Country Music, and Antinomianism

The Towers recently interviewed Russell Moore about his love of country music. It’s a fascinating piece, and you should read it. I thought one exchange was particularly insightful and prophetic:

Towers: Americans are said to live within a contradiction in which a deep religiosity exists alongside a fairly pronounced ethical Antinomianism and many see country music as reflecting that paradox. Do you agree with that?

Moore: Yes, but I don’t think it’s American, I think it’s Southern Baptist. Most of the country music that we hear is coming from a person who has either been redeemed through a Southern Baptist version of Christianity or damned by a Southern Baptist version of Christianity. So, all of the best aspects of Southern Baptist “Just As I Am” revivalism are present in country music – the idea that no one is too far for redemption, the idea of new beginnings, being born again – all those are present in country music. But you also have the carnal, “Jesus is my Savior but not my Lord,” unregenerate person, keeping the hypocrisy hidden under the church attendance — all that is present too. Even from artists who are not Baptists, but are growing up in a Bible Belt South, where, as one sociologist put it, “Baptists are the center of gravity,” we (Southern Baptist culture) created country music for both good and for ill.

Read the rest here.


Review of “In the Land of Believers”

[PDF version of the following review.]

Gina Welch’s In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church is the narrative of the author’s two-year sojourn in the late Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) in Lynchburg, Virginia. As a life-long liberal atheist, Welch had always regarded evangelicals with an elitist contempt. Uncomfortable with her disdain, she goes undercover and joins the church in order to find out what evangelicals are really like.

At the outset of her project, Welch observes miles of ideological distance between her and the subjects of her study. With respect to Jerry Falwell, she writes, “I considered him a homophobe, a fearmonger, a manipulator, and a misogynist—an alien creature from the most extreme backwater of evangelical culture” (p. 2). Of herself, she says, “I cuss, I drink, and I am not a virgin. I have never believed in God” (p. 2). Continue Reading →


Michael Gerson on Obama

“Obama has joined the pantheon of progressive presidents. Some of them, such as the ruthlessly cheerful Franklin Roosevelt, were politically dominant. Others ended as political failures: Woodrow Wilson, cold, cerebral and unloved; Lyndon Johnson, passionate, prideful and broken. But each tested the limits of executive power, changed the relationship between citizens and the state, and inspired generations to love or disdain. Obama now belongs in this company.”

Read the rest here.


Stupak Never Intended to See It through

It looks like this video was recorded last Fall before the House passed its version of healthcare reform. What it reveals is that Bart Stupak never intended to see his “pro-life” stand through to the end. I was mistaken about him before. His was never a principled pro-life position. (HT: The Corner)


Stupak: Duped or Caved?

The longer I look at this the worse it looks. The executive order that Stupak is relying on to bar federal funding for abortion clearly isn’t going to work. As Bill Burck and Dana Perino have noted,

“Executive orders have the force of law only within the executive branch and only to the extent they are consistent with legislation.  Stupak believes that the Senate bill does not do enough to prohibit the use of federal funds; what he apparently does not realize is that the executive order can do no more to prohibit use of federal funds for abortion than the Senate bill does.”

Could Stupak really have been duped into believing that the order would work? I find it difficult to believe that Stupak and the other pro-life Democrats don’t know the limited value of an executive order. He has been so heroic up to this point, it’s also hard to accept that he might actually know better and has just decided to cave-in on his pro-life position. In any case, the sad result is the same—a bill that provides for tax-payer funded abortions.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Stupak has allowed himself to be tricked into supporting a bill that he disagrees with on the basis of an executive order that does precisely nothing to alleviate his concerns.” –Bill Burck and Dana Perino

“If Rep. Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats were not satisfied with the protections against taxpayer funding of abortion in the Senate bill (as they rightly were not), there is simply nothing in the text of the order that should change their minds.” –Yuval Levin

“This anti-abortion EO is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.” –Andy McCarthy


Planned Parenthood Likes Stupak Agreement

Here is Planned Parenthood’s reaction to the Executive Order that has secured Bart Stupak’s vote for healthcare reform:

“While we regret that this proposed Executive Order has given the imprimatur of the president to Senator Nelson’s language, we are grateful that it does not include the Stupak abortion ban.”

I hope Stupak is getting a sinking feeling in his stomach right now. In this late hour, he needs to reconsider.


Stupak to Vote “Yes,” HCR Will Pass

Bart Stupak has just announced that he will vote in favor of healthcare reform. He will do so on the basis of a promise from President Obama to sign an executive order barring federal funding of abortion. You can read the executive order here.

I’ve read the executive order. I’m no lawyer, but the order does appear to uphold the standards of the Hyde Amendment—a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. I think that is a good thing, but I am still not satisfied with this agreement.

An executive order only lasts as long as the sitting president’s tenure and resolve to keep it in effect. The next President, whoever that is, can rescind this order if he so pleases. If something were to happen to President Obama (God forbid) and Vice-President Biden were to take office, President Biden could rescind this order. If a new president is inaugurated in 2013, that president could rescind the order. Or even 20 years from now, long after the players in the current healthcare debate are gone from office, that future president could rescind this order. If or when it gets rescinded, this bill will allow federal funds to be used for abortions. The problem is the bill.

I cannot explain why Bart Stupak has gone along with this solution. At best, the solution can only be temporary one. In the press conference, one reporter asked Stupak how he knows that President Obama will keep the order in effect. All Stupak could say was that he had the President’s personal assurance that he would keep it in effect. I’m sure that the President is sincere. But hasn’t Stupak thought through the fact that the next president owes pro-lifers no such assurance? I don’t see this as a solution, and I don’t see why Stupak does.

Andy McCarthy has pointed out another problem with this agreement. I quote him at length:

“That EOs can be rescinded at the president’s whim is of course true. This particular EO is also a nullity — presidents cannot enact laws, the Supreme Court has said they cannot impound funds that Congress allocates, and (as a friend points out) the line-item veto has been held unconstitutional, so they can’t use executive orders to strike provisions in a bill. So this anti-abortion EO is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.”

If McCarthy is right, then this order won’t prevent what Stupak thinks it is preventing even during the tenure of President Obama. Once again, I don’t see how this is a solution. What a shame if in the end Stupak unwittingly sells out the pro-life cause.


Stupak to Vote “Yes” on Healthcare?

The Washington Post reports that,

“House Democrats are working with the White House to craft an executive order that would clarify President Obama’s intention to maintain a long-standing ban on federal funding of abortion, congressional Democrats said.”

Stephen Dillard reports at First Things that Bart Stupak has agreed to vote “yes” on healthcare reform contingent upon adequate wording in an executive order. Kathryn Jean Lopez is also reporting that agreement has been reached on the executive order approach.

If this reporting bears out, then healthcare reform will indeed pass today.

How are pro-lifers evaluating this approach? The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, and the Family Research Council all agree that “any executive order President Obama makes on abortion cannot override a law duly passed by Congress.” Read their statements here.

I share the concerns of these pro-life groups. Moreover, I don’t see how an executive order can be considered a permanent “fix” to this bill’s abortion problems. Executive orders can be undone as quickly as they are done, and another president (perhaps this President!) could revoke or modify the order. If that were to happen, healthcare reform would remain the law of the land, but the prohibition on tax-payer funded abortions would not.


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