The Flight 93 Election: A Gospel Centered Response

I was disappointed to see a recent post on Millennial Star attacking Mitt Romney for his willingness to critique Trump. I strongly disagree with the post’s substantive critique of Romney, but also with the more general moral framework that the post employs. While the specific discussion about Romney, Trump, and Impeachment is important, I think the broader moral debate is even more important.

The post in question’s foundational premise can be summarized as a belief that Romney’s critique of Trump is intemperate or inappropriate because Romney ignores how evil the Democrats and those who oppose Trump are. In light of all of the things that Democrats endorse which the author sees as contrary to Church doctrine such as “new multi-trillion dollar government programs” and the “complete embrace of intersectionality politics,” the author describes Romney’s actions as “willful blindness” and ignorance as to “what the stakes are.” This post appears to share the perspective of a well-known essay which labelled the 2016 election a “Flight 93 Election” and argued that conservatives who failed to endorse Trump were ignoring the great evil that a Hillary Clinton presidency would lead to. That article’s central analogy was that terrorists had taken over the cockpit of America and that any tactics were justified in a last ditch effort to save it.

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The Second Great American Desensitizing

Jacob Z. Hess

In the 1980’s and 1990’s religious leaders in America raised alarm about the continuing cultural infiltration of the sexual revolution through pornography and sexually explicit media – based on the long-term consequences many feared if objectification and promiscuity became the norm.  During this time, they warned the American people as best they could about how we were becoming “desensitized” to increasing nudity, promiscuity, etc. 

When not ignored or minimized, these “prudish” leaders were widely mocked and derided for raising any concern at all – “obsessed” as they were, about the “wrong things.” Others framed these warnings as attempts to stifle freedom and control people’s lives.  

But the religious leaders were right.  The long-term fruit of degraded norms when it comes to sexuality have manifest themselves in full glory over the last two decades. And they’re not good.  

Over the last twenty years, others have raised alarm with the continuing cultural infiltration of animosity, harshness and demonizing rhetoric in our public discourse – especially directed at those who disagree with us. These cautions have been similarly based on long-term consequences many fear if aggressive, anger-fueled language became the norm.  

As in the past, these concerns about another wave of growing desensitization in our country have been widely ignored, minimized – and even derided.  Others likewise frame these warnings as attempts to stifle freedom of expression and control people.  

But they’re wrong.  And the long-term fruit of degraded norms of conversation are continuing to manifest themselves over time. They aren’t good.  And they won’t be good in the future.   

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Book Review – Gathered in One, by Bradley J. Kramer

Book Review: Gathered in One – How the Bookof Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament, by Bradley J. Kramer

Gathered in One: How the Book of Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament

Ever since the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, Jews have been a hiss and a by-word of the nations.With the temple destroyed and Jews scattered throughout the Empire, there was not much hope for them to recover. In hopes of completely eliminating the Jews from memory, the Romans eventually renamed the city and repopulated it with other peoples.

Jews faced pogroms in Russia and Poland. We all remember the look on Tevye’s face (played by Topol) in Fiddler on the Roof, as his oldest daughter’s marriage feast is ransacked by Russian soldiers, or when they were forced to leave their village, Anatevka. In reality, this forced pilgrimage occurred in hundreds of villages throughout Russia.

The Spanish Inquisition tortured Jews into converting into Christianity, dying, or fleeing into yet another exile. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews, who were treated as chattel and marched into gas chambers by the millions. To this very day, anti-semitism threatens Jews throughout much of the world.

This anti-semitism comes to us, in part, from the New Testament. In his book, “Gathered in One,” Bradley J. Kramer discusses how the New Testament, and especially the Gospels and Acts put full blame on the Jews for the death of Jesus. He doesn’t stop there. He then explains how the Book of Mormon counters that anti-semitism, not by trying to smooth it over, but by addressing it directly.

“Gathered in One” is about 150 pages long, and contains the following chapters:

  1. Gathered in One
  2. A Book Proceeded Forth
  3. A Record to Establish the Truth of the First
  4. We Did Observe to Keep the Commandments
  5. “Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law”
  6. That the Last May Be First, and the First May Be Last
  7. I Will Gather Them In

“The Book of Mormon is unique. Simply as literature, it stands alone.”

So begins the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kramer shows us one important way in which it is such a valued volume. The first chapters discuss the New Testament’s hatred towards Jews, and in a very convincing manner. Kramer quotes various scholars on how they attempt to manage the more difficult passages: from trying to take the Bible as a whole, to totally dismissing those verses and stories as later additions to the story.

For Kramer, the Book of Mormon takes a different approach. It engages anti-semitism “at its New Testament source.”  Nowhere does the Book of Mormon explicitly discuss anti-semitism, but throughout its teachings and stories, it shows a love for the scriptures (Brass Plates), the Law of Moses, and the dispersed of Israel.

While the Book of Mormon never names any specific Jewish holiday, Kramer shows from inferences inside the tome how each major holy day (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) was instituted by Lehi and the Nephites. Interestingly, he also engages the concept of the Sabbath, explaining that the Jubilee was a year long Sabbath, where even the land rested. This was a time when slaves were freed, debts forgiven, and the people focused on and rejoiced in their God. Then, from the Book of Mormon, he noted that during the period of 4 Nephi, the Nephites enjoyed a “centuries long” Sabbath. This expanded the idea of the holy Sabbath, extending it longer than the Bible does, in anticipation for the millennial Sabbath when the Savior comes again.

Where Paul left the Jews for the Gentiles and the known world, Nephites dealt with “near-Gentiles” or Lamanites. Kramer shows that as Paul and his companions had a big vision that turned them from destroying the Church to being its greatest missionaries, so the Book of Mormon has a similar story. Alma, Ammon and his brethren were also changed through an angelic vision. After preaching among the Nephites to repair their wrong-doings, they went out to the Lamanites to bring them from their pagan beliefs back to Christ. Just as Paul was persecuted, yet had great success, so Ammon and his brethren struggled but gained many converts.

Kramer uses many such analogies to show how the Book of Mormon focuses on bringing people to Christ, that they are not cast off forever. In fact, the Book of Mormon frequently speaks of the return of the Jews, and Kramer carefully covers this area. It isn’t the Gentile Christians who will bring them back (though they will carry them on their shoulders), but the Lord who will prepare them.

The Book of Mormon IS unique. It has the fullness of the gospel. It deftly handles many modern issues of faith within its pages. Bradley J. Kramer shows us another key way in which the book deals with such an important issue. Our modern world has often revolved around hating Jews, frequently based upon their reading of the New Testament. The Book of Mormon teaches us to love the Jews and thank them for providing us the Bible in the first place. Kramer’s book helps us to see the many facets of that respect found within the Book of Mormon.

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Mitt Romney’s big problem

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who is on an anti-Trump rampage, gave an interview to the Atlantic in which he made the following comments:

What set him (Mitt Romney) off was my recitation of an argument I’ve heard some Republicans deploy lately to excuse Trump’s behavior. Electing a president, the argument goes, is like hiring a plumber—you don’t care about his character, you just want him to get the job done. Sitting in his Senate office, Romney is indignant. “Are you worried that your plumber overcharges you?” he asks. “Are you worried that the plumber’s going to scream at your kids? Are you worried that the plumber is going to squeal out of your driveway?” I am playing devil’s advocate; he is attempting an exorcism.

To Romney, Trump’s performance as president is inextricably tangled up in his character. “Berating another person, or calling them names, or demeaning a class of people, not telling the truth—those are not private things,” he says, adding: “If during the campaign you pay a porn star $130,000, that now comes into the public domain.”

At this, Romney glances over at two of his aides who are watching silently from the other end of the room, and grins. “They’re going, Oh gosh, shut up.”

There are numerous problems with Romney’s approach, but I would like to start with the most obvious one: the reality of politics in 2019 is that the choice is not between a poorly behaved plumber and a well behaved plumber. The choice is between a poorly behaved plumber and a fake fire fighter who will come to your house, set it on fire, watch the house burn, prevent other people from trying to put the fire out, and then send you a bill.

News flash to Mitt Romney: the Democratic party is literally insane. The young Democratic leaders in Congress are uncouth, anti-semitic socialists. The presidential candidates do not know basic elementary school math and can only attempt to outdo each other with the creation of new multi-trillion dollar government programs. The Democratic leaders are so filled with Trump Derangement Syndrome that they have lost all touch with reality. Hillary Clinton, the Dem standard-bearer in 2016, just accused a sitting congresswoman of her own party of being a Russian agent.

The Democrats are hell-bent on stripping Americans of our First and Second Amendment rights. The Democrats’ deranged positions on sexuality and gender and the complete embrace of intersectionality politics is a direct contradiction to the Church’s long-standing positions. You would think a former stake president would be a bit concerned about that.

The Democrats and a willing media and the intelligence community are mounting a coup against a sitting president. Regardless of what you feel about Trump, the anti-democratic behavior is mostly on one side these days, and we should all be alarmed about it. I hated Barack Obama as president, but if the Republicans and the media and the intelligence community had launched a coup against Obama as president, I would have spoken out against it loudly. That is dangerous, third world behavior that sets a horrible precedent for the future of this country.

(Note: when I say there is a coup against Trump, I am not referring to the most recent impeachment drive against the president over his call to the Ukrainian president. I am talking about the anti-democratic behavior of the intelligence agencies since 2016. You can read more from an honest left-wing writer here:

And meanwhile Mitt Romney spends all of his time criticizing Trump. As I say, this is like worrying about the fact that your toilet is leaking when a flood is about to engulf your entire house.

I am going to write something that is certain to upset some of my fellow Latter-day Saints, but it is an uncomfortable truth that we all need to face: when it comes to politics, Mitt Romney’s willful blindness is much more dangerous than Donald Trump’s bad character and bad policies. At least Trump is aware of what the stakes are. I did not vote for Trump in 2016, and I still disagree with him about half of the time, but I have been very happy to see that Trump has, in some important ways, grown in office. Trump was your basic New York populist liberal just a decade ago. Now, because of the crazy behavior of the opposition, Trump is clearly aware of who the enemy is. And Mitt Romney is worried about mean tweets.

I was a big supporter of Mitt in 2008, and in 2012 I supported Ron Paul during the primaries, but I ended up voting for Mitt in November 2012. It saddens me to no end to see how lost he is as a senator. I am not saying he needs to support everything Trump does. Heaven forbid. Trump has been one of the worst presidents ever when it comes to government spending, and the president needs to be criticized — loudly — for that. And as I have written many times, Trump’s boorish behavior should be criticized as well.

Mitt Romney may be one of the most un-self aware politicians ever. He simply has no idea how he comes across to most people, ie as a holier-than-thou, opportunistic flip-flopper. He happily accepted Trump’s endorsement in 2012, then hated Trump during the summer of 2016, then went on bended knee to Trump for a position in the Cabinet in early 2017, and now he hates Trump again. The first thing he did in 2019 was write an op-ed attacking Trump. I mean, come on. He can’t be that blind, can he?

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney is that blind when it comes to politics. He reminds me of the left-wing poseurs who go to Cuba and are taken on tours of the one good government hospital, and the one good government building, and the one good farm, and then those people go back to the United States and declare that the people of Cuba are better off than Americans. In private, the Communist Cubans had a description for these people: “useful idiots.” Sorry to say it, friends, but when it comes to politics Mitt Romney is a first rate useful idiot for the left.