Something Rises in the EU East

European nations like Hungary and Poland are reasserting their Christian culture, posing a bigger threat to Brussels than Brexit ever will.

The eastern states are reasserting their historic Christian character, much to the chagrin of politicians who see this as incompatible with the modern liberal creed. The head of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, wants his nation to show “the sick Europe of today the path back to health, fundamental values, true freedom, and a stronger civilization based on Christianity.

Ancient faith and secular ideology are on a collision course. The intentional exclusion from the EU constitution of Europe’s Christian history was only the beginning of an inevitable clash between worldviews.

The intentional exclusion from the EU constitution of Europe’s Christian history was only the beginning of an inevitable clash between worldviews.

.. The more perceptive of Christianity’s detractors within the EU project realize that the truths of the faith have the potential to derail all that they believe in and strive for in this world.

.. Poland and Hungary have both been referred to the European Court of Justice after unequivocally refusing to take in migrants under the EU’s mandatory quota system. These governments watched Angela Merkel’s Germany open its doors to well over a million migrants, with the resultant assimilation problems and political fallout, and decided it wasn’t for them, while even in Germany the right-wing populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) took 13 percent of the vote in the last election, becoming the first nationalist party to enter the Bundestag in almost 60 years.

.. The most corrupt state in the union—Bulgaria—has now ascended to the EU presidency.

.. Bulgaria has “reached a stage of state corruption which we describe as state capture.”

.. For all the talk of Brexit, these frictions could prove much more damaging in the long run.

Bury The Word “Evangelical”

The issue is politics; the presenting painful reality is Trump. The reality is 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump. The word “evangelical” now means Trump-voter. The word “evangelical” is spoiled.

.. Most don’t even know what Conservative means — economically or governmentally especially — while some think Republican means anti-abortion, pro-war, pro-NRA, pro-big business, anti-immigration, anti-Obamacare, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-taxes. Pro Fox News, Anti-CNN.

.. Populism runs rampant among the Republican voters, not least among evangelicals, and part of this is that evangelicalism is itself populist.

.. Eventually “Evangelical” will dwindle in numbers down to Republican.

.. When that happens no one will be one bit surprised Evangelical=Republican=Conservative=populist=[Candidate’s name]. That’s what the term will mean because only they will claim the term.

.. At one time we got to define this term by theology as a coalition of post Great Awakening orthodox Christians who affirmed the Bible, personal conversion, the centrality of the cross as God’s saving event, and activism when it comes to evangelism and social goods.

.. The Reformed side of evangelicalism didn’t want the Holiness and Anabaptist and Restorationist crowds as equals and those last three have basically avoided the term for themselves.

.. Then came Reagan and Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and James Kennedy and theology and sociology were usurped by politics.

.. Evangelical meant Republican. What they didn’t recognize is that “evangelical” became “whiteness” and many Latin Americans and African Americans and Asian Americans were excluded.

.. Folks, very few English and Irish and Scottish evangelicals, not to ignore the others just mentioned, are politicals like our Republicans; many of them are more like our Democrats and many are more like Bernie Sanders than ordinary Democrats. What do you think they hear or think when they see evangelical=Republican=Conservative=populist=Trump?

They often say to me, “Don’t call me ‘evangelical’ if you mean Republican!”

.. Today the term evangelical in the USA means (supposedly) conservative in politics, and hence “Votes Republican.” This definition is not going away. The political folks have won.

Let the political evangelicals have the term.

.. The one thing I despise about Christianity in the USA is its aligning with a political party. Mainliners have done it; they’re Democrats. Evangelicals have followed suit; they’re Republicans.

America: The Redeemer Nation

We need a new national narrative.

One way to identify one is to go back to one of the odd features of our history. We are good to our enemies after wartime. After the revolution, we quickly became allies with Britain. After World War I, Woodrow Wilson was humane to our European enemies. After World War II, America generously rebuilt Germany and Japan.

Elsewhere, enmities last for centuries. But not here. Why? Because we have a national predilection for fresh starts. Coming to this country is for many people a new beginning. We turn every new presidential administration, every new sports season, every graduation ceremony into a new beginning. It’s said Americans don’t settle arguments, we just leave them behind.

The story of America, then, can be interpreted as a series of redemptions, of injury, suffering and healing fresh starts.

  • .. In the 18th century divisions between the colonists were partially healed.
  • In the 19th century divisions between the free and enslaved were partially healed.
  • In the 20th, America partially healed the divisions between democracy and totalitarianism.

.. The great sermon of redemption and reconciliation is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural.

.. This is a speech of great moral humility. Slavery, Lincoln says, was not a Southern institution, it was an American institution, weaving through our common history for 250 years. The scourge of war, which purges this sin, falls on both sides. Lincoln fought any sense of self-righteous superiority the Northerners might harbor. He rejected any thought that God is a tribal God. He put us all into the same category of ambiguity and fallenness.

.. The final prayer heralds a new beginning: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…to achieve lasting peace among all nations.”

 .. He combines Christian redemption with the multiculturalist’s love of diversity. In one brilliant stroke, Lincoln deprives Christian politics of the chauvinism and white identitarianism that we see now on the evangelical right

The Meaning of ‘Despacito’ in the Age of Trump

Take “Despacito” itself. It begins with a steel-stringed Puerto Rican guitar called the cuatrowhich most likely descended from an instrument brought to Spain from North Africa by Moors. The rolling reggaeton beat came out of Jamaica and, long before that, probably originated in West Africa. In rapping, Daddy Yankee employs an art form developed by urban African-Americans, infusing it with the unique feel of Puerto Rican Spanish and slang. Mr. Fonsi’s deliciously suggestive lyrics arguably belong to a tradition that stretches back to the lovelorn troubadours of medieval Spain, and beyond.

The song is a fusion, an amalgam. As such, it doesn’t just illustrate the genius of pop music but also serves as a model of how creativity works generally. Innovation often involves organizing old pieces into new configurations. Tech companies, like Apple and Google, know this. Hence their emphasis on cross-pollination — their open work spaces and public areas designed to encourage intermingling.

.. Then came President Trump and the news that some still viewed the United States as a fundamentally white, Christian nation with European roots. Which means what, exactly? Modern genetics tells us that Europeans are themselves a mixture of different peoples, a hunter-gatherer population mixed with farmers who, thousands of years ago, immigrated from what’s now Turkey (near Syria), topped off by herders from what’s now the Russian steppe. Christianity, the supposed glue of Europe, was imported from the Levant. And I’m writing this in a language — English — that consists of French and Latin grafted onto an Anglo-Saxon base, sprinkled with Old Norse and grains of Celtic.