Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Christian Nationalism and the Death of Democracy

the Death of Democracy

By way of update I am listing several more references
to countering the perversion running rampant through
the evangelical church. Here, I am giving special
attention to Andrew Whitehead further below
- re slater

MAGA = Death
Violence, Chaos, Oppression

by R.E. Slater

Only dictators talk about executing people they don't like or imprisoning their perceived enemies. Of course, this isn't how a democratic rule of law works. It’s how a dictatorship works lead by venial characters protecting themselves, their power, and their money.

However, one might begin to understand why Christians allow for such venality to go on in America's political environment when believing this is how the Christian Jesus comes back to revenge himself against his enemies.

Can this be the reason people are not decrying Trump and his Trumpian minions? That they would rather impose anarchy and dictatorship by this idolized tin god? If so, the church has chosen a very poor idol to follow.

Myself, I am choosing to stand for everyone's liberty including the strengthening of our democratic government's Constitutional purposes and promises to be continually implemented towards daily practices of social equality and justice.

I also choose to stand against all miscreants who run after their failed tin gods declaring evil good and good evil.

Trump is the scion of death and hell, not the Savior of the bible. Trump completely shows himself to be a type of antichrist willing to destroy the world and to preach deceiving beliefs of oppression, hate, and evil as good. Such beliefs I would describe as apartheidism or white supremacy.

Conversely, the "second coming" of Christ spotlights the self-destruction these false faiths and gods bring upon themselves by their own lying hands which are given to chaos and mischief.

As Christ's own, we stand against all would-be gods and lying beliefs.

God is Love.

Love decries hate and false teaching.

MAGA is not love but is hate and false teaching.

MAGA teaches hate and oppression and supports all who would divide and harm the innocent.

MAGA is a false faith as much as it's evil leader is a false teacher.

MAGA is not Christ nor Christian nor acts Christianly.

MAGA never can be, nor never will be, Christian. MAGA is Death.

True biblical greatness is shown in loving "selfless sacrificial service" to the other....

But cannot be found in MAGA's death, ruin, and hate of the other.

These MAGA attitudes are from the wicked heart shown by its harming deeds.

MAGA does not make a nation "great again."

MAGA's very banner depicts its own lies and deceptions.

As true Christians we follow Jesus and love. Not MAGA. Not it's MAGA leaders. And not Death.

Christians are healers. We are life restorers. We are forgiving, compassionate, and actively working in the world rather than limiting ourselves to the isolationist church.

R.E. Slater
September 28, 2023

How traditional Christian doctrine understand the Second Coming of Christ:

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How Do We Confront White Christian Nationalism?

While it’s only one feature of the authoritarianism increasingly
on vivid display in this country, it’s critical to understand.

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Is Christian Nationalism Turning Christianity Into A Religion of Hate?

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Power. Fear. Violence. These three idols of Christian nationalism are corrupting American Christianity.
Andrew Whitehead is a leading scholar on Christian nationalism in America and speaks widely on its effects within Christian communities. In this book, he shares his journey andreveals how Christian nationalism threatens the spiritual lives of American Christians and the church.
Whitehead shows how Christians harm their neighbors when they embrace the idols of power, fear, and violence. He uses two key examples--racism and xenophobia--to demonstrate that these idols violate core Christian beliefs. Through stories, he illuminates expressions of Christianity that confront Christian nationalism and offer a faithful path forward.
American Idolatry encourages further conversation about what Christian nationalism threatens, how to face it, and why it is vitally important to do so. It will help identify Christian nationalism and build a framework that makes sense of the relationship between faith and the current political and cultural context.



Andrew Whitehead is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (theARDA.com) at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI.

Whitehead is one of the foremost scholars of Christian nationalism in the United States. He is the lead author of Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2020)—along with Samuel Perry—which won the 2021 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. His next book, American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church, will appear August 15, 2023 from Brazos Press.

Whitehead is a sought-after speaker and has shared his work with diverse audiences: academic and public, religious and secular. Whitehead’s research on Christian nationalism has been featured across several national outlets including The New York Times, NPR, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, CNN Today, The Economist, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian. He has been interviewed on NBC News, National Public Radio, and the BBC, among others, and is routinely contacted for perspective on religion and politics from national and international news media. He has also written for The Washington Post, Time, NBC News, and the Religion News Service, among other outlets. Along with his work on Christian nationalism, Whitehead’s research also explores childhood disability and religion.

He is the author of fifty peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2019, his co-authored article “Make America Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election” (Sociology of Religion, 2018) won the Distinguished Article Award for both the Association for the Sociology of Religion and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Over his career, Whitehead has served as Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator on external research grants totaling over $5.2 million.

Whitehead serves as co-Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (theARDA.com). The ARDA is the world’s largest online religion data archive and is currently funded through generous support from the Lilly Endowment and the John Templeton Foundation. Whitehead serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI.org) and the Religion Research Association.

From 2014 to 2020 Whitehead was a faculty member in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice at Clemson University. While there he was awarded early promotion, with tenure, in 2019. He also received the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences Award for Excellence in Research, Emerging Scholar (2017) and the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences Associate Dean’s Recognition of Scholarship in Journal Publications (2018).

Professor Whitehead earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Purdue University. He completed his Ph.D. in Sociology at Baylor University in 2012.

Andrew Whitehead’s CV can be found here.

Amazon link

Why do so many conservative Christians continue to support Donald Trump despite his many overt moral failings? Why do many Americans advocate so vehemently for xenophobic policies, such as a border wall with Mexico? Why do many Americans seem so unwilling to acknowledge the injustices that ethnic and racial minorities experience in the United States? Why do a sizeable proportion of Americans continue to oppose women's equality in the workplace and in the home?
To answer these questions, Taking America Back for God points to the phenomenon of "Christian nationalism," the belief that the United States is-and should be-a Christian nation. Christian ideals and symbols have long played an important role in American public life, but Christian nationalism is about far more than whether the phrase "under God" belongs in the pledge of allegiance. At its heart, Christian nationalism demands that we must preserve a particular kind of social order, an order in which everyone--Christians and non-Christians, native-born and immigrants, whites and minorities, men and women recognizes their "proper" place in society. The first comprehensive empirical analysis of Christian nationalism in the United States, Taking America Back for God illustrates the influence of Christian nationalism on today's most contentious social and political issues.
Drawing on multiple sources of national survey data as well as in-depth interviews, Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry document how Christian nationalism shapes what Americans think about who they are as a people, what their future should look like, and how they should get there. Americans' stance toward Christian nationalism provides powerful insight into what they think about immigration, Islam, gun control, police shootings, atheists, gender roles, and many other political issues-very much including who they want in the White House. Taking America Back for God is a guide to one of the most important-and least understood-forces shaping American politics.

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Photo by Maria Oswalt/Unsplash/Creative Commons

White Christian nationalism isn’t pro-life. It’s pro-order.

In the Christian nationalist vision, abortion is not a choice
but a violation of a collective moral fabric.

(RNS) — When the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June 2022, United States abortion policy reverted to a time 50 years ago when a woman’s access to abortion and certain forms of contraception depended on where she lived, as individual states quickly moved to either enshrine the right to abortion or further restrict it.

But the court’s decision also returned abortion politics back to the 1970s and early 1980s, when the then-emerging religious right leveraged the debate over abortion to spread not only its biblical view of when human life begins, but its Christian nationalist view of the United States.

“Our great nation was founded by godly men upon godly principles to be a Christian nation,” said Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell Sr. in 1981. He also wrote, “If we expect God to honor and bless our nation, we must take a stand against abortion.”

From Falwell’s day to the present, Christian nationalism, or the desire to see a particularly conservative and ethnocentric expression of Christianity fused with American civic life, has played a vital part in the fight over Roe v. Wade. It has also permeated the Republican Party, which quickly adopted Falwell’s stance to bring millions of Americans who support the Christian right and abortion bans into its fold.

As we have written elsewhere, seeing Christianity as central to being truly American is powerfully associated with strong opposition toward abortion. This opposition tends not to consider whether the pregnancy is the result of rape, whether it has a strong chance of resulting in a serious birth defect or the mother’s health or financial ability to support a child. Americans who embrace Christian nationalism seek to ensure that all Americans abide by their anti-abortion views, regardless of circumstance.

In our work on Christian nationalist views, we have found, as Falwell’s views suggest, that Christian nationalists are motivated by a particular moral traditionalism, one that seeks to ensure that abortion is not defined as an expression of bodily autonomy. They view abortion instead as a violation of a collective moral fabric that, if frayed, will further degrade American culture and society.

Now, new data sheds further light on what motivates Christian nationalist thinking on abortion, by allowing us to measure Americans’ attitudes toward punishing women who seek abortions.

In a national, random sample of American adults surveyed by YouGov in October 2022, 56% of white respondents said the label “pro-life” describes them somewhat or very well. As we might expect, 75% of whites who identified as “pro-life” also said they supported overturning Roe v. Wade. Similarly, roughly three-quarters of whites who either identify as Christian nationalist by name or believe the government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation also support the SCOTUS decision.

That shouldn’t be surprising, since pro-lifers and Christian nationalists are often the same people. Roughly half of whites who strongly identify as pro-lifers affirm Christian nationalism as a label or policy preference, and more than 90% of those who identify as “Christian nationalist” also identify as “pro-life.”

Anti-abortion activist Doug Lane uses a ladder to peer over the covered fencing as he calls out to patients entering the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, moments after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was issued, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

But these two groups are not identical in their beliefs. When asked whether they would support state governments arresting women who have abortions, fewer than 18% of whites who said “pro-life” described them “very well” would support such a move. But among white Americans who identified as Christian nationalists, more than 25% were in favor. That went up to 27% among those who strongly agree with declaring the U.S. a Christian nation.

Why the difference? Because Christian nationalism isn’t really about preserving life. It’s about order.

In a number of studies now, we and other social scientists have shown that Christian nationalist ideology, particularly among white Americans, is associated with support for political violence, the death penalty, torture, more guns, any-means-necessary policing and opposition to COVID-19 vaccines (or vaccines generally).

Christian nationalism, in other words, isn’t opposed to death. It’s opposed to disorder—specifically the disruption of established hierarchies and the traditional moral order.

We see it in Christian nationalists’ responses to other social issues. Alignment with Christian nationalism is also closely intertwined with traditional views about gender roles — specifically, “proper” roles for men and women in society. We see it in their views on democracy — they exhibit a lack of interest in collaboration or compromise and support limiting access to political participation.

It’s not surprising, then, that in the Christian nationalist vision of the United States, abortion is not available to women, or that Christian nationalists would be most in favor of prosecuting women who seek it out. Not for the sake of life, but order.
It is important to recognize that the number of white American adults who identify as Christian nationalist and support prosecuting women seeking abortions is relatively small — about 15 million people. However, many of these Americans are concentrated in a small number of states, where, as a result, we’re likely to see laws proposed, and maybe even passed, that criminalize abortion. Like in Missouri, which proposed allowing private citizens to sue anyone — in state or outside the state — who assists a Missouri resident having an abortion.

Now that the fight over abortion access has returned to the local and state levels, the influence of Christian nationalism will undoubtedly loom large.

(Andrew Whitehead is an associate professor of sociology at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI and author of the forthcoming book “American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church.” Samuel L. Perry is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma and co-author (with Philip Gorski) of “The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy.” Whitehead and Perry’s award-winning book “Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States” appeared in March 2020. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy Paperback – August 22, 2023 by Lee McIntyre (Author)

A powerful, pocket-sized citizen’s guide on how to fight back against the disinformation campaigns that are imperiling American democracy, from the bestselling author of Post-Truth and How to Talk to a Science Denier.

The effort to destroy facts and make America ungovernable didn’t come out of nowhere. It is the culmination of seventy years of strategic denialism. In On Disinformation, Lee McIntyre shows how the war on facts began, and how ordinary citizens can fight back against the scourge of disinformation that is now threatening the very fabric of our society. Drawing on his twenty years of experience as a scholar of science denial, McIntyre explains how autocrats wield disinformation to manipulatea populace and deny obvious realities, why the best way to combat disinformation is to disrupt its spread, and most importantly, how we can win the war on truth.

McIntyre takes readers through the history of strategic denialism to show how we arrived at this precarious political moment and identifies the creators, amplifiers, and believers of disinformation. Along the way, he also demonstrates how today’s “reality denial” follows the same flawed blueprint of the “five steps of science denial” used by climate deniers and anti-vaxxers; shows how Trump has emulated disinformation tactics created by Russian and Soviet intelligence dating back to the 1920s; provides interviews with leading experts on information warfare, counterterrorism, and political extremism; and spells out the need for algorithmic transparency from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. On Disinformation lays out ten everyday practical steps that we can take as ordinary citizens—from resisting polarization to pressuring our Congresspeople to regulate social media—as well as the important steps our government (if we elect the right leaders) must take.

Compact, easy-to-read (and then pass on to a friend), and never more urgent, On Disinformation does nothing less than empower us with the tools and knowledge needed to save our republic from autocracy before it is too late.

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Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point Hardcover – September 12, 2023 by Steven Levitsky (Author), Daniel Ziblatt (Author)

America is undergoing a massive experiment: It is moving, in fits and starts, toward a multiracial democracy, something few societies have ever done. But the prospect of change has sparked an authoritarian backlash that threatens the very foundations of our political system. Why is democracy under assault here, and not in other wealthy, diversifying nations? And what can we do to save it?

With the clarity and brilliance that made their first book, How Democracies Die, a global bestseller, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt offer a coherent framework for understanding these volatile times. They draw on a wealth of examples—from 1930s France to present-day Thailand—to explain why and how political parties turn against democracy. They then show how our Constitution makes us uniquely vulnerable to attacks from within: It is a pernicious enabler of minority rule, allowing partisan minorities to consistently thwart and even rule over popular majorities. Most modern democracies—from Germany and Sweden to Argentina and New Zealand—have eliminated outdated institutions like elite upper chambers, indirect elections, and lifetime tenure for judges. The United States lags dangerously behind.

In this revelatory book, Levitsky and Ziblatt issue an urgent call to reform our politics. It’s a daunting task, but we have remade our country before—most notably, after the Civil War and during the Progressive Era. And now we are at a crossroads: America will either become a multiracial democracy or cease to be a democracy at all.

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Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged by Jennifer Mercieca (Author), Suzie Althens (Narrator), Blackstone Publishing (Publisher)

Historic levels of polarization, a disaffected and frustrated electorate, and widespread distrust of government, the news media, and traditional political leadership set the stage in 2016 for an unexpected, unlikely, and unprecedented presidential contest. Donald Trump’s campaign speeches and other rhetoric seemed on the surface to be simplistic, repetitive, and disorganized to many. As Demagogue for President shows, Trump’s campaign strategy was anything but simple.

Political communication expert Jennifer Mercieca shows how the Trump campaign expertly used the common rhetorical techniques of a demagogue, a word with two contradictory definitions - “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power” or “a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). These strategies, in conjunction with post-rhetorical public relations techniques, were meant to appeal to a segment of an already distrustful electorate. It was an effective tactic.

Mercieca analyzes rhetorical strategies such as argument ad hominem, argument ad baculum, argument ad populum, reification, paralipsis, and more to reveal a campaign that was morally repugnant to some but to others a brilliant appeal to American exceptionalism. By all accounts, it fundamentally changed the discourse of the American public sphere.

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How Democracies Die Paperback – January 8, 2019 by Steven Levitsky (Author), Daniel Ziblatt (Author)

Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.

Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.