Monthly archives "November 2016"

Is Donald Trump Like Any Other President?

Nearly every evening a Presidential historian or another expert offers opinion on which Chief Executive Donald Trump most closely resembles.  Some say Ike as he had no government experience either.  But he held together the most complex group of nations ever assembled to win WWII.  Others say Truman as his win over Dewey was such an upset.  Like Hillary, Thomas Dewey hardly bothered to campaign while Harry Truman whistle stopped his way over the country.  Donald was like Harry as he criss-crossed the country to roaring crowds.

The 1980 election also comes to mind where people were afraid to tell Pollsters they were voting for Ronald Reagan as he we so maligned by the media.  Like Brexit people were skittish about sharing their real feelings.

Trump is like Grover Cleveland in little government experience.  But Cleveland was governor of New York for two years.  The most common name mentioned is Andrew Jackson, “Old Hickory,” as he too was a populist–that is for the common man.  But really there is none like Donald Trump in terms of no experience at all in holding public office.

How is the President-Elect doing?  I would say in terms of the way his current choices are driving the Left mad (they are always mad) he is doing very well.  He has offered 21 names for the Supreme Court.  Our favorite is Diane Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit and former member of the WI Supreme Court.  But Conservatives in the know have said grace over all these names.  Even George Will, so against Trump that he said he hoped the GOP lost big, has said he is delighted with these names and the Court should now have a Conservative bent for 25-30 years more.

This will be a short piece today as we celebrate Thanksgiving–a uniquely American holiday;  and well it might be as we are blessed as no People ever.  In our giving Thanks let us be grateful to God for the election and what we were spared.  And let us pray for Donald Trump every day–for wisdom and strength.

It is said that gratitude is the mother of all virtues.  Certainly there is no such thing as vital Christian experience without it.  Need of Christ, salvation in Christ, gratitude toward Christ–these three phases are, as it were, the stethoscope where we can hear the very heartbeat of the Gospel.

Voltaire voiced in the 18th century:  “Ere the beginning of 19th century, Christianity will have disappeared from the earth.  But now Voltaire is an afterthought known to scholars and Christianity touches every nation in the world.  For eight years we had an Administration which tried to divorce us from our Judao-Christian roots.  But they will soon be gone, and God continues to shine upon our nation.  Let us humbly bow before Him and have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.


The Forgotten Man

John McNaughton’s painting, The Forgotten Man, has become a symbol of Donald Trump’s stunning upset in the election on Tuesday.  The picture portrays a crest fallen man on a park bench with President’s standing behind him. Barack Obama stands beside the man with arms folded in arrogant indifference just as the President is in life.  Some of the Presidents behind Obama have arms raised in a plea that he take notice.  Others impassively look at the forgotten man on the bench.  The painting captures how things have changed with the Democrats no longer the Party of the working poor.  This is one of the reasons for Trump’s appeal to MI, WI, and PA and Reagan Democrats who have been largely left out since the Gipper left the White House.

One of Donald Trump’s last rallies (and those rallies were phenomenal in numbers and in spirit everywhere the President Elect went) was in Sterling Heights, MI.  Mr. Trump emphasized the forgotten man who would not be forgotten in his Administration.  During the campaign he also spoke of Brexit from last June when the Brits voted out of the European Union in a summer referendum.  He said everywhere freedom loving people want their country back including in our nation.  His election proved the point.

Steve Hilton was an adviser to former Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron.  He also likened the Trump campaign to the British vote to exit the EU (Brexit).  He has appeared on Sean Hannity on FOX and other places to make this case–both before and after November 8.

The Forgotten Man makes me think of the 17th century French scholar, Marc Antoine Muretus.  He was a fugitive from his native land living in Lombardy, Italy.  Dressed in the vagabond rags of a refugee, he fell ill.  His physicians discussed his case in Latin, not thinking that this bedraggled man could understand the language of the scholars. Faciamus experimentum in anima vili, they said, “Let us try an experiment with this worthless creature.”  To their amazement the “worthless creature” spoke to them in Latin:  Vilem animam appellas pro qua Christus non dedignatus est mori?–“Will you call worthless one for whom Christ did not disdain to die?”

Christ died for all of us.  We all have value including The Forgotten Man.  The Democrats have become the Party of the rich and powerful and see the common man as someone to experiment with through such things as Obamacare and open borders.  None of this effects them as they are far removed from the consequences.  Donald Trump took note of this and began to speak of these things in a non P.C. manner.   It won him millions of votes as people saw a difference between the billionaire who speaks their language and the wealthy status quo candidate, Hillary Clinton, who, in an unguarded moment called them “Deplorables.”

Perhaps Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said it best:  “Donald Trump heard a voice that others missed.”  This was the Forgotten Man, a man Hillary called “Deplorable.”  That man, that voice rose up and was heard.  Now Mr. Trump is on his way to the White House and Mrs. Clinton is on her way home.

I suggested in these posts that we read II Kings 19 each day to see how God can bring down the powerful as he did the Assyrians who threatened Judah centuries ago.  God has done it again.  Now I urge us to pray every day for Donald Trump and the team he is putting together.   Every President has a big job.   Barack Obama has left such a mess that the President Elect has an even more enormous task.

When a King stoops down to pick up a trifle it is no longer a trifle.  It has value.  When Christ came and lived among us and died for us and rose again, we have value–everyone of us.  We are not trifles.  And He hears our prayers.  Let us lift them up for our new leader.   None of us are The Forgotten Man nor the Forgotten Woman in His Eyes.  Praise be to God!


Living Under Tension

Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the greatest preachers of the 20th Century.  He was born in Buffalo, New York in 1878.  He died in 1969.  For many years he served the renowned Riverside Church in New York City–made that by his ministry as he was the first pastor of the then new church financed by J.D. Rockefeller.   Fosdick tended to be on the liberal side theologically but, unlike the Left of today, he was a bright and thoughtful man.

He published a volume of 25 of his sermons in 1941 with the title “Living Under Tension.”  It was the eve of our entering WWII and war was already raging in Europe.  Those were discouraging days (as are ours) but Fosdick called for optimism in the midst of trial.  I borrow his title and some of his thoughts for this post.

I personally own Edward Creasy’s classic volume Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, From Marathon to Waterloo. Published in 1851 he includes the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the victory of the Americans over Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1877 during the Revolutionary War.  If it were written today he would probably include the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg in our Civil War and the 1942 Battle of Midway when the Japanese Navy suffered their first defeat of WWII.

Fosdick notes that there are decisive babies born at the time of major conflict and that those babies are more important than transient battles.  For example, in 1814 Russian and Austrian troops invaded Italy to avenge their losses to Napoleon.  At the battle for Piacenza they murdered women and children.   One woman hid in the belfry of a church with a baby nursing at her breast.  That baby grew up to be Verdi, the great composer.  I own a collection of his works and still listen to Rigoletto, Aida, La Traviata. Il Travatore.  But even specialists no longer remember the battle for Piacenza.  But we know Verdi.

In 1809 Napoleon was dominating Europe and the news.  But some important things were happening that were not in the news.  That year Abraham Lincoln, William Gladstone, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the harvester were born.  At the least we can say the world was not as hopeless as it looked and a case can be made that those babies were far more decisive than Napoleon’s battles.

Barack Obama is President of the United States.  Hillary Clinton wants the job.  I wonder what babies are being born this year who will make a difference whereas these two only make mischief.

Harry Kemp wrote a poem called “The Conquerors” that includes these lines:

“I saw the conquerors riding by with cruel lips and faces wan;  Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned, There rode the Mongol Genghis Khan;

And Alexander, like a god,  Who wrought to weld the world in one;  And Caesar with his laurel and wreath;  And like a thing from Hell the Hun;

And leading like a star, the van,  Heedless of upstretched arm and groan,  Inscrutable Napoleon went,  Dreaming of empire, and alone. . .

Then all they perished from the earth,  As fleeting shadows from a glass,  And, conquering down the centuries,  Came Christ the Swordless on an ass.”

Polycarp was an early leader of the Christian Church.  He personally knew some of the disciples who knew Jesus.  He was born in 69 A.D. and was martyred for his faith in Smyrna by the Roman proconsul, Lucius Statius Quadratus in 155.  The Christians in Smyrna wrote thus of his death:  “Statius Quadratus being proconsul, but Jesus Christ being King forever.”

I hope we will all vote and vote smart in these days of “Living Under Tension.”  But let us also take the longer view. Doubtless God is doing things of which we are unaware and that do not make the news.  He is still in charge and will one day wrap up history and the Omnipotent will reign forever!  Praise the Lord!