 

So, it looks like you Christians might want to face the reality which the Benedict Option guy lays out…


Though Donald Trump won the presidency in part with the strong support of Catholics and Evangelicals, the idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to the problem of America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

And perhaps this quote is very relevant…


Now, people my age always say things have changed, and they always seem to think change is bad, but I’m not saying that. I think we’ve experienced an unusual shift, similar to a tectonic shift in the plates of the earth. For instance, we’ve gone from a community-centered culture in the West to being so self-absorbed that we can best be described as narcissistic. Christopher Lasch’s book on the culture of narcissism was dead-on, and that was nearly forty years ago. How much worse this problem is today.

Charles Colson, My Final Word

It looks like Charles Colson would have recognized what Donald Trump wants.

So then, it looks like Donald Trump is pursuing two desires…


An external one to make America Great again…

… and an internal one to fuel his desire for self-glorification.


We suspect Robert McKee might call Donald Trump’s external pursuit his “object of desire”, and his internal pursuit his “super-intention.” 

As McKee writes in his book, Dialogue, “the object of desire is objective, whereas the super-intention is subjective: what the protagonist wants versus the emotional hunger that drives him.”

After we began to look through this lens, our team began to believe we could find our way forward with the Donald Trump assignment. And part of the reason why is because it began to shine a light on different aspects of your love crisis.

So, think of Donald Trump said about his way forward in life…


“I’ve come this far in life. I’ve had great success. I’ve done it my way.”

Trump Does It His Way, by Maureen Dowd, New York Times, April 2, 2016

… and what your noted Christian philosopher, Peter Kreeft wrote…


The national anthem of Hell is “I Did It My Way”.

Peter Kreeft


And look how that fits with this…


As it happens, the differences are clear between the major answers to the search for purpose in life, and they lead in entirely different directions.

….

The second is the secularist answer, which includes atheists, most agnostics, naturalists in science, and a large number of humanists. If the final reality is chance and there is no God (or gods or the supernatural) to consider, then purpose is up to each of us to decide and achieve for ourselves by ourselves. We don’t discover it – we decide it. In Friedrich Nietzsche’s words, our challenge is “to turn every ‘it was’ into a ‘thus I willed it.” In Bertrand Russell’s view, we are each to be “a weary but unyielding Atlas,” carrying on our own shoulders the world of our own making. Like Frank Sinatra, we must each do it “my way.”

Os Guinness, The Call

And your Drollinger dude laid it out for us…


The acceptance of pride in our culture is so prevalent that some will argue with what I’ve said. Allow me to illustrate its prevalence.

Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way” and Whitney Houston popularized “the greatest love of all…is learning to love yourself.” Both made millions from the sale of such albums. “Taking pride in one’s work” is a common­ly held axiom, and who hasn’t witnessed the myriad of “proud parent” bumper stickers or monotonous, arrogant “I did this” political speeches? Even some Christian ministries believe that engendering pride (often under the guise of infusing “self esteem”) in a child is a good thing. But, no matter what you be­lieve about the need for “self esteem” or “the adult quest for meaning,” all hold in com­mon a subtle or not-so-subtle focus on one’s self. Oh, and did I mention the “selfie” craze — look at me, here I am! These are the seed­beds of an increasingly self-absorbed culture where in conversational skills (among many other things) the subject always revolves back to me.

Dealing with Pride: in Life and in D.C., BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2018

Drollie knows the Donald.

So, look at this famous passage from your prophet Isaiah, which Paula showed us…


All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned — every one — to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6


And now, think of this…


But one thing is certain. It doesn’t matter that Trump once appeared in a Playboy video. It doesn’t matter that Trump ran casinos. It doesn’t matter that Trump was a philanderer. It doesn’t even matter that he won’t answer a direct question as to whether he ever had a relationship with a woman that resulted in an aborted pregnancy. What Christian conservatives want from Trump, Christian conservatives will likely get, and that suits them just fine.

Trump Caters More to Evangelicals Than the Working Class, By Bill Scher, Real Clear Politics, May 21, 2018

So, are you sure you really want what the Donald wants?…


The greatest judgment God can give us is to let us have our own way….

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary

And, well, have you considered this?


The sacking of Rome prompted Augustine to reconsider the prevailing idea of citizenship. The results of his thinking shaped not just the Christian idea of citizenship but the secular as well, for Augustine proposed the idea of “two-cities” that define the ultimate allegiance of human beings. The city of God and the City of Man are built on opposing loves. A citizen of the City of God loves God; a subject of the City of Man loves himself first and in the selfishness loses himself in pride. The City of God is the city of the humble. The City of Man is the city of the proud. In the City of God, divine love is the shared goodness that increases rather than decreases with additional sharers. In the City of Man at its worst, it is confusion — not goodness — that is shared in common. Within the City of Man, the best that can be hoped for is that a concern for property, a limited material good, can be shared.

David J. Bobb, Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue

So, what if your God chose Donald Trump in order to open your eyes to some things you don’t want to consider?


How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?

….

Donald Trump’s election was not so much a catalyst for the divide as a manifestation and amplification of the existing schism.

We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife.

The Origins of Our Second Civil War, By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, National Review, July 31, 2018

Are those some things you want to push away?

What is it you really want?

When our team began to explore this strange possibility that the Donald is a Chosen One, we embraced Robert McKee’s insight and began to explore the Quest question…


To understand the Quest form of your story you need only identify your protagonist’s Object of Desire. Penetrate his psychology and find an honest answer to the question: “What does he want?” …. [B]y looking into the heart of the protagonist and discovering his desire, you begin to see the arc of your story, the Quest on which the Inciting Incident sends him.

Robert McKee, Story

And you Christians are open to considering that Quest question, right?


For nearly everything else in life, whether it’s technology, health care or even the Super Bowl record of your favorite football team, we demand seriousness, detail, and accuracy. Yet we as a culture are ignoring a basic yet obvious truth: If there really is a God, then who He is and what He might want from us are more important than anything else in the universe.

….

The nature of Truth is that it is true no matter what anyone says about it. In the face of Truth, there is no opinion. Most people already believe that deep down, but they may not apply it to the question that matters most, namely, “Who is God and what does He want from me?”

Andrew Stephen Damick, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

And Donald does want something…


“Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred,” Trump said about himself one time.

18 Real Things Donald Trump Has Actually Said About Women, by Nina Bahadur, Huffington Post, August 19, 2015

Soooo… What does Donald Trump really want?

And how does it fit with what your God wants him to want? 

Because, remember what my team member, Paula Wong, discovered…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40


Is that what Donald really wants, or does he want something else?

As you know, the public expression of Donald Trump’s Quest is to “Make America Great Again!”

It’s just like our China Dream.

In fact, it looks like even as America is coming apart, we are on a similar quest…


Late one afternoon in November, I went to see a professor in Beijing who has studied the U.S. for a long time. America’s recent political turmoil has disoriented him. “I’m struggling with this a lot,” he said, and poured me a cup of tea. “I love the United States. I used to think that the multiculturalism of the U.S. might work here. But, if it doesn’t work there, then it won’t work here.” In his view, the original American bond is dissolving. “In the past, you kept together because of common values that you call freedom,” he said. Emerging in its place is a cynical, zero-sum politics, a return to blood and soil, which privileges interests above inspiration.

In that sense, he observed, the biggest surprise in the relationship between China and the United States is their similarity. In both countries, people who are infuriated by profound gaps in wealth and opportunity have pinned their hopes on nationalist, nostalgic leaders, who encourage them to visualize threats from the outside world. “China, Russia, and the U.S. are moving in the same direction,” he said. “They’re all trying to be great again.” 

Making China Great Again, By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, January 8, 2018 Issue

But that’s not all. Donald Trump wants something else too.

You see, the Donald is a very self-centered, proud man. 


In fact, one of my loyal team members came across a rather stunning comment on the enormity of Trump’s pride from a prominent American Christian named Pat Robertson, who once ran for president himself. Check out the video below, at about the 3:22 mark…


“He’s a very fascinating guy. I’ve known him for a long time, I got to know Marla Maples and she said she read the Bible and one of his directors of security is one of our 1000 club members, so Donald is quite a man, an amazing person, and he’s done remarkable things, but he is full of ego like few people we’ve ever known in history.“


Wow! … “full of ego like few people we’ve ever known in history. “

And a lot of people share that opinion about the Donald. Consider how the following observations about Trump’s unusual desire for self-glorification fit with Pat Robertson’s stunning comment about Trump’s ego…


Donald Trump’s psychiatric status is an overarching question that writers and filmmakers and even psychologists have long tried to answer. Trump was offered as a journalist’s paragon of narcissism at least as far back as 1988. Trump makes an appearance in texts for the profession, including Abnormal Behavior in the 21st Century and Personality Disorders and Older Adults: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment. He also appears in books for laypeople such as The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement; Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist; and When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself.

Many recent books about narcissism echo Christopher Lasch’s landmark Culture of Narcissism (1979), a lament that would have us place Trump in “an age of diminishing expectations.” Lasch saw an epidemic of self-involvement emerging as young adults with a weak sense of identity sought continual affirmation in attention, material comforts and exciting experiences. What Lasch feared, Donald Trump lived with more verve than anyone else on the planet. Others may have matched him in one category, such as fame. But no one equaled him on all three levels of narcissistic achievement.

What I Learned Writing Trump’s Biography, by Michael D’Antonio, Politico, September 25, 2015

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!, by Henry Alford, Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015

To my mind, Trump is the most perfect example I have ever come across of a malignant and, probably, psychopathic narcissist. Of course, he cannot be fully and assuredly diagnosed this way. Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But the overwhelming preponderance of presenting symptoms and visual and textual evidence for tentative profiling is definitely there.

Donald Trump and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: An Interview with Sam Vaknin, By Arlen Williams, The American Thinker, March 6, 2016


The portrait of Mr. Trump that emerges from these books, old or new, serious or satirical, is remarkably consistent: a high-decibel narcissist, almost comically self-obsessed; a “hyperbole addict who prevaricates for fun and profit,” as Mr. Singer wrote in The New Yorker in 1997.

Mr. Singer also describes Mr. Trump as an “insatiable publicity hound who courts the press on a daily basis and, when he doesn’t like what he reads, attacks the messengers as ‘human garbage,’” “a fellow both slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of consequences.”

At the same time, Mr. Singer and other writers discern an emptiness underneath the gold-plated armor. In “Trump and Me,” Mr. Singer describes his subject as a man “who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”

In Books on Donald Trump, Consistent Portraits of a High-Decibel Narcissist, By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times, August 25, 2016

So, the question we had to ask then, is there a way to think about Donald Trump and his Quest? 

A way to help us see it more clearly?

And then Paula saw this from Robert McKee…


Super-Intention


The super-intention motivates a character to pursue the object of desire.

This phrase restates the protagonist’s conscious desire in terms of his deepest need. …. In other words, the object of desire is objective, whereas the super-intention is subjective: what the protagonist wants versus the emotional hunger that drives him.

Robert McKee, Dialogue

So, we began to wonder, was Donald Trump’s Object of Desire to “Make America Great Again”, while his Super-Intention was a desire for self-glorification?

And if so, is the Super-Intention the one which is dominant?

Some people in America clearly think this is the case. Here’s what the son of the now deceased Playboy legend Hugh Hefner wrote about Donald Trump…


First and foremost, Trump doesn’t care about the office of the President. He doesn’t care about the American public. He doesn’t care about anything other than Trump. Many already know this, but it’s important to point out that Trump loves Trump over all else. He loves what the presidential race can do for his brand. It’s as simple as that. I know this because Trump is a family friend, but regardless of his home visits, one can understand this after three minutes of watching him.

DONALD IS A FAMILY FRIEND AND HE’S FULL OF S***, by Cooper Hefner, HOP, March 1, 2016

And that is not an exception. There are plenty of illustrations and observations our team has come across which illuminate how Donald’s underlying super-intention for self-glorification is very powerful.


Trump treats parties and policy positions like toys to be used and discarded at his pleasure. He’s been a Democrat, an independent, a Republican, and briefly sought the Reform-party nomination for president in 2000. He’s been pro-choice and pro-life, pro-Clinton and anti-Clinton, pro–single payer and anti-Obamacare. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for his shifts: The only thing that explains them is his constant pursuit of the one thing that really matters, the glory of Donald Trump.

All of these facts add up to one big problem for America. Most of Trump’s backers believe that the biggest thing wrong about America is that no one in government is working for them. But Trump isn’t the elite guy who’s switched sides, he’s the elite guy par excellence whose pursuit of his own wealth and fame leaves everyone else in the dust. He’s not only not the solution to America’s problems, he’s the biggest embodiment of those problems.

Four Easy Steps for Beating Donald Trump, By Henry Olsen, National Review, September 25, 2015

And consider, for instance, on June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, he spoke about himself being great enough to make America great again…


Our country needs, our country needs a truly great leader and we need a truly great leader now. We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal.

….

We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. It’s not great.

We need, we need, we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.

….

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for President of the United States and we are going to make our country great again.

….

I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you that.

….

Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.


See how the two tie together? 

His greatness can make America great again.

And look at what else one of my team members found from one of Trump’s biographers, Michael D’Antonio, which we imagine you Christians would be interested in…


Donald tried to smooth things over with Ivanna, but the weeks that followed the incident in Aspen were strained. It didn’t help that when he appeared in an article in the March issue of Playboy magazine–which was published in early February– he refused to answer when interviewer Glenn Plaskin asked, “What is marriage to you? Is it monogamous?” In the same question-and-answer session Trump observed that every successful person, including Mother Teresa and Jesus Christ, was driven by ego. “Far greater egos than you will ever understand.” He also acknowledged his publicity seeking: “The show is Trump, and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”

Michael D’Antonio, Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success


You can see Trump’s reasoning, right? 

If Jesus was so driven by ego, why not the Donald?

Do you Christians agree with that?

Is your God a narcissist, like Donald Trump?

Anyway, we agree with what the Donald wrote about himself in the year 2000…


Well, I’ve lived my life as an open book and I don’t claim to be something I am not. What you see is what you would get.

Donald Trump, The America We Deserve

And now you Americans get to experience what he wants. 

So, it looks like you Christians might want to face the reality which the Benedict Option guy lays out…


Though Donald Trump won the presidency in part with the strong support of Catholics and Evangelicals, the idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to the problem of America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

And perhaps this quote is very relevant…


Now, people my age always say things have changed, and they always seem to think change is bad, but I’m not saying that. I think we’ve experienced an unusual shift, similar to a tectonic shift in the plates of the earth. For instance, we’ve gone from a community-centered culture in the West to being so self-absorbed that we can best be described as narcissistic. Christopher Lasch’s book on the culture of narcissism was dead-on, and that was nearly forty years ago. How much worse this problem is today.

Charles Colson, My Final Word

It looks like Charles Colson would have recognized what Donald Trump wants.

So then, it looks like Donald Trump is pursuing two desires…


An external one to make America Great again…

… and an internal one to fuel his desire for self-glorification.


We suspect Robert McKee might call Donald Trump’s external pursuit his “object of desire”, and his internal pursuit his “super-intention.” 

As McKee writes in his book, Dialogue, “the object of desire is objective, whereas the super-intention is subjective: what the protagonist wants versus the emotional hunger that drives him.”

After we began to look through this lens, our team began to believe we could find our way forward with the Donald Trump assignment. And part of the reason why is because it began to shine a light on different aspects of your love crisis.

So, think of Donald Trump said about his way forward in life…


“I’ve come this far in life. I’ve had great success. I’ve done it my way.”

Trump Does It His Way, by Maureen Dowd, New York Times, April 2, 2016

… and what your noted Christian philosopher, Peter Kreeft wrote…


The national anthem of Hell is “I Did It My Way”.

Peter Kreeft


And look how that fits with this…


As it happens, the differences are clear between the major answers to the search for purpose in life, and they lead in entirely different directions.

….

The second is the secularist answer, which includes atheists, most agnostics, naturalists in science, and a large number of humanists. If the final reality is chance and there is no God (or gods or the supernatural) to consider, then purpose is up to each of us to decide and achieve for ourselves by ourselves. We don’t discover it – we decide it. In Friedrich Nietzsche’s words, our challenge is “to turn every ‘it was’ into a ‘thus I willed it.” In Bertrand Russell’s view, we are each to be “a weary but unyielding Atlas,” carrying on our own shoulders the world of our own making. Like Frank Sinatra, we must each do it “my way.”

Os Guinness, The Call

And your Drollinger dude laid it out for us…


The acceptance of pride in our culture is so prevalent that some will argue with what I’ve said. Allow me to illustrate its prevalence.

Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way” and Whitney Houston popularized “the greatest love of all…is learning to love yourself.” Both made millions from the sale of such albums. “Taking pride in one’s work” is a common­ly held axiom, and who hasn’t witnessed the myriad of “proud parent” bumper stickers or monotonous, arrogant “I did this” political speeches? Even some Christian ministries believe that engendering pride (often under the guise of infusing “self esteem”) in a child is a good thing. But, no matter what you be­lieve about the need for “self esteem” or “the adult quest for meaning,” all hold in com­mon a subtle or not-so-subtle focus on one’s self. Oh, and did I mention the “selfie” craze — look at me, here I am! These are the seed­beds of an increasingly self-absorbed culture where in conversational skills (among many other things) the subject always revolves back to me.

Dealing with Pride: in Life and in D.C., BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2018

Drollie knows the Donald.

So, look at this famous passage from your prophet Isaiah, which Paula showed us…


All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned — every one — to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6


And now, think of this…


But one thing is certain. It doesn’t matter that Trump once appeared in a Playboy video. It doesn’t matter that Trump ran casinos. It doesn’t matter that Trump was a philanderer. It doesn’t even matter that he won’t answer a direct question as to whether he ever had a relationship with a woman that resulted in an aborted pregnancy. What Christian conservatives want from Trump, Christian conservatives will likely get, and that suits them just fine.

Trump Caters More to Evangelicals Than the Working Class, By Bill Scher, Real Clear Politics, May 21, 2018

So, are you sure you really want what the Donald wants?…


The greatest judgment God can give us is to let us have our own way….

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary

And, well, have you considered this?


The sacking of Rome prompted Augustine to reconsider the prevailing idea of citizenship. The results of his thinking shaped not just the Christian idea of citizenship but the secular as well, for Augustine proposed the idea of “two-cities” that define the ultimate allegiance of human beings. The city of God and the City of Man are built on opposing loves. A citizen of the City of God loves God; a subject of the City of Man loves himself first and in the selfishness loses himself in pride. The City of God is the city of the humble. The City of Man is the city of the proud. In the City of God, divine love is the shared goodness that increases rather than decreases with additional sharers. In the City of Man at its worst, it is confusion — not goodness — that is shared in common. Within the City of Man, the best that can be hoped for is that a concern for property, a limited material good, can be shared.

David J. Bobb, Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue

So, what if your God chose Donald Trump in order to open your eyes to some things you don’t want to consider?


How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?

….

Donald Trump’s election was not so much a catalyst for the divide as a manifestation and amplification of the existing schism.

We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife.

The Origins of Our Second Civil War, By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, National Review, July 31, 2018

Are those some things you want to push away?

What is it you really want?

When our team began to explore this strange possibility that the Donald is a Chosen One, we embraced Robert McKee’s insight and began to explore the Quest question…


To understand the Quest form of your story you need only identify your protagonist’s Object of Desire. Penetrate his psychology and find an honest answer to the question: “What does he want?” …. [B]y looking into the heart of the protagonist and discovering his desire, you begin to see the arc of your story, the Quest on which the Inciting Incident sends him.

Robert McKee, Story

And you Christians are open to considering that Quest question, right?


For nearly everything else in life, whether it’s technology, health care or even the Super Bowl record of your favorite football team, we demand seriousness, detail, and accuracy. Yet we as a culture are ignoring a basic yet obvious truth: If there really is a God, then who He is and what He might want from us are more important than anything else in the universe.

….

The nature of Truth is that it is true no matter what anyone says about it. In the face of Truth, there is no opinion. Most people already believe that deep down, but they may not apply it to the question that matters most, namely, “Who is God and what does He want from me?”

Andrew Stephen Damick, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

And Donald does want something…


“Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred,” Trump said about himself one time.

18 Real Things Donald Trump Has Actually Said About Women, by Nina Bahadur, Huffington Post, August 19, 2015

Soooo… What does Donald Trump really want?

And how does it fit with what your God wants him to want? 

Because, remember what my team member, Paula Wong, discovered…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40


Is that what Donald really wants, or does he want something else?

As you know, the public expression of Donald Trump’s Quest is to “Make America Great Again!”

It’s just like our China Dream.

In fact, it looks like even as America is coming apart, we are on a similar quest…


Late one afternoon in November, I went to see a professor in Beijing who has studied the U.S. for a long time. America’s recent political turmoil has disoriented him. “I’m struggling with this a lot,” he said, and poured me a cup of tea. “I love the United States. I used to think that the multiculturalism of the U.S. might work here. But, if it doesn’t work there, then it won’t work here.” In his view, the original American bond is dissolving. “In the past, you kept together because of common values that you call freedom,” he said. Emerging in its place is a cynical, zero-sum politics, a return to blood and soil, which privileges interests above inspiration.

In that sense, he observed, the biggest surprise in the relationship between China and the United States is their similarity. In both countries, people who are infuriated by profound gaps in wealth and opportunity have pinned their hopes on nationalist, nostalgic leaders, who encourage them to visualize threats from the outside world. “China, Russia, and the U.S. are moving in the same direction,” he said. “They’re all trying to be great again.” 

Making China Great Again, By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, January 8, 2018 Issue

But that’s not all. Donald Trump wants something else too.

You see, the Donald is a very self-centered, proud man. 


In fact, one of my loyal team members came across a rather stunning comment on the enormity of Trump’s pride from a prominent American Christian named Pat Robertson, who once ran for president himself. Check out the video below, at about the 3:22 mark…


“He’s a very fascinating guy. I’ve known him for a long time, I got to know Marla Maples and she said she read the Bible and one of his directors of security is one of our 1000 club members, so Donald is quite a man, an amazing person, and he’s done remarkable things, but he is full of ego like few people we’ve ever known in history.“


Wow! … “full of ego like few people we’ve ever known in history. “

And a lot of people share that opinion about the Donald. Consider how the following observations about Trump’s unusual desire for self-glorification fit with Pat Robertson’s stunning comment about Trump’s ego…


Donald Trump’s psychiatric status is an overarching question that writers and filmmakers and even psychologists have long tried to answer. Trump was offered as a journalist’s paragon of narcissism at least as far back as 1988. Trump makes an appearance in texts for the profession, including Abnormal Behavior in the 21st Century and Personality Disorders and Older Adults: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment. He also appears in books for laypeople such as The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement; Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist; and When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself.

Many recent books about narcissism echo Christopher Lasch’s landmark Culture of Narcissism (1979), a lament that would have us place Trump in “an age of diminishing expectations.” Lasch saw an epidemic of self-involvement emerging as young adults with a weak sense of identity sought continual affirmation in attention, material comforts and exciting experiences. What Lasch feared, Donald Trump lived with more verve than anyone else on the planet. Others may have matched him in one category, such as fame. But no one equaled him on all three levels of narcissistic achievement.

What I Learned Writing Trump’s Biography, by Michael D’Antonio, Politico, September 25, 2015

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!, by Henry Alford, Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015

To my mind, Trump is the most perfect example I have ever come across of a malignant and, probably, psychopathic narcissist. Of course, he cannot be fully and assuredly diagnosed this way. Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But the overwhelming preponderance of presenting symptoms and visual and textual evidence for tentative profiling is definitely there.

Donald Trump and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: An Interview with Sam Vaknin, By Arlen Williams, The American Thinker, March 6, 2016


The portrait of Mr. Trump that emerges from these books, old or new, serious or satirical, is remarkably consistent: a high-decibel narcissist, almost comically self-obsessed; a “hyperbole addict who prevaricates for fun and profit,” as Mr. Singer wrote in The New Yorker in 1997.

Mr. Singer also describes Mr. Trump as an “insatiable publicity hound who courts the press on a daily basis and, when he doesn’t like what he reads, attacks the messengers as ‘human garbage,’” “a fellow both slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of consequences.”

At the same time, Mr. Singer and other writers discern an emptiness underneath the gold-plated armor. In “Trump and Me,” Mr. Singer describes his subject as a man “who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”

In Books on Donald Trump, Consistent Portraits of a High-Decibel Narcissist, By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times, August 25, 2016

So, the question we had to ask then, is there a way to think about Donald Trump and his Quest? 

A way to help us see it more clearly?

And then Paula saw this from Robert McKee…


Super-Intention


The super-intention motivates a character to pursue the object of desire.

This phrase restates the protagonist’s conscious desire in terms of his deepest need. …. In other words, the object of desire is objective, whereas the super-intention is subjective: what the protagonist wants versus the emotional hunger that drives him.

Robert McKee, Dialogue

So, we began to wonder, was Donald Trump’s Object of Desire to “Make America Great Again”, while his Super-Intention was a desire for self-glorification?

And if so, is the Super-Intention the one which is dominant?

Some people in America clearly think this is the case. Here’s what the son of the now deceased Playboy legend Hugh Hefner wrote about Donald Trump…


First and foremost, Trump doesn’t care about the office of the President. He doesn’t care about the American public. He doesn’t care about anything other than Trump. Many already know this, but it’s important to point out that Trump loves Trump over all else. He loves what the presidential race can do for his brand. It’s as simple as that. I know this because Trump is a family friend, but regardless of his home visits, one can understand this after three minutes of watching him.

DONALD IS A FAMILY FRIEND AND HE’S FULL OF S***, by Cooper Hefner, HOP, March 1, 2016

And that is not an exception. There are plenty of illustrations and observations our team has come across which illuminate how Donald’s underlying super-intention for self-glorification is very powerful.


Trump treats parties and policy positions like toys to be used and discarded at his pleasure. He’s been a Democrat, an independent, a Republican, and briefly sought the Reform-party nomination for president in 2000. He’s been pro-choice and pro-life, pro-Clinton and anti-Clinton, pro–single payer and anti-Obamacare. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for his shifts: The only thing that explains them is his constant pursuit of the one thing that really matters, the glory of Donald Trump.

All of these facts add up to one big problem for America. Most of Trump’s backers believe that the biggest thing wrong about America is that no one in government is working for them. But Trump isn’t the elite guy who’s switched sides, he’s the elite guy par excellence whose pursuit of his own wealth and fame leaves everyone else in the dust. He’s not only not the solution to America’s problems, he’s the biggest embodiment of those problems.

Four Easy Steps for Beating Donald Trump, By Henry Olsen, National Review, September 25, 2015

And consider, for instance, on June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, he spoke about himself being great enough to make America great again…


Our country needs, our country needs a truly great leader and we need a truly great leader now. We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal.

….

We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. It’s not great.

We need, we need, we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.

….

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for President of the United States and we are going to make our country great again.

….

I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you that.

….

Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.


See how the two tie together? 

His greatness can make America great again.

And look at what else one of my team members found from one of Trump’s biographers, Michael D’Antonio, which we imagine you Christians would be interested in…


Donald tried to smooth things over with Ivanna, but the weeks that followed the incident in Aspen were strained. It didn’t help that when he appeared in an article in the March issue of Playboy magazine–which was published in early February– he refused to answer when interviewer Glenn Plaskin asked, “What is marriage to you? Is it monogamous?” In the same question-and-answer session Trump observed that every successful person, including Mother Teresa and Jesus Christ, was driven by ego. “Far greater egos than you will ever understand.” He also acknowledged his publicity seeking: “The show is Trump, and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”

Michael D’Antonio, Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success


You can see Trump’s reasoning, right? 

If Jesus was so driven by ego, why not the Donald?

Do you Christians agree with that?

Is your God a narcissist, like Donald Trump?

Anyway, we agree with what the Donald wrote about himself in the year 2000…


Well, I’ve lived my life as an open book and I don’t claim to be something I am not. What you see is what you would get.

Donald Trump, The America We Deserve

And now you Americans get to experience what he wants. 

So, it looks like you Christians might want to face the reality which the Benedict Option guy lays out…


Though Donald Trump won the presidency in part with the strong support of Catholics and Evangelicals, the idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to the problem of America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

And perhaps this quote is very relevant…


Now, people my age always say things have changed, and they always seem to think change is bad, but I’m not saying that. I think we’ve experienced an unusual shift, similar to a tectonic shift in the plates of the earth. For instance, we’ve gone from a community-centered culture in the West to being so self-absorbed that we can best be described as narcissistic. Christopher Lasch’s book on the culture of narcissism was dead-on, and that was nearly forty years ago. How much worse this problem is today.

Charles Colson, My Final Word

It looks like Charles Colson would have recognized what Donald Trump wants.

So then, it looks like Donald Trump is pursuing two desires…


An external one to make America Great again…

… and an internal one to fuel his desire for self-glorification.


We suspect Robert McKee might call Donald Trump’s external pursuit his “object of desire”, and his internal pursuit his “super-intention.” 

As McKee writes in his book, Dialogue, “the object of desire is objective, whereas the super-intention is subjective: what the protagonist wants versus the emotional hunger that drives him.”

After we began to look through this lens, our team began to believe we could find our way forward with the Donald Trump assignment. And part of the reason why is because it began to shine a light on different aspects of your love crisis.

So, think of Donald Trump said about his way forward in life…


“I’ve come this far in life. I’ve had great success. I’ve done it my way.”

Trump Does It His Way, by Maureen Dowd, New York Times, April 2, 2016

… and what your noted Christian philosopher, Peter Kreeft wrote…


The national anthem of Hell is “I Did It My Way”.

Peter Kreeft


And look how that fits with this…


As it happens, the differences are clear between the major answers to the search for purpose in life, and they lead in entirely different directions.

….

The second is the secularist answer, which includes atheists, most agnostics, naturalists in science, and a large number of humanists. If the final reality is chance and there is no God (or gods or the supernatural) to consider, then purpose is up to each of us to decide and achieve for ourselves by ourselves. We don’t discover it – we decide it. In Friedrich Nietzsche’s words, our challenge is “to turn every ‘it was’ into a ‘thus I willed it.” In Bertrand Russell’s view, we are each to be “a weary but unyielding Atlas,” carrying on our own shoulders the world of our own making. Like Frank Sinatra, we must each do it “my way.”

Os Guinness, The Call

And your Drollinger dude laid it out for us…


The acceptance of pride in our culture is so prevalent that some will argue with what I’ve said. Allow me to illustrate its prevalence.

Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way” and Whitney Houston popularized “the greatest love of all…is learning to love yourself.” Both made millions from the sale of such albums. “Taking pride in one’s work” is a common­ly held axiom, and who hasn’t witnessed the myriad of “proud parent” bumper stickers or monotonous, arrogant “I did this” political speeches? Even some Christian ministries believe that engendering pride (often under the guise of infusing “self esteem”) in a child is a good thing. But, no matter what you be­lieve about the need for “self esteem” or “the adult quest for meaning,” all hold in com­mon a subtle or not-so-subtle focus on one’s self. Oh, and did I mention the “selfie” craze — look at me, here I am! These are the seed­beds of an increasingly self-absorbed culture where in conversational skills (among many other things) the subject always revolves back to me.

Dealing with Pride: in Life and in D.C., BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2018

Drollie knows the Donald.

So, look at this famous passage from your prophet Isaiah, which Paula showed us…


All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned — every one — to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6


And now, think of this…


But one thing is certain. It doesn’t matter that Trump once appeared in a Playboy video. It doesn’t matter that Trump ran casinos. It doesn’t matter that Trump was a philanderer. It doesn’t even matter that he won’t answer a direct question as to whether he ever had a relationship with a woman that resulted in an aborted pregnancy. What Christian conservatives want from Trump, Christian conservatives will likely get, and that suits them just fine.

Trump Caters More to Evangelicals Than the Working Class, By Bill Scher, Real Clear Politics, May 21, 2018

So, are you sure you really want what the Donald wants?…


The greatest judgment God can give us is to let us have our own way….

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary

And, well, have you considered this?


The sacking of Rome prompted Augustine to reconsider the prevailing idea of citizenship. The results of his thinking shaped not just the Christian idea of citizenship but the secular as well, for Augustine proposed the idea of “two-cities” that define the ultimate allegiance of human beings. The city of God and the City of Man are built on opposing loves. A citizen of the City of God loves God; a subject of the City of Man loves himself first and in the selfishness loses himself in pride. The City of God is the city of the humble. The City of Man is the city of the proud. In the City of God, divine love is the shared goodness that increases rather than decreases with additional sharers. In the City of Man at its worst, it is confusion — not goodness — that is shared in common. Within the City of Man, the best that can be hoped for is that a concern for property, a limited material good, can be shared.

David J. Bobb, Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue

So, what if your God chose Donald Trump in order to open your eyes to some things you don’t want to consider?


How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?

….

Donald Trump’s election was not so much a catalyst for the divide as a manifestation and amplification of the existing schism.

We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife.

The Origins of Our Second Civil War, By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, National Review, July 31, 2018

Are those some things you want to push away?

What is it you really want?


Will the Foolish Revenge Wager of Donald Trump’s Christian Supporters Play a Role in the Possible Suicide of America?


As you may remember from the Introduction to this report, I am a member of the Tribe of the Fatherless. And as we explored the anger of our tribe and contemplated the role it may play in your unfolding drama, this epiphany began to fill my thoughts.

You see, revenge played a major role in our Cultural Revolution…


Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that 20 million to 30 million people died. …. In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

….

Mao’s Great Famine was not merely an isolated episode in the making of modern China. It was its turning point. The subsequent Cultural Revolution was the leader’s attempt to take revenge on the colleagues who had dared to oppose him during the Great Leap Forward.

Mao’s Great Leap to Famine, By FRANK DIKÖTTER, New York Times, December 15, 2010


And now it looks like revenge is playing a serious role in the unfolding conflict in Hong Kong…


Even a single death creates a cycle of revenge and retaliation that is almost impossible to control.

….

Demonstrators this past weekend were chanting “Revenge.” Hong Kong is now at war with itself. There is no end in sight to the fighting.

With Rising Violence, China Pushes Hong Kong Toward Civil War, By Gordon G. Chang, The Daily Beast,  November 12, 2019


So, one day we were watching one of your movies — The Blues Brothers…


The Blues Brothers Official Trailer #1


And then, as we were watching this scene…


Aretha Franklin – Think


… Paula Wong helped me make another “what if?” connection.

Paula told us something she had been thinking about because of Donald Trump’s embrace of revenge.

We hope, for your sake, you’ll think about it.

You see, it looks like many of you American Christians have made a very foolish mistake in America’s story war, which could create a very painful gap for you as the story unfolds.


Christians in America who put their hope in Donald Trump, without calling on him to reject revenge — have handed their enemies a dangerous blank check in America’s story war.

When they embraced Donald Trump for president and failed to publicly plead with him to abandon his embrace of revenge, they put themselves and the rest of America’s Christians in a terrible position.


Think about it.

Because you failed to speak out against Donald Trump’s embrace of revenge…


…how will you then speak out against your enemies taking increased revenge against you?


Think about it.

Will you then say it’s wrong to take revenge even though you appear to have quietly approved of the Donald’s desire?

Do you think they will actually listen in that day? Look at the clues…


DONNY DEUTSCH, MSNBC: [SoulCycle CEO and Trump supporter] Steven Ross, to me, is the epitome — this election comes down to guys like that and people saying, “No, you don’t get to say I’m for racial equality and all these good things and I disagree with him there, but I like his economic views, I’m going to vote for him.”

No. You own it.

And I think that’s the message that has to get out. No, Steven Ross, and no, a lot of my friends you can’t say I like his economic policy but I disagree — you own it. You own the blood that happens. You own Charlottesville. You can’t do it. You get the whole package. And that’s what swing voters have got to understand and be shamed into. You don’t get to do that, Steve Ross. I’ll take from column A but I’m going to leave column B behind. You get column B, also. You own the racism.

MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch: If You Vote For Trump, “You Own The Blood That Happens”, Posted By Tim Hains, Real Clear Politics, August 9, 2019

Tommy Lee is the new voice of the American Left. The drummer for Mötley Crüe and convicted wife-beater laid out in florid terms his plans for what the Left will do in a few years to the 47% of America that voted for President Trump.

Lee’s essay, posted on Twitter Friday morning, began “You Trumpsters better pray that liberals never gain control of the WH again because we are going to pay you back so f—ing hard for all of this shit.” Lee’s proposals, including taxing churches out of business and throwing condoms out of planes at noncoastal Americans, were creative, and his language was colorful. But the basic notion — that Trump supporters deserve to suffer — is mainstream these days.

Being a Trump supporter is no longer allowed, it seems, by Washington Examiner, August 11, 2019

Like other celebrities who have recently voiced their disdain for President Donald Trump – such as Woody Harrelson and John Legend – Tommy Lee is making a candid political statement. 

The 56-year-old Mötley Crüe rocker drew attention Wednesday in the Twitterverse when he posted a scathing message for supporters of the president. As Page Six points out, the NSFW message has previously appeared on Reddit. A user shared the post on July 15, 2018. Lee shared a screenshot of the text to Twitter.

“You Trumpsters better pray that liberals never gain control of the WH again because we are going to pay you back so (expletive) hard for all of this (expletive),” reads the post. “Planned Parenthoods on every damn corner.

“We’re going to repaint Air Force One pussy hat pink and fly it over your beloved Bible Belt 6 days a week, tossing birth control pills, condoms & atheist literature from the cockpit,” it continues.


An unapologetic Tommy Lee takes aims at ‘Trumpsters’ in scathing Twitter post, by Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, August 9, 2019

Donald’s Revenge Desire


To help you see more clearly the story war mistake you made, let’s begin by looking at Donald’s persistent embrace of revenge.

Try on this astonishing quote from 2004 for starters…


For many years I’ve said that if someone screws you, screw them back. When somebody hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can.

Donald Trump, How to Get Rich

viciously and violently… even we know he wouldn’t find that anywhere in his favorite book, the Bible.

And now fast forward to 2008… 


I always get even. When somebody hits you, hit ‘em back harder.

…..

That is why I tell people, “Get even!” This is not your typical advice, get even, but this is real-life advice. If you don’t get even, you are just a schmuck! I really mean it, too.

….

When you are wronged, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it.

….

If someone attacks you, do not hesitate. Go for the jugular. Attack them back in spades!

Always make a list of people who hurt you. Then sit back and wait for the appropriate time to get revenge. When they least expect it, go after them with a vengeance. Go for their jugular.

Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life, by Donald J. Trump

And look what we found in the forward to that book…


Working with Donald Trump has completely changed the way I think. … Donald Trump has a can-do, take-no-prisoners attitude. Be your own person. Demand what you want in life. Do not let other people run your life. Do not let people push you around. If someone crosses you, do not lie down and take it; fight back, kick ass, and get even. Make your own rules, and do not care what other people think. That is what Donald Trump is all about.


And notice the description of the book on the Amazon.com page…


Donald J. Trump is an icon: the very definition of the American success story. The star of The Apprentice and developer of some of the planet’s most prestigious real estate, he’s been on the bottom and risen to become one of the world’s wealthiest men. …. For the first time ever, you too can learn Trump’s secrets to thinking BIG! Learn:

Momentum: the Big Mo. How to get it and how to get it back.


Revenge: how and when to get it (and why it’s so sweet).


And notice this from one of your Christian writers… 


This was a favorite theme. Vengeance. Throughout his life, he would unashamedly speak of vengeance as a virtue, nearly as a necessity for success. In his book Think Big, he devoted an entire sixteen page chapter to “Revenge.” “I love getting even when I get screwed by someone-yes, it is true. . . . Always get even. When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back fifteen times harder . . . go for the jugular, attack them in spades!” He lived by this rule, treated both the powerful and the defenseless accordingly, and sent more than a few competitors reeling from the market after they received the full Trump treatment.

Stephen Mansfield, Choosing Donald Trump

And Donald has not changed. The man loves revenge.

You know it.

One of the reasons that we speculated that you didn’t even talk to Trump about his embrace of revenge in those closed-door negations during the primaries is because of his wife. She very intentionally placed this verbal marker during the campaign…not once, but twice…


“He’s a great leader. He’s fair. As you may know by now, when you attack him, he will punch back 10 times harder,“ Trump said to cheers.

“No matter who you are, a man or a woman, he treats everyone equal. ….” Melania concluded.

Melania Trump: When You Attack Donald, He Will Punch Back 10 Times Harder, By Ian Schwartz, RealClearPolitics, April 4, 2016

In response to the president’s Thursday morning tweets waging personal war against MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Melania Trump’s communications director said the first lady supports her husband’s attack. “As the first lady has stated publicly,” Stephanie Grishman told CNN, “when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”

Melania Spox: Trump ‘Will Punch Back 10 Times Harder’ When Attacked, The Daily Beast, June 29, 2017

So, it does appear your President Trump has not changed his view on revenge.

Consider this…


But it is rich, hypocritical and frankly dangerous when Republicans simply point the finger at the left for a one-off crazed act from a crazed man, while refusing to take any blame or even acknowledge that their side, including the president, has contributed robustly to the vitriol, hatred and division in our politics and has at times even called for violence against those who oppose him.

Did they forget that Trump offered to pay the legal bills for anyone who would sucker punch a protester at one of his rallies?

At an event the day of the Iowa caucuses during the Republican primary season, Trump said to the crowd that there may be folks with tomatoes in the audience who may be protesting him: “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you?,” he said. “Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

Later that same month, a protester was being removed from another one of Trump’s rallies. Trump noticed and quipped, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”

Sorry Newt, the right must tone down the vitriol too, BY MARIA T. CARDONA, The Hill, June 15, 2017

In many respects, Mr. Trump’s own quotes and writings provide the most vivid and alarming picture of his values, modus operandi and relentlessly dark outlook focused on revenge. “Be paranoid,” he advises in one book. And in another: “When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”

The grim, dystopian view of America, articulated in Mr. Trump’s Republican convention speech, is previewed in his 2015 book, “Crippled America” (republished with the cheerier title of “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America”), in which he contends that “everyone is eating” America’s lunch. And a similarly nihilistic vision surfaces in other remarks he’s made over the years: “I always get even”; “For the most part, you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect”; and: “The world is a horrible place. Lions kill for food, but people kill for sport.”

In Books on Donald Trump, Consistent Portraits of a High-Decibel Narcissist, By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times, August 25, 2016

Here’s an interesting question: where did Donald Trump’s orientation towards revenge come from?

He may have received it from his father…


And that is Trump all over: He can’t-stop-won’t-stop whaling away at anyone who dares to bait him. The day after Kelly returned from exile, Trump trashed her afresh with snarks and retweets, refusing to give Kelly peace. This is the other thing he learned from his father, who taught his sons to “attack, attack, attack,” says Blair, the biographer.

Trump Seriously: On the Trail With the GOP’s Tough Guy, By Paul Solotaroff, Rolling Stone, September 9, 2015

Mr. Trump described his education, business life, marriages and childhood in extensive interviews with Michael D’Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at Newsday. Mr. D’Antonio’s biography of Mr. Trump, “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,” will be published on Sept. 22.

In the book, Mr. Trump emerges as a man largely unchanged from his childhood in the wealthy Queens neighborhood of Jamaica Estates, where an exacting father, Fred Trump, schooled him in the ways of self-promotion and encouraged a lifetime of fighting. The senior Mr. Trump, a major real estate developer, counseled his son to “be a killer” and told him, “You are a king.”

Mr. Trump memorably told Mr. D’Antonio that “when I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.”

Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with winning — at anything and everything, big or small — dominated his youth. His mentor at the New York Military Academy, Theodore Dobias, called Mr. Trump “a conniver, even then.”

Donald Trump Likens His Schooling to Military Service in Book, by Michael Barbaro, New York Times, September 8, 2015

He had the manner of a street fighter, the blitzkrieg approach to business more common to a German tank commander during World War II. People marveled that one reared in comfort and luxury could unashamedly speak as though he had been deprived, could conduct himself with the vengeance and viciousness of a man denied his rights all his days.

Where had it all come from? It was, without doubt, the imprint of Fred Trump upon his soul. His father had wanted a Killer King. He got one, a son as tough, focused, seemingly soulless, and as committed to business as total war as the father had ever been. Yet it seems, too, that it came from somewhere deep within Donald himself. He had been harsh and bombastic since childhood. Teachers called him “maladjusted.” The less understanding called him “a terror.”

Stephen Mansfield, Choosing Donald Trump

And it also appears to flow from his narcissism…


Vaknin: All narcissists lack emotional empathy and are, to some extent, anti-social. Many narcissists are somewhat psychopathic and, therefore, sadistically prone to violence. They get a high and derive an almost sexual gratification from wielding power and inflicting pain and humiliation on others. It sustains their grandiose fantasy of omnipotence (that they are Godlike, all-powerful). That’s why many narcissists are litigious, threaten “their enemies” incessantly, seek to embarrass and humiliate them in public, stalk them, and harass them recurrently. Narcissists have a black and white view of the world: if you are not 100% with me, you are 110% the enemy (this is known as “splitting” in the psychological jargon). Trump strikes me as this type of narcissist.

Donald Trump and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: An Interview with Sam Vaknin, By Arlen Williams, The American Thinker, March 6, 2016

And there may be something else connected with his orientation towards revenge.

Notice what Dostoevsky wrote…


The man who lies to himself can be more easily offended than anyone. You know it is sometimes very pleasant to take offence, isn’t it? A man may know that nobody has insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a mountain out of a molehill — he knows that himself, yet he will be the first to take offence, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great pleasure in it, and so pass to genuine vindictiveness.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

And now look at what he told you was his favorite verse from the Bible…


Last week Trump raised eyebrows when he said in a radio interview with WHAM 1180AM that his favorite Bible verse is “an eye for an eye,” as found in Exodus 21:24.

“That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us,” Trump explained.

“And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be very firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.”

‘Eye For an Eye’ or ‘Turn the Other Cheek’? Donald Trump’s Favorite Verse Shows His Ignorance About the Bible, Evangelical Theologians Say, By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post, April 19, 2016

During the bad times, I learned who was loyal and who wasn’t. I believe in an eye for an eye. A couple of people who betrayed me need my help now, and I am screwing them against the wall! I am doing a number… and I’m having so much fun!

Donald Trump, The Art of the Comeback

And that comes from someone who says…. 


Question: Is there anyone in the Bible that you really relate to that you — that you look up to?

Trump: Nobody that I would compare to. It’s actually a great question. I love the Bible. I love the Bible. I’m a Protestant. I’m a Presbyterian. I went to Sunday school.

August 25, 2015 (Press conference, Dubuque, Iowa)

The religion of Donald Trump, by Boston Globe Staff, September 14, 2015

Was this the kind of fluff that got you to turn a deaf ear to who he really is?

Because this didn’t surprise us…


Richard Branson skewered Donald Trump on Friday, describing a “bizarre” meeting at some point in the past that left the British billionaire “disturbed and saddened.”

In a blog post on his website, the Virgin founder said the Republican nominee invited him over “some years ago” for a one-on-one lunch at his gilded Manhattan apartment. Soon after sitting down to the meal, Branson said, Trump launched into a vicious tirade, vowing vengeance on people who’d refused to lend him money during one of his six bankruptcies.

“Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help,” Branson, 66, wrote. “He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.”


Richard Branson Recalls ‘Bizarre’ Lunch With Revenge-Obsessed Trump, By Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post, October 21, 2016

Will You Change and Call on Donald to Repent?

As you know, Robert McKee and Shawn Coyne opened our eyes to the reality that story is about change…


So what is a story? Essentially, a story expresses how and why life changes. 

Storytelling That Moves People: A Conversation with Screenwriting Coach Robert McKee by Bronwyn Fryer, Harvard Business Review, June 2003

This is the first thing I always say whenever I talk about story. Stories are about change.

Shawn Coyne, Q&A with Shawn – Part 1

And Paula showed us there is a connection among you Christians between change and the concept of repentance…


Change is not only good; it is critical. If you do the same things today that you did five years ago, you need to closely examine your heart. 

To repent means to change. You discover areas of your life that are 
not under God’s control, and you repent, you change.

….

The word repent means “to turn.” It has the idea of changing directions and heading the opposite way. It involves action.

Francis Chan, Crazy Love


Repentance involves a change of mind and heart first, and secondarily a change of conduct. The Greek word translated repentance (metanoia) literally means a change of outlook (from meta and noeo meaning to reconsider).

….

When people speak of “repentance,” they may mean one of two different things. We use this English word in the sense of a conduct change (turning away from sinful practices). We also use it in the sense of a conceptual change (turning away from false ideas previously held). These two meanings also appear in Scripture.

Notes on Acts, Dr. Thomas L. Constable

So, when Paula also showed us this passage…


Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21


…we began to wonder if you would ever begin to call on Donald Trump to change and repent from his embrace of violence?

Because one of your more noted Christian leaders wrote this…


[V]iolence is contrary to the nature of God, something we can know by evident reason. In other words, Christians and non-Christians alike, including Muslims, should know that violence is an offense to God. So any dialogue, this one or any other, must start with the proposition that both sides renounce violence, repent of violence in the past, and establish that as a fundamental beginning point for any negotiation, or even discussion.

Charles Colson, My Final Word

So, if Colson were still alive, would he have called on Donald Trump to renounce such violent declarations?

And if you do change and call on Donald to repent, it would truly be a radical change – kind of like what happened with your Apostle Paul…


The changes that took place in Saul were important because of his subsequent activity. Luke wrote this pericope to note those changes, so that his readers would understand why Saul acted as he did afterward. Luke stressed the genuineness of Saul’s conversion by showing next the radical change it made in him.

….

Saul’s unexpected and extreme conduct, understandably bewildered the Jews who lived in Damascus. Instead of persecuting the Christians, he was proving that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. This is what people—then and now—need to believe to obtain salvation (cf. 1 John 5:1). Saul had made a 180-degree change in his thinking and in his conduct; he had truly repented.

Notes on Acts, Dr. Thomas L. Constable

But you didn’t, did you? And because of your crazy love crisis, you won’t, will you?

Look at this, from former Southern Baptist pastor and presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, whose daughter is the press secretary for President Trump…


MIKE HUCKABEE: I have no idea why Bob Corker and what in the world Jeff Flake have to be thinking when they go after Donald Trump in the midst of this discussion about tax reform.

They may not like him, that is their prerogative. But it is time to do something for the American people. They are acting very selfishly, very petulantly, and they need to grow up and quit getting into it with Donald Trump.

They need to know that he is going to always going to hit back harder than they have the capacity to hit ….

Mike Huckabee, Corker And Flake Need To Know Trump Will “Always Hit Back Harder Than They Have The Capacity To Hit”, Real Clear Politics, October 29, 2017

Is he proud of The Donald?

So, given your resistance to calling on the Donald to repent, what if your God, the Great Storyteller, would like you to consider this, from McKee?


What is a story, precisely? The essential core event in all stories ever told in the history of humanity can be expressed in just three words: Conflict changes life. Therefore, the prime definition becomes: a dynamic escalation of conflict-driven events that cause meaningful change in a character’s life.

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

Think about it. What if your drama in America moves in the direction of “a dynamic escalation of conflict-driven events that cause meaningful change in a character’s life”?

So, now we’d like to show you what we discovered about the possibility the violence in your society could escalate.


Could Violence Be Coming Your Way in America’s Unfolding Drama?

Think for a moment about the capacity human beings have for violence…


What is astonishing, however, and deeply disturbing, is how quickly extreme violence can erupt among people who have lived peacefully together for a long time.

German Jews went unmolested by their Gentile neighbors until Nazi leaders stirred up the mobs after 1933. Christians and Muslims coexisted for centuries in Sarajevo, until Serb agitators, backed by armed forces, called for violent expulsions and murder. Hindus and Muslims who had left one another alone, or even had friendly relations, suddenly went for one another’s throats when the largely Muslim north broke away from predominantly Hindu India in 1947. Muslims lived peacefully in Burma until Buddhists, egged on recently by fanatical monks, started burning down their houses and beating them to death.

Over and over again, in societies all over the world, the civilized norms that protect us from anarchy and violence turn out to be perilously thin. Some people may be more disposed to brutality than others, but aggressive impulses can be activated with surprising ease. Petty jealousies or simple greed can swiftly turn unexceptional citizens into agents of barbarism.

Trump’s Flirtation with Violence, By Ian Buruma, Project Syndicate, July 10, 2017

The essence of every civilization is to hold off the worst aspects – chiefly, violence – of human nature – because violence is natural to humans – and channel the good parts of human nature towards productive ends. And what I think we’re missing is that because of the institutions that help us channel and focus human nature in productive ends, starting with the family, are breaking down, we are giving into worst parts of our nature. And we’re listening to the lesser angels, as it were, of our nature, if not the demons. And I think that it’s very easy for people within their coalition to see the hypocrisy, and cruelty, and nastiness and intellectual dishonesty of the other coalition. But they will make remarkable allowances for the members of their own coalition.

– Jonah Goldberg

Goldberg’s ‘Suicide Of The West’ Tackles Ills Of Identity Politics, National Public Radio, April 23, 2018

Anger and vengeance and violence are exceedingly easy to access and almost effortlessly unleashed.

A Week From Hell, by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, JULY 8, 2016

Unleashed…This would cause most people to pause, but not Trump.

Because you failed to speak out against Donald Trump’s embrace of revenge, how will you then speak out against your enemies taking increased revenge against you?

Think about it.


This might sound like a relatively small matter compared to things such as honesty, equality and justice. But dignity — both acting in a dignified manner and treating others in a manner appropriate to their dignity — is a core value of democracy. America’s founders were generally suspicious of absolute democracy, which can easily become tyranny exercised by 50 percent of the public plus one. In a strong democracy, those in the majority are restrained by respect for the dignity of those in the minority. If the majority uses its (temporary) power to demean, humiliate and dishonor those out of power, it plants seeds of future revenge and escalation.

Trump boldly asserts that he has learned nothing these past two years, By Michael Gerson, Washington Post, March 4, 2019

Will you then say it’s wrong to take revenge even though you appear to have quietly approved of the Donald’s desire?

Do you think they will actually listen in that day?


There’s a reasonable fear of severe political revenge from the extreme progressives if and when they get into power.

The Backlash Is Building, By ROD DREHER, American Conservative, March 5, 2018

And, there’s something else to consider: Won’t the silence about Donald’s embrace of revenge then become a justification for your enemies to impose even more silence upon you?

We in China watched closely how the Christians in the Soviet Union were turned in Whisperers. And, Chinese Christians are heading in the same direction. Is it possible this could happen in America too?

You don’t even want to think about this kind of thing, do you?

But, you should if you care about your reputation. Because the Benedict Option guy may be on to something…


Besides, fair or not, conservative Christianity will be associated with Trump for the next few years, and no doubt beyond. If conservative church leaders aren’t extraordinarily careful in how they manage their public relationship to the Trump administration, anti-Trump blowback will do severe damage to the church’s reputation. Trump’s election solves some problems for the church, but given the man’s character, it creates others. Political power is not a moral disinfectant.

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

And the same thing may play out in China…


An immense moral capital is being built up in China by those religious communities that refuse to bend to Communist repression. By contrast, religious communities identified with the regime will bear the stigma of that regime when it collapses, as Communist regimes inevitably do. Xi Jinping’s increasing repression, which is not limited to religious persecution, does not bespeak a regime confident of its stability; neither does his reversion to Maoist one-man lifetime rule. China has immense social problems, bad demographics, increasing corruption, and an educated population restive about income distribution and Big Brother social control (not least of cyberspace). Add up those factors and it seems more than likely that Cardinal Zen is right: Chinese Communism is mortal.

Did Pope Francis Just Make China Protestant?, By GEORGE WEIGEL, National Review, September 24, 2018

You don’t even want to think about all these things, do you?

But, you may want to, especially if you are contemplating Hector Klumpp’s Anticipatory Peace Proposal.


A peaceful separation requires some mutual respect and concern for the flourishing of the other. The Left, like crazed primitives engaged in honor killing, would instead exact revenge and command forced association rather than allow a divorce.

The Left Won’t Allow a Peaceful Separation, By Christopher Roach, American Greatness, January 21st, 2019


Can You See the Dangerous Elephant Man?

An important note to the reader:


Our alternate title: Can You See the Dangerous Elephant Man? came about in a strange way. And, at the risk of exposing what a tangled mess my mind can be, I’d like to explain to you how we came by the title.

You see, Paula Wong, the love of my life, is better at English than me. Her mind is a steel trap. She is always telling me about strange American sayings that I had never heard, such as the one I just used… a mind like a steel trap. I love that.

So, when she explained to me your saying, “The Elephant in the Room” I laughed aloud. What a picture. It still makes me smile thinking of some smelly, overbearingly obvious thing that no one wants to talk about.

But it took me on a trail– the elephant is an animal, and that made me think of, one of the many movies which has caught our attention…


ELEPHANT MAN (1980) | Full Movie Trailer


And notice how, beginning at about the 1:50 mark, he says…


“I am not an animal, I a human being.”


Well, that took me down another trail—I thought of one of our secular story allies, Stephen Hawking, and remembered that he doesn’t share the same view at all…


We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.

Stephen Hawking, Der Spiegel, 17 October 1988

The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.

Stephen Hawking, interview with Ken Campbell on the 1995 show Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken

Many, many people in both our countries agree with Hawking. We are nothing more than…take your pick: monkeys or chemical scum.

While many hold this belief, there are some in this group whom we have come to call Beefy Nihilists. We have my best friend Hector Klumpp to thank for the name.

But, as you read the following, make a mental note. Though many hold this belief, not all are Beefy Nihilists. Not all. Some.

And, please note, since we are talking here about violent revenge, it is the Beefy Nihilists, thinking of themselves as just animals or scum, that may feel free to release the rage within and unleash their violent power.

For it’s the Beefy Nihilist who asks, “What does it matter?”

Thus we arrive at our alternate title: These Beefy Nihilists are the Dangerous Elephant Man.


This leads me to an important disclaimer:


As much as you Christians want to vilify the left, do not make the mistake of thinking that everyone on the left is a Beefy Nihilist.


That’s an absurd notion. The Beefy Nihilists are as much a rarity as the violent ones on the opposite side.

So, read the many alarming quotes about the Left with this in mind. There are some on the Right that don’t bother to make this distinction, adding fuel to your already raging fire.

But, on to the Dangerous Elephant man



Many of you Christians in America were very clear about what you wanted from the 2016 Presidential Race. You wanted to win back the Presidency as the path to get something you wanted very badly– to have judges appointed to the Supreme Court to secure a Pro-life majority.

Donald Trump could see your desperate need. And, as he strategically and brilliantly knocked out the best candidates in the primary that could fulfill your desires, he contemplated how to win your support.

Donald Trump, by his own touting, is quite the negotiator.

He knew it was imperative to have the support of the Christians if he was going to win the 2016 election to become the 45th President of your United States.

You knew this too, right? And, you had grown weary of the angry left, whom you saw as your enemies to be defeated. So, when Trump got into that room with your Evangelical leaders and talked of “push back” and “striking back”, it brought hope, which your leaders excitedly shared with the troops.

From our secret rooms in China, we speculated that you were wondering, “Could we be restored to our rightful place on the throne of democracy?”


 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
 but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.

Proverbs 28:12


We thought you might be wondering, “Could we experience some level of restoration of the reputation as “good guys” that has been lost in these last forty years?”


Is America Breaking Bad?


If you begin to see through the story lens, you may be interested in a very popular television show in America which can shed some light on how your drama in the United States may unfold.

It’s called Breaking Bad.


Here is the description from Wikipedia


Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013. It tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, who, together with his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), turns to a life of crime, producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine to secure his family’s financial future before he dies. The title is from a Southern colloquialism meaning to “raise hell”. Breaking Bad is set and was filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


It’s a fascinating show which can help you consider a strange possibility.

There has been a great deal of pushing God away in your country. Even among the Christians. If you haven’t pushed God away, how is it that you embraced Donald Trump?

You may balk at that, but certainly you’ll agree that in your country as a whole, God has been shoved to the side, right?

What if pushing God away is the trigger which sets off a dangerously blossoming mushroom cloud as America’s drama moves into a crisis mode?


So… if Christianity is the story we are in, is it possible …

when humans tell God “forget you!”

… and they push him away …

…can they shift towards breaking bad?


And in America’s unfolding drama, could such a shift… lead the United States … to its own form of suicide?

There is a fascinating passage out of the Old Testament which caught our attention.

Here are a couple of your translations of it…


They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

2 Kings 17:15


They rejected the Lord’s statutes, the covenant that he had made with their ancestors, and his warnings that he gave them. They pursued meaninglessness — and became meaningless themselves — as they followed the lifestyles of the nations that surrounded them, a practice that the Lord had warned them not to do.

2 Kings 17:15


They became worthless. That is a thing that can happen, if it’s the Christian story we are in.

And consider where all that may lead…


In a world with no clear origin, no purposeful end, and no intrinsic meaning, human dignity is founded on nothing more than a self-creating will to power that is, in the last analysis, self-destructive.

The New Dignity: Gnostic, Elitist, Self-Destructive Will-to-Power, by Roberta Green Ahmanson, Public Discourse, November 24th, 2015

The thoroughly secularized social order gives rise to a feeling of meaninglessness: there is a vacuum in the public square of political and cultural life, and this invites violent outbreaks of dissatisfaction. As a consequence, it is hard to predict the future of the secularist society. It depends in part on how long most people will be willing to pay the price of meaninglessness in exchange for the license to do what they want. So long as people feel sure of the comforts of affluence, they may be willing to tolerate these tensions indefinitely. On the other hand, irrational reactions are unpredictable, especially when there is a sense that the institutions of society are not legitimate. The circumstance of modern secular society is more precarious than we may want to recognize. Those who recognize the danger call for a reaffirmation of the traditions by which the culture is defined, and most specifically for the reaffirmation of the religious roots of those traditions.

How to Think About Secularism, by Wolfhart Pannenberg, First Things (June/July 1996)

When young people no longer know that they have received their lives from their parents and, through them, from God, life becomes meaningless. Life is no longer open to others and, ultimately, to God.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, by Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, First Things (October 1997)

It is of course a commonplace nowadays to observe that we are living in the era of “psychological man.” By this we mean that psychology in one of its various incarnations—psychoanalysis and psychiatry included—has become the primary means whereby we try to understand the meaning and purpose of our existence.

….

Freud, whatever his flaws, had the courage of his convictions, and so followed the implications of his vision through to their ultimate end. What he found was a universe devoid of meaning; to explain his own mental state he was driven near the end to postulate a “death instinct,” a concept no more scientific or measurable than “God” or “purpose” or “meaning,” but considerably more grim, and in the end he chose to die by his own hand.

….

All scientific method applied to human behavior gives rise not just to resistance, but to dread and even revulsion, because its end point—even if only sensed inchoately and not faced fully—is appalling: the elimination of the possibility of choice, meaning, and purpose in human existence. For from the scientific perspective, “meaning” and “purpose,” like “free will,” are but illusions of human subjectivity, ultimately reducible to other, prior causes. While this certainly wounds man’s pride, it does more than that: It demonstrates that the object of his deepest longings is utterly illusory, and hence his longings are utterly unfulfillable.

Here we have introduced a new observation, namely, that there is such a thing as a profound common human longing for meaning and purpose. If it is true that, unlike our longings for food, water, nurturance, accomplishment, and romance (to name a few), our longing for meaning and purpose has no attainable object, then it makes perfect sense to label such a longing as neurotic. The repetitive, compulsive pursuit of illusory and therefore unattainable goals is, after all, almost a definition of the term.

PSYCHOLOGY AND THE ABOLITION OF MEANING, by Jeffrey Burke Satinover, First Things, February 1994

Not only did the general idea of biological evolution impact the way people thought about the value of human life, but Darwin’s particular theory of evolution by natural selection-with the Malthusian population principle embedded in it—contributed to a devaluing of human life, too.

Many German Darwinists, including Kossmann, argued that the mass destruction of organisms, including humans, showed that individual human lives were not really so important.

Richard Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler

In a speech honoring Darwin’s hundredth birthday in 1909 Max Von Gruber, a famous professor of hygiene at the University of Munich’ expressed exactly this point. He opened his speech by countering the Common misconception that nature is peaceful, harmonious, and idyllic. Rather it is “filled with pitiless, gruesome struggle, with torment and death . . . Not only do animals murder animals, but plants murder plants) Darwin, Gruber exulted, had discovered a rationale behind all this seemingly meaningless misery:

The never-ceasing struggle is, according to him [Darwin], not useless. It constantly clears away the malformed, the weak, and the inferior among the generations and thus secures the future for the fit. Thus only through the inexorable extermination of the negative variants does it provide living space for the strong and its strong offspring, and it keeps the species healthy, strong, and able to live.

Suffering and death, then, were not gratuitous, but fulfilled a higher purpose – the preservation and advancement of all living beings. Even though Gruber thought human reason and pity could and should mollify the struggle among humans, Darwinism helped him find purpose and meaning in the mass destruction of other organisms.

Richard Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler

That’s breaking bad!

There is another passage in your New Testament book of Romans which also makes a direct connection between human beings pushing God away, and a transformation in a decidedly negative direction…


For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:21-32


See all that breaking bad stuff?


Romans 1:21-23 indicates that these individuals worshiped the creation instead of the Creator. By seeing the intricate design of the universe, they could clearly understand the nature of God. Instead of glorifying God for His power, they looked for substitutes. In their foolishness they refused to give thanks to God. Their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened. Because of their idolatry, God abandoned pagan human beings (or “gave them over”) to their depravity. Instead of attempting to restrain their wickedness, God simply allowed their sin to run its course. He removed His influence and allowed their willful rejection to produce its natural consequence, which in this case was deadly.

The Divine Sabotage: An Exegetical And Theological Study Of Ecclesiastes 3,  By Dan Lioy, CONSPECTUS, March 2008

But we’re betting that passage is something most Americans today would utterly reject as highly offensive.

And what’s so offensive about it?

It’s the idea that if people push God away, they could begin to break bad.

But if the secular version of the story is true, and everything begins and ends in nothingness, then ultimately everything here in the story is meaningless!

And so…



As Stalin put it: “Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years’ time?”

Charles Taylor, A Secular Age


So why do they get so offended? Is there more going on in the story than they are willing to recognize?

You see, if Christianity is the story we are in, we wonder now if the following insight, by the famed Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, may well express the underlying thread in the unfolding drama facing you in the United States…


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Dutch National Archives

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”…. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Templeton Address, 1983


And look at this…


What has happened to America is that we have forgotten God. When faith no longer informs our actions and gives direction to the hopes and dreams of the nation, things fall apart. This is the lesson we must learn. This is also the principal crisis that we must remedy. 

Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die

We need voices and lives like Jeremiah’s today, calling people to recognize the fact that all ruin and loss and national decay are due to forgetting God, who lifts up or breaks down according to how we relate to Him. Though Jeremiah lived some 2,600 years ago, his voice continues to challenge us today. Christians appear to be ministering in a context very similar to Jeremiah’s.

Notes on Jeremiah, By Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Sonic Light

So… if Christianity is the story we are in, then because people are made in the image and likeness of God, when they forget God, they end up forgetting who they truly are.

As a result, America is experiencing a foundational identity crisis because of the loss of belief that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God…


Nothing is more basic than the recognition that being constituted in the image of God is of the very essence of and absolutely central to the humanness of man. It is the key that unlocks the meaning of his authentic humanity.  Apart from this reality he cannot exist truly as a man, since for man to deny God and the divine image stamped upon his being and to assert his own independent self-sufficiency is to deny his own constitution and thus to dehumanize himself.

Philip Edgecumbe Hughes, The True Image

And notice how this gives you a deep sense of just how powerful this question of foundational identity really is…


“Who am I” is the fundamental question of our existence. Our self-identity is the window through which we perceive and engage the world; it determines all that we do. Our “inscape,” using the poet Gerald Manley Hopkin’s term, determines our landscape. … How we understand ourselves dictates how we behave. Emil Brunner may have overstated the case, but he put his finger on the importance of this concept: “The most powerful of all spiritual forces is man’s view of himself, the way in which he understands his nature and destiny; indeed, it is the one force which determines all the others which influences human life.”

Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology

And Waltke can help you see how the power of that simple question, “Who are we, here in the story?” has huge implications for the future survival of the United States of America… 


Without God, ‘adam’ knows neither his or her identity nor his or her rightful place in the scheme of things. Unaided by revelation, the depraved human mind creates understandings of the identity of humankind that kill society as surely as diseases kill the body.

Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology

So, what if forgetting who you really are also can result in a breaking bad transformation like that passage in Romans describes?

And what if that transformation has the potential to end up in horrifying places?

If so, the following material may give insight into what may be waiting for you as your drama in America continues to unfold and accelerate…


Without God, no basis exists for morality, meaning, the dignity of human beings, knowledge, or truth. Humans cannot reject God and pretend as if everything remains the same without him. In Wojtyla’s words, “[t]he tragedy of atheistic humanism … is that it strips man of his transcendental character, destroying his ultimate significance as a person.” Similarly, Wojtyla adds, citing the Second Vatican Council, “when God is forgotten the creature itself is unintelligible.” Schaeffer agrees, stating “[m]an, made in the image of God, has a purpose—to be in relationship to the God who is there .… Man forgets his purpose, and thus he forgets who he is and what life means.” Without God, therefore, humans self-destruct in nihilism.

Living Truth for a Post-Christian World: The Message of Francis Schaeffer and Karol Wojtyla, by Eduardo J. Echevarria, Acton Institute

I fear a world not just where respect and reverence for God has disappeared, but where all trace of his image has vanished from human minds, and more important, hearts. What kind of terrible creatures will we become?

No wise man, and no great artist, leaves God out, by Paul Johnson, The Spectator, October 11, 2006 (Via Catholic Education Resource Center)

Ideas have consequences, and the result of the loss of the idea of the image of God as the foundation for human worth can have catastrophic consequences for human rights and human life.

Chuck Colson, Foreword to Dr. Glenn Sunshine, Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home

But for rationalistic and naturalistic thought, what has man become in our day? The center of gravity in the human being has sunk so low that, properly speaking, we no longer have any personality, but only the fatal movement of polymorphous larvae in the subterranean world of instinct and desire — Acheronta movebo, Freud himself says — and all the well-regulated dignity of our personal conscience appears as a deceitful mask. In short, man is the only place of intersection and conflict for a radically sexual libido and an instinct for death. This mystery of sorrowing life and divine life, bearing the imprint of the Creator’s face, becomes an enigma, despondent over the complications of death. Man, who at first had been looked upon as both a heroic and quasi-divine figure and a purely natural being, thus falls, following the law of all paganism, into an unnatural mockery of his own nature, which he scourges all the more cruelly the more he nourishes complacency and sentimental piety for it. He is sacked and pillaged, he becomes a monster, a monster dear to himself.

After all the dissociations and dualisms in the age of anthropocentric humanism — the separation and opposition of nature and grace, of faith and reason, of love and knowledge, as also of love and the senses in affective live — we are now witnessing a dispersion, a final decomposition. This does not prevent man from claiming sovereignty more than ever. But this claim is no longer made for the individual person, for he no longer knows where to find himself, he sees himself only as torn apart from society and fragmentized.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Man, the Image of God

At the very head of the Book it is written: “Male and female He made them from the beginning. He made them in His image.” Should we miss the point of that, it’s hard to believe we’d get much right about the rest.

The Embodied Self, by Michael Novak, First Things, February 2003

Wilberforce realized that Britain was a nation that had effectively lost its conscience or grown deaf to it, that claimed in every outward way to be a Christian nation, but that acted upon principles fundamentally at odds with the Christian view of human beings as immortal creatures, created in the image of God.

Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other. The God Mother Teresa worships cannot, we are told, see a sparrow fall to the ground without concern. For man, made in God’s image, to turn aside from the universal love, and fashion his own judgments based on his own fears and disparities, is a fearful thing bound to have fearful consequences.

Malcolm Muggeridge, Something Beautiful For God

So, if this kind of breaking bad is unfolding in your drama, it has immense importance for the future of America…


… because the more people break bad, the more their relationships break down.


And the more their relationships break down… the more dangerously divided they become.

So, if Americans continue to push God away, it’s entirely possible America will die…


Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan, Dallas, Texas, August 23, 1984

In establishing this sharp differentiation between what is religious and what is political, Christianity does not throw up a wall of separation between different dimensions of human life. On the contrary, it establishes, in the form of a hierarchy, a connection between them and thus suggests their necessary and organic unity. The key truth is that man receives his liberty from God, and is able to live in liberty only through his continuing relationship with God. In this way, the person has within him something that is radically inalienable, something that no other man can control. That something is his dignity as a free person created in the image of God. This liberty can be maintained and exercised only in dependence upon the creative source of human liberty, which is God. Permit me to suggest that, rightly understood, the 1776 American Declaration of Independence from political tyranny, with its reference to “Nature and Nature’s God,” presupposes this radical dependence on the source of liberty.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, by Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, First Things (October 1997)

But if you are having a difficult time believing your drama may be unfolding in this direction, you may want to look at the possibilities through the lens of the simple story question…


What do you really want, here in the story?


Keep in mind that one of the fascinating aspects of the Romans 1:21-28 breaking bad passage is that God gives them over to what they want. 

But from the receiving end, they wouldn’t see being given over as a form of judgment. 

They would see it as a fulfillment of their desires. 


Is America Becoming a Revenge Culture?


President John Adams

[W]e have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net.

John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.

There is no story of America that works politically that isn’t populist, but if our populism becomes bitter and seeks revenge and a fundamental restructuring of economic power and cultural identity, then the narrative must lead to an essentially destructive politics. 

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

Robert F. Kennedy

We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Robert F. Kennedy, On the Mindless Menace of Violence, Cleveland, Ohio, April 5, 1968

So, if Donald Trump is, as former Texas Governor Rick Perry said


“He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen.”


… then is it not possible that Trump’s talent will inspire many, many Americans to become more like him?

Look at this blog post which shows there are Americans willing to embrace Trump’s vengeance culture…


Here is a list of recommendations from one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time Donald Trump. We are inspired by such talented people and we want to share these ideas with you. These points were gathered from Donald Trump’s books. Get inspired by the business tips listed below!

….

Hire the best people, but do not trust them.

Get even with people who do you wrong.

…..

Value loyalty above everything else.

….

If someone damages your reputation, take revenge that your enemy will never forget.

Forgive good people, but never forgive someone who is bad.

When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.

When somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal, be tough. Just go get them and they will never think about cheating on you again.

Business Advice From Donald Trump, by Filip Molcan, How To Be Successful, June 19, 2015

And there are some indications America already has a revenge culture…


When Vester Lee Flanagan left behind his attempts to explain the unexplainable—the reason he shot two former colleagues in cold blood during a live broadcast—the rationale he gave was simple revenge; revenge for the mass shooting at a church in Charleston; revenge for mistreatment by his formal employer.
After reading the accounts of his work history and personal issues it seems obvious that Flanagan had some sort of serious personality disorder. So revenge is too simple to be a satisfactory explanation, if one is even possible. But it’s out there now, so we should talk about it.

America is a revenge culture: Revenge the television series, revenge porn, revenge games in sports… vengeance is a mainstay of foreign policy and a thematic obsession for film, television, and female pop-musicians.

The End of Revenge: Nonviolence & the American Fascination With Getting Even, by Tim Suttle, Patheos, August 28, 2015

Sometimes, no matter how much we think we have grown, the workplace can turn into high school with its high drama, pettiness, and narrow view of the world. More than 4 in 10 (44%) of 1,000 people surveyed in a new study admit they have sought workplace revenge.

….

Who is committing workplace revenge?

While more than half of workers can resist the urge to take revenge on a co-worker, that does not mean someone won’t try to take it on them. That can be a challenging problem to deal with because the survey showed that only 36% of entry-level workers have sought workplace revenge while 45% of senior managers and 38% of general managers have.

“This makes sense when looking at revenge as a power play,” wrote the study’s author. “Positions with more power may have less fear of losing their job.”

Workplace drama: Nearly half of U.S. workers have sought revenge on a co-worker, By Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool, April 23, 2018

So, what if America is already ripe for the revenge culture of Donald Trump?

And what if you become surprised and this begins to play out in your unfolding drama?


In fact, Trump’s policies are not policies. They’re just feverish revenge fantasies. Trump, a scam artist whose entire career has been based on victimizing the working class, should be the target of that anger. Instead, he is encouraging Americans to turn their hostility away from him and against their fellow citizens, inviting us into a war of all against all over which he will preside as an amused dictator.

If I Lose Friends Over Trump, So Be It, by Tom Nichols, The Federalist, April 26, 2016

So, here is something we are wondering.

If Christianity is the story we are in, and your God is the Great Storyteller, what if your God chose Donald Trump to help bring all these issues to the surface as the story of America moves towards its climax?


President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, By Robin Wright, The New Yorker, August 14, 2017

We have began to think that it looks like it is possible the story of America could come to its end in a rather horrifying way.

Is that what you really want? Because look at the direction you are heading…


There is little nuance in these battles and absolutely no mercy for anyone unlucky enough to get caught up in their swirling vortex. This is what our culture is driving us toward, and it’s a culture where each moment of conflict galvanizes and tribalizes us still further, in what seems like an endlessly repeating loop of resentment, righteousness, and revenge.

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

Perhaps, then, it would be wise to step back and consider how America’s story could turn out if the direction American society has been going continues on…


The politics of hate will not win. So say those who have a strong abiding faith in human decency but a frail understanding of history. As noted by Eric Hoffer, the reflective student of mass movements, hate is the great unifier of political causes, the motivator of true believers. Sometimes it does win.

For now, hate is winning, and it is out of control.

….

The fragility of democracy is that mass movements feed on their success and move to the extremes. Today, it is harassment and intimidation. Tomorrow it will be violence. And violence will beget violence.

The Politics of Hate and the Soul of Democracy, By Abraham H. Miller, American Conservative, October 6, 2018

Political civility is in danger of becoming a lost art. In the United States, political opponents are quick to blame one another for the horrendous acts committed by Islamic terrorists or schizophrenic young men. Witness, for instance, the New York Times’ recent editorial that blamed the National Rifle Association and the Christian Right for the Orlando shooting. And by no means is this vicious finger-pointing and misdirection confined to one side — it has become the default means of expressing political disagreement. One’s opponents are always responsible for the destruction of culture, they bear guilt for the murder of thousands, and they seek only to accrue power to themselves without regard for the cost.

This path leads to violence.

Have We Lost All Hope of Maintaining Political Civility?, By Noah Daponte-Smith, National Review, June 20, 2016

The result was two camps with fixed ideologies determined not to discuss or debate but to fight one another for dominance. The hatred between the demonstrators could be seen on their faces and at the way they lunged at one another over a six-hour period. Each side was convinced of its righteousness, that it was fighting for the future of America. And at the end of the day, each side declared victory on social media. (If you doubt that is significant, know that these sites and You Tube videos and Twitter streams have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of followers.)

….

So the country should be disturbed by the hand-to hand combat among citizens that broke out in Berkeley on Saturday. And be warned.

A Little American Civil War in Berkeley, by Frances Dinkelspiel, The Daily Beast, April 16, 2017

Can the nation state, or maybe society in general in the democratic form with which we are familiar, survive in anything like its current shape, when history — which is vital to the nation-state’s legitimation — is fracturing into the myriad identities to which expressive individualism is ultimately vulnerable? When you add to this the other forces militating against social unity — immigration, globalization, etc. — the institutions and processes built on a deep sense of social unity and cohesion look profoundly vulnerable.

….

It is part of an ongoing and perhaps largely unwitting challenge to what it means to be human, and thus to the way the world is currently organized. But, as George Orwell once commented, “So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.” Indeed it is. And we may all be about to be burned.

PLAYING WITH FIRE: THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, THE TEACHING OF HISTORY, AND THE HUMAN CONDITION, by Carl R. Trueman, July 19, 2016

At their harshest, atheists may dehumanize those who are religious or consider them throwbacks to earlier evolutionary cousins of humans. Particularly in the online survey, atheists commonly referred to those who are religious as developmentally impaired, brutish, or unevolved.

There Is No God: Atheists in America, by David A. Williamson and George Yancy

If I had to pick one of the most under-appreciated and under-reported stories of 2017, it would be that a post-Christian America is a more vicious America, and that the triumph of secularists is rendering America more polarized, not less. Remove from the public square biblical admonitions such as “love your enemies” and the hatred has more room to grow. When the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — wither, then the culture is far more coarse.

Can America Survive as a Post-Christian Nation? By David French, National Review, December 27, 2017

Then you have to fashion yourself, as the soulless critic Stephen Greenblatt would have it, and that puts you in a precarious position indeed. It is as if the solitary person had, from his own necessarily poor resources, without genuine culture, to bridge the chasm between unmeaning and meaning; and the only material he could use to build that rickety bridge was the self.

This is the source of the desperation with which so many young people, and the teachers and politicians and mass-entertainers who mislead them, hang onto some marker of identity, some sense that they exist, that they belong to a community, even if the community is abstract and notional, no more than an oval in a Venn diagram, designating the collective of people who self-identify in a certain way because of their race or their ethnicity or their sexual desires.

It is not quite accurate to call such people narcissistic. Contemporary man is too ill to be narcissistic. He is not staring in love at his own beautiful image in the pool. He is staring into the pool to find any clear image of himself at all. If you subject his beliefs to any criticism—and by “beliefs” I mean that delicate spider-web of assumptions about the world that cannot endure the slightest breeze—he does not respond with reasoned argument, but with anger and terror. It is as if you were prying his fingertips from the brink and abandoning him to the abyss. Sometimes it is diagnostic to note contemporary man’s reaction to news that should be happy, but that shakes the spider-web. Tell the feminist that her great-great-grandfather did not, after all, treat his wife like chattel, and that men and women throughout human history have had to learn to love one another just to survive, and the rice-paper walls of her ideological house begin to buckle. Outside of that house lie darkness and confusion.

Love, Liberal Education, and the Secret of Human Identity, By Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse, December 1st, 2016

And look what we found in this noted book…


I have tried, as far as possible, to express the thought of this essay in secular language, but there are points where it has proved impossible to dispense with appeal to religion.  And I think this term must be invoked to describe the strongest sustaining power in a life which is from limited points of view “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” It can be shown in every case that loss of belief results in some form of bitterness. Ancient cynicism, skepticism, and even stoicism, which were products of the decline of Greek religion, each concealed a bitterness. There is bitterness in the thought that there may be no hell; for — in the irrefutable syllogism of the theologians — if there is no hell, there is no justice. And bitterness is always an incentive to self-destruction. When it becomes evident that the world’s rewards are not adequate to the world’s pain, and when the possibility of other reward is denied, simple calculation demands the ending of it all. The task is how to keep men from feeling desperately unrewarded. Do they today wish to go on living, or do they wish to destroy the world? Some are unable to comprehend the bitterness which may induce a desire for the second course.

Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences

Does that have your attention?

If so, maybe you’ll take this guy seriously…


Once the line is crossed — once the principle gains acceptance — juridically, medically, socially — innocent human life can be destroyed for whatever reason, for the most admirable socioeconomic, medical, or social reasons — then it does not take a prophet to predict what will happen next, or if not next, then sooner or later.

Walker Percy, Signposts in a Strange Land

And given our view – not yours – of who we are, here in the story, then perhaps this might be of interest to you…


Every genocide in history was preceded by the perpetrators telling their supporters that the soon-to-be victims were animals, insects, vermin — in one way or another, not human. That’s what was necessary to get consent for whatever the government was going to do. Because once you deny people’s humanity, there’s almost nothing you won’t do to them, or allow to be done to them in your name.

Trump’s ‘animals’, By Paul Waldman, The Week, May 18, 2018

I think it’s important to add that labeling classes of people subhuman is really always wrong. It leads to horrific actions. That’s still true even if we’re talking about people in gangs who do commit horrific acts.

Watch the Whole Video, By Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, May 17, 2018

But you won’t stop and think seriously about the implications for that in your unfolding drama, will you?

Of course, maybe if you begin to recognize that, if Christianity is the story we are in, your God is the Great Storyteller, who has designed story to be powerful with human beings, then the following insight would light begin to shine a light for you…


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


The Beefy Nihilists are Out There


Are you afraid of the Gray Rhino grunting at you?

Are you afraid of Black Swans flying overhead?

What if, as your drama unfolds and you continue to march yourselves onto Desperate Ground, you may also have a Dangerous Elephant Man, a Beefy Nihilist, waiting to meet you somewhere along the path?

But you won’t stop and think seriously about the implications for that in your unfolding drama, will you?


We want to help you face the reality that the Beefy Nihilist are certainly out there and will be a factor as your drama unfolds.

Which brings us back around to my best friend, Hector Klumpp, and his Anticipatory Peace Proposal.

In the face of what Satan wants, and what the Beefy Nihilists want…


A peaceful separation requires some mutual respect and concern for the flourishing of the other. The Left, like crazed primitives engaged in honor killing, would instead exact revenge and command forced association rather than allow a divorce.

The Left Won’t Allow a Peaceful Separation, By Christopher Roach, American Greatness, January 21st, 2019

Maybe you better take Hector Klumpp’s warning seriously. How dangerous will the Beefy Nihilists become?

The Beefy Nihilists have a hero, and his name is Friedrich Nietzsche. If there are Beefy Nihilist showing up on your path forward as a country, you should look at what the man was all about…


Friedrich Nietzsche was the most honest atheist of modern times. He was one of the very few who truly understood how momen­tous an event it would be for European civilisation to lose the spiritual foundation on which it had been built since the conver­sion of Emperor Constantine in 312. …. Nietzsche had a premonition that some vast tragedy was going to play itself out in Germany once the full consequence of the death of Christianity had been absorbed. He wrote, ‘One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremen­dous – a crisis without equal on Earth, the most profound colli­sion of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against every­thing that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.’

Had he been entirely alone in this judgement, one might have said this was madness, despite the fact that it actually happened and that the most objectionable passages in Nietzsche’s writings also turned out to be the most prophetic. But one other genius, the poet Heinrich Heine, saw the same thing in 1843, forty-five years before Nietzsche, in one of the most prescient pieces ever written:

A drama will be enacted in Germany compared to which the French Revolution will seem like a harmless idyll. Christianity restrained the martial ardor of the Germans for a time but it did not destroy it; once the restraining talisman is shattered, savagery will rise again . . . the mad fury of the berserk, of which Nordic poets sing and speak . . . The old stony gods will rise from the rubble and rub the thousand-year-old dust from their eyes. Thor with the giant hammer will come forth and smash the gothic domes.

The German thunder . . . rolls slowly at first but it will come. And when you hear it roar, as it has never roared before in the history of the world, know that the German thunder has reached its target.

Although Heine’s views had nothing in common with Nietzsche’s, on this one point their judgement concurred. It would happen when Christian ethics lost their power, when people could no longer hear the divine ‘Thou shalt not’.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning

And here’s another one about Freddy… 


Nietzsche has his own famous term to describe the same effect: the death of God. He was not the first to use the term. Hegel among others had used the term seventy-five years before him, but Nietzsche was the most radical in pressing home the consequences in every areaThe death of God was far more than a crisis for theology and theologians. It was an all-encompassing catastrophe that touched the whole of culture and all the values and disciplines that had depended on God-including such important things as truth, reason, knowledge, morality, right, wrong, good, evil, art, philosophy and the humanities. Every one of them must change and be drastically revalued. God was dead, the sun had been destroyed, the cosmic order had been unhinged, the center had collapsed, and everything that had once depended on them was now hollowed out, empty, vacuous and sheer vanity. Nothing would ever be the same again. In losing God the Western world had lost its soul and its center. It had become “weightless” -groundless, centerless, meaningless, insignificant and immaterial, with an “unbearable lightness of being.”

Os Guinness, Impossible People

If Freddie is right, what does it all matter? Why not eliminate the weak? Like Eric Harris of the Columbine High School massacre…


Eric Harris, the co-conspirator behind the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, confided to his journal just a few months before his rampage, “I just love Hobbes and Nietzche [sic].” On the day of the shooting he wore a T-shirt that proclaimed “Natural Selection,” and in his journal he stated that he loved natural selection and thought we should return to a state of nature where everyone had to fend for themselves. He wanted the weak and sick to die; his solution was to “kill him, put him out of his misery.” He also expressed utter contempt for humanity and dreamed of exterminating the entire human population. Although Harris had personal reasons for his hatred of humanity-he felt belittled and left out socially-he had also absorbed ideas prominent in our society today. It seems cle