Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lessons from 1850

America’s Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union
by Fergus M. Bordewich

This was a very good book on several points.

First, on the level of history it was excellent at bringing together the threads and issues that ravaged the political landscape of the mid 1800s; namely, the slavery/free state debate that affected California’s petition for statehood; Texas’ claim on land in New Mexico; the fugitive slave laws and the slave trade in the District of Columbia. This book excelled in accentuating the significant personalities of the period and especially gave me exposure to the role of my native Missouri, via the unyielding personality of Thomas Benton.

Second, it spoke to me on the level of compromise itself. The Kentucky senator Henry Clay was desperate to finesse a compromise and gave his aging and ending life to a cause that would ultimately fail. While he lived to see the Union preserved and did not personally witness its demise, Southern Rebellion was only delayed, not thwarted. Henry Clay, while extolled for his role in this part of American history, is all but a footnote to our nation’s history. His work would be eclipsed by bloodshed ten years later.

Compromise, by its very nature, is a delay only. The book itself referred to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which was totally inadequate to address hostile opinions of 1850. While I can’t immediately recall great political compromise bills, I would posit they are almost universally short lived and short sighted.
More interesting than Clay’s commitment to compromise was, shockingly, the stalwart abolitionist Daniel Webster’s tragic reversal of his convictions in favor of compromise. Webster might have gone down in the annuals of American history as prophetic and stubbornly conviction driven. Instead, he opted for a supporting role in a drama that would foster no statesmen, only sectional politicians who averted a crisis only temporarily.

Third, I sensed, once again, God’s sovereign hand in history. Had the South seceded in 1850, it seems that the North would have adapted to some form of mutual, co-existing government. It is difficult to imagine that, but what is not difficult to imagine is the North in 1850 was not yet disgusted with slavery and not yet ready to fight to preserve the Union. The Fugitive Slave laws reaffirmed by the Compromise of 1850 would give the North a nauseating dose of anti-liberty. Southern rights of slavery would be enforced in both North and South. Northern convictions of liberty would be negated in both South and North. By 1860, the North had had enough.

If the book had any drawbacks, it was that Bordewich edited too much from the speeches. Several times, the reader would only encounter brief excerpts of the speeches and letters of the time which seemed to distract from the author’s well construed “you-are-there” essence. I would have preferred more lengthy passages and think, for the most part, that would have aided in re-creating the scenario. Obviously, we couldn’t read all that was said over the course of some ten months, and the author did a great job overall of telling us the story of a Compromise that held the Union together for one more decade.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Todd Akin Gets Post-Dispatch Endorsement

I came across this editorial from Saturday’s edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a liberal leaning newspaper. You can read the entire article here, but this is the part that caught my eye…one of the reasons I support Todd Akin for the Republican nomination for the US Senate. (vote next Tuesday, August 7).

Which candidate should Republican primary voters support in the Senate race? We suggest Mr. Akin, because with him at least you're sure of what you're getting.

In another era, Ms. Steelman would have been the sort of independent-minded Republican who could have earned this page's support, even in a general election. But she's running a purely dishonest campaign, running away from her actual record as a state senator, pretending to endorse the most extreme positions of the day, and even endorsing the violent rhetoric of some supporters. And her inability to articulate any position beyond a consultant-driven slogan is epic. She is simply not ready for prime time.

As a member of Congress, Mr. Akin was good enough for Mr. Brunner to support financially in many election cycles. The businessman has done nothing to separate himself from the engineer-turned-politician. We disagree with Mr. Akin on almost everything, not the least of which is his support for policies that discriminate against gays, women and minorities.

But he's the most honest candidate. He isn't faking it when he endorses the worst of the GOP agenda. He actually believes it. What you see is what you get.

Chick-fil-A and free speech

Last week, Chick-fil-A's CEO Dan Cathy spoke to Baptist Press of his company's steadfast support for marriage and family:

We are very much supportive of the family--the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that... We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.

But Cathy was about to find out what kind of country he really does live in.

Pro-homosexual forces quickly mobilized. The very people and organizations that advocate tolerance were showing no tolerance for someone with a different viewpoint. The sodomite bullies and their politically correct machine were in full swing by the week’s end, including the mayors of Boston and San Francisco who were threatening blockades of any Chick-fil-A franchise that wanted to open in their cities. In tactics reminiscent of the Gestapo and KGB, they were going to squash any dissent from a pro-homosexual viewpoint and the Chick-fil-A empire, daring to have a different viewpoint, became their target. Their message was clear--First Amendment advocates are not welcome in their cities.

Mike Huckabee got fed up and launched a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day for Wednesday, August 1. The idea is simply to support them in some tangible way be giving them a bit of your business. I got fed up too and joined him on his facebook page. But in a little bit, Facebook removed, uh, er, ummm, Facebook experienced a technical glitch that inadvertently disabled Huckabee’s post for the next 12 hours…until the conservative outcry became feverish and the good IT folks at Facebook were able to get Huckabee’s page restored. Evidently, Mike Huckabee’s page was the only one affected by this “accidental” fluke at Facebook.

Chick-fil-A is a Christian company with 1,608 restaurants that had sales in excess of $4 billion last year. They follow their values. They are closed on Sunday to honor the Lord’s Day. They bailed out the struggling Peach Bowl 15 years ago. Yes, they renamed it the “Chick-fil-A” bowl but they have 15 successive sellouts. It is the only college bowl game with an invocation.

Anti-Christian forces have targeted Chick-fil-A because of Mr. Cathy’s comments of this past week and the overall Christian philosophy of the company. If you care about that, you should strongly consider giving the company some of your business in the future, especially this coming Wednesday, August 1. And be advised. If as many Christians care about this homosexual persecution that I think will, you might have a long wait, so plan ahead.

P.S. You can read Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino's letter here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pentagon Allows Military Uniforms in Gay Pride Parade

The administration of President Barack Obama continues its rabid advancement of the homosexual agenda, especially when it pertains to military issues.

The Department of Defense issued a directive today that allows active and retired service personell to wear their uniforms during a Gay Pride Parade in San Diego, California.

The Pentagon said this exception was for this year only. Yeah, sure. Only if President Obama is NOT re-elected.

San Diego's Gay Pride is America's shame. The military continues to be assaulted by this administration.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Abortion Still Going Strong

January 22, 1973 was a Monday. I would have gone to kindergarten that day at James Elementary School where Mrs. Katherine Askew would have taught me the basics of phoenics and reading. Unless, of course, it snowed a lot that day (I’m from Kansas City). Then I would have gone sledding down Indian Mound. Certainly unknown to me and probably to my parents and so many others on that day, was that miles away in Washington D.C., the Supreme Court of the United States was making public its decisions in two legal cases, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton which would change the history of our country by effectively legalizing abortion upon demand.

As I reflected on this, I wonder how many things are radically altering our country’s future. How many things, seemingly benign, are setting us up for God’s judgment? For nearly 40 years, the United States of America has legally allowed the killing of innocent, developing babies within their mothers’ wombs. Abortion remains the only “medical” (barbaric) procedure that doesn’t require informed consent. While many states are trying to change that, for the most part, an abortionist will perform the live-ending procedure without giving the woman any information.

How abortion can end in our country is beyond my imagination. But it is not beyond my prayers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Christians Must Be Involved In American Politics

Politics, when defined accurately, would broadly encompass virtually every aspect of our lives and circumstances. When we talk of morality and immorality, we are really talking about a political situation. I'll leave the parsing, etymology and word meaning to another post.

We should be involved because our Lord demands it. In Matthew 5:13ff, in a passage appropriately referred to by many as our "Cultural Mandate", we are told "you are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world." Salt and light influence. They change an environment. Salt, especially in pre-refrigerant days, retarded the decay and corruption of meat and other food items. Only a Christian, an image-bearer of Jesus Christ, an ambassador of His majesty, can properly restrain evil in our society.

We should also be involved because of our heritage. I am reminded of the Canadian poet Lt. Colonel John McCrae's great work In Flanders Fields when he gives voice to the Allied dead of World War One. His third and last stanza (it's a short poem) says majestically

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I can imagine the many Christian patriots who will not sleep (I know it's poor theology) and we "break faith" and live lives of non-involvement.

When Longfellow wrote his poem and admonished "listen my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" he didn't tell us a key piece of American history, namely, that the good silversmith was galloping to the home of Pastor Jonas Clarke in Lexington. He know the patriot leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams were lodging there, as they always did.

The next morning, on the lawn of Rev. Jonas Clarke's church, his congregation met the British and fired "the shot heard 'round the world."

Yep, our Independence started at a church, with a pastor and many of his congregation aiming muskets at an army of a tyrant.

Let us keep faith with them. There are many foes with whom we can quarrel. Let us do it now.