It’s not uncommon for clergy to laud political leaders; religious groups celebrated President Barack Obama as well. But the tenor of recent days is distinct: evangelical leaders such as Lance Wallnau—an avid devotee of dominionism who participated in Trump’s meetings with pastors during the campaign—wholeheartedly endorsed the Cyrus comparison for Trump. In December 2015, he declared that God had anointed Trump “for the mantle of government in the United States,” adding, “He’s got the Cyrus anointing.” David Barton, head of “biblical values” group Wall Builders, also said in June 2016, “[Trump] may not be our preferred candidate, but that doesn’t mean it may not be God’s candidate to do something that we don’t see.”
The 20 percent of white evangelicals who did not vote for Trump — many of whom are conservative politically and theologically — now seem to have a lot more in common with mainline Protestants. Some in my own circles have expressed a desire to leave their evangelical churches in search of a more authentic form of Christianity.
Other evangelicals are experiencing a crisis of faith as they look around in their white congregations on Sunday morning and realize that so many fellow Christians were willing to turn a blind eye to all that Trump represents.
Holy cow (literally)! I’ve never thought about this connection (and if your church wants to be like Jesus and throw the money changers / ATM machines out of the Temple and switch to online donations, Harrelson Agency can help with that).
“The second dimension for consideration in the appearance of ATMs in the lobbies of evangelical churches is that they signaled something by their very presence: America was in fact becoming a cashless society. The debit card that people carried in their wallet could be just as good as cash anywhere else, but in the sanctuary, cash was the appropriate offering.
So as in the ancient world where Jews from all over the world exchanged their secular coins in the Court of the Gentiles in Jerusalem’s Second Temple for coins with no image on them that they could use inside to make various offerings and purchase sacrifices, today’s believers also needed to make an exchange.”
By signing up to play Pokemon Go through Google, many iOS users have unknowingly exposed all of their emails, chats, calendars, documents and more to the game’s developer and third-parties.
I’ve been thinking a good deal about this game over the last few days. I should have posted before, but I wanted to wrap my head around the whole thing (as much as I can).
I’ll have a post up tomorrow with my thoughts.
Until then… this report is insanely terrible and horrifying given our current police state / insurance state / corporatist overlords. Our privacy is our power. Don’t give it away so easily, people.
I’m looking forward to seeing what they — and the many great writers who’ve contributed to The Toast — do next. (At least two are working for my campaign!) As we look back at what this site has meant to so many of you, I hope you’ll also look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you. Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you’re a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions. And if the space you’re in doesn’t have room for your voice, don’t be afraid to carve out a space of your own. You never know — you might just be the next Nicole Cliffe, Mallory Ortberg or Nikki Chung.
What a post. What an affirmation of the open web and the idea that individuals can carve out spaces and make their voices heard amongst all the clatter.
Amid protest, song and fears of a denominational breakup, United Methodists at their quadrennial General Conference decided yet again not to decide anything regarding LGBT rights.
But in a groundbreaking move, the delegates from the U.S. and abroad voted 428-405 on Wednesday (May 18) to allow the church’s Council of Bishops to appoint a commission to discuss whether to accept same-sex marriage or ordain LGBT clergy.
We’re at the beginning stages of a few societal transitions (revolutions?) that will take decades to shake out fully here in the United States.
One has to do with economics and the emergence of efficiency as a market motivator.
Another, perhaps related shift, involves the erosion of our collective agreement that large groups can or should represent us and be central to the formation of our individual identities. Whether that’s the Republican or Democratic parties during this election cycle of historic high “unlikable” ratings, our relative shift to anti-Union attitudes, or the continuing and rapid decline of mainstream Protestant denominations, we’re certainly seeing new dynamics in play as we emerge from the shadow of the 20th century and head towards the middle of the 21st.
With two world wars and a decades long Cold War, the U.S. was defined by the concept of representative nationalism in the last century. Christian denominations saw their largest number of members in the 1950’s, political parties became increasingly powerful, the Evangelical movement soared, broadcast media gave us our news and views, and our sports team became religions… all while we fought off the Japanese and Nazi’s and then the Commies and added “Under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance and “One Nation Under God” to our currency.
Sixteen years into this new century, we’re still under the last century’s shadow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as centuries, decades, and years themselves are artificial lines that we try to carve into our young species’ conception of whatever time is… but these lines do provide interesting parallels when we look back and ahead in our own individual minds.
Sixteen years into the last century, we were in the midst of World War I and coming to terms with the notion of a “League of Nations” or some sort of a worldwide governing body that would help us resolve disputes before they became the type of quagmires that resulted in that terrible war. The U.S. was entering the age of the automobile, more access to information and news than ever before with the mediums of radio and newspapers, our market economy was taking shape as a world player, and our economy was being transformed from largely agrarian to industrial due to the development of new technologies and means of production.
Sixteen years into this century and we can see many parallels. We are still wrestling with the idea of worldwide governing agreements (economic and political) and weighing the difference between isolationism and globalization. We’re in the middle of a series of regional wars and conflicts that are shaping our military and foreign policies into something that will look different in the coming decades than they had been before. We’re entering the age of the automated car, we have more information available than we could ever ingest through the medium of the web and the coming revolutions in virtual and augmented realities. Our market economy is still taking shape and evolving with the global market as well as our own needs and realizations here about inequality, poverty, capitalism, and morality. Our economy is transitioning from a largely industrial one to a service-based economy due to the development of new technologies and means of productions. Robots are building robots.
One thing that is markedly different, in my mind at least, is our conception of identities. We are coming to terms with realizations that not all Democrats, or heterosexuals, or Methodist, or transgender, or white people, or video game players look the same or can be put into neat and tidy demographic boxes. Whether that’s due to the nature of the influence that the web (and increasingly social media on the web) have had on our society or some other mix of variables, it’s hard to define. However, those of us who were born in the 20th century have to realize that we still have one leg in a century defined by large groups governing identities whereas the 21st century seems to be presenting an emerging realization that large groups are perhaps not the best hook to hang our identities on.
I feel that as we navigate the years and decades ahead, we’ll see more and more that groups such as the United Methodist Church or the Republican Party or the local Chamber of Commerce will fade in importance, perhaps to the point of dissolution into smaller units. The democratization that the web has brought to our culture in the U.S. is a double edged flame from Prometheus… it gives us light and freedom but it demands new responsibilities and awareness. If you were born in the 20th century, I hope you realize that our world has changed as has the culture(s) of our country. Grow and learn or get out of the way.
Our government’s representative democracy serves us well because it is intentionally messy and “slow” in dealing with issues that our collective national cultures want addressed quickly. However, our religious denominations and political parties perhaps should take a different path rather than using time as a tool of obfuscation and avoidance.
Just as our notions of forms of government or economics evolve over time, so will conceptions such as denominations and political parties. They will both probably exist at the end of the 21st century, but they’ll certainly look different.
It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges.
I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I? I want to be very clear — I am not referring to every person in the room. There were probably 25–30 people and a number of them, I believe, felt like I did. But the overall tenor, to me, felt like the Salem Witch Trial: ‘Facebook, you must admit that you are screwing us, because if not, it proves you are screwing us.’
That random feeling when I read a Glenn Beck post and nod in agreement.
Interesting account from a meeting between top conservatives and Mark Zuckerberg over whether or not Facebook has been “censoring” their content… go read.
If change is scary, it’s going to be an increasingly scary world out there for us white male cisgender heteronormatives (we did a pretty good job of mucking things up)…
We’ll probably need a new definition of masculinity, too. There are many groups in society who have lost an empire but not yet found a role. Men are the largest of those groups. The traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore. It leads to high dropout rates, high incarceration rates, low labor force participation rates. This is an economy that rewards emotional connection and verbal expressiveness. Everywhere you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal.
Source: If Not Trump, What?
“I would point to some of the recent trends in 3D scanning as potential new sites for digital colonialism, not just repatriation. Is prosecution of stolen code related to contested heritage objects a form of digital colonialism? Is keeping the code private, accessible only to the museum or scholars who obtain access a form of colonialism? Is publicly releasing the code while holding tight to the physical object reinforcing colonialism? As this episode tells us, the materiality of these cultural heritage objects holds meaning that cannot be extracted into bits and bytes.”
Amazing piece of performance art and a very needed conversation…
“It is not the only or the easiest
way to come to the truth. It is one way.”
From Dr. Thomas J. Whitley…
“The “only” is a key word in Pope Francis’ response, as is his admission that he is rather uninformed regarding Donald Trump’s immigration policy proposals. The Pope did not say “Donald Trump is not Christian.” Rather, he claimed that if a person only ever thought about building walls and not also about building bridges, that person would not be Christian. Yes, the implication is that Trump is that person and that Trump only thinks about building walls and not bridges, but that is not precisely what Francis said.”
“For a progressive, how you reconcile conflicting truths about Clinton depends, to some extent, on how much you empathize with her. Supporting Clinton means justifying the thousands of concessions she’s made to the world as it is, rather than as we want it to be. Doing this is easier, I think, when you are older, and have made more concessions yourself. Indeed, sometimes it feels like to defend Clinton is to defend middle age itself, with all its attenuated expectations and reminders of the uselessness of hindsight.”
I’ve read so many Facebook posts from progressive friends who are backing Clinton despite their professed reservations.
It reads very much like someone taking Pascal up on his own wager in the Pensées. For sure, a game is being played and you must make a wager (though in this case, it’s not for the existence of an omnipotent deity but the future of the Democratic Party and our country).
- God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
- A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
- You must wager (it is not optional).
- Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
- Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
- But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.
Sanders’ backers tend to the more “idealistic” or “swept up in an idealistic political movement” as the author of the article linked above writes when noting her sadness over young voters that aren’t backing Hillary. I feel caught in between these two, because my gray hair betrays my youthful idealism but I’m not ready to call myself “middle aged” just yet (I’ll wait until I’m 40 for that serious business).
However, age has made me more aware of the necessity of trading one’s ideals for practicalities of getting things done. How far we move up or down that scale determines everything from our politics to our (a)theologies to our choices (or not) in automobiles.
But I’m not ready to take the plunge and wage that Clinton is the more electable candidate and therefore I should vote for her, because if Sanders is nominated he will be “eviscerated in the general election” (again, using the words of the author linked above).
I’m not ready to trade off my own convictions about the need to disrupt the establishment that has led us to this point of polarization and play our citizens like punches in a card:
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
I’d rather not compute that wager.
Don’t get me started on “giving kiosks” in churches.
Merianna made an interesting connection between Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and the need for churches to also be aware of the the zeitgeist in the air (particularly among younger Americans):
“Bernie’s average donation is just $27. He hasn’t concentrated his efforts and energies in the megadonor, but has touted the power of every person explaining that every gift and every donation makes a difference. His message against Wall Street and giving power to the average person has made him popular among college-aged people as well as young professionals struggling to make ends meet.
Bernie’s financial message and his young followers is something churches need to pay attention to. For years churches have touted and even catered to the megadonors in their congregations who have formed the foundation of the church’s budget, but megadonors are a dying people group, and unfortunately they are leading churches to death’s door.”
Compare that to the way forward for Hillary’s campaign outlined in a memo today. I work with numerous churches, and I hear this sort of speak quite often (especially when it comes to fundraising and adding more donors to the rolls):
The way to win the nomination is to maximize the number of delegates we secure from each primary and caucus. Thus, the campaign is building the type of modern, data-driven operation that it will take to turn voters out and win the most possible delegates. That strategy includes:
(1) An analytics-based approach to determine which geographic portion within March states are likely to yield the highest number of net delegates for the campaign. Each congressional district will have its own data-driven plan.
(2) Paid organizers on the ground in all of the March states, running large-scale voter contact operations in areas where GOTV efforts will be most impactful towards increasing delegate margins.
(3) Targeted use of the right campaign surrogates in key communities in March states.
(4) An advertising campaign that will use a range of optimization tools to ensure that messages are reaching the right voters in the key media markets in the most cost-efficient way to the campaign.
Of course, such marketing speak is not a bad thing in itself (it’s how I pay the bills!). It does feel cold and calculating though, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s the reason I’m “turned off” by the approach outlined in Clinton’s memo despite it’s practicality.
But Sam, campaigns should be run like businesses. But Sam, churches should be run like businesses. Maybe. I just can’t buy into them if that’s the leading strategy.
I’m not alone in that regard. Churches too often turn their backs on young people who may not be able to write checks with multiple 0’s in favor of one or two mega-donors in areas of leadership, discipleship, and even messaging (sermons on Matthew 19:16-21 are often allegorized as a result of the Pastor recognizing the beauty of having a job).
It’s not a clear equivocation, but Merianna gave me something to think about.
From January 2008:
“Other candidates that have been using Twitter have been posting info about events for local followers or either links to YouTube video of rally’s, etc. It would be a shame if the candidates follow McCain lead and bring the negativity so associated with TV political messages into the Twitter medium.”
Dear 8 Year Younger Sam: Ha. It gets worse. It gets much worse. Enjoy it while you can.
“If any of those three is the nominee then — so long as the Democrats keep Hillary in the race — the Republican will win the presidency. Clinton’s flaws are simply too heavy a lift for a majority of the American people to carry.”
A few months ago, I would have laughed at that thought. “Haha, Sam… of course a Democrat will win in 2016. Trump? Pssh. Cruz? No thanks, Jesus. Rubio who? Jeb! is a flop.”
As much fun as Democrats (and I) have had with the “crazy” Republican debates and shouting matches and outrages-of-the-week, I’m beginning to realize the Republicans have something that the Democrats don’t have in this process… choices and diversity.
Hillary will win the nomination. No doubt. But that’s great, right? She’s female and it’s about time we had a female nominee and a female president! Sure. Let’s send up Elizabeth Warren or any of the millions of talented female leaders we have in the United States who could be ready to lead our country into the third decade of the 21st Century tomorrow.
And that’s my problem with this year’s Democratic Party candidates (RIP O’Malley Campaign). We are supposed to choose between a non-Democrat socialist long time senator from Vermont (God bless you folks, Stowe and Burlington are cool) and … Clinton.
“But she has the experience to lead, Sam!” Sure. I agree with that in some aspects (definitely not all of her record, but this is politics). But 50.1% of the voting American public won’t, and Clinton will not win in a contest with Rubio or Bush (or Kasich, but … yeah). And nor should she.
It’s time for a change in the Democratic Party. Our bench is weak and the down ballot votes in favor of increasingly conservative Republican local and state candidates will harm our country for decades and do real danger to everything from our public education system (see North Carolina) to our water supply (see Michigan) to our infrastructure (see South Carolina) to our very real issue of food insecurity and poverty we continue to ignore.
Bill, the email scandal, Benghazi, her handling of Libya’s collapse, her flippant regard for the press, her demeaning candor towards new technologies that are transforming our cultures and will continue to do so into the 2020’s (Virtual / Augmented Reality is going to arrive quickly and shake things up), her paid speeches and perceptions that she’s wrapped around Wall St’s finger… $21 million in paid speeches to corporations representing interests she’s now suddenly campaigning against… all of these things and more from her past and present will cost Democrats the White House and the very real Supreme Court nominations that will impact / haunt our Republic for decades (along with the down ballot votes).
I’m not a #BernieBro (anymore than I was an Obama Boy in 2008). I very much welcome female leadership and opportunities to provide decision making whether it’s in our home, in our church, in our family budgets, or my posts on social media. So let’s stop with this repeated rhetoric from 2008 regarding why “my” demographic is uneasy with Clinton:
“That does not mean that all privileged white male Democrats are sexist, anymore than it would be true to suggest that all working-class white Democrats (the segment of the party that is breaking for Clinton) are racist. But a lightly disguised uneasiness with female power, as well as the “we love women, just not that woman” rhetoric will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the reception of the feminist movement. It’s the movement of which Clinton has become emblematic -– not because it was her bailiwick, but because she has been exactly the kind of woman that feminism made room for: ambitious, ball-busting, high-earning, untrained in the finer arts of hair care, and unwilling to play dumber (or nicer) than she is.”
I am fortunate enough to be a partner to a female leader. She would make a great President if she weren’t led by a different calling that I am lucky to glimpse. The same is true for millions of females who are fantastic leaders in commerce, business, politics, law etc.
To pretend that Clinton should be upheld as a paragon of female leadership because she “worked her way to the top” sells short the very hard work that my wife and other women have done and continue to do (on a minute-by-minute basis) to help us recover from our national sin of protestant white male heterosexual homogeneous leadership across our churches, government, businesses, and homes. Am I to tell my daughters that if they really want to be strong females like Rey, they need to marry wisely and lie / cheat / steal their way to the top? No, I’ll point them to Merianna. Or Lisa. Or Cassandra. Or Nikki. Or Anna. Or, again, any of the millions of American women who “could make this country great again” if the system wasn’t rigged to favor the elite oligarchy that tries to sell us carefully packaged notions of femininity, female leadership, and feminism so that they can make more money.
The great JJ Abrams style plot twist is that a vote for Clinton isn’t just a vote for “the establishment.” It’s a vote for the privileged white male establishment.
We deserve a Republican President if we think Clinton represents the best and brightest that female leadership can offer our country. If we don’t think that’s the case… why are we in this situation?
Clinton will win the nomination easily. Rubio (or Bush) will win the Republican nomination. This time next year, we’ll have President Rubio in the White House.
…unless the Democratic Party elites decide that Clinton is too much of a liability over her law breaking activity and jettisons her just before Super Tuesday in favor of VP Biden who will promise to serve one term and then hand off to his VP Elizabeth Warren or Deval Patrick or Nina Turner.
“Facebook urgently needs to address the impact that its algorithm changes are having on nonprofits, NGOs, civil society, and political activists—especially those in developing countries, who are never going to be able to “pay to play” and for whom Facebook is one of the few really effective ways to get a message out to a wide audience without government control or censorship.”
I’d urge nonprofits (like our own Hunger Initiative) and activists to seek out means of distributing and organizing online communications that aren’t reliant on social networking silos.
Of course, it’s easy to point to Facebook with its 2 billion users or Twitter with its ~400 million users and say that’s where people are in 2016. However, nothing is to stop groups from developing their own sites / forums / online presences (even on limited funds in places of civil unrest or poor network connections) and piping content into the silos that are at the behest of corporate interests (as in the case of Twitter’s apparent decision to pursue algorithmic feeds).
Indie is the way to go, especially if you want to authentically share your own gospels:
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
I won’t lie. It’s difficult to see my wife struggle with her call to ministry in that she has to constantly be juggling her time and serving others while trying to find and clarify her own voice. I struggle against my urge to be a “manly man” and step in and tell her she can be a stay-at-home mom and doesn’t have to deal with all of the daily grind that no one else sees and feels but her. I get glimpses of what she goes through occasionally, and I’m not sure how she balances what are essentially two full time jobs that get labeled as “part-time” (can there ever be a part-time pastor?) along with the demands of our newborn son on top of having to deal with me.
I imagine that’s the same with every pastor and every pastor’s family.
Yes, there is credentialing and educational requirements (undergrad, seminary, internships … and the high rate loans that are associated with them), but it’s no coincidence that pastors are also among the highest professional groups to struggle with depression and high suicide rates.
To compound that with these stats is, well, infuriating and disappointing.
New national data reveals that women clergy earn 76 cents for each dollar earned by male clergy. This is substantially worse than the national pay gap of 83 cents. The clergy pay gap is even more stark when compared to similar occupations…
The gap among clergy is noteworthy because, as an occupation, the clergy has credentialing (ordination) and educational requirements that should encourage similar pay for similar work. Religious organizations often have educational requirements and institutional controls for clergy.
As Willie Nelson sang, “these are difficult times” for churches and pastors. We’re seeing cultural and socio-economic shifts that (for better and for worse) are resulting in diminishing church attendance and financial support. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, and it will result in a church that “looks” very different in the coming decades both here in the US and on a global scale as the southern hemisphere begins to assert its growing influence on christendom.
It also means that churches should think about how they “treat” and pay their pastors differently. Whether it’s a 5,000 member congregation or a 50 member country church, the failed policies of the baby boomer generation in regards to running churches-as-a-business have failed. No where is that more apparent than in the relative cultural homogeneity of any particular church (at least here in the American South), and the way we’ve treated female pastors who have unique abilities to salvage their congregations.
Imagine, if you will, that everyone who has bought a “powerball” ticket over the past few weeks had given that $2 to a non-profit, temple, homeless shelter, church, humane society, synagogue, food pantry, school PTA, mosque, hunger relief effort, community garden, or women’s shelter.
“It’s all for fun. Don’t be a buzzkill.”
Greed has been sold to us as a golden ticket out of the lower classes and closer to the life we all subscribe to on the Bravo! channel. If we wish / pray / think hard enough about the right things, it’ll happen to us. Knock, and Uncle Moneybags will answer the door.
Lotteries and Powerballs and Pick 5’s are evil and do damage to our society, culture, and communities.
Like it or not, we vote with our money in the United States. Render unto Caesar what you think belongs to Caesar.
Your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292 million. Here’s what that looks like…
I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…
Short but fascinating-to-ponder pilgrim’s progress piece…
And maybe my desire to submerge myself in that sediment, to weave The Cloud into the timelines of railroad robber-barons and military R&D, emerges from the same anxiety that makes me go try to find these buildings in the first place: that maybe we have mistaken The Cloud’s fiction of infinite storage capacity for history itself. It is a misunderstanding that hinges on a weird, sad, very human hope that history might actually end, or at least reach some kind of perfect equipoise in which nothing terrible could ever happen again. As though if we could only collate and collect and process and store enough data points, the world’s infinite vaporware of real-time data dashboards would align into some kind of ultimate sand mandala of total world knowledge, a proprietary data nirvana without terror or heartbreak or bankruptcy or death, heretofore only gestured towards in terrifying wall-to-wall Accenture and IBM advertisements at airports.
This might make Franklin Graham’s head explode, but I think it’s a good move to associate design with “politics” and assert the relevance of seemingly mundane things such as color choices to cultural conversations:
Pantone Color of the Year 2016 – Rose Quartz and Serenity: “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace. The prevalent combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity also challenges traditional perceptions of color association.”