Roundup — 12/20/2017

Is Trump a blessing or curse for evangelical conservatives?

David French, Ross Douthat, and John Zmirak discuss that here.

My take: so far, so good. In fact, for a pragmatic Republican, Trump is proving to be more conservative than Reagan, Bush I, Dole, Bush II, McCain, or Romney.

On abortion and guns, Trump has been sterling to date. His court picks have been very solid. On top of that, the DoJ is investigating Planned Parenthood. While prior attempts at a direct repeal of Obamacare have failed, the tax reform package–which just cleared both houses today–ends the “Individual Mandate”. Ergo, Obamacare is all but dead.

And while Trump lost in the Alabama Senate race, that had more to do with Roy Moore’s failures in the last two weeks of his campaign than anything Trump did or didn’t do. This is a small setback to Trump, as judicial confirmations will get dicey.

As for his past conduct, I find it reprehensible. OTOH, the difference is this: for all his faults, Trump is at least open about them, and–as far as we know–has not engaged in such proclivities as President.

As far as we know, he hasn’t deflowered teenage aides (like JFK did a la Mimi Alford), or kill his aide in a drunk driving accident (like Ted Kennedy did a la Mary Jo Kopechne) or ejaculate all over his interns (like Clinton did a la Monica Lewinsky) or enlist his wife to destroy the women who accused him (a la Paula Jones), or have sex with his secretary (which former VP Nelson Rockefeller was doing when he died of a heart attack), or have sex with children (which House Speaker Dennis Hastert did when he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach).

Trump may be a cad, but at least he’s an honest cad, and–to his credit–seems to separate his hedonistic pursuits from his professional work. That doesn’t make him a saint, but at least it shows that he has boundaries that have served him well.

And he is doing a remarkable job going after child traffickers.

As for the Democrats, particularly those in entertainment and media, they can go sit on a hand grenade and pull the pin, and the world would be a better place. ‘

They lectured us about Trump’s “grab [women] by the pü$$y” brags, all while they were busy groping subordinates, having sex with them, and pressuring them to do other demented, perverted things. I hope the women–and even the men–on the receiving end of those actions sue the living hell out of those companies, and the executives get bankrupted.

Book Review: The Last Closet

In another life, I am very good friends with a retired Marine Corps Colonel who served as a co-van (advisor) in Vietnam; one of my great privileges has been to help him tell his story. He is an advocate for the cause of POWs and veterans with traumatic injuries including PTSD. In the course of helping him, I became enamored with the heroism of a select group of POWs: James Stockdale, Jeremiah Denton, Sam Johnson, George Coker, Harry Jenkins, George McKnight, James Mulligan, Howard Rutledge, Robert Shumaker, Ronald Storz, and Nels Tanner.

These POWs resisted the threats, beatings, and other tortures of their captors, and–in some cases–even turned the tables on their captors. (Denton’s and Stockdale’s exploits are the stuff of legend.) They strengthened the morale of other POWs and, as such, represented a special threat to their captors. For this reason, they were isolated from everyone else.

They were the Alcatraz Gang.

They didn’t take their abuses lying down; they fought back to the extent that they were able. They would become the standard-bearers for POW conduct: Stockdale would receive the Medal of Honor; Denton and Coker would receive the Navy Cross. Denton and Johnson would even go on to political careers. Denton’s book–When Hell Was In Session–is a classic.

But what does this have to do with Moira Greyland, who–a year older than myself–never saw action in Vietnam?

Moira was every bit the badass as every member of that Alcatraz Gang.

For most of her life, Hell was in session. Her story–The Last Closet–is now in print.

Fair warning: if you have endured and form of ongoing abuse–particularly physical and/or sexual–this book can be triggering, although Moira does a splendid job of providing warnings about very difficult paragraphs.

The daughter of science fiction legend Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB) and famed numismatic expert Walter Breen (WB), Moira–on the very top of the surface–had a good life. Like her parents, she is very intelligent: a member of Mensa. She has many talents from sewing to singing to fencing and especially the harp.

OTOH, to call her home life horrific would be charitable.

While MZB and WB were very intelligent and accomplished, they were incredibly perverted: WB and MZB were extremely libertine about sex. To them, inhibitions were the result of religious persecution. MZB called marriage “an outdated screwing license.” To WB, homosexuality was the natural state, and heterosexuality was a product of religion. To them, “anything goes” meant “have sex with whomever and however”, including with children.

In WB’s case, especially with young boys.

MZB was abusive both sexually and physically, in many cases using the physical abuse to force her children to provide her with sexual gratification.

To Moira’s credit, she provides about as charitable a presentation of her parents as anyone could. They each were themselves abused sexually and physically; WB was raised by a very abusive Catholic mother, and was bipolar and a paranoid schizophrenic; MZB was herself raped by her father; WB was molested by a Catholic priest. They each had horrid upbringings that undoubtedly put them behind the 8-ball.

At the same time, Moira, also to her credit, does not excuse their abuses, and in fact lets their record speak for itself: when they were victimized by their parents, that was their parents’ sins. But when WB and MZB chose to abuse their own children–and, sadly, other children–they exceeded even the depravity of their parents.

They did this in no small part because each, after enduring their abuses, rejected God. In effect, they said, “God didn’t save us from our parents, so we want no part of that deal.”

Their resultant lives–aside from their professional successes–were a complete descent into the worst of sexual depravity, leaving a trail of damaged lives. Some of their victims, broken from the abuses, would die young from suicide or other forms of self-abuse. Others would fight off various addictions and hangups for years.

Moira struggles with complex PTSD to this day, and probably will for decades to come.

(I am aware of complex PTSD because a family member on MrsLarijani’s side, also a sexual abuse survivor at the hands of her father, described that form of PTSD to me recently, as she has undergone much therapy and has even started her own initiatives to educate people in her profession about PTSD issues. And some of her reactions to certain things are similar to what I know from a friend of mine from my SBTS days who–also abused in such a fashion–experiences the same reactions.)

Here are my takes:

(1) Moira is brutally honest, even about herself. I’ve always contended that, if you’re going to recover from abuses–no matter how terrible they are–you must be willing to face the truth. She shows a lot more courage in her honesty than she credits herself. That also is probably why, in spite of suffering more than even her parents did, she is a Christian today whereas her parents rejected God altogether.

She was not perfect in her life; the abuses she endured left her with thin, marginally-existent boundaries. That led her to a level of experimentation in her teen and adult life that could have led to disaster. It also weakened her ability to see which men had her best interests in mind when they pursued her.

Thankfully, she escaped from that with a comparatively moderate level of self-inflicted baggage. I’ve seen people suffer far less than she did and make far worse decisions, and never learn from them.

(2) Moira shows, in stark, stomach-turning detail, the telos of the Sexual Revolution.

Her father, WB, was one of the early movers and shakers in NAMBLA, which promotes “man-boy love”; i.e. pederasty. They were the ones who coined the slogan “sex before eight or it’s too late”. Their view: pederasty is the purest form of love, and will prepare boys for adulthood.

Her mother was herself very “uninhibited”: she was a lesbian, but had many liaisons with men, multiple partners, etc. MZB and WB were polyamorous.

There were no sexual boundaries in her home. Nudity was expected; any expression of affinity for heterosexuality was met with hard criticism and derision; orgies were common; and MZB molested both Moira and Patrick frequently.

Every time Moira brought a boyfriend home, her father would pursue him for sex.

Her parents, obsessed with sex, dehumanized their children. Emotional support was all but nonexistent, with MZB always living on the edge of rage and WB lacking the stones to stand up to her. MZB, rather than being supportive of her daughter and complimenting her on her singing skills, was always hitting her with hard criticism. Moira could never be right about anything. WB, in contrast, was passive and often distant, chiding Moira for being a prude.

Early on, when Moira tried to report WB to police, her complaints fell on deaf ears. It was not until the late 1980s when, with the help of a counselor, she was able to successfully intervene on behalf of a child that WB was molesting.

Moira does a wonderful job articulating the whole problem with the paradigm of “consent”, even among adults, and why, even in libertine arrangements, it isn’t as cut-and-dried as the word connotes.

(3) Moira does a great job articulating the problem with gay “marriage”, and masterfully destroys the notion that sexual orientation is unchangeable. While Moira does not condemn gay people, she does confront the profound level of toxicity and dysfunction that is inherent in that lifestyle. That has rankled many in the sci-fi community who otherwise supported her, but that is her strength: Moira is, if nothing else, a truth teller.

My only criticism of her book: I wish she had shared more detail with respect to the spiritual side of her journey. She does point out that she became a Christian in her teen years, and she does a good job quoting Scripture in context in describing various situations. But other than that, not a whole lot about that side of her life.

In fairness to her, though, it could be that it’s still too early in her recovery–and the wounds are still raw–for her to do an adequate assessment of that.


In this review, I do not refer to Moira by initials or even by last name; I call her by her first name. There is a purpose for that.

One of the things Moira struggles with is the depersonalization that she suffered at the hands of her abusers. She was effectively a nobody. She wasn’t allowed to have a personality; she wasn’t even allowed to have a sexual identity: her father wanted her to look neither masculine nor feminine; her mother eschewed all semblance of femininity.

I will end this with a note to Moira:

Moira, you have a name. And, given that you are in Christ, you have a gift that no one can take from you.

That is important, as your parents failed you on just about every relevant front, not just sexually. While, through their successes, they were material providers, they failed to provide a stable, loving home life that even mediocre parents provide their children. Even worse, they subjected you to the most dehumanizing of abuses, stealing from you what was never theirs to receive let alone take.

Thankfully, in Christ, you have a reward that will never perish, nor shall any man (or woman) take it from you.

Some may ask why God didn’t stop the abuses. Almost every survivor of profound hardship will wrestle with that question. There are various theological answers based on particular schools of thought, most of which don’t rise to the level of useless.

My take: your experiences, Mark’s experiences, and every experience of every one of their victims, will be a witness against them on the day of judgment. There will be a day when they will receive the payback for their atrocities. And as the saying goes about payback, it is, in fact, a Biblical truth.

On the upside: your perseverance will also be a witness on the day of judgment. Jesus Himself said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give to them eternal life. Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

Your parents, having suffered a great deal in their childhoods, rejected God on account of what was taken from them. Their thinking was, in spite of their God-given intelligence, short-sighted and temporal. The results were tragic.

Your parents took a lot of things from you, including most of what was your earthly identity. You are recovering that, even if–at times–the progress comes in inches rather than miles, and takes years where you are used to accomplishing things in hours and minutes.

Having said that, the identity that matters most–the fact that Jesus has your name written on his hands–no one can take that away.

You were raised by two of Satan’s most devoted worker bees. Their abuses went far beyond sexual, although those alone were worse than horrid enough in their own right. They did everything they could to indoctrinate you in a secular paradigm that would gross out most hedonists. They tortured you like the Communists tortured American POWs in Vietnam.

But, by the grace of God, you fought back against your captors in a way that would have made James Bond Stockdale and Jeremiah Denton proud.

I know you don’t always feel like you acted with courage. But you did. In spades.

Hell was in session, and the gates of Hell lost.

You have fought valiantly, and have prevailed. There are still battles to fight, and there will always be times when those demons rear their ugly heads. But you will prevail, not because of great works you have done, but because you received Him who does great works.

Keep fighting the good fight!

The Alabama Senate Race and Roy Moore

Honestly, the issue of Roy Moore–particularly the latest allegations against him–is a tossup. I will neither condemn the man, nor will I proclaim his innocence.

In all honesty, the only people who know the truth about this are Moore and his accusers.

The one accusation that is most troubling is the allegation of his sexual proposition of a 14-year-old. (He was 32 at the time.) If true, that’s a major problem.

I would not be thrilled about his DATING a 14-year-old, even if he were chaste about it, given that he was 32 at the time. Apparently, as a man in his 30s he was drawn, at the very least, to younger women. In and of itself, that isn’t a big deal, but 14? 16? I dunno…that’s under the bubble.

(MrsLarijani is 14-and-a-half years my junior, but I was 42 and she was 28. And before her, I pursued Christina, who was almost 18 years my junior: I was 41 and she was 24. Both were grown adults–and college grads–so I saw nothing inherently wrong with either pursuit, although, I must admit that, had I made it to the point of meeting Christina’s parents, it would have been interesting: I was not much younger than her mother.)

OTOH, Moore appears to have sought the permission of the parents in his pursuits, and that is indicative of an old-school traditional-values mindset: many Christian gentlemen in the South took that approach when they were interested in potential marriage, as it was their way of saying they intended to be honorable. And the world was indeed a different place in 1977. Remember the age gap of Elvis and Priscilla. And we ARE talking the Deep South here.

Moreover, his conduct over the years–from what we know of him–does not appear to jibe with that of a predator.

Still, given the flurry of sexual assault cases in Hollywood and the Big Media, no one wants to come down defending a predator, even unwittingly. Not long ago, the Republican Speaker of the House–Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL)–was a gunshot and a heart attack (Dick Cheney was VP) away from being President, and HE WAS A CHILD MOLESTER!

Do we want to go there again?

I’m not saying Roy Moore is that. I’m on the bubble, but leaning toward his innocence pending other evidence. I say that for three reasons:

(1) Timing. Roy Moore is not new to the political arena. He has been a lightning rod for a very long time. And these accusers are now surfacing a month away from a Senate election? If you smell B.S., it’s understandable.

(2) He has been steadfast in his denials. Not only has he denied the allegations, he has provided credible explanation for  his actions. Those do not appear to be the actions of a predator.

(3) His accusers, particularly the would-be 14-year-old, have their own credibility issues. At least one of them is working for the Dems. The 14-year-old has a history of accusing ministers of sexual misconduct. She has also filed for Bankruptcy not just once, not just twice, but THREE TIMES. I’ll give her a mulligan for once. I might even give her a benefit of a doubt for #2. But 3? I say that because, while we all are capable of making financial mistakes that could require Bankruptcy, there does come a point, especially with multiple filers on the Personal Bankruptcy front, that it reflects an issue of integrity. And while there are sexual predators among the clergy, I find multiple accusations from the same person against multiple ministers, to be far-fetched.

I remember being involved in a particular congregation. There was an older gal who frequented the services. She claimed to have been raped many times by multiple ministers. When she described the accounts, let’s just say we all–while otherwise empathetic with such cases–figured she was either lying or she was a seductress.

So yes, I’ve seen both sides of that coin. And while Boz Tchividjian is correct–very few child accusers make those stories up–it is also established fact that there are adult liars out there. Duke lacrosse anyone?

Could Roy Moore be guilty? Absolutely. If you cannot stomach the fact that he–being in his early 30s–dated women who were on the bubble of adulthood, I totally understand. I would probably deny permission of he asked that of my daughter and she were in that bracket.

At the same time, from what I am seeing, his actions do not appear to reflect someone who is bent on using teens to satisfy his sexual vices but rather one who simply wanted a wife with whom he could start a family.

At this point, I would give him the benefit of a doubt, pending revelation of hard evidence.

Libby Anne, Donn Ketcham, and the “Evangelical Response” to Weinstein

By now, almost everyone who has been awake for the last three weeks is aware of the emerging conflagration in Hollywood, which began with the exposure of longtime sexual assaults by Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein–and the ensuing coverups by everyone who knew about it.

Weinstein, as we know, is neither the only sexual predator in Hollywood, nor is he even the worst offender. (My take: they are throwing Weinstein overboard to cover for worse offenders.)

In the aftermath of Weinstein’s indecent exposure, other sex scandals in the entertainment, political, and news media have come to the surface, some of them involving high rollers on both the left (Oreskes at NPR) and right (O’Reilly at Fox).

I am all for the exposure of such matters, even in the Church. When we’re dealing with sexual assaults, it’s best to uncover the family jewels, lay them bare for the whole world to see, punish the wrongdoers, affirm and support those wronged, and re-examine what happened to help prevent it from recurring.

Having said all of that, Christians need to be measured in their assessment of Hollywood, given that there is a mother lode of such family jewels in otherwise conservative Christian circles. Many high-profile conservative figures–from C.J. Mahaney to Joshua Harris to Tom Chantry–are proving to have been complicit in the coverup of sexual abuse, or, in Chantry’s case, possibly directly guilty of said acts.

(Chantry currently awaits trial, and he is entitled to a fair trial. I would be remiss, however, if I did not acknowledge that the body of known evidence does not look encouraging for him.)

And to that extent, I think Libby Anne is generally on the money. I would, however, qualify that with these observations:

(1) In Election 2016, evangelicals, particularly conservatives who voted for Trump, had a very bad set of choices. The other alternative was a woman who built her career by covering for a man who is known to have committed such assaults.

(After all, I hope we are in agreement that when a sitting Governor pulls out his tallywhacker and tells a state employee, which is what Paula Jones was, to “come over and kiss it”, that is every bit as serious as Trump–assuming he actually acted up to his brags–“grabbing [a woman] by the pu$$y.”)

Ergo, voting for Trump does not equate to moral equivalence with Weinstein, although Hillary Clinton is in the same league as those who knowingly covered for Weinstein.

(2) I would also be careful in assessing the “evangelical response” to child sex scandals. Many evangelicals are speaking out, although not as boldly as I would like. Many are simply voting with their feet.

This is why Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) is in financially-tenuous condition today, as parishioners are fleeing the SGM ranks and many churches–formerly enthusiastic affiliates of SGM–have severed ties with SGM. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) even broke off their sweetheart deal with SGM’s “Pastor’s College” in the wake of the Nate Morales scandal.

And while Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard–and the boards that enabled them–have had their covers blown, it’s not like the evangelical world has rushed to defend them.

When they were exposed, some wondered aloud how that would impact homeschoolers. My prediction then: very little.

I was correct. While homeschoolers, many of whom relied on Gothard and Phillips for materials, didn’t go back to public schools, they are, as a group, voting with their dollars.

The market for homeschool curriculum has matured greatly over the years. Gothard and Phillips–while pioneers in homeschooling–are far from the only games in town.

Where Libby Anne is correct, however, is with respect to the Donn Ketcham scandal. This is because the Donn Ketcham scandal–which I referenced here–exposes the very same insidious dynamic in the Church that we see in Hollywood:

(1) with Ketcham, you had a medical missionary who was in high demand in impoverished Bangladesh, who attracted a large following on both sides of the pond, and whose removal would have had serious consequences. Sadly, as a result, a victim who spoke out was ostracized. Ketcham’s fellow missionaries covered for his immoralities as they told his victim, “Donn is needed here. You aren’t.”

(2) with Weinstein, you had a major movie producer who could make or break careers in Hollywood. Making him happy was often the difference between waiting on tables and making millions of dollars.

Just as with the missionaries in Bangladesh who covered for Ketcham, for everyone who wanted to make money in Hollywood, there was a benefit to keeping silent. Like Ketcham, Weinstein was needed, whereas actors and actresses–like missionary kids–were always a dime a dozen.

The takeaway for the Church?

When we compare the Ketcham affair with the Weinstein affair and others in high news and entertainment, one thing becomes obvious: in the case of Ketcham, the Church body–Association of Baptists for World Evangelism–acted exactly as the world operates.

They may disagree on worldviews, but the people involved–in Hollywood and the Church–are equally cold, calculating, cunning, and willing to throw people under the bus to look good and make money.

THAT is what needs to change.

What we see in Weinstein is exactly what we should expect from Hollywood.

At the same time, we ought to demand better from the ranks of the redeemed.

Dr. Iain Campbell: The Ugly, Sordid Truth

Fair disclosure: I had never heard of Iain Campbell until the news of his suicide broke. I do not identify as a Calvinist–although I support a Calvinist hermeneutical model while remaining skeptical of the dogmatic model–and, moreover, do not stay abreast of the celebrity pastor/theologian circuit. That is not to say I don’t like any of them–I like Piper, Keller, and Chandler, while having some differences with them–I just don’t fawn over them. They generally are good preachers, but I do not take marching orders from them either.

(As an aside: I started attending an Acts 29 church in 2008. While I was familiar with Mark Driscoll, I didn’t listen to his sermons very often. When MrsLarijani–who was not a “29er”–married me, she was more up on Driscoll’s sermons than I was. And, for the record, we each supported the expulsion of Driscoll from Acts 29, and I do not support his return to the pastorate.)

As for Campbell (IDC), Dee at TWW provides Part 1, in all its ugliness*, here. There will be more to come. I blogged on his death–a suicide–in April.

What Dee provides is not surprising to me, not in the slightest.

During my time in Anderson, IN, I became a member at Redeemer Baptist Church (RBC), which, at the time, was pastored by Hervey Lawrence (HL). HL struck me as a decent preacher who was affable. He was married and had children. I enjoyed public speaking–I did that on behalf of a number of pro-life causes at the time–and HL pushed me to get involved in teaching at RBC. In 1993, as my employment came to an end at EDS, HL was the one who pushed me to go to SBTS.

Over the ensuing years, I had two rifts with him, but we patched those up. I lived in Kentucky, but still was friends with several folks at RBC.

But in the late 1990s, HL was caught in an affair. Initially, he confessed, quickly claimed repentance, and was immediately “restored”.

A short time later, he was found to have continued the affair, and–at that point–he either resigned or was fired, I can’t remember which. His marriage would end in divorce. Can’t remember who filed what, but–at this point–that is moot.

While I was at SBTS, the local standard-bearer for conservative theology–Highview Baptist Church (HBC)–became embroiled in scandal. Their longtime pastor, Bill Hancock, who had recently run (unsuccessfully) for the Presidency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, was exposed for being in a 5-year affair. He was subsequently fired. (I was underwhelmed with Hancock’s preaching–he talked a lot without saying much–but I can’t say that anything jumped out that said, “That man is leading an immoral life!”)

Hancock had been the “go-to” man for Baptist conservatives in the Louisville area for many years. And yet, for at least five years, he would preach on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, all while sleeping with another woman.

Why do mention these cases? Looking back, there were men and women who really enjoyed them as pastors–Lawrence and Hancock were not repulsive individuals, and they didn’t preach unsound doctrine–but, during that time, each was carrying on an affair.

Putting this in perspective: irrespective of what you think, if you are a Christian with any basic understanding of Scripture, having an affair requires a lot of work. It requires a lust that grows to overwhelm every alarm from Scripture. Taking off your clothes for someone else requires forethought. It requires purposeful effort. Heck, sex with your own spouse requires work–yes, it’s fun, but it is rarely “spontaneous”.

By the time a pastor disrobes for another woman, he’s thrown all that is holy and important under the bus. The spiritual erosion is disastrous. At this point, he is not qualified to preach to–or counsel–a pack of dogs.

Iain Campbell (IDC) was doing this for virtually his entire ministerial life. It was not simply one affair, although that would have been bad enough. What Dee provides is a glimpse into the utter depths to which he had sunk for a very long time. And, during that time, he became a revered pastor and representative of the Reformed tradition. The IDC who wrote books, contributed to popular ministries such as Ligonier, and preached on Sundays and at conferences worldwide, was a carousing pervert given to bizarre fetishes.

In the Church community, many held him up as their standard-bearer. But outside the pulpit, he had more in common with Hugh Hefner than with Charles Spurgeon.

When confronted by one of the husbands of a mistress, he apologized but did not resign his position. After he confessed to his wife and family, he refused to resign or confess publicly.

He refused to apologize to his wife, to whom he had been unfaithful for most–if not all–of their marriage.

Ultimately, he tore a page from the life of Judas and strangled himself to death.

Like Judas, there is no pretty way to assess IDC’s life and death. Not only did he commit suicide, he did so, like Judas, under a cloud of egregious sin. Rather than stick around–like Peter did–and receive forgiveness after feeling the brunt of the sin and shame, he chose an attempt at self-atonement. (That never works.)

IDC, like Judas, was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like Judas, he had the best of Biblical teaching at his disposal; like Judas, he knew the Scriptures well; like Judas, he exchanged the truth for a lie at various critical points in his life. The same exchange that drove Judas to first betray Jesus and then attempt to atone for his sins via suicide, drove IDC to commit serial adultery and ultimately suicide.

The Scriptures are not encouraging with respect to where Judas is right now. And while I make no definitive judgment on IDC, I really do not envy him right now.  While God will have mercy on those he will have mercy, I would not want to face the King of Kings knowing the last thing I did on this earth was commit murder.

As for his friends and colleagues who seek to rationalize his infidelities or even his suicide: stop. Just. Stop.

His wife is not responsible for his sins; IDC is.

I don’t care if she was Jezebel II; IDC, not his wife, is responsible for his sins.

She did not drive him to suicide; HE drove himself there.

HE was the one who–confronted with his sin–rejected the grace of repentance, lamenting his damned reputation rather than his offense. Contrast that with King David. Don’t believe me? Read Psalm 51.

Make no mistake: IDC was a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

If you have books written by him, I suggest one of two things:

(a) dispose of them, as you have every reason to cast anything he said under suspicion, even though most of what he said was probably sound;


(b) keep them, allowing them to be an example of what evil looks like.

I have harped in this before, but–for those new to this–I’ll say it again….

We often expect evil people to “look” evil.

We expect the child molester to look like Peewee Herman or some creepy pervert in a trench coat. In reality, the child molester is the affable family man whom everyone finds likeable, charismatic, and trustworthy. By the time the cops catch up to him, his trail of victims is at least a mile long.

We expect the philandering pastor to be a peddler of bizarre doctrine. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Tony Alamo, and others like them peddled false if not weird doctrines. In point of fact, though, most of them, in interpersonal terms, were affable and likeable.

The same was true of the two pastors I mentioned: Hervey Lawrence and Bill Hancock. They were each well-liked both inside and outside the church. Hervey, in his day job, was well-liked. Neither, to my recollections, preached unsound doctrine. They, however, failed to practice the otherwise sound doctrine that they preached.

Hancock, according to those I knew who knew him, repented and returned to ministry eventually. (Not saying I endorse his return, though.) He recently died.

I cannot, however, speak one way or another about Lawrence.

The issue here, is what you DO when you are confronted with the premise that people you love are embroiled in hideous, evil, immoral practices, or–worse–commit suicide when confronted with their sin.

Do you attempt to justify or mitigate the severity of their actions by blaming others?

Do you attempt to mitigate the severity of their actions by appealing to what you think is his (or her) character?

Or do you grieve while accepting the possibility that the worst implications could very well be true?

Do you allow the facts–once they are known–to speak for themselves?

*When I say “ugliness”, it’s not directed at Dee’s writing, but rather IDC’s life.

How to Keep People Away from Your Church

In this age where we don’t want to offend anyone, the church has taken a back-off stance. But they’ve taken it too far.

Quite a few times I’ve been asked about my kids from people in churches we have visited. I have told them to contact my girls. Develop a relationship with them. Give them a reason to want to come to your church. Have any of them done this? No. Not one. Not even one text message.

If you’re a church person, and you want people to come to your church … here’s what you do not want to do:

~ Do NOT try to build a relationship with that person.

~ Do NOT try to contact them in any form.

~ Expect them to always want to come to you regardless of how you treat them.

~ Think that making the services more Relevant is more important that making an effort to build a relationship with them.

~ Believe that your church is so good that no effort is necessary, that people should want to come to your church simply because it’s just that good.

Having a Bible teaching church is priority. I don’t think there are many of them around anymore, but I could be wrong because I haven’t been to them all. Next to that, it’s the relationship. I’m not talking going all BFF crazy with every person who walks in the door of your church. I’m simply talking about the basics. Just sending a letter or note when they visit, sending a text message every several weeks or months ~ that’s almost disrespectful, dutiful. And if you’re not willing to put forth any effort, then don’t ask what you can do to encourage someone to come to your church.

Nothing to See Here

Ever since Hillary Clinton went down in flames, the leftard brigade has been gaslighting you into thinking that this was all because “Russia hacked the election”, or “Trump colluded with Russia to undermine Hillary.”

But remember, folks, as Vox Day often points out: Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) always project.

(The Democrats actually have a long, storied history of colluding with Russia, as they actively sought the help of then-Russian Premier Yuri Andropov to undermine President Reagan during the 1984 election cycle. And THAT was during the height of the Cold War.)

In point of fact, a DNC staffer, who was murdered last year just steps away from his home in Washington D.C., was a key source for WikiLeaks.

The murder of Seth Rich is very likely tied to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Clinton Can’t Handle The Truth

Note: This post is reflecting on the recent account, from two MSM journalists, of the dynamics of the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.

Ivan Lendl was one of the greatest tennis players of the 1980s. When he finally got the Grand Slam monkey off his back by coming back from two sets down to beat John McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final, he became near-invincible. When the smoke cleared, he had captured three French Opens, three U.S. Opens, and an Australian Open. His high water mark was the 1985 U.S. Open, when he not only beat John McEnroe, he routed John McEnroe in straight sets.

But he never won Wimbledon. He came close twice, losing to Boris Becker and Pat Cash in the finals. But for all his hard work and effort, he simply had no chance against opponents who were strong on grass.

One year, Ivan Lendl devoted his entire efforts to preparing for Wimbledon.

John McEnroe, when asked about that, responded plainly: “Lendl will never win Wimbledon.” The reason: Lendl, for all his talent on hard surfaces and clay, simply lacked the natural feel for grass-court play.


Hillary Clinton is the Ivan Lendl of national politics. A two-term Senator and former Secretary of State, she–at least on paper–is a formidable force in politics. She won election to the Senate twice, and, on many levels, had been invincible. Her shady past seemed to have no effect on her electability. It didn’t hurt that she had mainstream media (MSM) on her side.

But just as Wimbledon is a completely different tournament compared to the other majors, the Presidency is a different beast compared to a Senatorial seat and a cabinet post.

In 2008, as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) showed early promise in the polls against then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in the Presidential race, I remarked to a liberal friend of mine who was a Clinton enthusiast: “HILLARY WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT.”

I predicted that Obama would win the nomination, and would be near-invincible if the Republicans nominated McCain or Giuliani.

My reason: Hillary simply is not a likeable person. The moment she stands up, she pisses off half the people in the room coming out of the gate.

Obama, irrespective of what you think of his politics, is, by most accounts, a likeable fellow who can connect with people.

Irrespective of her merits–and she was clearly more qualified to be President than Obama was–she stood less than a snowball’s chance in Hell of beating Obama.

That year, Hillary would lose the nomination to Obama, but would go on to take the post of Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

Fast-forward to 2016…

On the surface, Donald Trump should have been very beatable in the 2016 election cycle. His Republican opponents included several accomplished Governors and the most conservative and popular Senators. And Trump seemed to stick his foot in his mouth every five minutes.

But gaffes that would have sunk ANYONE else barely stuck to Trump.

Indeed, Trump was quite the juggernaut.

His record of adultery, his record with Trump University, his past liberal positions on key social issues, his attacks on Megyn Kelly and others, his attacks on the Gold Star family. All of these things would have made any other Republican candidate irrelevant.

Except for Trump.

One commentator summed up Trump’s base: “they are voting with their middle fingers.”

Make that both middle fingers.

I know some of the Kool-Aid drinkers. Not only were they very energized, NOTHING was going to change their minds about Trump. I am not among them, but I have friends who were/are.

When Trump said he could shoot someone in the middle of New York and still get elected, he was correct. I told a radio personality in Louisville that Trump could grill babies alive and his base was not going to go anywhere.

(I’m not saying I like that–I don’t–but don’t shoot me for observing the truth.)

His debate performances with Hillary–while not bad for a political novice–showed a man who wasn’t as prepared as his opponent. This would have sunk any other Republican nominee.

Except for Trump.

In this era of television, debate performances are critical: they are often the difference between victory and defeat. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Bush, Dole, and McCain each lost elections in no small part due to their being outperformed in televised debates.

Even with his flat showings, the Trump Train steamed on.

Then, about a month before the election, explosive audiotape surfaced, with Trump bragging about grabbing women “by the pu$$y”.

Any other candidate would have been finished.

Except for Trump.

In his ensuing debate with Hillary, he took off the gloves. He trotted out Bill Clinton’s victims–whom Hillary had maligned.

Trump did not back down.

And when a porn actress accused Trump of propositioning her–and others started accusing him of grabbing them by the well, you know–a lot of folks, myself included, started wondering if all of these accusations were quite convenient. After all, Trump had been a public figure for well over 30 years.

At that point, I figured Trump had a chance.

My reason? The same reason I figured Hillary had no chance against Obama.


Forget about Pay to play.

Forget about Benghazi.

Forget about her private email server.

Forget about her mishandling classified information.

Forget about her promising to put coal miners out of work.

Forget about her dismissing Trump supporters as “deplorables”, calling them “irredeemable”.

Forget about her receiving the debate questions in advance.

Forget about her attempt to hijack the health care system when her husband was President.

Forget about her covering for her husband’s sexual assaults.

Never mind that you or I would be in jail for half the stuff she did.

Never mind Trump’s baggage.

My reason that Trump had a chance: HILLARY HAS NO ABILITY TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.

Her husband–Bill–can connect with people. He can tell you to go to Hell, and you would be looking forward to the trip. He could piss on your back and you would think you’re getting a nice, hot shower.

But Hillary is simply not a likeable person. If she had to pass Dale Carnegie (How To Make Friends And Infuence People) to get a college degree, she would have never made it out of Wellesley College.

Sure, she was a two-term Senator from New York. But that seat did not require for her to appeal to 50 states. Her political machine bought off all the right people in New York.

To win nationally–to be elected President–you have to connect with a wide swath of voters: middle class, blue collar, suburban folks, people with center-right values.

YOU HAVE TO BE LIKEABLE, or, at least, more likeable than your opponent!

Carter circa 1976 was likeable.

Reagan was likeable.

Bush was more likeable than Dukakis, who could not bring himself to want the death penalty, even if the criminal had raped and murdered his daughter.

Bill Clinton was more likeable than Bush, who stared at his watch during a debate.

Bill Clinton was more likeable than Dole, who came off as aloof and heartless.

Bush II was more likeable than Gore, who talked down to Americans.

Bush II was more likeable than Kerry, the Massachusetts liberal who, like Gore, talked down to Americans.

Obama was likeable, as Hillary talked like an arrogant policy wonk.

Obama was more likeable than McCain, who came off as angry.

Obama was more likeable than Romney, who seemed more plastic than an American Express card.


Going into the final weeks of the election, Bill Clinton had raised concerns with Hillary’s campaign that she was not connecting with workers.

Bill was right, but it did not matter.

Just as no amount of work was going to net Ivan Lendl a Wimbledon title, no amount of campaign stops were going to convince voters that she was anything other than what she was all along: a wonkish scold with a propensity for lying.

Hillary, on her best day, is a phony. All other days, she is Nurse Ratched and Cruella de Vil, all in one.

No amount of reinvention was, or is, going to change that. That is why, if the election were held today, she would still lose.

Hillary’s only hope for victory rested in the hope that Trump could do enough to lose the race. Hillary was not going to attract new voters.

Other than the 30% of her supporters for whom abortion is a sacrament, Hillary had no strong base to whom she could appeal.

Trump, love him or hate him, has a certain charm. Within his companies, his employees–including the women–are very loyal to him.

Even his ex-wives–the ones he cheated on–still like him.

This is why Hillary’s team knew she was in trouble when Trump won Florida.

It wasn’t that Hillary couldn’t have won without Florida; in fact, mathematically she only needed to carry one swing state and not lose the typical bellwether states that Democrats typically carry in Presidential elections.

Her problem with Florida is that, in the runup to the election, she was polling well in Florida. And if she was was polling well in Florida, only to lose on election day, the chances were high that the same dynamic would play out in other swing states, like Ohio and North Carolina.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened: Trump took Florida, North Carolina, AND Ohio.

While Hillary took Virginia–the swing state she needed–she was vulnerable in other states that she did not figure were a problem.

Unfortunately for her, the same dynamic that produced a Trump win in Florida had put Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa in play.

These were states that Hillary had counted on winning easily. Republicans hadn’t taken Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan since 1988; Wisconsin hadn’t gone Republican since 1984.

But Trump didn’t just beat Hillary in Iowa; he routed Hillary in Iowa. It wasn’t even close.

In losing Iowa, Hillary lost a state that had not gone Republican since the tail end of the Cold War.

Topping it off, Trump won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These states had not gone Republican in nearly 30 years.

Hillary failed to secure the voters in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Madison, and Des Moines who would have been able to deliver Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa to her.

Some of that is due to those cities–huge Democrat strongholds–being in fundamental decline. Their political machines are not as flush with cash as they once were; they do not command the same gravitas that they once did. The days where a Democrat could show up and rally the UAW troops to fight are long gone.

But make no mistake: she lost those states for one reason: SHE SUCKED.

No amount of Soros money, no amount of focus groups, no amount of campaign stops to dying cities like Detroit would have helped her.

James Comey didn’t lose that election for her.

The Russians didn’t lose the election for her.

Anthony Weiner did not lose the election for her.

Huma Abedin did not lose the election for her.

The NRA did not lose the election for her.

Her lack of a penis did not lose that election for her.

Hillary Clinton lost because she is Hillary Clinton.

If Hillary Clinton runs again, she will lose.

She will lose because she is Hillary Clinton.


Abuse is a word that is itself terribly abused in our culture. Our culture has so warped and misused the term that it has weakened and almost demolished its truth. Still, there is real abuse in the world. Bad things really do happen. We live in a depraved and sinful world. It’s life as we know it.

When I was in therapy all those years ago, I had to be convinced that what my parents did to me was, in fact, abuse, and wrong. I was told that what they did was akin to Chinese torture. I’ve never experienced Chinese torture, so I’ll have to take that therapist’s word for it. I was also told that people who grow up as I did often develop Multiple Personality Disorder.

Those are some pretty harsh statements. I don’t want them to be true, but what I want doesn’t change truth. I have worked to overcome all that yuck and not to allow it to excuse me or my behavior. I’m not perfect here, but it’s certainly been my goal.

Sometimes there are things that happen to us, big things, once-in-a-lifetime things. Bad things. And good things. They’re not part of our everyday lives, but they affect every part of our everyday lives.

Recently I got a phone call from my Mother. It’s been years since I’ve talked to her. It’s simply not been possible to have a relationship with someone who lives in a false world when you live in reality. But this call was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, Big Thing, changes. For the first time ever, my Mother confessed that she was a terrible mom, that she did terrible things to me, and that she feels great guilt and remorse, and that she wishes she could go back and change it all.

Repentance requires one to own their own stuff, to make it theirs, to not blame anyone else for one’s behavior, to take responsibility for one’s choices. I have to be very honest, I never, ever, ever would have guessed, in all my wildest dreams or fantasies or imagination, ever, that my Mother would repent and confess and own her sin against me. She is very smart and has creatively blamed her behavior on so many things that it’s become laughable.

But a repentant and contrite heart is hard to disguise. And I am extremely leery of all things regarding my Mother. Yet, I believe her. I believe her. I believe she is deeply sorry. I believe she is contrite. I believe she has owned her sins. And I believe she has or is in the process (and it’s a long one for stuff this big) of repenting.

I have not begun to digest this and its effect on my life, but I do know this much … it’s a total game changer. It’s bigger than winning the Super Bowl or the World Cup or the World Series. It’s bigger than Big.

Forgiveness has been asked and given. Trust will take time. But neither could begin without repentance, and that was on her. And she did it.

P.J. Smyth, His Father, and Covenant Life Church

I figured it would be a matter of time before TWW caught onto the story of John Smyth, the father of Covenant Life Church senior pastor P.J. Smyth.

The elder Smyth, who ran various youth camps and also worked as an attorney advocating Christian values in the legal system, is under investigation for a mountain of abuses at the camps he ran.

Deb provides the TWW perspective here.

Obviously, the story is problematic on several levels:

(1) John allegedly engaged in abuses at the camps he ran in England;

(2) When the charges of abuse began to materialize, he left England and set up shop in Zimbabwe.

(3) In Zimbabwe, he allegedly engaged in more abuses. One youth died on Smyth’s watch: his naked body was found in a pool. He was arrested and even charged with a crime.

(4) Smyth then took off for South Africa, where he resumed his legal career, campaigning for Christian values.

The alleged abuses are pretty horrific: canings, sexual abuse, mental cruelty. While he has not been found guilty in a court of law, the Archbishop of Canterbury has apologized. Ergo, I’d say the accusations are credible and likely true.

Of course, if those are true, that does not necessarily implicate his son, P.J. Smyth. It IS possible, after all, that the elder Smyth could have raised his own son a certain way while treating the youths at his camps a totally different way. He could have shielded P.J. from what was going on at the camps.

But Wilhelm does raise some important issues:

(1) How could P.J. not have known about the abuses? I do think that he owes everyone an explanation regarding his involvment with the camps. How often was he there? To what extent did he interact with other youths at the camp? Was he ever in charge of anything? Did any of the youths report anything to him? If so, what did he do with it?

(2) I’ll admit: I am not impressed with P.J.’s apparent evasiveness in his public statements. While he might be doing the, “there’s an investigation that is ongoing and I’ve been advised to keep my mouth shut” routine, I do think he needs to nip this in the bud and explain what he knew and when he knew it. If he was aware of the abuses and did not report them, then he owes an explanation to the larger Church.

It is one thing if he saw abuses when he was a child–I don’t expect a young child to turn his father in–but it is a totally different matter if he was an adult and was aware of these things.

Could he have been in the dark? Possibly, but, as I said, he owes everyone an explanation that is credible. And given that the victims are also going to be testifying, he’d better be telling the truth. Because the truth will come out.

Covenant Life Church is in quite the quandary in no small part due to their failure to report alleged abuses to authorities. The pastoral staff at CLC covered up for at least one known sexual abuser, and another among their ranks–a former children’s minister–is facing trial.

Now, CLC, seeking to move on from those scandals, has a lead pastor who is either an innocent bystander who was in the dark, or was complicit in egregious abuses by his father.

As I look at all of this, I cannot help but make some sobering observations.

(1) The Church needs to do a better job policing her ranks, in particular her leaders. When I say “Church”, I’m not simply talking about local bodies or even denominational leadership–those go without saying. Oh noes, I’m referring to para-Christian groups who run youth retreats, camps, rehab camps (such as Teen Challenge) and other organizations ostensibly set up to teach youth, some even aimed at troubled youth.

(2) Along the lines of (1), parents need to be more active in these endeavors. Parents should chaperone at camps. We need to be honest here: teenagers, whose hormones have rocketed to Mach 9, are going to want to experiment.

I’m not endorsing the solo version of that practice, but they need to have it drilled into them: keep their hands off other peoples’ bodies. And it takes adults who will address these matters soberly to help them toward that end.

Adults will need to ensure that protections are in place to minimize potential porn exposure.

(3) Along the lines of (2), parents need to be honest about the sexual baggage they allow into their homes. Probably everyone born after 1960 has had at least some porn exposure–yes, even the ladies, as the sales numbers for Fifty Shades of Gray reflect. If you’re surfing the porn on the web, trust me: your kids are going to find out. If you’re stashing smut in your bedroom or attics, they’ll find it.

And when your kids end up with the porn addiction from Hell, you will have some contributory guilt.

Please follow my advice: If you have any sort of porn or other fetish materials in your home, don’t waste any time. Get that crap out of your house. NOW!.

You need to also provide appropriate Internet controls. While you cannot protect your children from every item of smut out there, you do owe it to them to do the reasonable due diligence on your end.

(4) Churches need to foster a culture where everyone is accountable and no one is above the rules.

TWW spends a lot of energy trying to blame the prominent abuses on complimentarianism or patriarchy or other authoritarian structures. Fact is, abusers can–and do–lurk and strike in egalitarian circles, too.

All it takes is a body where (a) people think “it can’t happen here”, or (b) protections are not in place, or (c) some leaders are effectively above the rules, so people fail to see what they see.

In the Scriptures, Paul ripped Peter about a matter “to his face”. Peter was the top dog of the Twelve, but Paul had the stones to set him straight in public.

THAT is what I mean by accountability.

If you’re a pastor, and you get offended when someone asks you a hard question, then you’re the one who has a problem.

(5) Churches need to apply–strictly–the requirements of 1 Timothy and Titus for all would-be pastors, deacons, elders, and others in ministerial capacity. Even those serving on teaching rotations need to be subjected to thorough background and character checks. That means that, if they are married, I want to know how they are as a couple. I want to observe them. I want to know what kind of spiritual mileage they have. If they’ve made some bad calls in life, I want to know how they responded.

I’m a firm believer that, if churches did a better job vetting their pastors according to Scriptural requirements–rather than looking for someone who has credentials and charisma–you’d keep about 80 percent of the wolves outside the gate.