Will Press Ask The Obvious Questions?? (No)

Several of the Republican candidates said God asked them to run, or, left the impression He wanted them to run.

Now, in the closing days of the Iowa Primary Caucus, several of those whom God wanted in the race are losing, or, so it appears.  Is it not rational to wonder why God asked them to run?  Or, whether God really did ask them to run?

These seem obvious questions.  I would ask them.  However, the reporters following the campaign will not.  There is this matter of economics.

Reporters covering the campaign are paid by subscribers and advertisers.  Neither of those two groups want reporters to ask questions about whether God really asked candidates to run, or, what they now think about making that claim.

The questions are not asked because, for the most part, religion gets a pass.  Only a small part of the public doesn’t believe a god exists.  A newspaper or TV network cannot make money advertising to nonbelievers.

Even if reporters will not ask hard questions of religious candidates, I have to admit we skeptics are entertained by religion in the campaing.  Today’s Wall Street Journal has a story about preachers in Iowa racing about trying to broker deals between religious candidates, who should stay in ane who should drop out.

Of course, the preachers have been unsuccessful.  It would be odd if candidates listened to advice from preachers.

Why get God’s instructions second hand?


32 Responses

  1. Bob

    This anti-theist isn’t entertained by the way the media manipulates and caters to certain percents of its viewers, I’m HORRIFIED!!!
    These media creeps are criminals and the way they manipulate their audiences affects my life and my family’s lives, and I hate it.

  2. entech

    Perhaps the preachers have been quoting Ecclesiastes to them. especially 1:2 or 9:11.
    “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” or “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    I am inclined towards Billy Connelly, the Scottish comedian, when he says that anyone with aspirations to the most powerful job should be automatically excluded. Another is whoever you vote for you the politicians always get elected.

    1. entech 1:21 “Who ever you vote for, politicans always get elected.”
      Yes, or, the saying the politicians we elect are a reflection of us all. I have to admit, I like politicans, even the ones I most disagree with. They stick their necks out there and get hammered and criticized. Now that I’m a “back bencher”, I can lob mud and eggs at them like everyone else. But, someone has to run.

  3. Bob

    In addition to your posting Jon that crony media won’t ask the right question, I catch them in lies too, either through ignorance, or deliberate lies.
    The media does us a disservice. Sets humanity back with this behaviour. I can’t find it humorous as you do. I find it painful in fact. Your way is probably better.

  4. Jon, God DID ask each of them to run. He did because He wants a normal person (i.e. a moderate) to win the Presidential election. These crazies will distract the fundies and saner heads will prevail.

    1. Mac 6:22 God has a brilliant plan there–create confusion among evangelical voters and let a moderate win. I can envision that invisible God asking each of them to run, but, because he is invisible, none of them saw his wink.

      1. Indeed! 🙂
        I think your question is perfectly, legitimate, Jon, and I would be quite interested in hearing their answers.

        Don’t forget, though, that the reason for being asked might not have anything at all to do with God wanting them to win (as these last two comments suggest). It could be for personal reasons in their own lives.

        The only person I’ve seen question this link between evangelicalism and politics this year was Rachel Maddow. I am not a fan of hers, but she got it right when critiquing Perry on this. She showed youtube clips of some of the pastors he had invited to his big shindig earlier this year right before he decided to run. Wow. I thought a couple clips were possibly taken out of the context, but the others needed no other context. I no longer remember the details, but I remember being shocked at some of the stuff said.

  5. Much like a sports player tossing thanks upwards for a win – or a contest winner, or whatever – I tend to personally lose respect for that person’s proclaimed fortitude of faith. God doesn’t bring “wins” to someone singing in a talent show, or tossing a ball across a field or down a court (or whatever the victory may be – you get my drift…). If God actually plays a role in such things, then I may as well also toss up some praises to God for guiding me to the perfect pair of black suede boots that look totally cute with the new outfit He totally led me to in the mall last week. 😉 As far as I am concerned, God doesn’t call to political candidates – God has no political party affiliation or preference.

    I’ve always felt that a relationship with God – or a higher power, or whatever/whomever you believe in – is personal, and individual… and isn’t subject to, or strengthened or validated by public accolades and victories.

    1. Breezy Belle, I too have concerns with athletes who behave that way, but take is different. What I’d like to see, is one give thanks after a strike out or incomplete pass and not just the home run or touchdown. That is, they act as though there’s some sort of dualistic system operating in the cosmos–the eternally bad and the eternally good. In this case, the “bad” is the mundane, material world as we have it. Now, do I think they think this consciously? I’d be surprised if more than one or two did. In fact, I think they’d argue that such is wrong and unChristian. Yet, their actions operate that way. If they truly believe in God and God’s providence, then they would believe that he is operating and working to influence people’s behaviors and attitudes in all situations, that he permeates the cosmos. It’s not like a football field is devoid of God until God suddenly enables a touchdown catch.

      Relatedly, this is also where I would take a bit of an issue with your comment (though I realize it’s a blog comment and not a full essay). I agree we could reduce God to our whims. That is idolatry and is wrong. I agree. Where we differ is I think God plays a role in all things. True, people may not notice his influence, may fight against it, etc. [I believe in free will, as in real free will.] God may not care whether the Rams or Vikings win. Yet, if he is operating in people’s lives, he is there involved somehow. Suppose, for example, the ripple affects a good or bad play or game could have in someone’s life (player, coach, or fan). Think of possible ripple effects of someone betting on the game. I think it’s just as dualistic to remove God from the equation (of sports and politics) as it is to think he is separate and disregarding of it except in select touchdowns and candidates. Both approaches are dualistic and, really, wrong for a Christian.

      Relatedly, you’re correct that God wants a personal relationship with people, but it’s not “individualistic.” God is not looking for millions of “me and Jesus” movements. Personal does not equate individualistic. Besides, it is that “individualistic” theology that can be used to undergird those athletes and politicians in the first place. There is a personal dimension and yet also a social dimension and God fills the cosmos.

      Perhaps you don’t disagree with any of it. As I said, I realize I’m responding to a blog comment and it’s tough to pack in good, nuanced theology into such brief things.

      1. Thanks for the response… interesting perspectives to think about. 🙂

        Maybe I do tend to think that – to use your reference – a football field is (or should be) devoid of God… meaning that; I don’t think that God is hanging around a football game, influencing athletic ability.

        Do I think that a relationship with God has an effect on someone… so as to allow that person to tap into that faith in order to strengthen/effect inner faith (confidence) in their own abilities and choices as they move thru life? Absolutely – that’s what faith is… a pool of inner fortitude, a center to tap into and utilize. People either choose to tap into faith, or they don’t… free will, and all that. I don’t think faith guarantees success, or ability, or good decision-making – nor do I think that a lack of faith guarantees failure, or inability, or poor decision-making. (Does that make sense?)

        So – yes – for someone who has a faith in God, that faith presumably has a day to day, minute to minute kind of influence on the choices made throughout the course of that person’s day, life… an involvement in the decision-making processes. But – no – God didn’t give someone a talent, or a special ability that enables them to succeed at a sport, or win an election. I don’t think God creates or manipulates a person’s potential – for good or bad.

        I should also probably put this out there: My perspective and opinions will come from a place different than yours (I’m presuming… which, maybe I shouldn’t…) – which is perfectly fine, and makes conversation interesting – as I don’t necessarily believe, personally, in the concept of “God” so much as a vaguer and less defined “higher power” concept. I believe in something bigger than myself – which, from my perspective is similar to faith in God – but I haven’t ever really felt a need to define or label or give a name to what what that higher power may be. (I don’t know that I’m explaining it well, and I do apologize if I am not.) I should also say that I don’t believe that one of us is right and one of us is wrong in what we may believe as individuals – like I said, a relationship with God – or, to expand on that notion; faith in something (whatever that may be) is individual… and, to me, personal faith in something (again, whatever that may be) is the important ingredient to experiencing a happy, rewarding life – having that inner-pool to dip into as we wake each morning, move thru each of our days, and lay our heads down each night…

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Breezy Belle; I hear what you are saying. This has become a fairly common understanding these days. On an earlier post, I mentioned Law and Gospel, the two great Doctrines of the Christian Faith. You seem to be fairly well aware of ( some) of the elements of the Law. However I see nothing of the Gospel in your consideration. I wish you well.

        2. Thank you for the clarification. The way you jumped in and wrote made me think you were a Christian. This helps me better understand your perspective.

          With that in mind, I think I can make the following three statements:

          1) It is still just as dualistic to claim God did not give physical abilities or talents or isn’t (shouldn’t?) on a football field as it is to claim God isn’t there until he interjects himself to give a touchdown. So, you may have a vague idea, but one that shares a common (dualistic) approach to those you’re criticizing.

          2) Relatedly, if spirituality is so individualistic, you again share an assumption with such athletes. For, in their world, God works in similarly individualistic ways.

          3) I find it intriguing that you share two key assumptions all the while critiquing them. Because of this, to me, it seems that with the first assumption, it’s just a matter of where to draw the line for dualism. They draw it in one place and you in another. I think the second assumption may be the most important because as long as you support such an individualistic perspective, I’m not sure how you can really, truly rebut such athletes. I’m glad your reaction is to do so, I just don’t see how you successfully can.

          3) You note you don’t see how one is right and one is wrong, and the way you phrase it leads me to think relativism. Relativism, however, isn’t a self-sustaining position (and not to beat a dead horse, but I’m not sure how relativism helps critique such athletes either). I will grant (readily) that it can be very difficult to tell who’s right, but relativism isn’t a sound response. That’s actually one of the reasons I stop by this blog now and then. I like that when it comes to faith, some of the people here, Jon included, from what I can tell, are not relativists concerning religion. Oh, it may be “relative” to an atheist which delusion one wishes to follow, but an atheist still thinks religions are delusions (whether genetically induced, socially constructed, etc.). Likewise, I’ve noticed that the Christian commenters on here do not evoke relativism (from what I’ve seen when I’ve been here). I enjoy such conversations and debates.

        3. Rev. – you have a point. How can I express my disagreement with an athlete who thanks God for a touchdown (which is obviously a personalized expression of his faith) and then express my believe that faith is personalized? 🙂 Ya know – that’s actually a pretty darn good assertion/observation. And I absolutely have no answer to that, to be honest… and you have given me something to consider, which I absolutely appreciate.

          I’m actually surprised that I sounded “like a Christian”. I hadn’t really thought about that. Funny, now, to me – as a younger woman, I would have felt a sort of rebellious need to justify myself against that assumption – to be contrary. Ah… youth… 😉 Now – well, now I attribute that to my understanding that faith in something is essential, and my accompanying understanding that the particulars of that faith for each one of us aren’t as important as the existence of the faith itself. And I am comfortable enough within myself to also know that what other people believe is just as real and valid to them as my own belief is to me.

          And then, as in the case of this blog post, I find myself passing a judgement (expressing an opinion)… judging and questioning someone’s expression of faith while expecting (or, hoping?) that my expression of faith, however different, is not judged negatively. My own hypocrisy does not escape me. I suppose that’s something I could spend some time taking a look at, isn’t it? 😉

          At the end of the day – does an athlete’s gratitude to God, or a politician’s message from God, really effect me, my life, or what I have faith in? Nah. It does lead me to some interesting discussion, tho… which I’m always up for. 🙂

          1. Thank you, too, for the discussion. I think this went in a good direction. It probably doesn’t affect us a whole lot what some athlete says faith-wise, though I’m one who thinks there are ripples effects to every statement and action.

            And, though I am glad to have suggested some avenues of further reflection for you, I, too, appreciate your reminder that faith has to impact us personally and that it has to be deep within us.

  6. Wanna B Sure

    Hi boys and girls. This “God spoke to me” phenomenon is typical code word methodology within certain sects/ denominations, but by far not the majority of Christianity. Almost everyone using it is present on the Christian TV networks, and in post-reformed Christian book stores. There is a lot of it on Christian Post, and in the back woods in the deep South,( now spreading North). A tool for self-validation, and a quest for a false authority. It is commonly called private revelation. Usually for personal agendas and self promotion, (books , DVD’s, and solicitations. Currently it is also used for purely political purposes. When I hear someone say “God spoke to me”, or some other similar statement, Their credability goes to minus 100%, and they deserve a background check. I am sure they are in a condition of self dilusion, and those voices they hear are in their own head/ creative imagination. That is dangerous, especially for their vulnerable followers. It also appears that they think they are in the majority, and everyone else is apostate, or don’t exist.

    1. I agree it is common in certain denominations, at least when portrayed as we seem to have it in the political sphere this year.

      That said, I think all Christians should be open to the possibility of God speaking and moving/influencing them. So, I wouldn’t go to minus 100% necessarily but rather would be thinking, “ok, so how does this accord with the Christian Tradition as established through the Apostles and continuing in the Church today.” In other words, we definitely ought to be cautious, but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, either.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Thanks Rev Herbel. You may remember that I was talking about the “God spoke to me” concept so popular today. I don’t deny His influence in thought, word, and deed, but that is a far cry from a source of validation or confirmation of personal agenda based on private revelation. One is internal and the other is external.

        1. How true. That is why I think personal revelations always need to be “tested,” to be placed in the context of the Christian Tradition. Perhaps God did tell every single candidate to run, but if so, one must then assess the motivations and the reasons and the results. You’re correct that too often, it is just an excuse to self-validate an opinion or agenda. My experience as a pastor has suggested that when God does speak to someone, it is for a spiritual/theological lesson they needed in some way. I’m not denying that God might do otherwise more than I realize, but my experience has tended in a much different direction.

          Thanks for the clarification!

          1. Wanna B Sure

            And then there is the use / mis-use of terms. Personal “revelation ” in context, should most often be considered “personal “realization”, ( based on Christian Tradition). “Revelation” out of context can have misleading baggage, and cause misunderstanding, almost all negative.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Re. testing; Yes, the question should be– is it me, or thee? Questions the mystics must ask all the time. Also as another one put it so well, “Is it Law, or Gospel”?

          3. Responding to my own here, as there is a limit in this WordPress on responses.

            Wanna B Sure,

            As you might guess, I don’t buy into Luther’s Law/Gospel dichotomy. I think this also becomes fundamentally dualistic. I do think there are times a limited version of it can be helpful. For instance, it can be employed as a means of speaking about how the conscious of a Christian may be convicting the person (law) and the declaration of forgiveness (Gospel) can assuage that guilt (law). Luther took it farther, though, as it’s an integral part of his overall theology and one that is theologically consistent but not one that I find fundamentally correct. Rather than pursue it here, though, perhaps what I should do is post on it. Our parish is in “Luther-land,” after all, and it might be good to post an Orthodox assessment of Luther’s law/gospel dichotomy.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Rev. Herbel; Not as dualistic as you imply. Neither the Law or the Gospel operate in a vacume of their own. There is a close relationship between the two. I do understand where you are coming from, however both compliment each other with or without “The Church” only dispenses both, in spite of it’s high regard for itself.

          5. This all sounds fruitful. I’ll put this on my agenda for a future post. I plan on posting on Theophany and blessing of waters in January. I’ll do my best to post on this as well. Maybe I can integrate the two. I’ll give it some thought.

          6. Wanna B Sure

            Rev Herbel; And to continue the thought, Luther wasn’t the last and final word of the law/gospel subject, as reflected by it’s continuance up to the current time. There have been significant refinements and clarifications since then. Luther had battles then that are not so dominent today, at least on the surface. Where was the Orthodox Church at the time of the reformation? On the east side of the fence, and out of the fray, (at least I see evidence of it.) I know they were having problems with the “Turk”, but so did Charles 5th. If one isn’t part of the solution, one is part of the problem. Pretty easy to judge if one isn’t involved.

          7. Wanna B Sure

            Today the trend is to ignore the Law, and go directly to the Gospel. The problem with this is that this approach makes the Gospel into a new Law, as evidenced by; “What would Jesus do”, “I just gotta love Jesus, so he can love me back”. etc, etc,. Very easy to look at this as a “new/another gospel”. Rightly distinguishing between the two, and the connectiveness of both prevents confusion, and the watering down of both. But then as you have implied, there is not enough space or time on this site to cover all the nuances, and ramifications of this subject. Peace.

  7. entech

    With all this talk about law and gospel it sounds like the last topic “Political Views that Astound Me”. do you really think that the world should be run according to your view of what the law should be.

    Before there can be any “testing” we need to know what we are testing – who or what is revealing what to whom? After all if it is personal can it be objectively verified or tested?

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Entech; Yes, I understood it to be a general proposition.
        When I say “The Law”, I don’t mean secular/national/world law. Nor do I mean ceremonial law, or dietary law etc. I mean to say “the law” in context with what shows our need for the Gospel. The most simple definition would be around the Ten Commandments, and their extended meaning. But—we have been here before –again.

        1. entech

          Ten commandments, if you include the sub paragraphs it probably comes to about 14 but ten is good, ten fingers, ten green bottle hanging on the wall 🙂 but there are according to Maimonides 613, but Paul decided somethings were too difficult for the gentiles.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Simply look to their “fruits”. They who need testing eventually reveal even to themselves to be a fool. To the general public a little sooner. (A little bit of play on Shakespeare).

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