Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Identity Crisis

This is a long post. Sorry, but the topic is a bit complicated. Thanks for tuning in.

One thing that the 2016 US Presidential Election has shown the world is that Americans are having an identity crisis. Shall I narrow this? Nominal American Christians (70%) are having notable identity crisis. Shall I go further? Evangelical, born again leaders and laity (30%) are having a shattering identity crisis.

Jesus Christ told his followers to make learners wherever they went. He gave them a message that turned the Roman world upside down a few short years after his death and resurrection, supplanting the lucrative market place pantheon of demi-gods with flesh and blood, still living, community benefiting saints.

What were some key principles that accomplished this?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,”
was enlarged with
call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions…made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions…took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”

Early Christians invested in local community with abandon and grace, not demanding a reward from their fellows, but being confident of a reward in the after life. This was a tactic that was irrepressible by their foes.

Centuries later, a church whose identity had shifted into empire, not charitable holiness, was turned upside down by reformers, who again made learners of the serfs and tradesmen that bishops and princes had used and discarded like face tissues. The reformers got down and dirty with “sinners” like Jesus did.

Leading reformers searched the Holy Bible for clues on successful governance and market place ideology. A stream of Biblically sifted public polity insights from the Hugenots in France, to the dissenters in England and Scotland, to the Pilgrims and Puritans in America, led through town hall governance to the Old World Order defying American Revolution and Constitution.

These past Christian pioneers in governance, over centuries, faced down tremendous opposition, even amid death of many of their number. In the Anglosphere—England, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, even India, the fruits of Christian governance multiplied. At the same time, as Christians indulged themselves, increasingly giving up on earning and saving to give, [aka John Wesley], progressive dons stepped into the void, and the socialist seeds of Voltaire, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Darwin and Sangor spread quickly in fertile soil.

Fast forward to today. Have you tracked the 2016 national evangelical debate over #NeverTrump? Have you have seen the parade of conservative and evangelical media, church, business and educational leaders who are staggering and roaring and moaning and sweating in the tug-o-war over a “binary choice” vs a third candidate protest vote?

The “elephant in the room” is that Christian “salt” has lost its influence on America. Whether by external, strategic anti Christian driven activism in the last 200 years (Mann, Dewey, Dawkins), or by internal supplanting of the sacrificial cross life by materialism and hedonism (Presley, Bakker, Driscoll, Sproul Jr., Duggar Jr.), Christians seem to be suddenly discovering their values are mocked and they are targeted for silencing, with fewer and fewer predictable political champions for Christian concerns.

As long as there was an “evil” political opponent, the nagging question of failing larger influence was quenched by short term, feel good, united posturing in political campaigns for “prosperity”, best seen in races against socialist, tax and spend candidates with Leninist/Frankfurt Marxist ideologies, or Wilsonian quasi-Christian progressive bona fides.

The current reality of two morally bankrupt candidates for president, exacerbated by media “reality show” news bombs in the last weeks of the presidential campaign has prompted many evangelical leaders to begin to jump from their burning ivory towers.

These “thought leaders” do not want to walk the gauntlet of government with morally “failed” leaders. Rather than scrutinize the failed “saltiness” of their own systematic theologies and denominational orthopraxies, as seen in lost influence in media and public educational venues, they plan to go AWOL from voting. They appear to hope that washing their hands of Trump and/or Clinton, will convince others they cannot be associated with any part of what has or is to come.

Why are Christian thought leaders now in meltdown over Donald Trump? Did not Jesus tell his disciples to find the “worthy” man (a locally recognized leader) in each village and bring help and blessings to that village? Was not Jesus’ test for involvement with secular leaders their openness to receiving help, and not their prior virtue?

Did not the patron apostle of Reformed Soteriology, Paul, say that the first communal priority of any church was prayers for holders of public office? And included in those prayers were even governors where power came often by corruptions of dagger and purse, not observable purity?

Identity drives choices of association. If a Christian identifies with Jesus Christ, with a view of sure reward in the life to come, he or she will not fear loss or shaming in this life, even forced association with one like Donald Trump. Jesus Christ said the soul of man was eternal, but the comforts and shout outs of this life were transitory and should be rated secondary and disposable.

When Christians adore loan and credit ratings, and despise having children by using contraceptives, they have lost their salt. When Christian thought leaders can rave and admire sex and violence laden story plots in Game of Thrones episodes, they have little ground to criticize Clintonesque peddling of influence or Trumpian pimping of fleeting pelvic and pocketbook pleasures.

Christian, what will you do when you wake up the morning after November 8, 2016? Will you roll up your sleeves and seek to influence public policy with grace? Or will you extend your abstention from voting and disappear from the public square for the next four years?

On the local level, will you shut your ears, eyes, and mouth to the skewing of local school board policy because the school board members are all hardened progressive activists and you cannot not find a sympathetic ear?

At the state level, will you refuse to vote for either Republican Washington State Treasurer candidate, because one has received funds from Planned Parenthood, and the other funds from SEIU?

This identity meltdown can only be addressed at the level of personal saltlessness. When our good works as Christians are funded by walking our own capital through hard work and savings and answered prayer to God, rather than prayers to bank loan managers, then we will begin to have an identity with clout.

When our educational guidelines promote wisdom and discard folly, when we can equally accept or disdain the shifting praise of elite educators, businessmen or media stars, even Christian superstar theologians, then we will become at the same time stable local community leaders and radical world change agents.

When we abandon “Beach Boys to Rap pelvic libido culture” in our recreation and youth groups and worship services, then perhaps we will obey the still small voice that builds lasting foundations of peacemaking that over ride human bankruptcy with God’s wisdom and workings.

Until then…the saltless meltdown and identity crisis of conservatives and evangelicals will only continue to grow.


I voted for Trump.
I voted against the EMS levy.
I voted against I-1501.

Last Tuesday, I took the day to testify in Olympia on solutions to improve the Growth Management Act, where I suggested that that the Growth Management Hearings Board be repopulated with one industry qualified specialist specific to each of the 14 elements. I would further suggest that these positions be elected, not appointed.

I voted for DeWolf, Zempel and Larsen for State Supreme Court. The Hirst v Whatcom County ruling should be a wake up call for all Washington citizens on progressive strongarm takeover tactics. Saul Alinsky is a viper, but so is Mitch McConnell. Property rights is Life 101. In the Bible it comes right after the 10 commandments (Exodus 20-23). Private philanthropy (vs government funding for everything) is Life 201.

In this above list, if Trump is the only thing that you as a Christian or “conservative” can talk knowledgeably about, you need to get out from under your rock. Please don’t lecture me about being judgmental of sinners when these observations above come after six years of quite close involvement in local and state public policy issues.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

You Will Be Made To Care

What happens when an ordinary family gets involved in public policy and elections at the city and county level? That is our story for the last four years.

What happens when a tell it all book is about to be published, and you can have a small part in spreading its message around? That is the focus of this blog post.

Whatcom Works has been a blog that the Kirk family (mostly Dad, me that is) has used to chronicle our efforts, observations, hopes and frustrations over the last 30 months of involvement in public policy service in Whatcom County, Washington.

We have been privileged to do a lot of door belling in GOTV, to work at phone banks, to provide live streaming services for several debates. Some of us have worked as campaign media coordinators, fund raising banquet assistants, website and social media support staff, and one daughter is currently session aide for our State Senator Doug Ericksen.

Some of us have gone to dozens of meetings at the Whatcom County Council, Whatcom County Planning Commission, Public Utility District #1, Farm Bureau, Whatcom Cattleman's Association, WRIA 1 Water Board, Whatcom CAPR board, and more. There have also been many bull sessions with various conservative activists. We have worked on policy language, having some passed into policy, and some rejected, even by other conservatives.

A year ago, my daughter and I flew to Colorado and California to take training that would facilitate recruitment and deployment of interested local citizens as observers and reporters of routine business in the dozens of committees that carry out the business of Whatcom County government. Public policy activists have to go to meetings, and what if that work load could be delegated to dozens of like minded peers, giving them a chance to taste, explore and sharpen their skills in local governance?

Recently, we assessed our public policy involvements versus family responsibilities in home schooling and home maintenance. Volunteer service may be given freely, but someone has to pick up the tab for living. So, we have not been going to many meetings recently. For a number of months, Whatcom Works has been silent.

But there is something I really want to write about! Someone has written a new book that addresses the pressures I have outlined above. This soon to be published book also has a lot more to say. A whole lot more.

Conservatives and Christians in Washington State are hard to shock. Perhaps, in Washington State,  highly unchurched and agnostic, we have become like the proverbial frog in the kettle. Oh, yah, another case of abusing freedom of speech. So what! What’s on for sports tonight? Maybe next year we can elect a governor who is not in the pocket of Big Labor, the Eco Fascists, and the LGBT community.

Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen, living in the far away state of Georgia, have written a book that you really need to read. Actually, that you really need to buy and read. Actually, that you really need to pre-order now so a lot more people can hear about a very useful book that is having a high profile rollout. And, a book that you can discuss with your friends and church leaders and pastors.

I have read this book. (I am not getting money for writing this review.) I have read some reviews of this book. Frankly, it is a lifeline book. Especially for those who are not a part of the chattering class. You may know who I mean. Political activists who go to conferences and link to each others blogs and support each other well may not need this book. But those of us who are in the trenches and alone and wondering where the cavalry has gone need a lifeline. This is one!

Two years ago, our family attended a home school conference. One of the keynote speakers, a real “Mr. Big”, spent an hour outlining the plans of the LGBT community to “make us care” and fear and serve them. It was very depressing. He ended by saying he really did not have any answers or advice for us. Since then, I have heard he has taken a seminary service post in Africa. Cool for him!

When you read this book, you need to get to the last part. The first two thirds outlines the dire straits Christians are facing over the “pelvic wars”. It is painful. Really painful!  You will meet outstanding Christian conservatives, in business, public service, non profits who have been targeted and taken to the cleaners by LGBT activists and their friends in the judiciary, education and media.

But I would really like to give a shout out to the last few chapters. The development sequence is real. The book champions “resurgent” faith and conservatism. For you Biblicists, think “overcomer”, as in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Think finding and serving the worthy man, as in Matthew 10:7-20. Even John the Baptist was granted resurgence when he was pinned down in Herod’s prison.

Our family has found the authors’ sequence of developing resurgence spot on. First is community. We have met many other Christians and conservatives from a very diverse range of persuasions. And we clicked with them. The problem is the conservative activist community is relatively very small!

So, we go to “school”. As individuals (secondly) we enlarge our parameters, we broaden our information base and theology, we hone our skills. Yet, solitary activists here and there, working in ones and twos, are still solitary.

So, thirdly, we add the family. Get the children, grandparents, and aunts and uncles involved. Suddenly, a multiplier comes into play that is huge. And has tremendous import for decades to come!

Here is where it gets dicey. When, fourthly, the church is challenged to be resurgent in the public square, our experience is that it frequently acts like the LGBT community, striking back, holding tightly to its “little earthly store, nor sending thy messengers unto some distant shore”. Coping with sour faith community responses takes patience. Organized, funded groups of Christians are slowly waking up to see that they ARE being targeted and made to care. Having this book on the church leader’s desk or in the church library will be very timely.

Lastly, the resurgent citizen is one who is not just about influencing culture by top down elected influence, but who rubs elbows with their progressive neighbors, who defuses bias and gives gifts that influence culture. They do this person by local person. The resurgent citizen is salt and light, regardless of their political connections or lack thereof. And, since elections do have consequences, resurgent citizens become engaged in elections and or public policy as they serve in the larger community..

The framers of the American constitution were largely Biblicists. It is no wonder that the LGBT community has targeted Christians, champions of freedom of speech and property rights, above all others. Christians care and don’t back down. The Christian Bible is a fountain of freedom and public policy wisdom. That is why socialists, communists and fascists have hated it, and hate the American Constitution. (Disclaimer: the US Constitution does not supercede the Christian Bible). Now, the maladies of socialism are content for another post.

So, have I convinced you yet? Go pre order, and access the bonus gifts. This is a good thing. Thanks for coming back to Whatcom Works and reading this post.

JK (John Kirk)