“Beware the one who makes his living off criticizing the sin of others.” – Pastor Eric Landry, discussing the actions of Ham against his father Noah in a sermon on Genesis 9.
As I think about how biblically-minded Christians can deal with the constant assaults from the left, three things really stand out to me.
First is to have a strong commitment to liberty. An unwillingness to waver from this commitment in the midst of significant opposition will make us stand out in the midst of a generally compromising culture.
Second is excellence. Maintaining integrity and quality in our lives and work will provide us great freedom to pursue our goals because it allows the criticisms of our opponents to be seen clearly as unmerited attacks on us.
Third, and to the point of the quote above, is the positive, Bill Buckley-style “happy warrior” approach we should take in our work. As we present positive alternatives and a positive outlook on things, it brings people along with us and frees us from being caught up in the downward spiral of negatively. It’s not that we can’t at times be critical of the way things are, or even people occasionally, but our positive outlook helps us and others see the possibility of a better future much more clearly, even in the midst of the turmoil our nation in facing.
By the way, if you have never read William F. Buckley, Jr., you really should. His spirit of optimism is infectious. A great place to start is Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography. Another good one that captures both his and Ronald Reagan’s optimistic spirit is The Reagan I Knew.
“The reality is that the GOP establishment, after their appalling behavior in the Hastert years, were given a second chance by the base in 2010, and a third chance in 2014. Now they’re demanding a fourth chance – and people go, well, say what you like but a Republican president will at least get to appoint rock-ribbed Supreme Court justices, like, er, John Roberts, who constitutionalized Obamacare, and, um, Anthony Kennedy, who gave us federally mandated gay marriage. Boehner, Mitchell, Kennedy, Roberts… Not much to show for a party that’s been supposedly dominant for 35 years, is it? The GOP thinks the issue is Trump; much of the base thinks the issue is the GOP.” – Mark Steyn
Read the rest of his column here.
“Yes, we do, because the fringe is marginal no more.” – George Will, in a 1995 column.
I first read this quote on January 1, 1995 as Washington, D.C. was preparing to swear in the first Republican majority in the U.S. House in 40 years that would join the existing Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. Most of us conservatives were quite giddy at the prospect of undoing much of the harm that the liberals had done over that period. And despite a Democratic president we were rewarded in quite a few ways as welfare was remarkably transformed, the federal budget was balanced for the first time in the memory of most people, and the economy continued its record growth begun under the Reagan presidency. Truly, we thought, we—the conservative fringe—are marginal no more.
Here is the quote put into more context:
Robert Merry of Congressional Quarterly recalls Pat Moynihan’s first Senate campaign, in 1976, against the conservative incumbent, James Buckley. Addressing a labor audience, Mr. Moynihan said, “Look, there’s this particular fringe, and their one fundamental problem is they simply never accepted the New Deal.” He added: “Didn’t Franklin Roosevelt settle this issue once and for all? I mean, do we really have to go over it again?” Yes, we do, because the fringe is marginal no more.
Then came not just a Republican Congress, but a Republican president. We had it made! Except that even before we won the presidency, the Republican Congress had fallen back in many of the free spending, big government ways of incumbents. The new president in many ways joined in with this, and after a while it seemed as if conservatives were becoming the marginal fringe even within the Republican party.
The Right Kind of Bright in Your Eyes
Doug Wilson gave the commencement speech to the graduating class of New Covenant Schools. Lots of good stuff, here is a sample:
Scripture teaches us that to the pure all things are pure. To the defiled, all things are defiled. The principle can and should be extended. To the dullard all things are dull. One of the central reasons why G.K. Chesterton is such a wonderful thinker and writer is that he had the gift of making us see how extraordinary all ordinary things are. He would cock his head sideways and describe the living room from that vantage, and all of us would learn new things about a place where we had lived for years. The simpleton thinks that ordinary things are ordinary. The faux-mystic drops some acid—a weird custom you may have heard about in your history classes—in order to find out that extraordinary visions are extraordinary. But only a healthy soul can see how remarkable every unremarkable thing actually is.
I ran across a great quote this morning to help us remember some of the things that really matter for which we can be grateful at this time of Thanksgiving:
“The Little House Books are stories of long ago. Today our way of living and our schools are much different; so many things have made living and learning easier. But the real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong. Great improvements in living have been made because every American has always been free to pursue his happiness, and so long as Americans are free they will continue to make our country ever more wonderful.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Of course, the greatest freedom for which we should be grateful is the freedom from sin we have in Christ.
“Our free market system is usually termed capitalism and by that definition capitalism has hardly been around long enough to deserve all the evil for which it is being held responsible. … Actually, all systems are capitalistic. It is just a matter of who owns and controls the capital—ancient king, dictator, or private individual. We should be looking [for] a free market system where individuals have the right to live like kings if they have the ability to earn that right.” – Ronald Reagan, 1979
Ronald Reagan once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” And he is right. Sometimes, the truth becomes almost impossible to ignore. I think we are seeing that now in the national debates over climate change and health care.
Yet, even more stubborn than facts are people. It is a person’s worldview, more than the facts that they are presented with, that usually shape their opinions on issues. Because the worldview is used to filter facts, keeping ones they like and discarding the ones that upset their view of the world. So while we must seek an accurate, factual picture of the world, we can’t always expect facts to carry the day. At least in the short run.
“Why squander your presidency on trying to turn an economically moribund feudal backwater into a functioning nation state when you can turn a functioning nation state into an economically moribund feudal backwater?” – Mark Steyn, commenting on President Obama’s apparent retreat in Afghanistan so he can spend his political capital in the U.S on domestic policy.
So long as men accepted the basic affirmations of religion — that there is a God of all people with whom each individual has a personal relationship — our liberties were basically secure. Whenever there was a breach in them, we possessed a principle by which we could discover and repair the breach. But when there ceases to be a constant recurrence to fundamental principles, our political freedom is placed in jeopardy. Political liberty is not self-sustained; it rests upon a religious base. – Edmund A. Opitz
“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” – Frederick Bastiat (The Law; 1850)