Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

It is nothing less than an unmitigated disgrace that hate-consumed leftist ideologues have been permitted to unleash violence upon their political opponents for at least as long as Donald Trump has been a serious contender for the presidency.

There’s been an explosion of political violence in America, and it is all courtesy of leftist thugs, or “protesters,” as their sophistic ideological ilk in the media routinely describe them.  It is thugs, not lawful protesters, who have spared no occasion to assault those who, in labeling them as “fascists,” “racists,” and “neo-Nazis,” they have rendered non-persons.

The latest incarnation of militant leftist hatred is the so-called “black bloc,” the “anti-fa” (short for “anti-fascists”).  These are the vermin that conceal their faces with bandanas while dressing in black.  These domestic terrorists roam in packs of considerable numbers.  Loud, abrasive, and obnoxious, they can be counted upon to destroy property and attack both civilians and police officers by way of a range of weaponry, from bear mace, pepper spray, and knives, to flagpoles, bottles, rocks, and sticks of dynamite.

These phony “anti-fascists” also have a predilection for burning the American flag while chanting such pearls of wisdom as “f**k AmeriKKKa!”

They are not anti-fascists.  They are anti-American.  From this point onward, they will be referred to as such.

The Anti-Americans aren’t just opposed to American policies.  They hate as well American citizens—at least as long as the latter reject their militant communist ideology.  And it makes no difference whether those who they deem their opponents are elderly, children, or women. Anyone who the Anti-Americans regard as insufficiently “progressive” is fair game for physical attack.

By rioting, the Anti-Americans became especially emboldened when they succeeded in shutting down Milo Yiannopoulos’s speaking engagement at Berkeley back in February.  Thus, they thought that they would be equally successful on April 15 in stopping a “Patriot’s Day” rally that was scheduled to be held in their home town.

They were sorely mistaken.

The Pro-Americans have wised up.  Having learned the hard way that the hard left is no less intolerant and violent than any other irrational force of nature, the Patriots converged on Berkeley in numbers comparable to those that formed the black bloc.  And they came ready and willing to literally, physically fight for the Constitutional rights of all Americans.

Hundreds of patriotic men sported helmets, goggles, and protective devices for their chests and knees.  They had weapons, too, but, being law-abiding citizens, they put up no fuss when Berkeley police, outrageously, disarmed them.

When the Anti-Americans—sporting military-grade tear gas canisters, M-80’s, flag poles, bottles, and stones—arrived to cause mayhem, the police reportedly disappeared.  The patriots, though, not only stood their ground.

They won.

While the Pro-American forces sustained some injuries, they gave more than what they got, bloodying and humiliating the neo-communist terrorists. As the growing internet sensation and freedom fighter, Kyle Chapman, aka the “Based Stick Man,” put it, the Anti-Americans had “their asses handed to them.”

Indeed.  The Patriots pulverized the Anti-Americans terrorists and chased them out of town.

Let this register: Pro-Trump, pro-American right-wingers beat and chased militant leftist communists from, of all places, Berkeley, the bluest of blue cities, the home of American “progressivism.”

The victors are now hailing this as the “Battle of Berkeley,” the moment when Americans put the whole left on notice that all attempts to silence them through intimidation and force would henceforth be met with the same.  Video footage of the event is all over the internet.  Readers can easily see for themselves that this truly was an epic battle, something that, given the sight of hundreds of people slugging one another in smoke-filled streets and the sounds of sticks of dynamite detonating, seemed even theatrical—like the dawning of a civil war.

The Based Stick Man, who now heads the military wing of Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes’ right-wing protection squad, warns the anti-fa in a video that “we” will be coming to every “liberal stronghold” in the country.  If the terrorist thugs plan on executing their anti-American designs in the future, he assures them that the right will replicate the beat down that the left suffered in Berkeley.

Something in American politics has changed.  The hatred, intolerance, and violence of the left have finally provoked a very specific type of reaction, a phenomenon that, for all of the left’s dishonest hysteria, no one is accustomed to witnessing:

Right-leaning Americans who are using force to meet, and prevail over, the left’s use of force.

On April 28, Ann Coulter, who is friends with Gavin McInnes, will appear to speak at Berkeley—in spite of the fact that Berkeley administrators, citing “safety” considerations, tried cancelling her event.  An ever expanding army of Deplorables—Bikers for Trump, the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, military veterans, and, quite possibly, Academi (formerly known as Blackwater)—are already organizing protection.  If anti-American politicians insist upon ordering local police to stand down so that rabid leftist punks can terrorize innocents, the Patriots, from this point onward, will meet them head on.

Recruiting efforts are under way.  So too is the machinery for a system of legal support for those Deplorable activists that get arrested for busting the heads of left-wing terrorists.

What we witnessed at the Battle of Berkeley is the birth of something quite new, a phenomenon entirely different from your parents’ or grandparents’ Republican Party-style “conservatism.” It is not the Religious Right, the Moral Majority, or even the Tea Party.  The fake news hacks, the anti-fa terrorists’ propagandists, have spared no occasion to manipulate Americans into thinking that conservatism or right-wing ideas are limited to aging baby-boomers.

The Patriots or Deplorables, if you will, put the lie to this. Young (Generation X and millennials), patriotic, and incensed over the violent attempts to subvert the country that they love, these “conservatives” won’t just wave flags; they’ll take poles and fists to the skulls of American-haters who would harm those with whom they disagree.

More will be written on this subject in the future. After all, as long as the left radicalizes, the Deplorables’ forces will grow. In the meantime, all eyes next weekend should be on Berkeley for when Ann Coulter makes her appearance.

The left’s bullying days may be coming to an end.

In a recent article, I delineated the features of a figure to which I referred as “Jesus Now.”

Jesus Now is the Jesus, perhaps the only Jesus, with whom millions of contemporary American Christians are familiar.  Churchgoers are no different in this respect, for it is from their clerics that they hear about Jesus Now week after week.

Jesus Now is a man of our times, a liberal progressive whose Politically Correct moral and political sensibilities are unassailable.  He preaches “tolerance,” “inclusivity,” and, importantly, he is “non-judgmental.”  Moreover, Jesus Now is largely indifferent to whether people even believe in him—just so long as they are “good” people.

Of course, it is not quite correct to say of Jesus Now that he judges no one.  But his judgment is extremely selective.  He adversely judges white, affluent, Western Christians.  Everyone else is given a pass.

In glaring contrast, the Real Jesus (who will be referred to from now on simply as “Jesus”), being the Author of the Heavens and the Earth, the Sovereign Ruler of all creation, is the Judge Incarnate.

Jesus is hardly the meek and mild, the non-threatening (and wildly boring) fiction that is peddled in all too many churches.  Actually, He spends quite a bit of time—most, it seems—expressing anger.  On at least one occasion, such was Jesus’s indignation that He engaged in conduct that would land me or you in jail:

When merchants were doing what they always did and engaged in commercial activities in the Temple, Jesus besieged them, knocking over their tables and displays and driving them out with a whip.

Jesus was as scathing toward His disciples as He was toward His opponents. He continually castigated His friends and followers alike for their lack of faith and, during His Sermon on the Mount, referred to them as “evil” (Lk 11:13).  Peter, on whom He would build His church, He called “Satan” when the former implored his master to avoid His impending death (Mt 16:23). This generation, Jesus remarked, was both “evil and adulterous” (Mt 16:4).

He called His rivals, the scribes and Pharisees, “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “blind fools,” “whitewashed tombs,” snakes,” and a “brood of vipers.”  “How,” the Real Jesus asked them, “can you escape being sentenced to hell?” (Mt 23: 1-36; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20-45-47).

Nor was this the only time, or the scribes and Pharisees His only rivals, with whom Jesus threatened eternal violence.

During the Great Commission, He instructed His disciples to turn their backs on those who refused to welcome them, “to shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.” Jesus assured them: “Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah [cities that God destroyed] on the day of the judgment than for that town” (Mt 10:1-15; Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6:12-16).

As for the residents of those cities in which Jesus performed “deeds of power” but who refused to repent, He promises to visit destruction upon them.  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon [more cities that had been destroyed by God], they would have repented long ago….”  But because there has been no repentance, the fate of these cities will be worse than that of the cities of yesteryear that God eliminated.

Capernaum, the city in which Jesus spent no small share of His time, is going to have it just as badly. “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to Heaven?  No, you will be brought down to Hades” (Mt 11: 20-24; Lk 10:13-15).

Jesus frequently spoke in parables invoking the imagery of slavery and war.

To allude to just one parable, Jesus contrasts the faithful and wise slave with the unfaithful and wicked one.  The former is dutiful and prepares for his master’s return home.  The latter is lazy and nasty to his fellow slaves.  Of the wicked slave, Jesus tells us, his “master…will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 24:45-51; Lk 12:41-48).

Regarding the cost of discipleship, Jesus said: “Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?” (Lk 14: 31).

He encouraged—commanded, in fact—His disciples to arm themselves with swords (Lk 22:36).

As for ecumenism, the Real Jesus was having none of it: There would be no half-measures when it came to belief in Him.  Either one believed in Him or one did not.  He promised to bring, not peace, but “the sword.”  He promised that He would divide human beings in a manner and to a degree that had never been seen.

“For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”

Jesus is unequivocal: If anyone loves any of their family members more than they love Him, they are unworthy of Him. For such folks, there will be no eternal life (Mt 10: 34-39; Lk 12:51-53; 14: 26-27).

Even those who are convinced of their own Christian discipleship and who perform good works may find themselves being denied eternity with God.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven,” He tells us. “On that day [the Day of Judgment] many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’”  Jesus gives us His answer: “Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers’” (Mt. 7:21-23; Lk 13: 26-27).

Between the Real Jesus and Jesus Now, it should be obvious, there is an unbridgeable chasm.

 

 

President Trump has ordered the launching of nearly 60 missiles on select targets in Syria.

His most tireless critics are now singing his praises.

Along with Trump himself, they reason that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is a ruthless dictator who has used chemical weapons on his own people, including women, children, and babies.  He is a gross human rights violator who had been permitted to cross with impunity President Obama’s “red line” one too many times.  President Trump had to send an unmistakable message that the United States was under new management and would no longer tolerate such egregious abuses—from anyone.

And there is no doubt that Trump’s decision is not without its political advantages.

First, Trump’s action is already being hailed by countries, including Middle Eastern, Islamic countries, around the world.

Second, it is being hailed by many Democrats and Republicans alike.

Third, Trump’s immediate, forceful response stands in glaring contrast to the non-response of Obama after the latter drew a “red line” that Assad was alleged to have crossed in unleashing chemical weapons on civilians.  The impression that will not be lost upon scores of Americans is twofold: (1) The mess in Syria is a legacy of Obama’s presidency, a mess that he lacked the fortitude to prevent and/or rectify; and (2) Trump does have the strength to address it.

Fourth, the whole “Trump-is-a-Puppet-of-Putin” narrative that Hillary Clinton first launched during one of her debates with Trump may have finally (at long last) been put out to pasture. Given that Putin is not at all pleased with the President’s decision to target his ally, and in light of the fact that it was Obama, a Democrat, who did Putin’s bidding by refusing to follow through with his threat to Assad, the Democrats’ conspiracy theory regarding an alleged Trump/Putin tie is more than a bit difficult to sustain.

But while there are clear advantages to bombing Syria, there are potential disadvantages as well, for there is no small number of libertarians and classical conservatives who voted for him precisely because of his repudiation of the neoconservative/neoliberal, Republican/Democrat globalist vision that has informed foreign policy for decades.  There are at least six arguments that have been made against this exercise in military interventionism.

First, it is unclear and, in fact, quite questionable that Assad did in fact do that of which he’s being accused.  Why, the skeptics ask, would this Westernized, secular leader resort to this brutality when he would have surely known that it would invite universal condemnation?  Strategically, on Assad’s part, the poisoning of the most innocent and vulnerable of Syrians is a no-brainer of the first order.

Second, on the other hand, the “rebels” that the United States government has been backing would indeed have had an incentive in doing this deed and framing Assad for it.

Third, in 2013 when Obama was contemplating using the military against Assad, Trump fired off multiple tweets imploring the President to concentrate his energies on advancing the national interest by, among other things, ignoring Syria.  Assad was accused then, as now, of deploying chemical agents against his fellow Syrians.  Yet Trump insisted, as did many of those who would eventually vote for him, that Syria posed no threat to the United States.

Fourth, Trump’s attack on Syrian targets promises to exacerbate tensions with the second most heavily nuclear-armed power on the planet (Russia) and an ally of Assad’s.

Fifth, Assad, along with Putin, has been busy fighting ISIS.  If, as Trump has assured us, the key objective is to destroy ISIS, then in bombing Assad, the President has just risked alienating allies in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

Finally, Trump acted unilaterally inasmuch as he never consulted Congress, a step that, Constitutionally-speaking, he is required to take before using military force.

The critics are correct.

Trump has conducted himself on this score both recklessly and, to be truthful, hypocritically.  As was just noted, this is not the first time that Assad had been accused of utilizing chemical weapons on civilians.  Obama faced a situation virtually identical to that which occurred a few days ago and yet, rightly, Trump informed him that the sort of globalist engineering that Obama had been engaged in was ultimately bad for America.

But now Trump goes and does exactly what he castigated Obama for considering.

And with this single action, Trump undermined most of what he had been saying about American foreign policy all throughout his presidential campaign, a message that distinguished him from almost all of his competitors in the GOP primary contest.

This being said, I don’t relate with many of the Deplorables who are now expressing disappointment, shock, and betrayal over Trump’s latest action.  For nearly two years, I have been among those who have written tirelessly in support of the Trump candidacy or “the Trump process,” as Ilana Mercer describes it.  As for Trump the man or the politician, a few of us have always known—and have written as much—that his instincts for most of his adult life have been what we’d expect from a person with “New York values,” as Ted Cruz once correctly remarked.

While it is true that some of what Trump said many of us liked to hear, it is equally true that, ultimately, we voted for him for reasons having little to nothing to do with his positions on any of the issues to which he spoke.  Nor did we vote for him because of the Supreme Court or even because we found Trump preferable to the alternative.

We cheered Trump not directly for his policy prescriptions and promises but because his person, rhetoric, and style served as a resounding repudiation of the Politically Correct orthodoxy of the monoparty, the Government-Media-Hollywood-Academic Regime.  The collective psyche of the culture is more fundamental than political policy and Trump’s victory was a huge psychic victory for tens of millions, i.e. those who the Regimists, epitomized by Clinton, viewed as “deplorable.”

We cheered Trump for the same reason that we cheered Brexit.

Still, none of this makes Trump’s deployment of military force any less deserving of the criticism that he is now rightly reaping from his many supporters who feel betrayed.

 

 

In the Western world today, particularly in America, there persists this idea among both Christians and non-Christians alike that, to be a Christian, one must endorse a specific kind of vision of how societies should be organized politically.

While it is true that few if any contemporary Christians endorse a theocracy, and while it is true that few advocate on behalf of anything approximating a utopian politics, it is no less true that a good number, and possibly most, Western Christians are political perfectionists.

In political philosophy, perfectionism is an approach that assigns to the state or government the role of cultivating virtue in its citizens.  Not unlike any and every theory, perfectionism admits of multiple variations. But common to all of its versions is the belief that government has a positive educative function, the belief that government is supposed to be an agent of character formation.

Communism and socialism are forms of perfectionism, certainly, but so too are the theories of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and any number of other approaches that needn’t have much else in common with such modern collectivist ideologies.

When Pope Francis (and legions of other Christians) demand of the governments of affluent Western societies that they admit into their countries potentially limitless numbers of immigrants and refugees from alien cultures, and they make this demand, whether explicitly or implicitly, in the name of Christ, they betray a commitment to Christian perfectionism.  After all, it is only the peoples of European lands, i.e. those whose ancestors were historically Christian and who built the most affluent societies the world has ever known, at whom the Pope and his ilk aim their moral imperatives.

Christianity requires, Francis would have us think, for the governments of the West—or, more precisely, the taxpayers who subsidize them—to make a range of provisions for the millions of strangers entering their lands, regardless of the costs.

When Christians, on the alleged basis of their religion, maintain that the United States government must finance and defend Israel; provide “foreign aid;” abolish capital punishment; criminalize suicide, prostitution, and recreational drug use; make the world safe for Democracy; and, comprehensively, serve the world in being a City on a Hill, they reveal their perfectionism.

Things were not always so.

Jesus Himself said simply: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

St. Paul was clearly no perfectionist.  Admittedly, after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, the man formerly known as Saul was interested in nothing other than spreading the Gospel to the Gentile world.  Paul was a brilliant theologian, a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures (The Old Testament), and, most importantly, an apostle.  He spent little time writing about politics.  Yet from what he did say we can abstract the bare outlines of a certain kind of vision of politics.

Paul wrote: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”  The state is “God’s servant” ordained, not to make citizens into good and pious individuals, but to instill “terror” through “the sword” in those who act criminally.  None are to resist the authorities, Paul says, for the latter derive their authority from God and exist for the sake of making society a tolerable, peaceful place to live. “Do you wish to have no fear of the authority?  Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain!  It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13: 1-4).

St. Augustine (354-430) is perhaps the most influential Christian thinker of all time and one of the most influential philosophers, Christian or otherwise.  A bishop, prolific writer, and master rhetorician, Augustine brought his prodigious intellectual powers to bear upon the formation of a Christian philosophy, something that heretofore didn’t actually exist.  More specifically, Augustine was the first Christian thinker to treat, philosophically, the subjects of time, history, motion, eternity, and creation.  His contributions have proven to be immeasurable.

In political philosophy, Augustine pursued the direction in which Paul pointed. There are two “cities,” he said, “the earthly city” and “the city of God.” These are not literal, geographical regions but spiritual and moral conditions.  Those who are of the earthly city live according to “the flesh.” Conversely, those who are of the city of God live according to “the spirit.”

Each city is distinguished from the other on account of what it loves.  Those of the earthly city are driven by “the love of self, even to the contempt of God,” while the inhabitants of the city of God are motivated by “the love of God, even to the contempt of self.”

Even so, the earthly city “has its good in this world, and rejoices in it with such joy as things can afford.”  The end of the earthly city is peace, “well-ordered concord of civic obedience and rule,” “the combination of men’s wills to attain the things which are helpful to this life.” Peace, even a temporal peace of the sort for the sake of which the earthly city exists, is a good.

However, this peace “is rather the solace of our misery than the positive enjoyment of felicity.” The state is supposed to essentially constrain vice, not promote virtue.

Ultimately, though, there is no true justice in this world, for true justice is to be found only “in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ [.]”  And what this in turn implies is that “kingdoms” are “but great robberies” and “robberies themselves” are “but little kingdoms.”

At this time when “progressivism” has infiltrated Christian denominations in the West, it would behoove Christians to acquaint themselves with their tradition.