Despicable Don and me

Thoughtful writers across the political spectrum have decried the fact that Donald Trump received 80+% of the white American evangelical vote.

They’re mad.

They want to write off evangelicalism as provincial, out-dated, hateful, even dangerous. The truth is that I’m getting a little tired of it. 


I’m a white, heterosexual, suburban, evangelical male who didn’t vote for Donald Trump.  

I lived in Pennsylvania and was registered as a Republican, and didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

I voted for Hillary Clinton.

I voted for her not because I like her, not because they weren’t other candidates on the ballot. I voted for her because (1) I couldn’t vote for Donald Trump, and (2) I couldn’t throw my vote away on a third party candidate.

Just for the record, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I actually like John McCain, but I felt it was irresponsible pandering to have someone like Sarah Palin on the ticket, even as a Vice President. I could not vote for a candidate I respect with the possibility of an outrageously unqualified candidate sitting in the number two seat. If that’s true for the Vice Presidency, how much more is it true for the Presidency itself.

I cast a ballot in 2012, but I didn’t cast a vote. Do not and did not support the Obama administration’s aggressive actions on LGBT-issues and on abortion. By 2012, I could not in conscience vote him. It also seemed irresponsible to vote for Mitt Romney, a man married to the very business interests that had almost collapsed the global economy in 2007. So I declined to vote, casting votes on down-ticket candidates but not selecting a presidential candidate.

I don’t claim that my approach to this issue is without fault. I don’t claim that there aren’t other political calculations to be considered. All I claim is that this approach made the most sense to me.

There reaches a point when one begins to whether the shouting down of evangelicalism because of its endorsement of Donald Trump is really about its endorsement of Donald Trump.

We’re at that point right now.

It’s plausible that what is masquerading as stinging criticism of evangelical complicity in the election of a candidate that James K A Smith has called a “man child” is actually about a lot more than one candidate.

The question is, what’s beneath it?


You’re not original and it’s okay


No one expects you to do something so original, so unique, so off the wall that it has never been conceived of before. In fact, if you do that, it’s unlikely you will find the support you need to do much of anything with your idea.

Your ideas have all been stolen already.

So, now you can work to merely make things that are remarkable, delightful and important. You can focus on connection, on making a difference, on building whole solutions that matter.”

–Seth Godin [link]

Why have the national anthem at sports events?

The stand at Gosport Borough F.C., Privett Park, Gosport

My hometown soccer team played its games in a public park.

That’s right.

Gosport Borough F.C.–the semi-professional soccer team where I grew up–played home games in a fairly humble stadium in the midst of a public park.

The main stand is smaller than those in many high school stadiums in this country.

And when the match starts, there’s no national anthem. No flags flutter atop large posts. There are no fly-bys or color guards.

The match simply starts with a whistle and a cheer. The British national anthem is something that’s sung

_98226326_penceVice President Mike Pence’s counter-protest, his leaving a football game upon beholding players taking a knee during the national anthem, has raised this issue to the surface once more.

According to reports, it seemed the Veep flew to Indianapolis solely for the chance to protest, well, a protest.  

Reading coverage of the back-and-forth between NFL players, owners, politicians, and talking heads made me curious as to the disconnect.

Why is the national anthem such a big deal at sporting events in the United States?





I’m a fortunate man

61OCvx9UU3L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_While I was reading Blood at the Root, I my eyes fell on a reference to the “Great Migration” of emancipated African Americans from the South to northern cities like Detroit.

I know virtually nothing about that, I said to myself. And so I resolved to find a good book on the matter and take a small step to remedying my ignorance.

Last night I was putting up a couple of books when I came across a copy of The Warmth of Other Suns that Anna had borrowed from a free lending library.

It turns out that this book, a winner of the National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Nonfiction, chronicles the decades-long northward migration of Southern blacks. I’m a fortunate man to have a wife with such excellent taste in books!




How a Georgia county got rid of its ‘negroes’

Patrick Phillips, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America. New York: Norton, 2017.  336pp.


In 1912 two unexplained in events set off an out-right race war in north Georgia.

The first was the alleged rape of Ellen Grice. Uncertainty surrounds what actually happened, but reports were that Grice was awakened by the presence of a black man in her bed. This led quickly to the conclusion that Grice had been raped.

The second was the brutal attack of Mae Crow. The eighteen year old Crow was beaten and left for dead. When discovered, she recounted that she was set upon by a black man or men. Again, the conclusion reached was sexual assault.

These two events precipitated the single largest act of ethnic cleansing and racial terrorism in the United States–apart from the forced migration of American Indians.

Beginning in 1912, bands of local white men–the knight riders, as they became known–threatened, intimidated, and harassed the black population of Forsyth County until more than a thousand African Americans, virtually the entire black population of the county.

This racial boundary was to remain intact for more than seventy years. It allowed numerous white families to fraudulently use the Common Law tool of Adverse Possession to claim the farms and buildings once owned by hard-working black families. With a wink and a nod, white farmers went to the County Court House and paid the property tax on their black neighbors land and seven years later claimed title the property, free and clear.

A lucky few blacks managed to sell their land and buildings for less that market value before leaving.

For Phillips, the story has a personal element. Raised in Forsyth County to progressive parents, his family took part in two marches in 1987 that brought attention to what can only be called the atrocities of that period. Myriad lynchings, beatings, dynamiting, and other violence was directed at blacks who had enjoyed emancipation for less than a generation. Truly, Jim Crow is a term too sterile to describe the terror of those years.

With his gentle, steady prose Phillips artfully explores the full impact of those years of terror and the resulting seventy years of silence that followed.

As with many works that chronicle such intense historical events its difficult for the reader to maintain steady engagement across all of the pages. I read the book in two days and found myself faltering about three-fourths of the way through. Perhaps that’s white fragility or simple fatigue, I can’t say.

However, I’m glad I read to the end.

If you want more about the atrocities committed in Forsyth County, watch this video from PBS.

Don’t miss this deal on Reformation books

Forde-Feature.jpgOur friends at Eerdman’s are celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with a book sale, which is appropriate given the role of the printed word in this world-altering movement.

Go to the sale

E-Books versions of several of my favorite book are available, including:

Heiko Oberman’s The Dawn of the Reformation

Gerhard Fordes’, On Being a Theologian of the Cross

Herman Selderhius, The Calvin Handbook

John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied