A rare foray into American politics

Although most of my life has been spent in the UK, ever since the Reagan years I’ve also taken a keen interest in American politics. I must have read close to a hundred different biographies of various American Presidents, VP’s, Secretaries of State, Generals, “spin-doctors,” and political journalists. And of course there are the daily visits to realclearpolitics, politico, etc. And after all that research, I’m looking forward to when I hope to be able to cast a ballot in a few years time.

So allow me to make one of my rare forays into commenting on American politics with this simple question:

Why are the mainstream media almost completely silent on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism?Mitt Romney

I’ve been reading Latayne Scott’s The Mormon Mirage over the past few days, as I prepare to interview her on the Connected Kingdom podcast. I must confess that, with most of my Christian life and ministry having been spent in the Scottish Highlands, I’ve not needed to know much about Mormonism and I’ve had very little contact with Mormons themselves. That’s why The Mormon Mirage has been such a frightening eye-opener for me. As I discovered more and more about the Mormon’s bizarre and outlandish beliefs, practices, and leaders, the question kept popping into my mind: Why are the mainstream media almost completely silent on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism?

I look at the media’s brutal, ruthless, and merciless treatment of political leaders with any kind of evangelical Christian faith (e.g. President Bush, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, etc.). But when it comes to Mitt Romney – silence! In fact, even more intriguingly, we find increasing numbers of the media, and even of Democratic opponents, praising him! Something very suspicious going on here.

Here’s my theory.

Democratic strategists know that they can use Mitt Romney’s Mormon “faith” to destroy him in a general election campaign. Therefore, keep the powder dry, help Romney get nominated, then repeatedly connect him with the utterly weird religion he is associated with; keep him on the back foot defending or explaining (or rejecting) his beliefs, and wait for sufficient independent (and evangelical) voters to take fright, as they assuredly will. And even if Romney then renounces his Mormonism, that simply plays into the already damaging “flip-flopper” narrative of someone who will say/do anything to be elected

This is nothing whatsoever to do with the American left’s pre-occupation with the so-called “separation of church and state” (which is increasingly being interpreted as no one with faith is allowed an office of state). This is nothing to do with whether Mormonism is a cult or not. No, this is simply about personal gullibility and potential electability. I know that we Christians are mocked for believing in the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection, etc. However, even our harshest critics would say ,”Compared to Mormonism, Christianity is a model of sanity and reasonableness.”

I was quite keen on Romney until I read Latayne Scott’s book. Although he’s rather weak and unpredictable on social issues, I thought his business and leadership gifts and experience might be just what America needs at this time. I’ve been impressed with his debating skills and he certainly carries himself well. But this Mormonism is going to sink him.

So, here’s my prediction. If Romney is nominated, the media who seemed to support him will suddenly discover he’s a Mormon, and they’ll quickly and easily render him unelectable.

(UPDATE: The last week’s media “interest” in Mormonism was the result of a prominent pastor’s comments not media investigation of Mormonism. The reaction of most of the media to these comments seems to prove my point: “What do you mean Mormonism is a cult…not Christianity…etc?” Downplay, minimize, etc….until the time is right…)

Children’s Bible Reading Plan (52)

# 52 tells us that that’s a year of Children’s Bible Study plans in the can. May the Lord bless the many children and parents who are using this or other systems to get their children into the Scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).

Here’s this week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s this week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

And for those who want to start at the beginning, here’s six months of the morning and evening in pdf, and here’s six months of the single reading plan in pdf.

Here’s a brief explanation of the plan.

Al Mohler on Mark Driscoll

I was sent this audio clip of a Q&A at the recent Expositor’s Conference. Al Mohler was asked a question that concerns many pastors: “I work with college students…and one of the big influences on their lives right now is Mark Driscoll. What do you think the effects of sitting under Driscoll on Youtube or on his website, and what kind of things do I need to be prepared for ministering to college students listening to his teaching?”

Or download here (right click).

Am I boring you? 7 tell-tale signs

Ever wondered if you’re boring? Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project, gives seven signs to watch out for.

Happiness Project

  1. Repeated, perfunctory responses. A person who says, “Oh really? Oh really? That’s interesting. Oh really?” is probably not too engaged. Or a person who keeps saying, “That’s hilarious.”
  2. Simple questions. People who are bored ask simple questions. “When did you move?” “Where did you go?” People who are interested ask more complicated questions that show curiosity, not mere politeness.
  3. Interruption. Although it sounds rude, interruption is actually a good sign, I think. It means a person is bursting to say something, and that shows interest.
  4. Request for clarification. A person who is sincerely interested in what you’re saying will need you to elaborate or to explain. “What does that term mean?” “When exactly did that happen?”
  5. Imbalance of talking time. I suspect that many people fondly suppose that they usually do eighty percent of the talking in a conversation because people find them fascinating. Sometimes, it’s true…In general, though, people who are interested in a subject have things to say themselves; they want to add their own opinions, information, and experiences. If they aren’t doing that, they probably just want the conversation to end faster.
  6. Body position. People with a good connection generally turn fully to face each other. A person who is partially turned away isn’t fully embracing the conversation.
  7. Audience posture. An audience that’s upright and still is interested, while an audience that’s horizontal and squirmy is bored.

The seventh is especially helpful (worrying?) for preachers.

You can buy Gretchen’s entertaining and enlightening book here.

Top 6 Struggles of Pastoral Ministry

Phil Monroe summarizes Michael Mackenzie’s AACC
Conference presentation on the most significant struggles in pastoral ministry

  1. Stress
  2. Burnout
  3. Marital Problems
  4. Sexual Problems (infidelity, porn, etc.)
  5. Depression
  6. Conflict (family or ministry).

The prime causes of these are:

  1. Isolation
  2. Unrealistic Expectations
  3. Poor Boundaries.

Phil wisely calls for deeper layers of these causes to be probed before listing Mark McMinn’s stress-prevention measures:

  1. Personal devotion to Christ (outside of sermon prep)
  2. Hobbies
  3. Exercise
  4. Regular time away
  5. A good marriage.

And he closes with the $64,000 question. But you’ll have to read his post to find out what that is!

In fact you’d do well to add his blog to your RSS list.

Would you turn down Princeton?

Imagine receiving the following request:

“Good afternoon. You’re the greatest theologian in North America and we’d like to have you come be the president of the Princeton seminary. We want you to train the future pastors of America.”

Now imagine responding to that request:

“No thanks. I have something more important to do.”

Are you interested in what that more important task was?

Click here to find out.