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

Sunday, December 17, 2023

America is First "A Land of Rights and Freedoms" Before it ever was a Christian Nation

Under MAGA'ism America is become torn apart... - re slater

Before America was ever a Christian nation it was First and
Foremost a Land for Individual Rights and Liberties. - re slater

by R.E. Slater

When reading the CNN article further below I came across some apt commentary on the Internet which I will use here, by rearranging it and re-applying it. It comes from an essay, I found on Bartleby.com entitled, "Failure to Learn from History in George Orwell's treatise, Animal Farm."

To being, let me refer to an old adage which we all have grown up with but seems especially relevant for our present lives at this time. It goes like this...
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This was most likely spoken by the writer and philosopher George Santayana who originally wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Meaning that there is a truism to the memorable quote that if we do not learn from our failures and errors in the past then we are condemned to repeat those same lessons again and again until they are learned.
In the neo-conservative and hardliner Trump's case - along with his MAGA republican party and ardent White evangelical adherents - Trump's divisive White Christian Nationalist planks speaks to Santayana's adage.... That every dictatorship or a tyrannical government eventually had led to a deeply unsettling revolution....  And in this case, just about every revolution which places "total power" into the hands of a single ruler will always lead to an authoritarian, autocratic rule....
Consequently, popularly supported but unfiltered propaganda and misinformation when embraced and institutionalized, will always create cycles of reinforcing "positive" feedback which are difficult to reverse by their implications and divisive content.... Moreover, as that same propaganda encourages violent behavior it will in turn create weaker, less responsible civil societies.
Accordingly, authoritarian institutions which are funneling the majority of corruptible wealth into the hands of a politically elite and corrupt minority will never progress towards societal equality and fairness....
More rather, these (MAGA) elitist power centers will run downhill becoming more and more craven, despotic, and totalitarian, towards those who originally placed them into power by supporting the (MAGA) autocratic movement away from an openly civil democracy towards forms of controlling, neo-fascism. And when done, will be very difficult - if not impossible - to break up, or up-end, as the world recently discovered again under Hitler's Nazification of monarchal Germany (1933-1945).

History Is Brimming With Great Accomplishments And Great Mistakes

Thomas Edison once replied when asked why he continued working after so many failures, “I didn 't fail," he said. "I found 10,000 ways that didn 't work.” This contrary view to Santayana's insightful adage above simply repeats in reverse the saying that one is "condemned to repeating the past" when not learning from the horrific past history of others.
People who remember their failures and errors; who contemplate in what ways they could have made things better; who familiarize themselves with their past; simply will not make the same mistakes again.
Why? Because they now know how NOT to accomplish their goals. Their "hindsight has become 20/20"... when re-capturing their acknowledgement that mistakes were made in the past but then they will no longer remain ambiguous as to why those mistakes had occurred and under what circumstances.
More simply, those same errors in thinking and judgment will not be made again under similar future events.

Power Corrupts... And it Corrupts Completely

This is something our MAGA-ridden government needs to take heed, because they are the ones repeating history at present. By teaching the angry "mis-versions" of America's religious history - that it began as a Christian nation and is intended to remain a Christian nation - they are creating situations for violent response.

Especially when forgetting that America first-and-foremost was a safe haven and refuge to the oppressed unwanteds of foreign lands.... That the first American colonies grew and expanded because they offered places to worship and think independently to non-national (protesting) reformists... and away from the well-entrenched and established Catholicized or State-based Christian faiths in Central Europe.
That the reformationists to the Catholic Christian faith had fundamentally left the state-supported Catholic Church to establish protesting (aka, Protestant) Christian faiths of various ilks and sorts in America's newborn colonies.
Consequently, such a national history as America's thereby attests more to the fact that America was born out of the necessity to live somewhere where individuals and families could live apart from religious oppression, inquisition, loss of wealth and life.

As Massachusetts went, so did the rest
of Colonial America... - re slater

America is First "A Land of Rights and Freedoms" Before it ever was a Christian Nation
Thus and thus, America is a land of individual rights and freedoms before it ever was a breakoff Christian state where European reformists might come and worship how they wished and by what standards they wished to embrace.
Which beggars the question, how is America any different today from it's Colonial history?
Firstly, we are continually blessed with religious, anti-statist, faithful migrants from around the world. Those peoples who have left unsafe local communities in their former countries to live in an America better known for it's blended families of migrants than for what it has more recently become as unwanting fleeing migrants from impoverished, criminally corrupt local governments blinded to the individual rights and freedoms of individuals and families, friends and neighbors.
Moreover, these same global migrants who are fleeing their homes to come to America's Lands of Reformists are first-and-foremost seeking security and protection to their individual and familial rights and interests.
Which is why America is first an Open Democracy before it is anything else, such as an acclaimed Christian Land.
If anything, because of America's Christianizing ideals of equality, fairness, and freedom, all other Christian and non-Christian faiths may now enter into America to find a promising community lifestyle of peace, toleration, and amiability with one another.
Spoken another way, America is becoming what it had always been birthed as... as a "Land where differents and difference is welcomed, accepted, and embraced" (except for those poor Native Americans inhabiting North, Central, and South America first).
Hence, America's enculturated differences are its biggest strength. That it's union of dissimilars is it's highest priority... and NOT it's division into competing racist groupings.

Power Corrupts Absolutely in George Orwell's Animal House...
Click here to read of Animal House's Character List

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, one of the major themes was power. And how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

To the animals, Drunk Farmer Jones was a tyrant, always mistreating and abusing them, until one day Old Major (Pig) told them of a dream he had, where the animals will be able to live in a utopia, and lead lives of peace. After the rebellion occurred the animals overthrew Jones and in his place Napoleon Pig soon came to power. He promised the animals lives of prosperity, and for a while Animal Farm was a blissful place, however after a while Napoleon's reign became a tyranny, one very similar to Jones, if not worse.

George Orwell's Indictment Of Totalitarianism

Earlier promises were retracted, and the avowed commandments which once were irrevocable are changed to meet the needs of Napoleon Pig and his “henchmen.” 

Napoleon begins to engage in trade with Pilkington, a former "easy-going" partner of Mr. Jones who runs the neighboring farm of Foxwood. This results in a situation which is little different from the original farm of Mr. Jones which the animals had revolted against in years prior. It also repeated their former reality in which man and pig could not be differentiated:
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig…it was impossible to say which was which.” (Orwell, 141)
This statement demonstrates the incongruous nature of totalitarianism. Regardless of whatever ideals a totalitarian leader may endorse, the end product of a totalitarian state, whether it be a “capitalist” or “communist” one, does not vary much—if at all.

A State of Ignorance in George Orwell's Animal Farm

Ignorance is the most fatal flaw in human nature. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, he expressed through his characters the motif that ignorance is the worst of all flaws.

Each of the animal characters in the book, symbolize specific characteristics that are found in humans. Mollie Mare, Benjamin Donkey, and the sheep are the main animals that have the greatest ignorance and can bring the greatest harm into the farm.

Similarities Between Animal Farm and Joseph Stalin's Russia

Throughout history, dictators of many nations have all shared similar traits; whether they be stubborn, power-hungry, or just callous, they are all corrupted and built constitutionally in nearly the same way.

This holds true in both reality and in fiction, through the analyzation of Josef Stalin, the Soviet dictator of Russia, and Napoleon Pig, the dictator of Animal Farm

George Orwell meant for Animal Farm to be a satire of the Russian Revolution, and he succeeded. In Animal Farm, Napoleon Pig is a blatant representation of Josef Stalin, ruling by fear, paranoia, and who are tyrannical, ultimately leading to their  separate falls.

Is Animal Farm Better Than Farmer Jones's Time?

Animal Farm by George Orwell can directly relate to George Santayana's quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

This quote means we are prone to repeat ourselves if we cannot remember our mistakes from the past.... Nor learn from them. And by the time we notice our error as a repetition in history, it is already too late to repair the circumstances we find ourselves in.

The animals in Animal Farm are not able to tell if their situation is better or worse than Jones's time because they cannot remember their life in the past:
"There were times when it seemed to the animals that they worked longer hours and fed no better than they had done in Jones’s day. On Sunday mornings Squealer Pig, holding down a long strip of paper with his trotter, would read out to them lists of figures proving their chaining bondage.
The Characteristics Of Lying In Animal Farm by George Orwell
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth,” this is a quote from the Soviet Union dictator, Vladimir Lenin.
This quote is a perfect example of Napoleon in the book Animal Farm. Herein, Napoleon Pig has become a very controlling, manipulative and extremely self-absorbed leader - not unlike Joseph Stalin.
Thus, the underlying idea is signified when revealing the truth that the most harmful people in society are people who lie so often to themselves, and to those who are willing to listen to them, that they forget what was in exchange for what they pretend things to be....

How George Orwell Use the Theme of Power In Animal Farm

Power can be recognized as the most dangerous weapon to use against a civilization.

In George Orwell’s work of fiction Napoleon takes personal (sovereign) supremacy in a communist/totalitarian animal society, and becomes corrupted by the power  he usurped when applying (state-based) cruelty to the other animals when disobeying the commandments they had acclaimed to observe.

Cruelty then is used with one's usurped privilege of power whenever an autocratic leader forming an autocratic state applies such means of power to the people who placed him into power.

As such, when Napoleon removes Snowball Pig (aka, Leon Trotsky in real life) from the animal farm using his predator dogs, the other farm animals finally perceive who the dogs really are:

“They were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and raised privately [to be his own].” (Orwell 53).

The Rise Of Nazi Power

In summation,

“One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today's present societies have been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again.” (Sowell) - aka, the essayist
An abridged commentary,

by R.E. Slater
December 17, 2023

* * * * * * * *

Author Jon Ward: "The idea that America is a Christian nation
is actually not faithful to historic Christianity."Lawrence Jackson

He left his White evangelical bubble.
Here’s what he says it would take
for others to do the same

by John Blake, CNN
November 6, 2023


If you don’t realize how powerful White Christian evangelicals have become, consider this:

A White Christian evangelical, who has been described as “the embodiment of White Christian nationalism in a tailored suit,” is now second in line to the presidency.

Rep. Mike Johnson, the new Speaker of the House, is a White evangelical. His ascension represents one of the greatest political ironies of our time. White evangelical Protestants make up only about 14% of Americans, and that number has been steadily shrinking. But White evangelicals have amassed more political power than ever. They helped inspire the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade last year, and their steadfast support of former President Trump could return him to the White House.

Yet there is still widespread misunderstanding of White evangelical subculture. The media tends to depict White evangelicals as foaming-at-the-mouth Christian insurrectionists like some of those who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

One former evangelical, though, has done something rare: He’s written a new memoir that illustrates how White evangelicals were led astray by their thirst for political power but also depicts many of them as earnest spiritual strivers who still retain “immense power for good.”

The book is titled “Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Failed a Generation,” and it’s by Jon Ward, the chief national correspondent at Yahoo! News. Ward describes being raised in a Christian bubble where watching secular television shows like “Sesame Street” was forbidden. He attended churches where people were “slain in the spirit” while singing songs with choruses such as, “all of us deserve to die.”

The son of a pastor, Ward would go on to become a White House reporter, traveling the world on Air Force One with former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Ward recounts in his brutally honest memoir how his family, like others, were torn apart by the rise of Donald Trump.

“I felt abandoned by my own father,” he writes about his dad, who led an influential evangelical church and who he declines to name in the book. He and his father had argued about Trump describing the media as “the enemy of the people,” Ward said.

“But it helped me understand how good people could stand by and make excuses for bad people in power,” he wrote. “They couldn’t not see past their own resentments and bias, even when people they loved were hurting or scared.”

CNN talked to Ward about why he thinks White evangelicals remain misunderstood, why he’ s leery of using the term “Christian nationalist,” and what it would take for White evangelicals to abandon Trump. Ward’s remarks were edited for brevity and clarity.


The new speaker of the house is a White Christian evangelical and is second in the line for the presidency. Does this inspire or concern you? Or maybe a bit of both?

I think that with his (Johnson’s) sort of surprise ascent into such a position of power so close to the presidency, there’s a lot more attention now on the kind of conservative Christian beliefs that have been common among millions of evangelicals for decades. What’s unusual about Johnson is that while his views are fairly common, it’s uncommon to have somebody get so high in a position of power with his views because usually they have to go through much more vetting. His views about America being a Christian nation are a pretty telling marker of what a lot of experts call “Christian nationalism.”

That’s a term that gets thrown around a lot. I’m wary of using it because I think it’s used as a caricature. There are people who are trying to weaponize Christian nationalism. And I don’t think that that’s most evangelicals. I think it’s people who are associated with the former president’s attempt to overturn the last election. These beliefs have been common for a long time. But this, at this moment, they’re merging with a strain of anti-democratic apocalyptic forms of Christianity that have already shown a willingness to throw out respect for the Constitution and democracy.

I think most evangelicals probably have a mix of views. And one of them is that America is a Christian nation, and they don’t have a lot of implications that flow out from that. When you categorize everybody as an extremist just because they hold these views, I think it pushes more evangelicals towards the bad actors who are trying to bring people into an anti-democratic movement.

Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson takes his oath of office in the
US Capitol. Johnson is an evangelical Christian. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

You seem leery of using the term ‘White Christian nationalism.’ Am I correct?

Yeah, because first of all, most people don’t call themselves Christian nationalists. When you call somebody something that they say, ‘Hey, I’m not one of those,’ I think that’s not great. In many cases, it’s just going to make people more defensive and turn them off and push them away from you. And secondly, there are fully built-out forms of Christian nationalism. But in many cases, it’s just a very amorphous thing. I think many of them are just normal patriotic Americans.

And again, there are a small group of extremists who want to use these ideas to drag people into an anti-democratic movement. And I think the more you sort of say to people, “You’re one of them,” I think the more you leave them little room, and you’re pushing them towards those extremists.

Christian nationalism is not actually faithful to Christianity. In churches, pastors, they’re the ones who are going to be crucial to pushing back against the forces of extremism because they’re the ones who need to speak to their neighbors, friends and church members about the idea that America is a Christian nation is actually not faithful to historic Christianity.

You tell a story about a former colleague in the fall of 2016 who emailed you saying he was alarmed to see Christian evangelical leaders endorsing Trump. And then he became one of Trump’s most ferocious defenders. Why did he and others make a similar shift?

I don’t know what was in their motivation or their hearts. I think a lot of people in those early days of the Trump presidency were known as anti-anti-Trump. They might have been anti-Trump at first, but then they got fed up with the criticism of Trump and the backlash against Trump. And they’re like, I’m now done being anti-Trump. I’m anti-anti-Trump. And so that was part of it. I think that was in large part a rationalization for getting to where their audiences were. When your audience wants more pro-Trump stuff, that often ends up leading people around by the nose.

Members of what was once called the Jesus Movement sing at a Los Angeles
building in 1971. Ward says his parents came out of a movement of Christians during
that decade who were disenchanted with the mainstream church. | George Brich/AP

You’ve said, ‘I still believe in evangelicals, but I don’t believe in evangelism.’ What does that mean?

It means that there’s a lot of really great people in these evangelical churches, all over the country and in the world. Just fantastic individuals and families. But there’s a whole culture of political beliefs and cultural practices that have been added on to the faith that I was indoctrinated in. It’s taken me decades to unpack all the assumptions that were layered on to my worldview by these teachings.

You say you were taught what to feel, what to believe, but not how to think. Can you elaborate?

When you’re in that kind of place where all the answers to life’s questions start with a very firm set of beliefs that are based on a text that is interpreted and read in a way that is actually not even the way that the Bible has been read for most of Christianity’s history, then you’re backed into a corner when it comes to asking questions. You can ask them up to a certain point. But once you bump up against any of the "answers that are set in stone", the answers start to become labeled as dangerous, sinful, or evil.

What shifted your beliefs from the way you were raised?

If I had to put it on one thing, it would be given the permission to ask questions and follow the truth wherever the facts lead.

Who or what gave you that permission?

Becoming a journalist.

Are you still an evangelical, or do you call yourself something else?

I don’t think I would use that label. I think I would just call myself a Christian.

Faith leaders pray over President Donald Trump during an "Evangelicals for Trump"
campaign event on January 3, 2020, in Miami, Florida. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Is there anything that could cause former President Trump to lose the allegiance of the White evangelicals who support him?

I think it would have to be something more pragmatic and political than theological or moral. If it got down to him versus Nikki Haley (the former South Carolina governor and 2023 Republican presidential contender), and it was clear in the polling that Trump would lose to a Democrat and Haley would beat the Democrat, many evangelicals would switch their support to Haley because they would want a Republican to win the presidency. People are often looking for some revelation that’s going to get people to stop supporting him (Trump) but I think we’re beyond that in most cases.

If Trump wins a second term, what will the impact be on the White evangelical world?

You would see adulation from a lot of evangelicals. You would see a minority of evangelicals peeling away not just from Trump, and not just from Republican politics, but away from evangelicalism. But that’s probably the minority. The word “evangelical” has become more and more wobbly over the last decade because the Trump movement has been able to bring in a lot of people to this style of fusing religion and politics. That attracts a lot of people who are not even really churchgoers.

How has your father reacted to your book?

We spent several hours one day talking about it. He expressed some positive feelings about parts of the book, but his overwhelming response was negative. It may have been a surprise, the level of disagreement that I have with him. It has to be really hard for your son to write anything that’s not praising you.

I went back to him later and I walked him through every moment in the book that he’s mentioned and pointed out that 75% of those mentions are very positive. I was grateful for his love and for his place in my life and for the person he is. Through our conversations, we’ve come to a better place.

Time will tell whether that holds, I guess. It was good for us to talk it out rather than let a lot of stuff fester.