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.

My Personal Statement on Donald Trump and the Republican Primary

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. I Timothy 2:1-4

Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! There is nothing you can give to regain your life. If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

I live in Texas, and I voted in the Republican primary for this state on Friday (early voting). I did NOT vote for Donald Trump. In fact, I will never vote for Donald Trump, come h— or high water. I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton or of the Democrat party. In fact, I disagree with most of their ideas and positions, especially in regards to their support for abortion and their disregard for the Constitution. Nevertheless, Donald Trump is more dangerous, more despicable, and more incompetent than even Hillary Clinton. I believe that he is a dangerous demagogue and a spoiled con man. He couldn’t make Atlantic City great with his grandiose schemes that went bankrupt, and he won’t make America great either. He will make our country a laughing stock around the world, if not something worse.

This man uses language that is crude and profane at every opportunity, and then has the effrontery to demand an apology when the president of Mexico uses one crude word to describe Trump’s wall—the wall that he hopes to have Mexico pay for. Donald Trump mocks the disabled, disrespects women, and refuses to disavow the support of neo-Nazis and the KKK. He wants to bar an entire religious group from even being considered for immigration to the United States, and he says he will deport an estimated 11 million people who are here illegally, the biggest mass deportation in the history of the world. Actually, Trump says there are probably more than 30 million people who are here illegally, but whatever the number he’s going to deport them all–then let the “good ones” come back in. (Hitler only deported and killed about 6 million Jews.) Donald Trump would have to find a way to do this mass deportation peacefully and without a massive disruption of our economy and culture. I’m sure Mexico would be happy to pay for the police/immigration agents and the infrastructure that would be required to make such a thing happen. (/sarcasm)

Mr. Trump is admitted adulterer and a misogynist. He has no plans to do anything, including no plan to build a wall along the US/Mexican border, no plan to create jobs or improve the economy, no plan to replace Obamacare, no plan for foreign policy, and no real tax plan. He is a fake, and he is vulgarly entertaining his way into the presidency.

I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and in 1984. I voted for George (HW) Bush in 1988. And again in 1992. I voted for Bob Dole in 1996, even though I preferred Phil Gramm or Alan Keyes. I voted for George W. Bush in 2000, even though I was skeptical about his conservative leanings. I was wrong. I happily voted for W in 2004, and I believe he was the best president we’ve had since Ronald Reagan. In 2008, I voted for John McCain in spite of his disdain for evangelical, conservative Christians because I thought he would at least, if elected, appoint conservative judges and govern somewhat conservatively. In 2012 I held my nose and voted for Mitt Romney for much the same reason. I have a history of Republican loyalty and of being able to compromise for the greater good. However, with Trump, all that loyalty is thrown out the window. If Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican party, then the Republicans are no longer a conservative party. Nor will they be a force for good in this country. I will not have left the Republican party, they will be leaving me, as Ronald Reagan said under somewhat similar circumstances.

In addition, I am disappointed in the political and religious leaders who have jumped onto the Trump bandwagon in hopes of either gaining influence and power or ingratiating themselves with the new political class. Or perhaps they are as deluded and foolish as the other followers of Donald Trump. Either way, I will not be following the words or actions or suggestions of anyone who is now following Donald Trump.

And I will not forget the people, formerly respected voices in the national debate and some in the evangelical community, who decided to sell their souls for a mess of pottage and a boatload of bluster:

Sarah Palin: I thought she was unfairly maligned and ridiculed, and perhaps she was, but now I see that she is blind and without discernment. I never plan to listen to another word she says or writes.

Mike Huckabee: He hasn’t endorsed Trump, but his daughter is working for Trump. And Mike Huckabee has praised and all-but-endorsed Trump. I will not listen to him or support him in the future either.

Jerry Falwell, Jr.: Mr. Falwell is not a man who speaks for me or for my fellow evangelicals. Even some people I know who are graduates of Liberty University are ashamed of his endorsement of Donald Trump.

Pastor Robert Jeffress: He has disgraced the church of Jesus Christ by partnering with a man, Donald Trump, who ridicules the disabled, mocks the name of our Lord, and can’t even disavow the support of the Ku Klux Klan.

Chris Christie (not an evangelical, but supposedly a conservative): I didn’t like Chris Christie very much before he endorsed Trump, but had Christie been the nominee of the Republican party, I would have voted for him in order to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president of the United States. However, now I will never vote for Chris Christie for anything just as I will never vote for Donald Trump.

Jeff Sessions, Alabama senator. Also Rep. Chris Collins, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Gov. Jan Brewer, and Gov. Paul LePage. All of these formerly conservative politicians should be shunned, and I will certainly never support any of them ever for any national office.

Ann Coulter: I used to think she was kind of funny, but not anymore. She’s just another attention-seeking celebrity.

Willie Robertson (Duck Dynasty): Why Trump? Because, says Mr. Robertson, he has two attributes we need in a leader, “success and strength.” ISIS exhibits success and strength. So do all “successful” dictators and tyrants. I would only note the absence of moral character and good (any) ideas.

Phyllis Schlaffly: She says Trump is “is the only hope to defeat the Kingmakers.” So I suppose she wants to be The Donald’s Kingmaker.

Rudy Giuliani: He’s “informally advising Donald Trump.” I wish he would advise Trump right out of the race, but I see no signs of that happening.

Newt Gingrich hasn’t endorsed either, but he says that we had better “see Trump as the future”, in other words, fall in line behind Mr. Trump. Well, I won’t do it—not ever.

Pat Robertson said of Donald Trump when the candidate visited Regent University, “You inspire us all!” I am not inspired and not impressed with Mr. Robertson’s idea of inspiration.

Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate, is campaigning for Trump and tells fellow Republicans to “get over it” and fall in line to support Trump because Trump is going to win.

Steve Forbes

Sean Hannity.

I have also lost respect for:

Ben Carson, who is staying in the presidential race for the sake of vanity and a platform. I doubt that God told him to run for president as a spoiler so that he could come to the debates and complain about face time. Update: Mr. Carson has dropped out of the presidential race, and I can now hear what he is saying about integrity. Before, his actions spoke too loudly for me to hear his humility. I have still lost respect for his common sense and intuition.

John Kasich, who is staying in the race for the same reason and maybe to prove that he can pull enough votes in the Midwest to deserve a vice-presidential offer from Trump?

I probably won’t post about this election cycle again here at Semicolon; however, this blog is my own little corner of the web, and I felt the need to express my opinion. Thanks for listening/reading.

And please, whomever you voted for or plan to vote for, pray for our country and for God to determine the outcome of this election in accordance with His will and for His glory.

Cyber Attack by Martin Gitlin and Margaret J. Goldstein

Well, I certainly know a lot more about cyber crime and computer security and hacking than I did before I read this young adult nonfiction treatment of the history and current state of cyber attacks on the information we keep in our computer networks, thumb drives, hard drives, cell phones and and other internet connected devices. I also don’t feel nearly as safe as I did before I read about worms and viruses and bots and phishing and ransomware and Blackshades and lots of other nasty cyber-stuff.

Cyber Attack provides students and computer innocents (like me) with a basic introduction to the state of the internet, security-wise. Anyone with an interest in the subjects of cyber crime and cyber warfare is going to want to go deeper, and a bibliography in the back of the book provides readers with several avenues for exploration. I was freaked out enough by the information in the 72 pages of this little book to want to go off-grid for the duration.

Did you know that the computer software called Blackshades, which can take over the camera in your personal computer and take pictures of you in your own home, is a reality, not a myth? According to the author, “one Dutch teenager used his copy of Blackshades to take secret pictures of women and girls on about two thousand computers.”

Did you know that the U.S. has been involved in a secretive cyber war with Iran, trying to shut down or damage their nuclear facilities and capabilities, since 2008? And it’s probably still going on.

Did you know that the Russian and Chinese governments are actively engaged in cyber spying and attacks on U.S. companies and government computer networks, trying to get information about our economic secrets as well as military and other governmental information? And they’ve been quite successful in stealing quite a bit of information that has been of use in business negotiations and could be useful in the future if we ever do have a military confrontation with either country.

Did you know that the entire nation of Estonia–government services, banks, media outlets and other computer networks—came under cyber attack in 2007 from hackers located inside Russia? And even when the hackers were identified, Russia refused to arrest them or do anything to restrain or punish them.

Maybe you knew a lot of this stuff and more that’s in the book, but I didn’t. Again, Mr. Gitlin’s little book is a good introduction to the subject of cyber attacks. And how can a simple little old woman keep her herself and her information secure? Well, says the book, “You could cancel your Internet service, ditch your cell phone, close your bank account, throw away your debit card, and turn off your electricity. You could quit school and never take a job, vote in an election, get a driver’s license, or fly on an airplane. Of course, such a solution is completely unrealistic.”

Of course, the information in this book, published in 2015, is already incomplete and out-dated, to some extent. There’s a publisher’s note in the front of the book:

“This book is as current as possible at the time of publication. However events change rapidly and hacks, big and small, occur on a daily basis. To stay abreast of the latest developments related to hacking, check the New York Times and other major national newspapers for current, up-to-date information.”

Here are a couple of hacking-related news items that were not included in the book because they just happened in 2015:

Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, kept her emails on a privateserver located in some part of her house. (Hackers’ goldmine!) She says her information was secure, but no one really knows. “Was her server hacked? We don’t know. Private servers are considered more difficult to protect, in general, than the ones big e-mail hosts like Google use.” (Everything we know about the Hillary Clinton emails, September 15, 2015)

A hackers’ group calling themselves The Impact Team stole and published the private information for millions of users of the website Ashley Madison, a portal for people (mostly men) who wanted to commit adultery. Reporters and cyber security insiders keep saying that if it could happen to Ashley Madison, it could happen to any company on the web. So just know that your financial and personal information is not really safe anywhere on the web.

And the cyber attacks go on.

Quoting . . .

Will Duquette at Patheos: “Facebook is a good servant but a poor master. I’ve got to learn to keep it in its place.”

From wordsmith.org: “I think I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun. A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; to suffer. I signify all three.”
~Ulysses S. Grant (General and U.S.President), from a note written a few days before his death.

From Fanny Harville’s Homeschool Academy: “At a certain age, sometimes early, sometimes late, children make up their minds about their parents. They decide, not always justly, the kind of people their mothers and fathers are, and the judgment can be a stern one.” Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart.
(I rather agree. I think I decided a long time ago what kind of people my parents were, not a stern judgment, but a judgment nevertheless. I wonder what my children have decided about me, but I don’t suppose I’ll ever really know.)

Soldier finds lifeline in letter exchange with Vermont author. Soldier and author Trent Reedy (Words in the Dust) in Afghanistan, after reading Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terebithia: “I needed that reminder that there was still hope and still beauty in the world. At that time in my life there was none. There was nothing except guns and fear. I was really not at all sure that I was ever going to get out of that place. This book gave me a little bit of beauty at that time, and I needed it. Not the way I need a new app for my iPad. I needed it to keep my soul alive.”
Yep, I, too, need certain books to keep my soul alive.

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.” –Thomas Sowell

“Based upon what is going on in the Ukraine/Crimea, Texas should be able to vote and then secede from the U.S. However, we may have to endure some harsh words from Secretary Kerry and President Obama.” ~a friend on Facebook.
I don’t know where he got the idea, maybe from his own brain, but although I don’t advocate secession, the logic seems to me to be about right.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I was deeply disappointed by this long, engaging, insidious apologia for assisted suicide, or “mercy killing” as the euphemism goes. I saw this title on so very many end-of-the-year favorites lists, and I thought it sounded engaging. It was. The characters were appealing, and Louisa Clark’s project to make her quadriplegic “patient”, Will Traynor, take an interest in life, kept me turning the pages to see what would happen.

I didn’t want easy answers. I know people who live in chronic pain, and I know people who deal with severe disability every day of their lives. It’s not easy, and their problems should not be trivialized by an unearned and unexamined happily-ever-after ending to a novel. However, (SPOILER: I’m not at all reluctant to write spoilers for a novel that engages in blatant propaganda), the ending to this novel trivializes life itself, and its ending makes the lives of disabled people and people who are in pain seem cheap and worthless.

Serendipitously, I saw a tweet today that connected me to this blog post quoting Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, at a disability rights group blog called Not Dead Yet. These are some reasons she gives to be concerned about laws being proposed in in such far-flung places as Scotland, New Hampshire, and New Mexico—and about the legalization of assisted suicide that is already in effect in Washington state and in Oregon:

Deadly mix: Assisted suicide is a deadly mix with our profit-driven healthcare system. At $300, assisted suicide will be the cheapest treatment. Assisted suicide saves insurance companies money—even with full implementation of the greatly-needed Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse, are rising. Not every family is a supportive family! Where assisted suicide is legal, such as in Oregon, an heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug—no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know?
Mistakes: Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives, where assisted suicide is legal.
Careless: Where assisted suicide is legal, no psychological evaluation is required or even recommended. People with a history of depression and suicide attempts have received the lethal drugs.
Burden: Financial and emotional pressures can also make people choose death.
Unnecessary: Everyone already has the legal right to refuse treatment and get full palliative care, including, if dying in pain, pain-relieving palliative sedation.
No true safeguards: Where assisted suicide is legal, the safeguards are hollow, with no enforcement or investigation authority.
Our quality of life underrated: Society often underrates people with disabilities’ quality of life. Will doctors & nurses fully explore our concerns and fight for our full lives? Will we get suicide prevention or suicide assistance?

Of course, in Me Before You, all of the family are motivated by pure concern for the quadriplegic Will. Will himself makes a completely autonomous and carefully considered decision to kill himself, and no one is allowed to really argue that he is in no condition to make such a decision. One character, Will’s caregiver’s mother, is outspoken and unshaken in her opposition to “mercy killing”, but she is a peripheral character and the only one who is not finally recruited and convinced by Will’s suffering and his determination to support him in his decision to end his life.

A book that showed both (or many) sides of this issue, even if it ended in the same way, would have been worth reading. As it is, Ms. Moyes has used her admittedly fine writing talent to propagandize for death, and I think it’s a pity.

Not recommended.

Rainbow Rowell and the World with No Rules

I plead guilty. I am a prude, a moralist, a prig. And I am so tired of living in world without rules. I am so tired of reading about a world without rules, watching movies and TV shows in which there is nothing that is off limits (except rules themselves). Yes, I know we need grace; I need grace the way I need air, food, and water. I survive and live by the grace of God. But we also need Law. Boundaries. Some sort of framework to live by, to measure by, something besides my own emotions and my own weakness. Something to which to apply the grace that God so freely offers.

And what has this rant to do with the latest, greatest, most popular YA fiction author of 2013 (if I am to judge by all the 2013 best-of lists that include one or both of the books she published this past year)? Rainbow Rowell is the author of Eleanor and Park, a high school love story, and Fangirl, a freshman year in college love story. I read Eleanor and Park first, and I’ll admit I liked it. The lady knows how to tell a story and especially how to create characters that shine. Eleanor is a fat girl with a dysfunctional family. Park is a Korean American boy with a fully functional family, but he lives life at the mercy of school bullies and of his own insecurities about being short and small and sort of geeky (or nerdy, I can never remember the difference). The slow build-up to romance between the two outsiders was fun to read and well-written. Then, wham! The two sixteen year olds did whatever it was they did in the backseat of a car (I skimmed). Oh, why did we have to have that part? Why couldn’t Park just say that he thought Eleanor was beautiful but he respected her and didn’t want to take advantage of her vulnerability, or something? I got a little tired, but as I said, I skimmed.

Then, I read Fangirl, different plot, different age group, similar characters. There’s a girl, Cath, with a dysfunctional family who’s closed off and vulnerable at the same time. There’s a guy, Levi, from a Baptist family, who’s sweet and caring and giving to the point of saccharinity. But Ms. Rowell reins in the sweet so that Levi is just that, adorable and no more. Fangirl feels for a while as if it could be about the consequences of living without any moral framework. In fact, Cath’s twin sister, Wren, messes up big time because no one has ever told her what the rules are or expected her to live by any rules at all (absent mother, mentally ill father). But Levi and Cath get along just fine without any reference to religion or morality or . . . anything. All that stuff is so . . . old-fashioned. Levi mentions that his mom is involved in church and attends a “prayer circle”, but that whole world is dismissed lightly and quickly as parental quirkiness. Cath’s and Wren’s dad tries to make some rules for Wren, the out of control daughter, but the whole stern parent thing comes out of nowhere. I can’t imagine any eighteen year old who has been as neglected as Wren and Cath have been listening to the lecture Wren’s dad gives or adhering to his sudden burst of regulations and injunctions.

So we come back to a world without authority. Without a moral framework. Why is it wrong for one of the characters in the novel to plagiarize? Because Cath doesn’t like it? Why is OK for Cath and her roommate to badmouth and make fun of all the freshmen in the cafeteria? Because it makes them feel better about themselves and because they’re witty when they do it? Why is it wrong for Wren to get drunk every weekend and drink herself into oblivion? Because it feels bad? Why is it right for Cath and Levi to make out in his bedroom? Because it feels good? Why do I want to read details of these make-out sessions? Because . . . I can’t really think of any good reasons. (I skimmed . . . again.)

I agree with this essay by Shannon Hale, in which she argues that YA novels should be written for teen readers, not adults who just want the teenagers in the books to hurry up and grow up. I’m not advocating for the teens in this book to grow up already and have their worldview and ethics all figured out. I just want them to have something, preferably Christianity, but something, to push against, to wrestle with, and possibly to grow into. All they have in these books is empty air and secularist posing. It’s sad and it makes me tired, no matter how good the writing may be. And I fear for our kids who are going to be even more jaded and exhausted with the shadow boxing and with the vacuum of virtue and moral standards before they ever get to be adults.

This post is not so much a review of the books as it is a reflection on the world we live in. Read the books and see what you think. I will admit that I will be thinking about Eleanor and Park and Cath and Levi and Wren for a long time. I would be praying for them if they were real people. I’m saddened to think that they probably are real people.