Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Inconvenient Truths

October 28, 2017

Common sense says that a child needs their parents.  Common sense says that a child would have a special bond with the mother that has carried him or her for nine or more months.  Common sense would say that this bond is unique and special and should be honored.

Common sense is really inconvenient to ideology, however.  And sometimes, so is science.

The author of a book detailing how important it is for mothers to be primary caregivers for the first three years of their child’s life is being shunned by liberals dismayed at her scientific findings.  No matter that the author herself is ideologically liberal.   The problem is that she validates an inconvenient truth in the continuing war on motherhood (and parenthood in general).  Parents matter.  Mothers matter.  Mothers and fathers are not created equal but both are necessary in order to provide children with the best possible circumstances in their most vulnerable years of life.  Replacing mothers and fathers with younger and younger pre-school and early childhood caregivers has potential long-term consequences that have nothing to do with the collective good intentions of all involved but everything to do with how we are created.

 

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If You Give a Moose a Muffin…

September 22, 2017

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this children’s book while after reading this blog post.  Apparently a news reporter interviewed a Nazi who was publicly assaulted, and the writer of the blog post was angry that they did so because it could make Nazism sympathetic and end up leading others to follow that ideology.  The alternative, the author insists, is that you never give a Nazi a platform.  Never allow their message to go out.

At first it makes sense.  I don’t like Nazism.  As a student of history I’m well acquainted with the evils perpetrated by that ideology.  I don’t want there to be more Nazis.

But the more I thought about it, I realized why this approach didn’t sit well with me.  It presumes that the hearers/viewers are helpless, passive, and incapable of understanding either the context of the interview or the ideology that the Nazi might espouse.  It presumes that viewers/hearers need to be protected less they fall under the sway of this virulent ideology.  It reminds of the way some conservative Christians choose to raise their children – by trying to shelter them from the junk in the world and never expose them to anything that hasn’t been thoroughly sanitized.

In both cases the result is the same.  By failing to prepare people for the ideologies they will encounter in our increasingly hyper-connected world, we make possible our worst fears.  The way to protect people against whatever charm Nazi ideology might utilize is to teach them about Nazism.  Teach them about history.  Teach them about the Holocaust.  At the same time teach them about democracy, and in particular teach them about the beauty and value of free speech.  Then, if they view or hear a Nazi who was the victim of a crime talking about their ideology, they will be able to distinguish the value of free speech and protection from assault from Nazism.  They’ll be able to say I disagree completely with what this person espouses, but at the same time they deserve protection under the law and the right to speak, because that is the democracy we live under.

Which is different from the censorship that the Nazis used to control what people thought, and which mirrors, ironically enough, what the blog author espouses.  In a democracy people should be educated so that they can make good decisions.  Not everyone can or will.  But it is better to risk that some should not make good decisions, than to deny everyone the freedom to make a decision.  An educated nation will be able to reject ideas and principles that are incorrect.  Maybe not immediately, but eventually.  Hopefully.  But that requires education.  It also happens to require a strong moral common ground, something that has been decimated by many folks who also argue that some groups shouldn’t be allowed to speak freely or aren’t entitled to the same rights that they themselves are.

Reject Nazism.  But don’t destroy democracy in the process.  Nobody is better off with an insulated, poorly educated population who relies on censorship to keep away things that they would prefer not to deal with.  Nobody is better off under such circumstances.  Other than those who happen to be championing them and insisting that their ideology is the one that should be implemented.

Mind the Collar

September 12, 2017

There was a brief flurry of comments about the young man who appeared at the MTV Music Video Awards in his clerical collar to denounce racism.  This got him into a bit of trouble with his congregation resulting in him offering his resignation.  This is his letter explaining his actions and the results.  Where to start with this?

Let’s start with his congregation’s concerns about his actions.  Is this warranted?  Of course it is.  The young man expresses surprise that his congregation has a problem with what he did.  Their reaction was”deeply hurtful” to him.  Perhaps he can understand then why his actions and words were “deeply hurtful” to some in the congregation.  He mentions his “right to free speech”.  But his right to free speech ends when he puts his clerical collar on.  Once he puts on the garb of a minister, he is voluntarily giving up his civil right to free speech in recognition that he is formally representing the Church or at least his congregation.

Did he consult with his leadership regarding whether or not appearing on a show broadcast around the world was a good idea?  Did they approve the specific statement he issued in that venue?  Did he honor his congregation by verifying that this was something they wanted him to do beforehand?  He specifically states that he is speaking “as a pastor”, but a pastor has a context.  Without ensuring that his congregation supported his statement, he should not be surprised that some were hurt by the publicity and offended at certain aspects of his remarks.  If you want to appear as a private person, without a collar and without reference to your vocation of pastor, that’s one thing.  But if you want to wear that mantle, you accept the restrictions that go with it.

Regarding what he said specifically, I have a few issues.  His designation of racism as “America’s original sin” has a lot of theological implications when he speaks in the uniform of and under the title of pastor.  I’d be curious how he reached this conclusion.  What is the exegetical basis for this assertion and again, how is it that he decides to publicly assert this as a leader of part of God’s Church?  It sounds a lot more like personal interpretation and exegesis to me, regardless of how many others might share in his viewpoint.  How does this become the country’s original sin given that it was not a sin universally engaged in?  At what threshold does can a sin be attributed directly and personally to everyone, if everyone does not directly or personally engage in it?  Slippery stuff, there.

I agree that racism is a sinful thing that should be confronted as such as necessary.  What about white supremacy, though?  How is this defined?  Does the demographic preponderance of whites automatically equal white supremacy?  Is it the particular ideological assertion that whites are inherently superior to other ethnicities?  That’s a big term to throw around without defining anything.

Most egregious, however, is the fact that when referring people to inspirations for confronting racism and white supremacy, Mr. Lee mentions only contemporary political movements and persons with extremely limited scope and questionable ideologies of their own.  I would think that if he wants to don the garb of a pastor and speak as a pastor, then he should have at least referenced Scripture as the first and foremost inspiration and power for confronting sin in all of it’s many facets.  Was he requested not to mention Scripture, or did he simply not think of it, or did he specifically choose not to mention it?  Curious.

So yeah, I understand why some of his congregation was upset.  And I find his rather immature surprise and hurt at this to be just that (hopefully) – immature.  His letter smacks of a self-righteousness that still doesn’t recognize the hurt that he caused, preferring to focus on the hurt he has personally experienced.  I pray for his sake as well as for the sake of his next congregation that this is a time of growth and maturation for him as a man and as a pastor.  I pray that he finds good, wise folks around him to help him in this process.

I pray this for myself.  I’m pretty sure it’s a good prayer for everyone, which might minimize the frequency of these sorts of public problems.

 

Vocationally Challenged

September 6, 2017

Talking with your kids and grandkids about what they want to be when they grow up is a cherished, necessary and important task of family.  These days, however, make sure that you’re providing them with some good perspective on what vocations are going to be challenging for them in the future.   The cultural landscape is shifting rapidly, and if you hope that your family member will remain firmly rooted in Christ, yet still be able to avail themselves of the career options that were once so open in our country, I have bad news for you.  At the very least, it’s sobering news that needs practical application.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein today criticized a nominee for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals because of her Catholic faith, something which Senator Feinstein basically stated was a stumbling block for conflicting with the ideologies of others.

Senator Feinstein criticized and questioned Amy Coney Barrett because of religious writings and lectures she produced as a Law Professor at Notre Dame.  Feinstein specifically questioned and challenged Barrett’s actual adherence to and defense of Roman Catholic theology that Feinstein correctly assesses to be at direct odds with the prevailing spirit of the day.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” (And let’s ignore that large numbers of people have fought against some of these big issues.)

In other words, any dogma that challenges the status quo dogma is dangerous.  And to protect against any such outside dogmas, we’re going to pretend that dogma is not permissible to a judge.  Unless of course the dogma is in complete agreement with the spirit of the day.  So if you are against abortion on theological grounds, you shouldn’t be a judge because judges are supposed to support abortion because it’s been legal for almost 50 years.  Since we can’t legally – yet – prevent someone who disagrees with abortion from being a judge, we’re going to pretend that anyone with a strongly held belief is ipso ex facto inacceptable as a nominee.  Unless, of course, they happen to agree with abortion, in which case we’re totally fine with that because it’s not really a dogma.

So if your little darling wants to go into law, and hopes to one day be a judge, and may aspire to be an important judge, they may have to decide whether they would rather be an important judge or an actual follower of Jesus Christ.  Because if they’re going to practice what is preached to them, they might not be allowed to progress up the vocational ladder of judge-ness.

Isolated and unique situation, you say?

  • What about pharmacists?
  • What about if you believe that sexuality and gender confusion can be clarified and resolved through therapy?
  • What if you want to be a teacher?
  • How about a doctor?  Are you going to prescribe your patient enough medication so they can kill themselves if they choose to?  Doctor-“assisted”-suicide is legal in several states today.

The reality is that in more and more fields, being a committed Christian is being defined as a career liability.  And parents and grandparents and other key people need to be aware of this to help young people make sense of the rapidly shifting career landscape.  Especially before you take out $100,000 of student loan debt to achieve your goal, only to find you aren’t employable.

 

 

 

 

Select Who to Protect?

August 28, 2017

In case you missed it, that shining star of intellectual prowess and liberty, Berkeley, just had another stellar moment yesterday.  You might remember back in February when demonstrators against conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos ended up causing $100,000 in damage to the UC Berkeley campus and causing him to cancel his talk.  Yesterday, Berkeley police opted not to prevent armed alt-left antifa protesters from entering a park and assaulting at least five conservative protesters.

How should a city deal with perpetrators of violence – regardless of their ideological creed?  Apparently Berkeley’s mayor thinks the best way is to capitulate and hope they’ll play nicer.  Berkeley’s mayor requested UC Berkeley to cancel future planned speaking engagements by Yiannopoulos and other conservatives.  Fortunately, at least so far, the university has refused.

And rightly so.

It shouldn’t take a genius to recognize that you don’t end violence by giving violent protesters what they demand.  Our nation has enjoyed a long history of mostly peaceful demonstrations for various causes and ideologies.  Some of them are or were appealing and beneficial.  Others not so much.  But the important hallmark of America’s freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is that, so long as they are peaceful, they are allowed.  That such a tradition, and such liberties, should be usurped by any group using violence and intimidation ought to be repugnant to every American, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

Frighteningly, though, it doesn’t seem to be repugnant to everyone.  While President Trump was excoriated for his perceived inadequate response to neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, there has been far less call for such repudiation of the antifa movement by Democratic leadership, and far less criticism of them for failing to do so.

This is how freedom dies.  By police deciding not to enforce the law.  To wait until after the violence to make arrests rather than standing strong and calling for backup.  Were the police worried they would be overrun by masked street thugs?  Better that the police be overrun, that they call for backup, that they show these cowardly extremists for who and what they are, than allow citizens to be brutalized and the event to be passed off as a conflict between liberal and conservative ideologies.

It’s scary enough to realize that politicians and media are so painfully biased.  But it hits closer to home to think that the police might demonstrate such a bias as well.  That they might choose not to protect you and your family.  This is how freedom dies.  I hope that others will join in criticizing the decision by the Berkeley police to stand down and allow unarmed citizens to be attacked, rather than fulfilling their sworn duty to serve and protect.  Such an ideological decision is a black eye on law enforcement, one that I hope law enforcement leaders around the country will denounce.

 

Matthew 11:16-19

August 17, 2017

One of the irritating things of the past couple of weeks have been the recurring demands from various directions that the Church condemn publicly the activities in Charlottesville.  Specifically, that the Church condemn the Neo-Nazi marches and white supremacist groups, ideologies, and individuals.

I condemn Neo-Nazism and white supremacy ideologies.  I believe the Bible refutes these ideologies in principle and theology.   But let’s be careful about what is going on here.  I’m going to preach about the situation in our country in the aftermath of Charlottesville.  Not because some random person demanded that I do.  This certainly isn’t the first time that people have attempted to dictate what the Church preach.  Personally, I find the Church to be one of the greatest perpetrators of this error, designating numerous Sundays throughout the year  for special topics and focus on special issues or special interest groups.  This bugs the heck out of me and I generally refuse to comply (complicity is always voluntary in our polity, but there is no shortage of encouragement!).

Responding to demands on the Church to preach what culture thinks it should preach are perilous, at best.  This is not the Church’s job.  Fundamentally, the Church exists to preach the Biblical narrative of reality, emphasizing the Incarnation of the Son of God to suffer, die, rise again and ascend to heaven with the promise of return.  The Church can and should apply this central narrative to current events, but I worry that these days, such an application is not the Church leading the charge towards cultural change as it has in the past, but rather attempting to please and placate the larger culture so that culture will regard the Church better.

In other words, calls for the Church to preach against an ideology is not acknowledgement or agreement with the Church.  It’s an attempt to co-opt the Church for political and ideological reasons.  Sometimes these may overlap.  But not always, and the Church needs to be careful.  In general, I believe that culture will ultimately be hostile to the Church, even if it overlaps it or falls under Church influence for a period of time.

The cultural call for the Church to preach on a given topic no longer stems from a shared understanding of human nature, human history and divine existence.  Culture has jettisoned the Church and the Bible as unnecessary and actually problematic in terms of telling us who we are and whose we are.  Culture assumes things directly contrary to the Biblical narrative.  It assumes that the problems of our day can be routed out through education, indoctrination, and population control.  As I’ve already written, I believe this is the source of the shock and terror by many at the events in Charlottesville.  I believe it is similar shock and terror to Trump being elected president.  This wasn’t part of the cultural narrative.

The cultural narrative is that we are in control of our destiny and that, through the careful application of education and science and technology, we will further ourselves as a species.  This means the eradication of anyone and anything that is seen as contrary to a narrative of continuous progress and upwards movement towards our highest potential.  This allows for the destruction of millions of babies that might hinder personal and therefore societal progress.  It promotes the destruction of unborn children who exhibit (or might exhibit) genetic indicators that are deemed unproductive and undesirable, such as Downs Syndrome.  The cultural narrative is that the State is the best agent and overseer of this progress, and that the State is responsible for enforcing such progress when necessary.

So the shock of a president who doesn’t appear to share the same progressive ideology or assumptions about education or science or the media is a shock, literally.  An outrage.  This wasn’t supposed to happen!  He’s supposed to play along with the overarching cultural narrative and only tweak certain things to continue the illusion of real change, real diversity in our institutions.  And so the shock of finding out that there are numbers of people who still hold to ideas that have been deemed flawed and hateful.  This wasn’t supposed to happen!  Sesame Street and public education and mainstream media were supposed to have beaten these misguided concepts out of people!   UN Ambassador Nikki Haley preached this message this week when she asserted “People aren’t born with hate.  We have a responsibility to stand up and condemn it.”

The Bible says we are born with hate.  And lust.  And greed.  And envy.  And self-absorption.  And all the other problems that plague us as a people.  And the Bible claims that we aren’t going to be able to eradicate them because we have no objective, clean base from which to do so.  These things exist in everyone.  To different degrees.  In different ratios.  But everyone deals at some level with them in thought, word and deed.  Those calling out the hatred in Charlottesville are just as sinful and broken.  And it is for all our sinfulness and brokenness that Christ died, and it is for each of our sinfulness that we need to be saved.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t stand up and condemn hate when we see it and hear it!  We do!  Scripture calls us to this and entrusts us with this.  But if we have the mistaken idea that in standing up to it and condemning it we somehow also have the ability to eliminate it, we’re fundamentally mistaken.  Dangerously so.  It is at that point that we are most at risk for becoming the thing we hate – for utilizing power or cultural influence to damage others, believing our cause to be justified and the people we battle against to deserve nothing less.  We also have to recognize that hatred as culturally defined can be misleading and even incorrect.  A purpose or agenda doesn’t become true or right just because there are people crusading for it.  And just because someone claims something or someone is hateful doesn’t mean it necessarily is.

This became apparent with CNN’s publication of a listing of hate groups.  One group gets to define what is and what isn’t a hate group?  On what basis?  Are we to just take their word for it?  I looked at the map created by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  There’s a group labeled as a hate group right here in my city.  What is their hate?  They are for immigration reform.  This makes them anti-immigrant, according to the SPLC.  Other groups (some Christian) are labeled as hate groups for being anti-LGBTQ.  What does that mean?  Does it mean they’re preaching the Bible and holding to Biblical standards on sexuality and gender that are thousands of years old?  But now they’re lumped in with the Black Panthers and radical Islamic groups?

So it’s OK to post the identities of the Neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville with the call for their employers to fire them.  But if a woman was identified being virulent in one of the women’s marches in January and was fired for her participation, I can only imagine the firestorm that would descend upon her employer.  It’s OK to threaten people for some ideas and beliefs, but not for others.  We need to be very careful about this line our culture is treading, and we as Christians and as the Church need to be the most skeptical and wary of all.

Jesus dealt with this in his day as well and warned his followers about it.

But to what shall I compare this generation?  It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  

Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.  (Matthew 11:16-19)

The Church needs to be wise.  The Church condemns hatred, but all hatred.  The Church points out sin, but all sin.  This means at some times our culture will embrace us and at other times they will try to stone us to death.  Preach the truth in all seasons.  And that means preaching it to ourselves, to our fellow Christians, and to the culture around us.  That means trying to make sure we aren’t being co-opted for other purposes, and that our preaching of the truth truly is in love and not for personal or cultural agendas.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.  (Ephesians 4:25)

So I’m preaching.  The texts justify it to some degree, but the texts further still drive us towards the realization that God the Father desires that everyone come into his grace and forgiveness through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.  This means that regardless of what someone is guilty of believing or saying or doing, as I stand up against hatred, I do so with the goal that this person will not simply tow the cultural line of the moment, but will place their faith in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation.

That’s something I’m pretty sure the larger culture is not going to call us to preach about Sunday, or any other day.

Facts & Feelings

August 8, 2017

On the continuing saga of the fired Google exec who dared challenge prevailing opinions about gender and workplace policy and culture (which I mentioned already here and here), here is input from four apparently well-qualified academics.  Their conclusion is that the author of the memo lined up pretty well with actual research into the differences between men and women.

Unfortunately, that research and his conclusions from it are not very popular these days.

He’s already out of a job, so being right is of questionable consolation in this day and age when truth is determined too often by who screams the loudest and uses the most pejorative language.  His situation perfectly proves the very point he was trying to make.   Google couldn’t have proved and endorsed his critique any better than by firing him.

We struggle as a culture to come up with a framework for male/female interactions (as well as gender, sexuality, etc.).  Whatever is proposed inevitably ends up being offensive to someone and therefore is untenable.  But whether something is offensive or not is separate from whether it is true.  In the drive for equality, feminism and now pop culture at large has settled on the idea that in order to be equal, men and women have to be the same.  Physically, emotionally, intellectually – you name it.  Practically interchangeable.

The only problem with this is that it’s not true.  We know it anecdotally in our relationships, and those informal observations are backed up by an impressive amount of research.  Worse still, it is patently offensive to both men and women to insist that they are virtually identical except for some hormonal and physiological differences – both of which modern medicine and psychiatry are happy to tweak with until you think you’re happy.

I find it interesting that it is common to describe human beings as animals, emphasizing our similarity at a genetic level to the animal kingdom, we are far less interested in seeking comparisons on social issues.  It isn’t helpful to note, for instance, that in many animal species there are very clear roles for each gender, and that those roles differ, but both are important and necessary.  Perhaps such comparisons aren’t often drawn because it is an inconvenient truth, a truth we like to think we have moved beyond.

We are convinced that now that we understand (or think we understand) genetics and DNA and natural selection we have somehow surpassed these things and are in the position of redefining reality and truth to suit our purposes.  We are convinced that our alleged knowledge has made us masters of the things we think we know.  However if DNA and genetics and natural selection are the things we think they are, it seems rather unlikely to me that we have somehow gotten the drop on hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection.  As though we have reached a place where our genes no longer dictate to us, but rather we are free to dictate to our genes through genetic modification.

For now, and for all of time leading up to this moment, men and women have been different, and this has been the source – unfortunately – of inequality.  I have no idea how things will be going forward, now that we are editing and tinkering with DNA and our own genetic code, making changes that can be propagated to future generations.  C.S. Lewis warned about this stage of things in his very prescient book The Abolition of Man.  Unsatisfied with merely being able to rewrite history, we are now permanently rewriting our future as a species.  While some are optimistic about this, I am not.  Our rewriting of history has so often been disastrous that I can’t imagine our success in rewriting the future.

Perhaps it will be a future where the Google engineer is wrong and his detractors are right.  But that’s not the case here and now, and it would seem wise and desirable by all sides to recognize this and take this into account rather than simply pretending it isn’t true.

 

Tolerance for the Win!

August 7, 2017

After an internal memo generated controversy within Google and then was leaked online to further stir up emotions, Google has fired the person responsible for writing a challenge to alleged bias’ and harmful ideological leanings within Google.  Google fired James Damore for “perpetuating gender stereotypes”.  Damore has filed complaint over wrongful dismissal and is mulling possible legal action against Google.  I dare say that if a woman had written an internal memo critical of Google policies and prejudices towards men, the last thing she could expect would be termination.

Not that it’s any of my business, of course.

In other tolerance-related news, a movie chain that sponsored women-only screenings of the box office smash Wonder Woman says it is stunned to learn that such practices may have been discriminatory and illegal.  Really?  You mean the idea of a men-only screening of a movie would have sounded just as equal-opportunity?  Would the theater – and our culture at large – have so easily dismissed complaints by women against a male-only screening?  Would a mayor have written a “tongue-in-cheek” defense of an illegal practice if it had been an all-male screening?  And would women have been satisfied with a free DVD of the movie as compensation for their complaints?

Kinda hard to imagine these days, isn’t it?   Good thing we’ve traded that outdated notion of loving our neighbor for the modern idea of tolerance.

Meanwhile, in California…

June 23, 2017

California continues to ban taxpayer funded state travel to a growing number of other states.  I’ve tried to determine if other states have a similar practice, but I can’t find any.  I’m not aware that these bans have ever been approved by the voters whose interests they claim to protect. I for one don’t agree with the philosophical basis for implementing these bans, and it seems yet another instance where a small group of people take it upon themselves to claim the representation of their constituency to do what *they* want to do, rather than what the voters actually tell them to do.

Askewed Perspective

June 2, 2017

The news this week is hopelessly cluttered with rival articles about our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the role of the Russians in the 2016 election.  Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about both of them.  I’d just like to point out two things.

Firstly, withdrawal of participation from the Paris Climate Agreement – participation that was never ratified by Congress as is required to make such participation legal, according to our Constitution – does not necessarily mean a rejection of reducing greenhouse gasses and other environmentally harmful emissions.  The assumption is that if we are not part of the Climate Agreement then we are not going to do anything to try and be more environmentally conscious.  That’s a rather major assumption.  The issue should not be so much whether we are or are not part of an international, non-binding commitment to being wiser about our environmental impact, but rather what are our actual intentions as a nation, as communities, and as individuals in this regard?  As usual, the hyper-focus of attention on the actions of a political leader (whether you like him or not) is an easy substitute for the question of how am I going to live my life and make choices that I believe are healthy for me and the world around me?

That’s a harder question, which is perhaps why so many people prefer to focus on somebody else.

Secondly, I find the outrage over Russian tampering hilarious.  First of all, what does tampering mean?  So far, what I understand it to mean is that the Russians might have helped hack and disclose unflattering information about one or more of the candidates for President.  Once again, this diverts the question from the information itself to how it was disclosed.  Does the potential for tampering matter?  Of course, but I find it ironic considering that we have made little effort to hide our tampering in the world around us (or at least some of our tampering).

The United States hasn’t simply made information available to foreign populations.  We’ve run guns to support rebels against leaders we didn’t like.  Or to support leaders we liked against rebels we didn’t.  We’ve actively assisted in trying to topple or sustain foreign governments.  We have attempted to assassinate political leaders we viewed as dangerous.  We actively engage in espionage around the world against both allies and enemies, perceived or otherwise.  Yet we express righteous indignation and outrage when someone potentially has attempted to influence the political landscape here at home?

The narrative we are taught is that we do these things on the behalf of good, or democracy, or freedom, but when others do it they are doing it for opposite reasons and motivations.  In other words, we are justified in doing these things, and not only justified, it is practically our moral obligation to do them.  But anyone who might try something against us is definitionally wrong.

Do the Russians think they were morally obligated to intervene in our elections?  Perhaps some of them do.  Might we consider such attitudes dangerous or erroneous?  Very likely.  Which ought to lead us to be suspect of our own motives at times.

Some will undoubtedly call me jaded, but frankly, I presume that every government that can is engaged in espionage and manipulation of other countries for its own interests on a regular basis.  Russia is not unique in this, and neither is the United States.  I presume that this has been going on basically since the beginning of human civilization.  We act to preserve our own best interests.  Cain understood this in Genesis 4 when God sentenced him to be a wanderer.  Cain knew that others would act to protect themselves from a perceived threat and so God blessed Cain with some sort of mark that would prevent others from trying to kill him.  Without a community of his own to offer protection, Cain would be vulnerable.

The instinct to protect and preserve by a variety of means both obvious and subtle is part of our sinful, fallen nature.  We should be on guard against how others might seek to subvert or dominate us for their own ends, but we should hardly be surprised at it.  Particularly when we take great pride in our own similar efforts with other peoples and communities.  We will struggle against – and participate in – these kinds of behaviors to various degrees until sin has finally been removed as an issue in our lives, something the Bible teaches me won’t happen until the Son of God returns.  That doesn’t mean I sit passively by until then.  But it also means that I should be critical and evaluative of my own motivations as well as the motivations of others.

Which in turn means that I should spend less time screaming at those who disagree with me on these or other issues.  I will stand up for what I believe, but I pray for the strength and wisdom and integrity not to stoop to the level of those who mistakenly think that their cause justifies their abuse, mistreatment and maligning of anyone who disagrees with them.