Thanksgiving Repentance

Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln’s son Robert, introduced a resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The resolution was adopted on March 3rd, and signed by Lincoln on March 30th, one month before the fast day was observed:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us.

We have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and pray for clemency and forgiveness.” ~Abraham Lincoln, 1863.

When I see and hear a politician call the nation to repentance in the same kind of plain and confrontational words that this resolution uses, when I see that politician commit himself personally to repentance and prayer, then I will vote for that man or that woman with a clear conscience, Democrat or Republican or any other party. I am so tired of crooked, hypocritical, predator politicians who cover their own sins and ask us to join them in prayer that God will bless America. And I am tired of the people who make excuses and cover up sin and ridicule the prayers of broken and hurting people and tell us that “nobody is perfect” when the phrase suits their agenda, but point judgmental fingers at the sins of those who don’t agree with their particular political slant.

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our only hope is the mercy and grace of God that is mediated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the sooner we get on our knees and pray for God’s mercy on this nation and on this world, the sooner we will be truly blessed and forgiven and preserved as a light and a “city on a hill” and a broken but redeemed blessing to others.

It’s not our health care system or our tax structure or our education system that is broken, although all of these may need repair. It’s we the people of the United States who have grown, as Lincoln said, “in numbers wealth and power”, but have forgotten grace, and humility and prayer. It’s me; I am more broken than the schools or the hospitals or the taxing authorities or anything else in this country. We are a broken people, and we see and experience things that are evil and we call them good so that we won’t feel badly about ourselves.

This Thanksgiving, Lord, have mercy on us. Give us clemency and forgiveness. Forgive us for treating the sojourner (the immigrant) as an enemy and an alien instead of extending hospitality and kindness. Forgive us for making excuses for those who would prey on children and on defenseless women and make them the objects of their sexual appetites and lust for power. Forgive us for believing lies when those lies suit our political ends and for disbelieving truth for the same reasons. Forgive us for murdering our own children in the womb before they even have an opportunity to breathe. Forgive us for watching violence and sexual perversion on screens as if it is acceptable as long as it is just pretend and done in the name of entertainment. Forgive us for taking Your holy name in vain, for ridiculing prayer and worship, and for thinking we are little gods ourselves, strong enough and wise enough and righteous enough to put the world to rights and make this nation “great again.”

God is Great. God is Good.
Let us thank Him for our food.

I learned that prayer about sixty years ago, and God help me if I have grown too wise in my own eyes to pray the same humble prayer now.

God, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Holy Spirit, forgive us and make us whole.

Harvey and Me Update #2

Well, I’m still living in a post-Harvey world. I stayed home today for the most part, after having spent every day for the last couple of weeks at my church in Friendswood, Trinity Fellowship. I was helping all I could with the administrative side of our Harvey relief efforts, and I felt so much “survivor’s guilt” and so much grief and sympathy for those who flooded that I just couldn’t focus on things at home. I had to be where I was doing some good to someone else, not because I’m such a good person, but rather because there is just so much need and destruction and chaos.

So, I still couldn’t focus very well on things here at home today, even though I tried. What I really want is to give those ten families from our church of about forty families, one quarter of our membership, the ones who flooded or sustained major damage, another hug. I wanted to ask them again what we could do to help. I wanted to make them another meal or find them a team of strong guys and girls to do some more clean up or pull out sheetrock or spray for mold or wash their clothes or load their furniture that survived into a storage unit or do something. Then, I wanted to call all of the other families that I know who flooded, the ones I haven’t even been able to touch yet, and ask them the same questions, give them the same hugs, listen to their stories, too. But there are so many stories, so much pain, so many households being disrupted and so many precious belongings being trashed.

I needed to take a rest, focus on my family and my library, pull back a little, but it’s hard. I think Houston will have to take it a day at a time. I’ll have to take it a day at a time. In the meantime, keep praying. Keep sending help. Ask the Lord to give us all wisdom about a time to work and a time to rest. I’m sure I’ll get back to bookish posts soon, but right now it’s all too fresh and immediate.

Drone footage that my pastor took in Friendswood on September 9th, Saturday.

Harvey and Me

I’ve been really busy and overwhelmed here in southeast Houston where we received over 40 inches of rain about a week ago. You may have heard something about that storm on the news. Anyway, sorry about the Saturday Review last week and the lack of blog posts this week. We didn’t sustain any damage at our house, but many, many friends and neighbors did. I have dozens of friends who lost almost everything they owned. We’re going to be digging out from under this disaster for years to come.

Here’s a brief video about what’s going on here in Houston now, post-Harvey. You need to know that these are my people, my church, my pastor, my friends and neighbors. I know many of the people in this video. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are family. Please do what you can to help, either here or in Florida as Irma comes through.

Hurricane Harvey Response from EFCA on Vimeo.

Also, if you can share this video on Facebook or on your blog, it will help people to visualize the massive devastation that Houston has sustained and a bit of what I am afraid that Florida is experiencing right now.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.

Former Marine and Yale Law School graduate J.D. Vance has an unconventional background for a man with such credentials: he grew up in poor, dysfunctional, hillbilly family from northern Kentucky, mostly living in the lower-class neighborhoods of Middletown, Ohio. His mother was a drug abuser who subjected him and his older sister to a series of husbands and boyfriends, who were neglectful or abusive or at best, temporarily decent. Any stability he had in his childhood came from his maternal grandparents who were fiercely supportive, even if they had issues of their own. J.D.’s grandmother is a character from the Beverly Hillbillies, without the the silly humor, with the shotgun firmly in hand, and with the addition of some salty language that wouldn’t have been appropriate in a TV sitcom. His grandfather was a taciturn man, a former alcoholic, who supported J.D. mainly by spending time with him, availability being nine-tenths of the job requirement for a substitute father-figure.

The book definitely reminded me of my family’s lower middle class background. The violence and drug abuse in Vance’s family are mostly absent from mine, but some other forms of family dysfunction are quite familiar. Divorce, alcoholism, and poor educational choices and opportunities have dogged my working class white family, too, with some members of the family being able to move past those limitations while others became mired in their own generational poverty and family dysfunction.

It’s rather funny to read a selection of the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads for this book. Lots of people from inside and outside the Appalachian culture that Vance describes laud his deep insights into and vivid depiction of hillbilly culture. Others insist that Vance doesn’t have clue what he’s talking about, that his insights apply only to his own particular family situation or that his depiction of hillbilly life in the Rust Belt town of Middletown is either too dark or too optimistic.

I thought Mr. Vance had a lot to say about how people are able to grow and change and make good choices, partly despite their family background and partly as a result of clinging to the good parts of the family heritage. Vance’s grandparents were able to leave the Hatfield/McCoy violence and bitterness of the northern Kentucky hills behind and make a better life in Middletown, not a perfect life since they brought a lot of problems (and guns) with them, but a better life. Vance’s birth father was able to find stability and a fulfilling life in his Christian faith and church community. Vance himself was able to draw from the tenacity and love of both of his grandparents to make mostly wise choices about his own life, become a marine, get an education, and eventually write Hillbilly Elegy. Some critics deride Vance’s emphasis on a strong work ethic and moral choices to bring people up out of poverty and dysfunction, but the truth is the truth. A person who works hard and makes good moral choices about important life decisions (don’t abuse drugs and alcohol, marry your sexual partner, do what you need to do to support your family financially, try to get a good education, etc.) is much more likely to graduate from lower class poverty into at least middle class stability and functionality.

The book isn’t really preachy, however. It’s likely only to offend those who have already decided that traditional morality and hard work are useless prescriptions to ameliorate or even cure generational poverty. The author himself doesn’t state or imply that it’s easy or that he didn’t benefit from some fortuitous events and help along the way, such as a full scholarship to Yale Law School. He’s honest and gives credit where credit is due, but he’s also unflinching in his assessment of the flaws and inherent deficiencies that characterized his experience of “hillbilly culture.”

Many readers and reviewers have tried to sell this book as a guide to “why people voted for Trump” or “why Trump was elected president”, especially why lower class and lower middle class white voters were inclined to be Trump supporters. I don’t think that’s the main point of the book, and I don’t really think it’s too helpful in that regard. J.D. Vance’s hillbilly family members may have supported Trump, but they weren’t his only supporters. Don’t read the book to understand Trump voters; instead, read it to understand Appalachian and Rust Belt family dynamics and social mobility and the saga of one hillbilly who lived to tell his own story.

The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher

So, I’m usually a day late and a dollar short when it comes to talking and writing about the “buzz books”—the ones everyone seems to be discussing at any given time. And since I was on a blog break for Lent, that makes me even later in my entry to the discussion. Nevertheless, I did read both The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance while I was “lenting”, and both are books which shed some light on current events and trends and decisions yet to be made.

I agree with many other writers about Mr. Dreher’s book. Holly Ordway writes, “I would say that Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option has some strengths and a number of weaknesses, but one thing I am sure of: it’s great that it’s prompting discussion about Christian cultural engagement!” Her contribution to the discussion is worth the read, even though she seems to say (rather oddly) that the real Benedict Option should not reference Benedict so much nor is it possible for anyone other than Catholics and maybe Orthodox believers. I say oddly because Ms. Ordway teaches in the apologetics program at Houston Baptist University. Maybe she has learned more about evangelicals and their ability to create sustainable communities in her interactions with HBU and all those Baptists than I know from my fifty plus years of being an evangelical Christian. But I really think it is possible to have the Holy Spirit work in us and through us to create Christian community without Catholic liturgy and without believing in the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I’ve seen it done, imperfectly, in many churches and para-church groups.

That detour aside, the call for community and community-building in Mr. Dreher’s book is a topic dear to my own heart, and I am glad to see it treated with the serious consideration and wide-ranging discusion that it deserves. I wish Mr. Dreher’s book could have been longer and more specific about exactly how to build, maintain, and repair communities, but he spends most of his 272 pages writing about the need for Christian community and writing about some examples of burgeoning attempts at community both in the United States and in Europe, Italy in particular. Some of the communities Mr. Dreher references are monastic, but most are loosely organized communities, either ecumenical in nature or built around a specific church or denominational entity. Most include families and singles and people of all ages.

I think most helpful in Mr. Dreher’s book is a call to build, not monastic or cultic communities, but rather institutions that encourage and sustain Christian faith and community in the face of a secular onslaught of God-denial. He writes about home schooling and private schools as community building institutions. He also writes about discussion groups and communities built around daily worship and activities at a nearby, local church. And about hospitality and the wise use of technology and social media.

Dreher’s book has been widely lauded, but also widely criticized for what it leaves out. He doesn’t write about how the black church has preserved the faith and its own existence through community building. He doesn’t write about Anabaptist traditions and communities. Nor does he interview or write about Christians who have lived through real persecution under Communism or other non-Christian governments and cultures. How did these and other Christian communities survive cultural marginalization and political powerlessness? Dreher also doesn’t really speak to or about poor people or non-Westerners or Hispanics or you name it. He’s writing from a white, middle class, Western perspective, and that’s OK by me, partly because he makes an effort to include Catholics and Protestants as well as Christians from his own (Eastern Orthodox) tradition and partly because many of those other categories include me. If you want the “Benedict Option” (or whatever you want to call serious Christian commitment to community and faith preservation and evangelization) to be applied to people in poverty or African Americans or Native Americans or Cambodians or Pacific Islanders, write your own book and show how and why it should be done.

Which brings me to the second book that I was going to write about in this post, Hillbilly Elegy. However, I think I’ll finish up with some links to other thoughts about The Benedict Option and write about Hillbilly Elegy another day.

Top Christian Thinkers Reflect on The Benedict Option.

If Politics Can’t Save Us, What Will by Collin Hansen.

Sparking Renewal by Gerald Russell.

What Would Jeremiah Do? by Samuel Goldman.

An Open Letter to Fellow Christians Who Plan to Vote for Donald Trump

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

First of all, as I have made clear on this blog and on Facebook, I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or for Donald Trump. Neither candidate is even minimally qualified to be President of the United States of America, a country I love and pray for in spite of our collective descent into gross indecency and rationalization of sin.

I will not vote for a woman who advocates for abortion under any circumstances and up until the baby is full term. I cannot vote for someone who has committed crimes by playing fast and loose with classified information that might have endangered American lives and interests. She believes that she is above the law, and voters act recklessly by placing her in a position of power. Nonetheless, I also will not vote for a man who disrespects, degrades, and dishonors women, Muslims, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and yes, even Christians, all citizens of the very country he is supposed to represent and serve. I know about his negative opinions in regard to all of these groups of people. What is his position on doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God? He has no understanding of any of these basic Christian virtues.

People ask me how I will vote since I cannot bring myself to vote for either of the two major party candidates: I will vote for a third party or write-in candidate. I’m not sure which one, but it doesn’t really matter much. I am sure that my candidate will not win, and I am almost sure that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of this nation, even though she is a person of abhorrent personal and public morals and policy positions.

I understand that many of you have come to a different conclusion. You believe that you have only two choices and that you must vote for Donald Trump no matter what he says or does or has done in the past (because Hillary). I do not agree, but I can respect that decision. Many of you are voting for Mr. Trump privately and with grief in your hearts, and like me, you are waiting and hoping for this election to be done with and for us as a nation to return, if not to status quo or to normal, at least to a more decent and gracious public dialogue.

However, I am writing now to those of you who are Christian brothers and sisters of mine and who have been vocal supporters of Donald Trump. If your family and friends and those that you influence know that you are planning to vote for Donald Trump and if these most recent revelations about his actions and his character have not dissuaded you from that decision to vote for him, then I believe you owe an explanation, not to me, but to all of those people who look to you for guidance or encouragement. Your daughters and sons, your wives, your students, maybe even your parents are looking at you and perhaps asking themselves, “Why is this person, whom I love and respect, planning to vote for a man who said that he has attempted to assault women, attempted to coerce a married woman into committing adultery, and used his powerful status as a wealthy man to commit sex crimes?” If they are not asking that question, they should be. I am sorry that you have to address these issues, especially with your children and with young people who look up to you, but please, please, know that you do.

You may know that voting for Donald Trump does not mean that you endorse or agree with his words and his actions. But your children and other young people don’t necessarily understand that distinction. Please have the conversation with them. Please tell them that grabbing a girl’s or a woman’s private parts is not acceptable behavior, that talking about women as sexual objects is not okay, that adultery and sex outside of marriage are not right and are dishonoring to God and to the persons who are participants in that act. It may be awkward and embarrassing to talk about these things with your sons and other young men, and it may be even more uncomfortable for you to have to tell your daughters that you support and love them and would never allow anyone to denigrate and insult them the way Donald Trump did a woman in those infamous tapes. Do it anyway.

You need to tell them. You look them in the eyes and you explain to them why you are voting for Mr. Trump, but also tell them why his behavior is, at best, arrogant, boastful, and lewd and at worst, criminal and wicked. Tell your daughters especially that if anyone ever behaves to them in the way that Mr. Trump says he acted toward numerous women, to be precise if anyone ever touches them inappropriately or refuses to leave them alone physically and sexually or tries to seduce them, they need to tell you or someone else who can help them. Assure them that you will believe them and protect them and stand your ground in defending them. Clarify to the young women you know and love that it’s not just “locker room talk” and that they don’t have to put up with obscene, abusive words or acts. Tell them they should never listen to anyone who counsels them to just look the other way or to pretend it didn’t happen.

Tell your sons the same. Not all men talk the way Mr. Trump talks on those tapes. Christian men do not speak about or act toward women in the ways that Mr. Trump advocates and boasts about. If Donald Trump was just “talking big” and if he did not grab women and seduce women, then he bragged about doing something evil and vile. If he did do the things he talks about on that tape, he committed sexual assault, which is both a sinful act and a crime. Either way his talk and his actions were hurtful and harmful to the woman involved and to other women he may have assaulted. If he were a redeemed Christian man, he should be placed in no position of leadership either within or outside the church. He needs all of the time he has left on this earth to repent and to learn to walk in a way that honors Christ and honors other people, people that he has grievously harmed.

Beyond the election in November, beyond Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, this disaster of a campaign season will have an effect on the moral perceptions and the worldview of a generation of young people. If we do not instruct them explicitly and clearly in the truth, they will draw their own conclusions. Maybe they will decide that the Bible and its instructions are just “church talk”, that real men, even those who call themselves Christians, expect and accept lecherous talk and contemptuous treatment of women, as long as you can get away with it. Maybe they will decide that Jesus was just speaking empty words when he said that impure thoughts lead to impure words which lead to violent and impure actions. (See Matthew 5:21-30) And no one really cares, anyway, certainly not a holy God. It’s just “locker room talk.”

That’s what Donald Trump says. That’s what his supporters will be understood to be saying. If you are voting for the man, and if you don’t believe sexual assault is okay, you need to say so. Loudly, clearly, and repeatedly.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Evangelical Christian

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

With recent events across the nation, the deaths of several unarmed black men, the deaths of policemen, Just Mercy is an incredibly timely read. As I read, I came to a new understanding of just how the deck is stacked against poor criminals and poor criminal suspects in particular, even as I questioned the author’s perspective on the crimes he wrote about. Seemingly, according to Bryan Stevenson, there are no heinous crimes deserving of the death penalty, and there are only misunderstood and wrongly convicted persons on death row.

Notwithstanding the author’s preconceptions about the justice system and the death penalty, his book and the stories recounted therein are well worth reading. If you are a critic of the death penalty, you will find your views bolstered and supported. If you are a proponent of the death penalty as a just punishment in certain crimes, you will find your support for it challenged. And that’s a good thing. The imposition of execution in response to crimes of murder and rape should only be undertaken by a society and a justice system under very limited circumstances and after much consideration, if at all.

So, Bryan Stevenson tells in his book the stories of several clients of his Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. The story of one client, Walter McMillan, a black man who is sentenced to death for a murder he insists he did not commit. The book tells the stories of other death row prisoners who were helped, or not, by Stevenson’s EJI, but the thread that runs through the entire book is Mr. McMillan’s story of injustice, eventual freedom, and continued brokenness and struggle even after his release from prison.

Some quotes from the book show Stevenson’s perspective on mercy and justice:

Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent.”

“At the church meeting, I spoke mostly about Walter’s case, but I also reminded people that when the woman accused of adultery was brought to Jesus, he told the accusers who wanted to stone her to death, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ The woman’s accusers retreated, and Jesus forgave her and urged her to sin no more. But today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even the Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion. I told the congregation that we can’t simply watch that happen. I told them we have to be stone catchers.”

Author John Grisham wrote about this book on Goodreads: “Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”

The other scene in the book that impressed me was when the author, who also happens to be a black man, describes his own encounter with the Atlanta (I think) police. Because he was sitting in his own car outside his own apartment for an extended period of time, listening to music, the police stopped, ordered him out of the car, and searched and questioned him. That’s a scary experience, and apparently it’s one that happens repeatedly and disproportionally to people of color, especially black men. One more quote:

“Of course innocent mistakes occur but the accumulated insults and indignations caused by racial presumptions are destructive in ways that are hard to measure. Constantly being suspected, accused, watched, doubted, distrusted, presumed guilty, and even feared is a burden born by people of color that can’t be understood or confronted without a deeper conversation about our history of racial injustice.”

This book is a part of that deeper conversation, and it certainly made me think about some of my own presumptions and attitudes.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

I have very mixed feelings about this book. First of all, it deals with a subject that is timely and necessary and at the same time horrible and unsavory. I wish it would go away, but it won’t, and ignoring it won’t make it not be. The subject is rape and sexual assault. If you don’t want to read a book about a girl who is raped and who not only survives but also refuses to be a victim, you can certainly come at the subject from another direction and another perspective. But the subject itself is unavoidable.

Who hasn’t heard about the Stanford sexual assault case and the terrible miscarriage of justice there that dominated the news a week or two ago? Exit, Pursued by a Bear tells a story similar to that of the Stanford case, except that Hermione Winters, the victim in this story, is an individual (as are all rape and sexual assault victims). She doesn’t just become “that girl who was raped” because this terrible thing happened to her, although the rape does change her life, make her life different, stronger in some ways, weaker in others. One thing that the story makes clear is that everyone deals with the aftermath of a sexual assault in their own individual way; there is no right or wrong way to react, no one way to recover or survive.

And yet, the book certainly hints strongly that there is only one way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy that is the result of a rape. Hermione decides to have an abortion when she finds out that she is pregnant, and no one dares to question that choice or speak for the unborn child. I doubt I would dare to do so myself, were I to be confronted with a teenage girl who had been raped and who was determined to abort the child who was conceived in that act. The subject is too fraught, too horribly conflicting and traumatic, for anyone to give glib advice or to moralize. Nevertheless, without the pain and the emotion of such a tragedy clouding my judgment, I can still say that the baby is not to blame for the father’s crime. The child is still a child and deserves to live, no matter what. Is it a difficult and painful decision? Yes. Does it help anyone to compound the tragedy of sexual assault/rape by adding to it the death of an innocent child? No, I don’t believe it does.

So many good things about this novel. Hermione Winters refuses to be just another victim, just another case number. She has the love and support of friends and family. She doesn’t deny the changes in herself and her life and her relationships, but she does not let the rape define who she is or limit what and who she can become. Trauma is real and evident in Hermione’s story, but so is recovery and even forgiveness, if not for the rapist, at least for those friends who fail to support Hermione because of their own conflicting emotions and reactions.

However, there are several not so good things about the novel, too: an unexamined, almost obligatory, decision for abortion, the stereotypical gay friend who is, of course, the secondary heroine of the story, and the ending, which was strangely unsatisfying and almost unbelievable. I was appalled and saddened by the “ending” of the the real-life Stanford sexual assault case, and I would like to see a book on this subject at least allows room for a pro-life perspective or that shows a person dealing with the aftermath of rape or sexual assault without the added pro-abortion messaging.

Thank You, #NeverTrump

The following pundits, pols, and celebs have indicated that they will NOT support Donald Trump:

Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.)

Gov. Charlie Baker (Mass.)

Brian Bartlett, former Mitt Romney aide and GOP communications strategist

Glenn Beck, radio host

Michael Berry, radio host

Max Boot, former foreign policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Brent Bozell, conservative activist

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.)

Bruce Carroll, creator GayPatriot.org

Jay Caruso, RedState

Mona Charen, senior fellow at Ethics and Public Policy Center

Linda Chavez, columnist

Dean Clancy, former FreedomWorks vice president

Eliot Cohen, former George W. Bush official

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.)

Charles C. W. Cooke, writer for National Review

Doug Coon, Stay Right podcast

Rory Cooper, GOP strategist, managing director Purple Strategies

Jim Cunneen, former Calif. assemblyman

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.)

Steve Deace, radio host

Rep. Bob Dold (Ill.)

Erick Erickson, writer

Mindy Finn, president, Empowered Women

David French, writer at National Review

Jon Gabriel, editor-in-chief, Ricochet.com

Michael Graham, radio host

Jonah Goldberg, writer

Alan Goldsmith, former staffer, House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Stephen Gutowski, writer Washington Free Beacon

Rep. Richard Hanna (N.Y.)

Jamie Brown Hantman, former special assistant for legislative affairs for President George W. Bush

Stephen Hayes, senior writer at The Weekly Standard

Doug Heye, former RNC communications director

Quin Hillyer, contributing editor at National Review Online; senior editor at the American Spectator

Ben Howe, RedState writer

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.)

Cheri Jacobus, GOP consultant and former Hill columnist

Robert Kagan, former Reagan official

Randy Kendrick, GOP mega-donor

Matt Kibbe, former FreedomWorks CEO

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

Philip Klein, managing editor at the Washington Examiner

Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard editor

Mark Levin, radio host

Justin LoFranco, former Scott Walker aide

Kevin Madden, former Mitt Romney aide

Bethany Mandel, senior contributor at The Federalist

Tucker Martin, former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R-Va.) communications director

Former RNC Chairman Mel Martínez (Fla.)

Liz Mair, GOP strategist

Lachlan Markey, writer for the Free Beacon

Mary Matalin, political strategist

David McIntosh, Club for Growth president

Dan McLaughlin, editor at RedState.com

Ken Mehlman, former RNC chairman

Tim Miller, Our Principles PAC

Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Joyce Mulliken, former Washington state senator

Ted Newton, political consultant & former Mitt Romney aide

James Nuzzo, former White House aide

Katie Packer, chairwoman of Our Principles PAC

Former Gov. George Pataki (N.Y.)

Former Rep. Ron Paul (Texas)

Katie Pavlich, Townhall editor and Hill columnist

Brittany Pounders, conservative writer

Rep. Reid Ribble (Wis.)

Marlene Ricketts, GOP mega-donor

Former Gov. Tom Ridge (Pa.)

Rep. Scott Rigell (Va.)

Mitt Romney, 2012 GOP presidential nominee

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.)

Paul Rosenzweig, former deputy assistant secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post conservative blogger

Patrick Ruffini, partner, Echelon Insights

Sarah Rumpf, former BreitBart contributor

Mark Salter, writer and former aide to John McCain, wrote “”Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House?”

Rep. Mark Sanford (S.C.)

Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.)

Elliott Schwartz, Our Principles PAC

Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior fellow, Hudson Institute

Tara Setmayer, CNN analyst and former GOP staffer

Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief The Daily Wire

Evan Siegfried, GOP strategist and commentator

Ben Stein, actor and political commentator

Brendan Steinhauser, GOP consultant

Stuart Stevens, former Romney strategist

Paul Singer, GOP mega-donor

Erik Soderstrom, former field director for Carly Fiorina

Charlie Sykes, radio host

Brad Thor, writer

Michael R. Treiser, former Mitt Romney aide

Daniel P. Vajdich, former national security adviser to Ted Cruz

Connor Walsh, former digital director for former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), founder Build Digital

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.)

Peter Wehner, New York Times contributor

Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (N.J.)

Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard declared Trump “unfit to be president.”

George Will, writer

Rick Wilson, Republican strategist

Nathan Wurtzel, Make America Awesome super-PAC

Bill Yarbrough, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio

Dave Yost, Ohio auditor of state

Thank you. I have one question for Republicans who want my vote in November. Are you supporting or have you endorsed Donald Trump? If affirmative, then I will not vote for you.

I have voted Republican for approximately 35 years, but now I am no longer bound to any sort of party loyalty. I will be evaluating candidates individually and carefully. One “test” will be whether or not the candidate was able to hold up to the incredible pressure that will be applied to make him or her toe the line and fall in for Trump. If so, this #neverTrump candidate is one who will be able to stand up for principle under pressure in Austin or Washington, D.C.

Scottish Chiefs and the Morning After

Last night, after grieving over the news and the state of our country, I took up my book and began to read. After all, it’s what I do. When times are bad or times are good, I read. I had already decided on a journey to Scotland for the month of May, and Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter was the first book on my mental list.

I began reading:

“Bright was the summer of 1296. The war which had desolated Scotland was then at an end. Ambition seemed satiated; and the vanquished, after having passed under the yoke of their enemy, concluded they might wear their chains in peace. Such were the hopes of those Scottish nobleman who, early in the preceding spring, had signed the bond of submission to a ruthless conqueror, purchasing life at the price of all that makes life estimable,—liberty and honor.

Prior to this act of vassalage, Edward I., king of England, had entered Scotland at the head of an immense army. He seized Berwick by stratagem; laid the country in ashes; and on the field of Dunbar, forced the Scottish king and his nobles to acknowledge him their liege lord.

But while the courts of Edward, or of his representatives, were crowded by the humbled Scots, the spirit of one brave man remained unsubdued. Disgusted alike at the facility with which the sovereign of a warlike nation could resign his people and his crown into the hands of a treacherous invader, and at the pusillanimity of the nobles who had ratified the sacrifice, William Wallace retired to the glen of Ellerslie. Withdrawn from the world, he hoped to avoid the sight of oppressions he could not redress, and the endurance of injuries beyond his power to avenge.

Thus checked at the opening of life in the career of glory that was his passion, he repressed the eager aspirations of his mind, and strove to acquire that resignation to inevitable evils which alone could reconcile him to forego the promises of his youth, and enable him to view with patience the humiliation of Scotland, which blighted her honor, and consigned her sons to degradation or obscurity. The latter was the choice of Wallace. Too noble to bend his spirit to the usurper, too honest to affect submission, he resigned himself to the only way left of maintaining the independence of a true Scot; and giving up the world at once, all the ambitions of youth became extinguished in his breast. Scotland seemed proud of her chains. Not to share in such debasement seemed all that was now in his power.

The analogy is not perfect. We’ve submitted, not to a foreign invader, but to our very own pet demagogue. But the “degradation”, “pusillanimity”, “resignation”, and “inevitable evils” are all dismayingly familiar. I pray that I can view with patience the humiliation, blighted honor, and debasement that are imminent, indeed already at hand.

Wallace was not allowed his self-imposed exile for long. I doubt that those of us eschew the choice between the Demagogue and the other dishonest Democrat will be left alone for long either. We can enjoy our liberty while the summer lasts and hope to come back to fight again.