Daily Archives: 12 Jan 2017

My Current Mood Is…

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For Your Pleasure

Donald Trump is Already Impressively Unpopular

Billionaire president-elect Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating of any recent president in the days awaiting his inauguration. Recent Gallup polling shows that just 48 per cent of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his transition – the lowest figure in its polling history.  Its figures only go back to 1992, when President-elect Bill Clinton had a 67 per cent approval rating.

According to the Real Clear Politics’ polling average, which looks at all the polls on the subject, Trump’s approval rating stands at 42.7 per cent just eight days from becoming President.  The controversial Republican lost the popular vote by 2.9m votes but managed to win certain key swing states in order to clinch the presidency. This may go some of the way to explain why his approval rating is 12 points lower than the outgoing President, Barack Obama.  Obama’s current approval rating is 55 per cent, compared to the average of 48 per cent across his eight-year term.

Etc.  By the end of his first year in office his approval rating will be lucky to reach 5%.

Remembering Gottfried Locher, Belatedly

Among students of the Swiss Reformation the name of Gottfried Locher towers above the rest. Locher’s brilliant contributions to that fecund period of theological development are without peer. He died on the 11th of January, 1996.

His most influential contribution, I think, is his massive and utterly thorough Die Zwinglische Reformation im Rahmen der europäischen Kirchengeschichte. Tremendously difficult to find, it nonetheless is worth the effort.

There’s a very brief bio of the great scholar here:

geboren 29.4.1911 Elberfeld (heute Wuppertal),gestorben 11.1.1996 Bern, ref., von Zürich. Sohn des Gottfried Wilhelm, Pfarrers der niederländ.-ref. Gemeinde Wuppertal-Elberfeld, und der Berta geb. Oberman. ∞ 1936 Irene Schöffner.

Theologiestud. in Königsberg, Zürich, Bonn. 1936 Pfarrer in Binningen, 1941 in Feuerthalen, 1954 in Riehen. 1948 Dr. theol., 1954 PD an der Univ. Zürich, 1958-78 o. Prof. für systemat. Theologie und Dogmengeschichte in Bern (1968-69 Rektor). L.s wissenschaftl. Interesse galt der (auf ihre Aktualität hin befragten) Reformationstheologie.

Er legte profunde Studien zu Heinrich Bullinger, Johannes Calvin, zur Berner Reformation und v.a. zu Huldrych Zwingli vor, dessen Theologie er “im Lichte seiner Christologie” und dessen Reformation “im Rahmen der europ. Kirchengeschichte” darstellte. Dr. h.c. der Univ. Basel und Debrecen (Ungarn).

Continue to rest in peace, good sir.

Donald Trump’s Legal Team is Highly Admired, in Russia

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the law firm advising President-elect Donald Trump on handling his business conflicts, won the Russia Law Firm of the Year award in 2016.

The law firm announced the award in a press release last May, noting it was recognized in the Chambers & Partners’ 2016 Chambers Europe guide. According to Morgan Lewis’ website, the firm’s Moscow office staffs more than 40 lawyers who are well known in the Russian market and “have deep familiarity with the local legislation, practices and key players.”

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that he had no ties to Russia and repeated the sentiment during a press conference later in the day.

“I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away,” he said. “And I have no loans with Russia.”

Morgan Lewis attorney Sheri Dillon spoke about Trump’s conflicts of interest during the press conference, announcing that Trump plans to hand over leadership of his company to his two adult sons and a longtime executive.

A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment.

And yet he says that he has no ties to Russia…. and people believe him!

Clueless Donald Trump

Donald Trump is not what he seems. The supposed master of media manipulation stumbled so often at his first press conference, it is hard to recall why anyone thought the TV star was good at this stuff in the first place.

If the potentially explosive story embroiling him weren’t so salacious, you might say this is a case of the emperor’s new clothes. Instead, it’s safe to say the Trump presidency is already in shambles. And it has yet to reach its official start.

For a showman who promised to restore the Reagan era – and even ripped off Reagan’s slogan – this is just one of the most surprising revelations of the past few days.

Reagan and his advisers knew how to project a sunny image that kept the presidency separate from whatever the pesky media wanted to focus on, such as high unemployment or secret gun-running to enemy states.

Judging from Wednesday’s trainwreck press conference – the first since July – Trump and his handlers have no self-discipline and no strategy to deal with the Russian crisis that has been simmering for the best part of the past year.

They also have no sense of irony or, apparently, reality. The press conference opened with Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary, condemning the media coverage of Trump’s compromised relationship with Russia as “frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible”.

It seems churlish to have to recall this tweet from Trump in the closing phase of the recent election: “Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a US citizen so she could use her in the debate?”

This kind of thing makes it hard for the new White House to pass the laugh test, never mind the smell test. It’s heartwarming to know that the president-elect is so concerned about how fake news can destroy real people. If only he had the self-awareness and self-discipline to live by his own words.

Read the rest.  It’s quite exact, and thoroughly true.

Festooning ‘In God We Trust’ Around America Is Simply The Declaration of a Lie

A Lawmaker in Tennessee wants to put ‘in God we trust’ on the state license plate.  But it’s sadly clear to anyone with two eyes that we don’t trust God. Most people in this state, and this country can never be bothered to attend worship, and even fewer contribute to their church, read their bible, pray, share the gospel with others, or anything else remotely Christian. Instead, Christians (in name only) post photos of themselves at bars, half drunk, reveling like pagans. Announcing to the world that the people of this state trust God would just be a lie.

Why add sin to sin by festooning a lie on our license plates?  If you really trust God, live like it.  Or just shut up about it.

Reformation Thursday: This Week it’s Melanchthon

Luther’s sidekick Philipp Melanchthon, known—in an age of vitriol comparable to our own—for his cool-headedness, was right: “The truth,” he said at the Leipzig Disputation of 1519, “might fare better at a lower temperature.”

Etc.  Enjoy.

Signs of the Times

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Diarmaid MacCulloch on the United States as Protestant World Power

500 years after the Reformation, Diarmaid MacCulloch describes its journey from Europe to America and explores its continuing influence on life and politics in the United States.

Listen to this episode here.

Diarmaid MacCulloch on the Pope’s Reformation

Listen here.

500 years after the Reformation, Diarmaid MacCulloch investigates the effect of the Reformation on the Catholic church. He explores the Vatican’s response to Protestant ideas, and explains how it continues to shape religious thinking today.

Diarmaid MacCulloch on the English Reformation

The English Reformation: A Language for the World

500 years after the Reformation, Diarmaid MacCulloch reveals the importance of the Book of Common Prayer and shows how its words have changed the way we speak and worship today.

Today at 09.45am
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b087tw8z

Fun Facts From Church History: Reforming Gossips

One of the most entertaining things you can do is read the correspondence of the Reformers. They let fly all their true feelings about one another with aplomb and distinction. Their formal works are more restrained (imagine that!) than their private letters. For instance, publicly Calvin was always respectful towards Luther. Privately, with Bucer, he freely spoke his mind:

We learn from a letter to Bucer, dated January 12, 1538, that Calvin, amid all these movements in Geneva, sometimes employed his attention on Germany. In the writing referred to, he complains of Luther’s untractable nature, guards himself against his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, and speaks with a force and decision which plainly indicate that he never inclined to the opinions of the Lutherans. It is not clear what gave rise to this complaint, since Luther, in 1537, directed a friendly address to the burgomaster of Basel, and a very conciliatory one also, dated Dec. 1st of the same year, to the reformed Swiss cantons, congratulating them on the concord to which they had attained.*

Calvin’s letter is in his Opera Omnia x/2, Letter 87.  And it’s long.  Calvin was in a mood on the 12th of January, 1538.

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*The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer (Vol. 1, p. 123).