I don’t need Franklin Graham to tell me who’s agenda is godless

Franklin Graham has posted so many contradictory statements about the Trump Tapes it makes me dizzy. Like trying to follow a windshield wiper in a storm.

On Facebook, he says that Trump’s lewd comments can’t be defended. But just like a seasoned Trump surrogate, Graham immediately pivots to condemn Hillary Clinton’s “godless agenda.” Oh, dear.

He says that the Supreme Court is the most important issue in the campaign. So since he thinks that Clinton’s agenda is “godless,” what reasonable conclusion is left for one to draw about Franklin Graham’s choice, really?

Graham has done his best to whip up voters who camouflage political and racial extremism with prudish evangelicalism. Yet he says that he won’t endorse any candidate. Probably afraid of the godless IRS, which should review the tax-exempt status of any organization spending $10 million of grandmas’ donations to travel the 50 states whipping the Grahamistas into a mouth-foaming frenzy. And telling them that he, of course (wink, wink), isn’t endorsing anyone.

This fiction is a fig leaf covering Franklin’s backside uses his father’s non-profit Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to campaign across the country for an agenda that closely resembles the Republican Party platform.

This coming Thursday in Raleigh, Graham will wrap up his so-called Decision America tour. It would be great to have a warm — very warm — welcome home party for him. I love Jesus and consider myself evangelical. But I don’t need Franklin Graham to tell me who’s agenda is godless.

In politics, pneumonia is serious, but hard-heartedness can be fatal

Earlier this week I was on a political panel before a business group. I asked for a show of hands in the audience of those who had had pneumonia. Just under half of the audience members raised their hands.

I had pneumonia once, too, and I got better. Almost everyone who gets pneumonia these days recovers with rest and antibiotics.

Hard-heartedness is another condition. Singling out an entire religion because of the actions of a few terrorists of that religion…mocking someone with a disability or someone who doesn’t match your ideal of female beauty…jumping to false conclusions about the silence of a Gold Star Mother — all of those actions are symptoms of hard-heartedness.

Hard-heartedness is difficult to cure. Its victims usually have to know they’re suffering from it and they must to want to be cured. Then it’s hard to treat. Humiliation and failure seem to be the best prescription.

As 1st Corinthians 10:12 puts it, or as some might call it, One Corinthians: “If anyone thinks he stands, let him take heed, lest he fall.”

 

Trump is fighting the last war

Donald Trump wants to spend $60-$90 billion dollars building up U.S. military might. Isn’t that fighting the last war? Or maybe three wars ago?

The national security threat that Trump talks about most — ISIS —  won’t be defeated by more soldiers, ships or planes, right?

United States armed forces are the world’s dominant, elite fighting force. No credible military challenger exists. Instead of more fire power, why not invest more in public education?

America’s continued leadership in the world depends on its capacity to think through problems and discover creative solutions. America’s continued economic position depends on its ability to create products that consumers want so that their lives can be easier and fuller. Because of our devotion to innovation, American companies make things better and more efficient.

The linchpin for our global authority is the widespread access to education that Americans enjoy.  Our system is far from perfect, but our public schools, community colleges and universities continue to prepare enough big brains to keep our economy churning.

A bigger threat to our security is the disparity in our own country between the wealthiest and poorest Americans. Public education is the great equalizer. Not the fastest equalizer, but the most proven equalizer over time.

Let’s declare war on ignorance and inequality.

Instead of investing in ships, airplanes and soldiers, let’s invest in sending students to college to study subjects like engineering, data analytics, genetics and sustainability. Let’s make sure we’re training the next generation of teachers to give students the best start kindergarten through twelfth grade. Let’s invest in ways to reduce the cost of college for students of modest means, and let’s cut them free from a straitjacket of college debt.

We can’t bomb Isis into submission. It hasn’t worked any better in Iraq or Syria than it did in Vietnam.

Instead let’s have students who study other cultures and beliefs and environments that cause people of their very same age cohort in other regions of the world to declare jihad against us. No matter how many guns and soldiers we deploy, we can’t contain Isis if we don’t understand what motivates them.

 

Colin Kapernick, Pre-Season MVP

I have a something in common with Colin Kapernick. I don’t stand at sporting events, either.

Of course, I don’t play quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Social media was afire this past weekend over Kapernick’s refusal to stand for the pre-game national anthem. More than one post said that if it weren’t for the flag, the anthem and the soldiers who defend them, Kapernick wouldn’t have the freedom to collect $12 million a year playing professional football.

I do stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. But I stay in my seat when thousands of fans stand and cheer men and women in the armed services. My silent protest draws some certain looks or sideways sneers.

I am neither a dove nor a chicken hawk. I signed up for the Army National Guard before I graduated from high school. My draft number was 297 and never would have been called. I was glad to postpone college for basic training and go to Guard meetings one weekend a month and two weeks a year for six years. Soon after college, I had fulfilled my military obligation.

I sit simply because I think it odd that, of all the categories of Americans that we honor, we honor warriors. I’m resolved that I won’t stand until we also honor the profession that will determine whether the United States remains free — school teachers.

Sure, we have Teacher Appreciation Nights once a season, and those are great. But that’s not enough. We owe teachers our constant appreciation and encouragement. We have dumped in their laps so many of the problems that our society doesn’t want to handle. Teachers are the linchpin of our national defense.

Colin Kapernick chooses to sit because of the state of race relations in this country. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said.

Good for him.

People of color in this country were taught as children to sing “…O’er the land of the free….” They were taught tin grade school o recite this from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

They were taught that it is an inherent duty of law enforcement to “serve” and ‘protect,” as it’s displayed on the police shields of many departments, including Raleigh’s.

But as black and brown American children memorized those paeans to freedom, many of them knew in their hearts that the acclamations were fiction — at least for them. Their experiences taught them so.

In this country, there are demonstrable differences in the rate at which people of color are incarcerated, unemployed, and even shot by the law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect citizens. There are income gaps and achievement gaps that separate black citizens from white. And in many states, including North Carolina, there is a vile and systematic campaign to make it more difficult for black people to vote, and to diminish the power of their votes.

It’s refreshing that a NFL quarterback sits down during the Star-Spangled Banner to make a statement. Sit-ins changed this country in the 1950s and 60s. Maybe taking a seat will lead white Americans to begin to understand the pain of injustice that our black American brothers and sisters continue to feel.If so, then sitting down would make Colin Kapernick a Most Valuable Player before the regular season kicks off.