Archive for the 'Materialism' Category

The NFL’s blind eye and divine healing #NFL #domesticviolence

September 21, 2014

Of course they knew all along. How could anybody not ingest and understand the decades of scattered arrest reports and other public misconduct perpetrated against by women by the NFL’s finest. You would have to be a complete out-and-out moron not to realize that there is a serious problem, except that management did not consider the assault of various wives and girlfriends to be much of a problem. For the men at the top, it’s just another day at the office.

They are damn good at making up excuses too. Boys will be boys. If we ask men to play with intensity, they are going to play with intensity. This is what winners do; they win. And the best of all: most of these women like to be knocked around anyway. Oh yeah, there is nothing quite as fun as an evening at the Emergency Room. A broken nose, some missing teeth. Now tell me. Does life get any better. This stuff is so rich, the guys in charge might actually believe it.

Since I have not played in competitive sports, this is surely an opinion to which I am not entitled. How could one not admitted to the special Sunday afternoon priesthood possibly understand the needs and the pressures. The NFL pretense of ignorance just will not do, especially as we observe the deliberate provocation of violence for the sake of winning and building ad revenue.

It is a good thing to see that the players are (with some exceptions) also knocking each other senseless. Those concussions are making you crazier than you already are. Maybe the brain damage is part of the anti-social conduct. Seriously.

Let’s not fool around with this. The fans are every bit as guilty as the management and long past time for Christian fans of the National Football League to stop supporting the oout-of-control cry babies that are determined to have their way no matter who gets hurt. There are probably some Christian high schools that could even learn a lesson here. The lousy misdeeds of some players is part of man’s rebellion against God.

The physical assault against another human being amounts to vandalism against God’s own icon. Man is created in the image of God and such mistreatment as what is done by the athletes is absolutely forbidden. The second great sin recorded in scripture is Cain’s anger with Able, an evil emotion that led to the first murder. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus forbids anger and speaking harshly about another. That kind of conduct keeps the offender from being heard by God.

That NFL players should not hit women ought to be obvious. They should not hit anybody, nor even give a home to hateful thoughts. Their problem is the very human tendency to believe that the individual is in charge of his own life. It denies the possibility of a higher power working in our lives. It is dangerous to be humble, kind, and generous, but that is what Jesus demands. I have a hard time with that and the only solution is a genuine life-changing repentance. That would demand a gentle manner, turning the other cheek, protecting the weak, and giving up the mega paycheck. What a terrible trap.

And it is not only a few NFL players that must undergo the real change. Each of us, including women, must fight the tendency toward egotism and greed.

The great unhappiness of Fergusson, Mo. #Fergusson

August 25, 2014

Thee seems to be a recurrent cycle in the development of news stories. Version A, trumped by Version B, none-calling and personal attacks. scapegoating,  Version C, Version D, more name calling, best story wins, and the poor people catch hell. So it goes in Fergusson, Mo. For the moment, it is America’s unhappiest. town.

If one is a little bit Reformed, the cause is obvious. Yes, three is racism for sure and you can easily find economic inequality. There is a prideful part of humanity that requires not only victory but the destruction of those holding different positions. The hyper-Calvinists call this disorder of the soul “total depravity.” For us Anglicans, that kind of language is awfully strong. We prefer talking about “the fall.”

So what?

The Reformed (include properly schooled Anglicans) know that the Civil Rights Movement may have passed some laws and changed a few customs, but human nature remains the same. We continue to be the same judgmental, power-hungry, greedy, and diligent guardians of the privileges bestowed on the fortunate. Yes, there is racism, and to admit its existence, like a rotting corpse concealed in the basement, is to expose ourselves to accountability. It is to deny what we say about ourselves when the flags are unfurled. We would rather turn our eyes away from the lingering consequences of slavery than get our nominally Christian hands dirty fixing anything.

The “fixing” part is difficult because, as was the case in the Civil Rights Movement, there is only so much even an entire generation can accomplishment. Human nature is still a mess and that can only be addressed  by putting on the new man of conversion and Baptism into the Body of Christ. That means being open to the leading of the divine Spirit. Too easy? Not if one is actually led into a new set of behaviors that walk away from the old cycle of suspicion and wishing the destruction of those that look, act and think differently.

If this individual change (some of us call it “regeneration”) is insufficient, then the gospel is a lie and the atheists are right. Even though the good outcomes of following Jesus are not immediately visible, we take up the cross anyway. Friends, it is a cross – an instrument of our own pending executions. It is faith and the power of God’s grace that moves Christians to act like Christians anyway. It is forgiveness, turning the other cheek, and taking up the cross. That is completely opposite from the name-calling and personal destruction that is Fergusson.

The Christlike version of change takes time. It takes so much time that it is typical to think that one has failed. This notion of success is a something that runs deep in the culture. It is the same strain that looks upon the poor as failures. The dominant American idea is that those who have less deserve all the bad things that happen to the powerless. Christians know that we are tested and one’s attitude toward and treatment of the less fortunate is a measure of character and part of the criteria on which we will be judged. That is God’s grace delivered by the hands of men.

 

“The Good Wife” and life’s sudden changes #goodwife

March 25, 2014

Among the many unwholesome habits that drag my soul down to the depths, television gluttony is near the top. It is a moral cesspool, and open sewer of depravity. If you have not pulled Sunday’s episode up for viewing, stop here. Major spoilers to follow.

There is HGTV, Hell’s Kitchen, Survivor, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, and maybe next year it might be time for Chicago radio! Ah, but that was back in the day! The Good Wife seems to be culturally hip, even featuring an openly bi-sexual character. The mythical attorneys and their clients live in a make-believe world of privilege and power. The heroine, Alicia Floric played by Julianna Margulies, is constantly faced with personal reinvention and extreme multitasking.

The writers have put together plots which are often wrapped up in ways that we would not expect and the humans are very human. This part, it seems to me, is the most appealing aspect of the series. Nobody turns out to be completely good or bad. Just like in “real life,” they are all a misshapen fallen mix of various qualities.

The scenes around the break-up of Lockhart-Gardner are classic suspense. The scripts are typically fresh and devoid of cliché, and so it was with the demise of Will Gardner. From another court room, we hear shots, many shots, ring out as Will’s client faces his own uncertain future. It all comes down to a shoeless corpse in a draped area of a hospital emergency room. No matter that it was an expensive shoe and the corpse is impeccably attired for the day’s work. The perfectly tied knot would be the last knot for the named partner. The expensive shirt is now nothing but evidence. Life thrives brilliantly one moment and is ungraciously extinguished in the next.

The Book of Common Prayer petitions, “Make us, we beseech Thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life.” (1928, 316) While entirely fictional, Will Gardner’s life was certainly short, but he had no idea what uncertainty might await. A missing shoe says it all. Perhaps unknowingly, the writers have focused on an essential part of understanding our own lives. We are not in control.

Faithful Christians are reminded of the last four things; death, judgment, heaven and hell. Mr. Gardner, being the product of an active imagination, faces none of the above, but each is a sure future of our final encounter. Christians believe that there is a personal judgment immediately after death. If there is not an element of dread involved here, you have not been thinking about it.

If this were a moment for blowing dust of the volumes of books with page upon page of lined columns and each infraction noted with date, time, and place, each one of us would be damned. Ps. 130 cries out to God that, he he marks our inequities, no one can stand. God is not the head bookkeeper, unless you insist on it. Followers of Jesus depend on grace, that is God’s unearned favor. Judgment involves faithfulness in following Jesus. It is a measure of the required cross carrying. The judgment recorded in Matt 25 revolves solely around our recognition of Jesus in fellow human beings. Following Christ is not about rule keeping, but allowing our lives to be so completely altered that rules become unnecessary.

The Great Litany of the Anglican tradition pleads,

  From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death,
Good Lord, deliver us.
(1928, 54)

A question about God and violence

March 21, 2014

It was my great privilege to speak to the Growing in Grace (GIG) addiction recovery group at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Little Rock about a week ago. I write the messages to be applicable both to people dealing with this huge problem and folks in the mainstream that have similar difficulties. This talk concerned how we often feel lonely and confused in times of trial. You can listen here.

I went to the flood story in Genesis as my starting point. By way of background, it was observed that the catastrophe was provoked by mankind’s rampant corruption, especially violence. It seems straightforward to note that God hates violence. In fact, one of my most perceptive listeners had a serous question about my casual observation.

If God hates violence, why does he use it so much? Darn. I just hate it when that happens. Let’s see if it is possible to make sense of this apparent contradiction.

What follows here is not an original idea. In fact, I am partially borrowing from Jonathan Edwards and I hope that what follows is stated correctly. God has certain preferences, like peace. God wants humanity to get along. God demands that we not kill, or, as Jesus proposed in the Sermon on the Mount, not even be angry. Jesus was silent before his accusers, and did not retaliate, God forbids us from taking vengeance.

But God killed untold numbers in the flood. He slaughtered the first-born of Egypt. The Almighty stirred up all kinds of military enemies to do harm to Israel. And there was the directive to kill all the residents of the promised land – every man, woman, child, and animal. That is a nasty rap sheet for the Somebody who claims to oppose violence.

The long-term plan for mankind is an unending time of peace. Isiah has a view of old men leaning on their staffs and sitting under trees, and children playing in the streets. Scripture tells us that even the animals will be reconciled with mankind. (Isiah 65:17-25) What could be more wonderful than the vision of the river that flows past the Tree of Life, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb? This is the future.

In the present, it would seem that God is content to use human institutions to subdue human nature. This is why God seems not to worry about a little war here and there, God knows that tanks are rolling in the Ukraine. That is the way of the world.

A candidate for congress in the Chicago area believes that God is angry about America’s moral condition and is doing something about it.

Susanne Atanus, of Niles, Ill., garnered 54 percent of the vote in her Tuesday win over David Earl Williams III.

“I am not in favor of abortions, I am not in favor of gay rights,” Atanus told the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, in January.

She blamed natural disasters and mental disorders on recent advances in LGBT equality and legal abortions.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military, it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

I am not exactly sure what the candidate has in mind here, but I do know that God does not get angry in the same way as humans. There is a reference to this in my latest talk to GIG noted above. The Almighty does control everything, his general rule seems to be allowing people to make their own grief. God is very much opposed to many aspects of American life, including rampant individualism and the worship of material goods. We worship consumption and ignore the poor. You bet God is against that! I tend to think that if God was messing with the weather, we would get the message pretty darned quick. Could the candidate possibly be referring to climate change?

While the creation groans in expectation of ultimate restoration (Rm 8), God allows his human creation to use violence. It is part of our free will and, it must be admitted, sometimes part of God’s plan. In the end, when we see God face-to-face, there will be no place for coercion or any type of force among the holy people.

A cold night in Arkansas

February 21, 2014

Homeless folks lost a devoted friend in the early hours of Thursday as Dennis Beavers departed this mortal life. I only met him once or twice, but my wife Marie (who is a devoted advocate for the homeless) knew him better. Dennis was the kind of man who could be called out any hour of day or night to bring a pair of shoes to some stranger who also happened to be so unlucky as to be without a regular address. He was tireless in pursuit of an exhausting ministry.

Maire is a regular volunteer at the Arkansas Dream Center. She organizes the clothing good people donate for fellow human beings who have fallen through the so-called “social safety net,” Marie is part of what Little Rock politicians and business types sneeringly refer to as the “homeless community.” The unspoken implication is that, if are are in need, it’s your own damn fault.

It is an odd thing that those who so easily and bluntly criticize those without possessions or influence are, at the same time, incapable of self-criticism. “It is not my fault that some people are having a hard time. Maybe if they would clean up and get a job (like me!) things would go better for them.” Around these parts, we prefer to never look at the homeless and there is certainly no place for them anyplace worthwhile people might visit.

It was on one of those untypically bitter cold nights that I spent a little time down at the Arkansas Dream Center near downtown Little Rock. Around one-hundred people were able to enjoy a hot meal, take a shower, get some warm clothing, do some laundry, watch a movie and spend the night in a warm safe place. We take a lot for granted. We expect the closets to be full of perfectly fitting  clothes, the furnace pumping out warm air all the day and night. Did I mention the refrigerator? There is another nicety the homeless cannot even imagine. Some of the individuals so easily tossed aside are children. They should find jobs, I guess. Most of us would lose our minds by the second day of doing without, but things run smoothly where the poorest come together.

There was an elderly black man spending this particular night indoors. Well spoken and accustomed to work, he related the story of a recent eviction. It was a mistake, a miscalculation. Too many months behind on rent, and there will be consequences. This gentleman gave his age as 72 and recounted some of the small jobs recently held. Blame? This worn out man put it all on himself. It was a mistake. It was the kind of thing that, for most of my friends, would be quickly corrected by a few strokes of a pen or keystrokes on a computer. A little carelessness can be a death sentence if you are extremely poor, so be careful.

Imagine being in your early 70s, and still looking for little jobs to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head. The gentleman did not complain. Mistakes are made and those little errors have consequences. He should have planned better, no doubt. This fellow probably has another job by now and maybe even some sort of cheap set of rooms. Many of the homeless people have jobs, but struggle with medical bills and the needs of small children. Yes, they should have planned better. Not everyone is as intelligent or doggedly ambitious as the self-made individuals who run this world.

During the recent cold, a man froze to death under one of the bridges, but it is said that many of the homeless like living that way. Who could possibly deny such worldly understanding? Dennis Beavers, from an unworldly perspective, gave of the most precious things he possessed in service of a class of people generally considered to be despicable. He gave his own life energy and personal devotion, always seeing the divine image in every human being. To say that he will be missed would be a cruel and meaningless cliche.

Even though Dennis tried, no one person can do it all. He leaves so many gaps to be filled, but it may be that this need is his bequest to those who knew him well and those who admired his tenacity from a safer distance.

   May thy rest be this day in peace, and thy dwellingplace in the Paradise of God. (1928 BCP, 319)

A few random thoughts on New Year resolutions #evangelical

January 2, 2014

If, perhaps, you have already fallen victim to peer pressure and made a New Year’s resolution, you have fallen into the clutches of Satan and are headed straight for the eternal torments of hell. Sorry for the bad news, but everlasting incineration is the fate of all those who make such commitments.

Now that I have your attention, please disregard all of the above. Fire and brimstone does have a certain kind of commercial appeal, but it is usually not necessary or appropriate to pull out the big guns. Let’s talk about this practice without the threat of retribution.

A good many of the New Year promises have to do with losing weight. That’s just how things are and one must admit that most of could stand to drop a few pounds. I am most guilty of this failing and have no intention of making any statements for which I might be held accountable. If one is more respectful of the body with which we will be resurrected, no harm done.

In the twilight of the Christmas season and saturated with sentimentality, many folks decide to take on their relationships, finances, jobs, housing, education, and lots of other things. Sometimes people decide to read the Bible every day, attend church every week, improve their attitude toward some distasteful person, or any number of laudable moral improvements. How can I possibly come out against that?

Our annual resolutions, even the ones made with the finest intentions, point to a fundamental weakness of human nature that could make any of them useless. The problem with us is that we think we are in charge. It is a part of our character to think of ourselves as self-sufficient. This is especially true of Americans, who tend to live in a fairy land of individualism. There is also the problem of being very short-sighted. God is not thinking in terms of year-to-year self-improvement. The Almighty has an eternal purpose in which you are a part. Think about the kind of person you want to be in eternity.

The first humans got in really big trouble when they made the same mistake. Until that little problem with the apple, God had been entirely in charge of moral judgment. He was intimately involved in the daily loves of our first parents and understood that humans tended toward the naive and foolish. God was right at man’s side, helping him along, until the fateful decision was made for human moral independence. The consequence is every kind of outrage that plagues the human journey.

It is the intention of the powerful materialistic forces that rule society to make you believe that you can best chose the love of your life, the education that will guarantee the best job, the automobile that will define your importance, the washer-dryer combination that will always deliver colorful and perfectly cleaned clothes. All of this is yours to decide as a matter of birthright. You are the consummate consumer and producer. Welcome to the real hell!

This is a system in which there is no God, except the omniscient self. Since there is no God, there is no divine image of which man is created. Man exists as the image of his own desires, which is a terrifying prospect. The wishes of the human heart are one thing on Monday and a whole set of different things by the weekend.

The worst part of residing in the modern hell is that the rent is too darned high. It is an endless cycle of producing and consuming. In this world society, we are judged based on how well we produce, and the amount and quality of our production. When the modern American is not worshiping himself, he is bowed low before his stuff.

Evangelicals have bought into this by way of a blind acceptance of the hyper-competative economic system. There seems to be a widely held belief that, if one says a certain kind and variety of prayers and stops by church once or twice a month, the work of spiritual formation is complete. What more could God possibly expect?

Here’s the deal, and you can take it from a fallen human being. God owns everything and he expects us acknowledge his role and connection to everything we possess. I have so much trouble with this, but God expects to be right at the side of every believer and to direct every step we take. He expects to be consulted prayerfully about everything. Mistakes are made, but God allows for “do-overs.” It is called repentance.

The fact of failure is actually a good thing because it keeps the faithful Christian always seeking God’s assistance. This is why we come to the throne of grace boldly talking about our needs and the areas where there is a need for improvement. The Kingdom of God has begun and part of that new thing is the restoration of good relations between the Most High being and humanity who cares about our lives and concerns. There is a divine being, a great High Priest named Jesus, who demands your attention.

Ken Cuccinelli Is Amazed God Hasn’t Punished America For Abortion

October 15, 2013

Cuccinelli is running for Governor of Virginia. He is pro-life, as am I. He has been soft-peddling his own position on abortion on the advice of political consultants who have held sway since the days of desegregation. “You can’t do good if you don’t get elected,” or so it goes. He has a lot of nerve to criticize the Roman Catholic church for being “soft” on its moral teaching. Here is a little quote from today’s story, followed by a link and a few pithy comments from me.

Ken Cuccinelli Is Amazed God Hasn’t Punished America For Abortion

By Laura Bassett Posted: 10/15/2013 9:40 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/15/2013 10:43 am EDT

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been trying to downplay his outspoken opposition to abortion rights in his campaign for governor this year as part of an effort to win back the support of women voters.

But in his speech to the Christian Life Summit last year — unearthed Monday night by NBC12 — Cuccinelli said he is surprised that God has not yet “imposed” more judgement on America for allowing abortion to be legal.

“Really, given that God does judge nations, it’s amazing that abortion has run as far and foully as it has, without what I would consider to be a greater imposition of judgment on this country,” Cuccinelli said. “Who knows what the future holds?”

Cuccinelli also criticized the Catholic church for its “soft and weak” leadership on social issues.

Ken Cuccinelli Is Amazed God Hasn’t Punished America For Abortion.

Deep breath.

Yes, God does punish countries. He did a pretty good job with Nazi Germany after WWII. There is, however, a lot of historical evidence to the contrary concerning divine retribution. Have things really gotten any worse for Russia? It has been pretty consistently awful for hundreds of years (thousands?) but can we really discern punishment? How about Iran? All of Europe is hopelessly secular, and I mean in the wrong sort of way. And, yes, the good old United States of America comes to mind. Has American been punished for the sin of abortion? I have two things here.

First, considering the economic collapse of 2008, does Cuccinelli not feel a little bit punished himself? Does he expect that Christians will escape the punishment? Our lives may be spared, but we are still right here, still salt and light. Perhaps, Mr. Cuccinelli, an examination of conscience is in order.

Secondly, by the way he poses the question, the would-be governor,demonstrates that he has misdiagnosed the offense. Yes, abortion is almost always wrong. The common practice is an offense against Almighty God, but abortion is not the chief shortcoming of America. The real problem is our selfishness and materialism. So long as a handicapped child represents an intolerable inconvenience, we have a problem. It is not that we kicked God out of our schools, it is that we kicked God out of the everyday life of most Americans.

This is a country that has heard of Jesus, and rejected his gospel. Our churches face little fear of persecution because many have long ago rolled over to accommodate the idolatry of consumerism and narcissism. Messing with the status quo would require a real love for our neighbors and the living God. We treat compassion as a despicable sign of weakness and respect as a joke. That is what God is going to punish, and the smaller issues, such as abortion, will take care of themselves.

Lazarus and the Rich Man: separated by a gulf that may never be crossed

June 3, 2013

Those who follow the traditional Eucharistic lectionary hear one of my favorite parables on the first Sunday after Trinity. Jesus is using a common perception of the afterlife in his depiction of the eternal fates of two very close but widely separated men. The next life, as understood by first century Jews, includes an enormous chasm between the blessed and the condemned. The bad people suffer in the flames of eternal torment. This is a parable and you cannot prove the existence of and ever-burning hell from this passage, but it would certainly seem that, if the commonly held idea was seriously wrong, Jesus would have corrected it.

Jesus had recently been taking some flack from the Pharisees because of his penetrating comments about the wealthy. Of course, Jesus is not set against rich folks because they are rich. It is the hardness of heart and the neglect of one’s neighbors that is so offensive. The parable begins with a beautiful serving of the finest melodious prose.

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. (Luke 16:19-21, ESV)

Scripture has a habit of withholding certain pieces of information, as is the case of Luke’s “rich man.” The suffering man is known by name. It is not laziness that brings poor Lazarus to the rich man’s gate to beg droppings from the continuous feasting. Too physically weak to bring himself to the gate, he is laid there. Perhaps it is friends or strangers who allow their lives to experience a few moments of inconvenience. Again, we have no idea. We know that the feeble man is covered with sores. He is a social outcast. These dogs who lick his wounded body are not your cute little house pets, but vicious roaming packs. The life of Lazarus is a daily ordeal of humiliation,fear and pain.
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The Book of Common Prayer goes “green” – Rogation Days

May 4, 2013

Now, that certainly is an odd sounding thing. What in the world are Rogation Days? The history on this is rather old, but isn’t most history old? The general theme has to do with protection from calamities and famine. The observances have been so diminished in the Roman church as to be almost extinct and the same is true of those parts of Anglicanism that use the revised calendars of the prayer books instituted in the 1970s. One supposes that, in the view of liturgical “reformers,” mankind had advanced to such a state of perfection that divine intervention would hardly be necessary any more.

Hard-headed prayer book Anglicans follow the older observances and will read the prayers and scriptures assigned for Rogation Sunday and the days leading up to Ascension Thursday (Don’t get me going on that. That most essential day will be discussed next week. Stay tuned). The theme of these days of solemn prayer is actually quite modern. We petition Almighty God to provide for good weather so that we have an abundant harvest. In view of the general attitude that America is so wealthy and vast that we could never be touched by a shortage of life’s essentials, it is a very humbling prayer.

To put it another way, we are completely dependent on God. It is by his mercy that the rains fall and the sun shines and that our physical needs are met. This is completely counter-cultural and opposed to the materialist ideal of producing and consuming. The church calendar reminds the observant worshiper of the important doctrines and places them before us in an understandable fashion. The Rogation Days are next Sunday through Wednesday.

The Sunday Gospel is John 16:23, reminding us that whatever we ask in Jesus name will be heard by the Father. James 1:22 is the Epistle and it reminds us about the generous nature of true religion. The 1945 lectionary of the 1928 edition of the American BCP has all of the Daily Office readings. These prepare us to observe the Lord’s glorious ascension to the heavenly realm where he is seated on David’s throne and intercedes on behalf our needs.

2013 Inauguration: the shape of things to come #Obama #inauguration

January 21, 2013

Today, Evangelical America was figuratively transported across Tokyo harbor to the decks of the USS Missouri. Taking on the role of General MacArthur, President Barack Obama announced the consequences of our defeat. The bitter pill was all wrapped in the most pleasant language of love and equality. Apparently, those of differing opinions will still be allowed to reside with the USA.

Talk about chickens coming home to roost. All the hateful name calling, shallow biblical interpretations, threats, arrogance, and misplaced superiority have been delivered back to sender with shipping charges due. The Christian failure to love and understand is being repaid. America believes that religions, and especially the Christian variety, is part of the problem of intolerance and division. The culture wars are at an end and we are in a situation similar to ancient Judah after having been overrun by Babylonians.

If you think this little commentary is a longing for a return to Christian America, forget it. The United States is not a Christian nation, was not founded as a Christian nation (although religious dissidents flourish here), and is more connected to the increased possession of personal wealth than sincerely professing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Americans believe in Christianity, so long as it does not cost them anything.
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