Friday, August 16, 2019

He Ate With Tax Collectors And Sinners

Have you ever wondered why the "wrong" people were so comfortable with Jesus around? We tend to turn this around and go, "Jesus ate with sinners. We should, too." That's not wrong. But what do the sinners see? What do they get out of it?

The best kind of sinners know they are sinners. There is no pretense or hiding. There is no act to put on. Other sinners like to find Gripe Rooms (like bars) to hang out together and talk about those who judge them unfairly. If you hear about a megachurch or something that proclaims itself a "judgment-free zone," for example, you have found Christians who have fallen for the act. You can't lure the proud into a deeper union with God. They don't want it, and it's opposite of the Kingdom. Seriously, though, how are you gonna save someone from a disaster they can't name fully? What are you saving them from?

The gaze of Jesus shows the truth without pushing away. The gaze of Jesus grants the freedom to surrender, to say, "I am a failure. I want more than this." The people who know they are failures yet go toward God don't have any need for someone to tell them it's really not that bad. You have nothing to offer them, if you need them more than they need your message. Folks might be grateful you don't despise them, but they'll also know you don't love them enough to tell them the truth.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Democratic Nomination Update

The chattering class is doing their best to make this early stage compelling. It's not, really. There is one fundamental question: Can progressives unite around someone with an actual chance to win the nomination/presidency? Look at this: Sanders and Warren are playing for the same voters. Biden loves this, because one compelling progressive who can convince moderates he/she can win is a problem; two or more is a gift. Full disclosure: The steady state of this blog in general will be nominally pro-Biden. As both a voter/participant and an analyst, I think Biden has the best and only shot to beat Trump.

Booker and Harris are self-styled compromise candidates between the moderate and progressive wings, rather in the Obama mold. President Obama played that role to perfection in 2008. The problem is, well, there can be only one. Mayor Buttigieg is a moderate masquerading as a progressive, also, but he's white. Ditto Beto O'Rourke. Why is he still running? In a smaller field, in a time when the base is less "woke," I think Mayor Pete could make this Obama move work. Not this year. Kamala Harris could steal the nomination from Biden theoretically, but her problem is that she isn't all that more liberal than Biden, so she has to make his age/race an issue, and she and everyone else is running out of time. If Biden wins Iowa by a significant margin, he's the nominee. That's not sexy, but it's the truth. I don't care what the Democrats have done to their delegate process; you have to look like a winner by Iowa and New Hampshire. You don't have to win, but those in front of you had better be mortally wounded. That's just the facts.

Another unsexy or impolite truth is that the race-consciousness or wokeness is being pushed by young, white progressives. The people for whom they purport to advocate are much more conservative, and Biden is counting on this. There is a straight line from Clinton to Obama to Biden in the minds and hearts of these voters. The ideal scenario for Harris or Booker is to get one-on-one with Biden, and convince them that Biden is literally worn out. Ageism will be a significant factor, if they succeed. But they have to do it carefully: the primary voters are older themselves, and Biden is close to a beloved figure. These gaffes are not hurting him. I can easily see Booker or Harris delivering "heartfelt" praise for Biden's long service to the party, and its causes, if and when Biden is in the rearview mirror. Biden's strategy is to be the giant for as long as possible. With this many candidates, all he has to do is run out the clock. If he looks inevitable after New Hampshire, there is no reason to take a flyer on anyone else.

And I just can't see Trump beating Biden in the general election. Biden is a more likable version of Trump, and he knows it suits him to play this up. If the thing turns on white voters in the upper Midwest, Biden wins easily. He's got enough pull on the Eastern seaboard as well to make Trump defend anything gained there last time.

My official call is that Trump maxes out absolutely around 220 electoral votes. If he messes up badly, he will be crushed.