Saturday, February 17, 2018

Musings of a Maverick on Money, Wall Street, Greed and Politics


  By Rudy Barnes, Jr. 

            In the wake of massive Republican tax cuts that benefit the rich, coupled with a bipartisan budget that increases defense spending and proposed investments in infrastructure that will vastly increase the deficit, both political parties have abandoned fiscal restraint and put America on a course that will likely produce dangerous deficits and increase economic disparities.

            The stock market is where most money now migrates.  Once a barometer of the U.S. economy, it has become more a barometer of inflation than of the nation’s wealth.  Without a gold standard to govern the value of the dollar, stock has become the best measure of a dollar’s value.  When the value of stock goes up, it creates inflation that reduces the value of the dollar.

            The stock market is controlled by super-rich CEOs who represent Wall Street.  They are accountable only to boards of directors that demand maximum profits, so they are motivated by greed.  And in politics they use campaign contributions to prevent the regulations needed to protect the public from exploitation by the unrestrained greed of their mega-corporations.

            The stock market represents America’s productive capacity.  Real estate is another part of America’s wealth that is not controlled by Wall Street.  In the past, Americans invested more in savings accounts and real estate than in the stock market, but the 401(k) plan reversed that priority.  Wall Street now has a continuous supply of money with no public accountability, and the resulting inflation of stock values has given the illusion of increased wealth.

            Both stock and real estate lost half their value during the financial crisis of 2008.  While the Federal Reserve subsidized corporations that were too big to fail with cheap money, little was done to restore the value of real estate.  The stock market has since recovered its losses and more than doubled its value, while real estate has barely recovered its losses.  As a result stock has become America’s favorite investment, and that has given Wall Street enormous power.

            Rising interest rates counter inflation, but since 2008 the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low to stimulate the economy.  Low interest rates have enriched Wall Street, while they have discouraged traditional savings and only marginally helped the real estate market.

            Wall Street opposes higher interest rates since they mean lower stock prices and profits.  If the Federal Reserve capitulates to Wall Street pressure to keep interest rates low, even as stock prices and inflation rise, it will likely cause monetary and economic dysfunctions that increase already dangerous disparities between the rich and the middle class, and lead to an economic crisis that could threaten the very fabric of American democracy.

            Tax cuts and government spending supported by both radical-right Republicans and leftist Democrats feed Wall Street and starve Main Street.  Fiscal conservatives no longer have a voice in politics.  It is uncertain when the lack of fiscal restraint in politics will undermine public trust in the U.S. dollar and cause an economic crisis, but without major changes in economic and monetary policy, that economic crisis is a virtual certainty.

            Economic stability and justice are moral priorities of the American civil religion, and they are at risk from the greed of profiteers on Wall Street who are supported by a president and a majority in Congress.  They were elected by white evangelical Christians, so that religion is part of the problem and should also be part of the solution.  That solution is to follow the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors—all of them—as we love ourselves.

            That will require the president and congress to reclaim fiscal responsibility for America’s economic destiny from the profiteers of Wall Street.  Voters must hold their elected leaders accountable for a strong national defense, a sound social security system, health care for the young and old, and a safety net for the poor and powerless—all with limited budget deficits.  That cannot be done with tax breaks for the rich and the deregulation of Wall Street’s power.        

            I’m a maverick in politics, an independent fiscal conservative more libertarian than socialist, and until recently I considered big government the greatest threat to our freedom and democracy.  Now I believe big business is an even greater threat to our liberty, and that we need government to protect the public from being exploited by the unrestrained greed of Wall Street.    


Notes:
             
The dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by President Trump and Mick Mulvaney, who is the acting head of the CFPB and, I’m sorry to say my former congressman, is an example of how Trump and his Republican minions are protecting the profiteers of Wall Street while leaving consumers unprotected from their unrestrained greed.  See  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-administration-is-trying-to-undermine-the-cfpb-it-will-fail/2018/02/14/cab18f18-10d2-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html?utm_term=.936873af0aee&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1.

The new two-year bipartisan budget spearheaded by Republicans has abandoned any effort to eliminate the deficit, and a Washington Post editorial says that the budget “denies reality.”  See

Robert Samuelson explains why the budget lacks reality and is not prudent: “The bipartisan budget agreement reached last week by congressional leaders is nothing if not a huge evasion of responsibility. Neither party will make the unpopular choices necessary to pay for an aging society and essential government. Ever-larger budget deficits have become their means of making policy and practicing politics.  …Altogether, we face cumulative deficits of about $14 trillion over the decade. These can’t be blamed on an economy operating at less than full capacity. Just the opposite: The economy is close to “full employment” with a 4.1 percent unemployment rate. Deficit financing has become the mother’s milk of politics. Compromise occurs by mutual forbearance. ‘Each party is giving the other its wish list with all the bells and whistles included and asking future generations to pick up the tab,’ notes the CRFB’s Maya MacGuineas. …Meanwhile, so-called entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare — for which people automatically qualify — were largely untouched. They represent about 70 percent of federal spending. Together, costly entitlements and expanded discretionary spending produce enormous deficits, exceeding $1 trillion a year, as far as the eye can see. That’s a huge gap — roughly 5 percent of our gross domestic product — to close or shrink. Most politicians are can kickers. They want nothing to do with the necessary tax increases or spending cuts, including possible reductions in Social Security, to curb the out-of-control deficits. Republicans congratulate themselves on new tax cuts; Democrats are always eager to increase social spending — witness the Affordable Care Act. So why should we worry about escalating debt? The answer, in a word: prudence. We don’t know how much federal debt is too much. What we do know — from previous financial crises in many countries and at many times — is that once investors, traders and speculators lose confidence in a country’s debt, the economic, social and political consequences can be devastating. Interest rates may soar; inflation may surge; governments may raise taxes sharply and cut spending deeply. But once you cross that line, it’s hard to get back to the other side. The prudent thing to do is never to get close to the line. We aren’t being prudent.”  See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-one-word-reason-congresss-debt-deal-should-worry-us/2018/02/11/505dfc02-0dcf-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.8322a0bb0cfe&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1.

On the evils of greed, Netflix’s new six-part documentary series is an enthralling take on cons and corporate malfeasance, from money laundering for cartels to the Trump Organization. See The Epic Grift of Greed at https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/01/dirty-money-review-netflix/551819.


Related Commentary:

(1/11/15): The Greatest Commandment: A Common Word of Faith
(3/8/15): Wealth, Politics, Religion and Economic Justice
(8/9/15): Balancing Individual Rights with Collective Responsibilities
(10/18/15): God, Money and Politics
(1/30/16): The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
(6/4/16): Christianity and Capitalism: Strange Bedfellows in Politics
(10/1/16): The Federal Reserve, Wall Street and Congress on Monetary Policy
(2/11/17): The Mega-Merger of Wall Street, Politics and Religion
(3/11/17): Accountability and the Stewardship of Democracy
(9/9/17): The Evolution of the American Civil Religion and Habits of the Heart http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/09/the-evolution-of-american-civil.html.
(9/16/17): The American Civil Religion and the Danger of Riches
(12/16/17): Can Democracy Survive the Trump Era?
(1/20/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Morality and Religion in Politics
(1/27/18): Musings on Conflicting Concepts of Christian Morality in Politics

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Musings on Peacemakers in a Culture of Competition and Conflict

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr. 

            Before the Superbowl, the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach told his team: An individual can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle.  Perhaps winning the Superbowl was a miracle.  In our culture of competition and conflict success requires being on a winning team.  But should winning competitive contests be the measure of success?

            George Orwell described the hostility at the heart of major sports events in his 1945 essay on The Sporting Spirit. Orwell cited a contentious football match in England to make his point: “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play.  It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence.”

            Orwell’s depiction of unrestrained competition in sports could also describe American politics and religion.  They have always been competitive, but the Trump election ushered in a nasty era of related political and religious conflicts that resemble football on steroids.  Trump is a narcissist who thrives on continuous conflict, which he fosters with daily Tweets.

            Unlike sports, competition and success in politics and religion is based on popularity.  Jesus was a radical Jew who knew that his teachings on sacrificial love would never be popular (Luke 13:24).  Jesus was neither a team player nor a peacemaker, but he blessed peacemakers in the Beatitudes, saying that “they will be called sons of God.”  (Matthew 5:9).  

            It is ironic that Christianity became a popular religion despite the teachings of Jesus on sacrificial love.  That was made possible by exclusivist church doctrines that subordinated the teachings of Jesus to belief in Jesus as God’s one and only Son who died as a blood sacrifice to save believers from sin.  When that atonement doctrine eliminates the cost of discipleship it is a form of cheap grace, but it made Christianity the world’s most popular religion.

            How does that relate to politics?  The evangelical prosperity gospel trumped the gospel of Jesus with promises of wealth and power to its followers.  They elected Donald Trump to power, but they lack moral legitimacy.  The question is whether the altruistic teachings of Jesus can ever regain primacy over the false promises of the prosperity gospel in Christianity.  The future of the church hangs in the balance, as well as the future of America’s democracy.

            The gospel accounts reveal the conundrum of Christian morality in politics.  No democracy has ever chosen altruistic love for others over love for themselves, but no democracy can survive for long if does not balance individual rights with providing for the common good.  Today, America is a nation with a two party duopoly that is polarized, stigmatized and unable to function; but Americans have remained loyal to its partisan duopoly, to a fault.

            Competition and conflict may be the way of the world, but reconciliation is the way to bring God’s kingdom and God’s will into the world.  The reconciliation of any conflict should be based on the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  It is a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, and should be used by peacemakers as the common ground to reconcile religious and political conflicts.

            When competition and conflict prevail in politics and religion, winning is everything and everyone is a loser.  Convincing hostile parties to love their enemy is not easy, but that’s the purpose of reconciliation and it’s the mission of peacemakers in our dysfunctional democracy.
As in sports, peacemaking in political and religious conflicts requires calling a time out to consider the best way to continue the contest in order to benefit both sides.

            The winter Olympics in South Korea has given a major world conflict a peaceful overlay of sports competition.  After threatening the U.S. with nuclear destruction, North Korea is making overtures of peace and reconciliation to South Korea, while Vice President Pence is at the Olympics reportedly urging South Korea to resist such overtures.  It illustrates that peacemaking can be a ruse to exacerbate conflict as well as a means to reconcile it.

            Peacemakers are essential to reconcile contentious political and religious conflicts at home and abroad.  Reconciliation cannot be imposed by force.  People must relearn how to talk to each other and to disagree agreeably.  Interfaith dialogue can help us do that, and promote the religious and political reconciliation needed to preserve the fabric of our democracy; but few peacemakers are being heard over the cacophony of religious and political bickering.


Notes:

George Orwell saw the wild and often mean-spirited enthusiasm for sports connected with nationalism: “There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing [commercially financed sports] is bound up with the rise of nationalism—that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige.” See   http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/spirit/english/e_spirit.
                

Related Commentary:

(12/8/14): Religion and Reason
(1/11/15): The Greatest Commandment: A Common Word of Faith
(1/18/15): Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy
(2/8/15): Promoting Religion Through Evangelism: Bringing Light or Darkness?
(2/15/15): Is Religion Good or Evil?
(3/8/15): Wealth, Politics, Religion and Economic Justice
(3/29/15): God and Country: Resolving Conflicting Concepts of Sovereignty
 (4/12/15): Faith as a Source of Morality and Law: The Heart of Legitimacy
(4/19/15): Jesus: A Prophet, God’s Only Son, or the Logos?  http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/04/jesus-prophet-god-only-son-or-logos.html
(5/3/15): A Fundamental Problem with Religion
(6/14/15): Jesus Meets Muhammad Today
(6/21/15): Christians Meet Muslims Today
(7/5/15): Reconciliation as a Remedy for Racism and Religious Exclusivism
(7/12/15): Reconciliation in Race and Religion: The Need for Compatibility, not Conformity   http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/07/reconciliation-in-race-and-religion.html (7/26/15): Fear and Fundamentalism
(8/9/15): Balancing Individual Rights with Collective Responsibilities
(8/23/15): Legitimacy as a Context and Paradigm to Resolve Religious Conflict
(8/30/15): What Is Truth?
(9/20/15) Politics and Religious Polarization
(10/11/15): Seeking, Being and Doing on Our Journey of Faith
(10/25/15): The Muslim Stranger: A Good Neighbor or a Threat?
(1/2/16): God in Three Concepts
(1/23/16): Who Is My Neighbor?
(1/30/16): The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
(2/7/16): Jesus Meets Muhammad on Issues of Religion and Politics
(2/27/16): Conflicting Concepts of Legitimacy in Faith, Freedom and Politics
(3/12/16): Religion, Race and the Deterioration of Democracy in America
(4/30/16): The Relevance of Religion to Politics
(5/7/16): Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation
(5/21/16): Religious Fundamentalism and a Politics of Reconciliation
(6/18/16): A Politics of Reconciliation with Liberty and Justice for All
http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/06/a-politics-of-reconciliation-with.html (8/5/16): How Religion Can Bridge Our Political and Cultural Divide
(8/13/16): The Need to Balance Competition with Cooperation in Politics and Religion
(9/17/16): A Moral Revival to Restore Legitimacy to Our Politics
(11/19/16): Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation Based on Shared Values
(12/17/16): Discipleship in a Democracy: A Test of Faith, Legitimacy and Politics
(2/25/17): The Need for a Revolution in Religion and Politics
(3/18/17): Moral Ambiguity in Religion and Politics
(4/22/17): The Relevance of Jesus and the Irrelevance of the Church in Today’s World
(4/29/17): A Wesleyan Alternative for an Irrelevant Church
(5/27/17): Intrafaith Reconciliation as a Prerequisite for Interfaith Reconciliation
(7/1/17): Religion, Moral Authority and Conflicting Concepts of Legitimacy
(7/15/17) Religion and Progressive Politics
(7/29/17): Speaking God’s Truth to Man’s Power
(8/5/17): Does Religion Seek to Reconcile and Redeem or to Divide and Conquer?
(8/12/17): The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism 
(9/9/17): The Evolution of the American Civil Religion and Habits of the Heart http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/09/the-evolution-of-american-civil.html.
(9/23/17): Tribalism and the American Civil Religion 
(11/11/17): A Politics of Reconciliation that Should Begin in the Church
(11/18/17): Radical Religion and the Demise of Democracy
(12/2/17): How Religious Standards of Legitimacy Shape Politics, for Good or Bad
(12/16/17): Can Democracy Survive the Trump Era?
(12/23/17): If Democracy Survives the Trump Era, Can the Church Survive Democracy? http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/12/if-democracy-survives-trump-era-can.html.
(1/6/18): The Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Diversity in Democracy
(1/20/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Morality and Religion in Politics
(2/3/18): Musings on the Search for Truth through Interfaith Dialogue
http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/02/musings-on-search-for-truth-through.html

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Musings on the Search for Truth through Interfaith Dialogue


  By Rudy Barnes, Jr. 

            After President Trump’s State of the Union address, the question left hanging in the air is “What is truth?  It’s a question that has resonated down through the ages ever since Jesus stood before Pilate, and one that we must answer in our democracy.  Our faith shapes our standards of political legitimacy with God’s truth, and interfaith dialogue can help us find that truth.  

            Americans seem to have agreed to disagree on issues of politics, morality and religion.  Politics in America are polarized and reconciliation seems beyond reach.  More than 70% of Americans claim to be Christians, but white evangelical Christians elected a president who has demonstrated narcissistic immorality that makes a mockery of Christian standards of legitimacy.

            Christianity in America is so diverse as to defy definition.  It is no longer the coherent religion that once defined the American civil religion.  Traditional Christianity has been hijacked by a materialistic prosperity gospel promoted by the supporters of Donald Trump.  It more closely resembles the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand than the gospel of Jesus.

            The prosperity gospel echoes ancient Jewish beliefs that rewarded faithfulness with worldly prosperity and power.  It was evident in the rich man who came to Jesus seeking eternal life but did not give up his wealth to follow Jesus. (see Mark 10:17-27)  Jesus identified with the poor and powerless, and emphasized spiritual rather than worldly rewards for faithfulness. 
           
            The greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, including our neighbors of other races and religions, is a summary of the altruistic and universal teachings of Jesus.  It is a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, and the foundation for a politics of reconciliation.  Jesus emphasized the primacy of love over law, and the Qur’an considers Jesus a prophet like Moses and Muhammad. (see 43:59-65; 57:27)

            Interfaith dialogue can relate the altruistic teachings of Jesus as the word of God to a world that loves wealth and power.  In our materialistic and hedonistic culture, the prosperity gospel has eclipsed the gospel of Jesus.  Jesus knew that his teachings would not be popular, but the church, in its zeal to make Christianity a popular religion, has made worshipping Jesus as God more important to salvation than following Jesus as the word of God.

            Evangelicals have become the voice of Christianity by default.  That’s because mainline Protestant churches have avoided contentious issues of faith, morality and politics since the civil rights era and the Vietnam War.  The interfaith dialogue group can fill this void in religion and politics by discussing volatile issues in a way that promotes religious and political reconciliation.

            Jesus was a radical Jewish rabbi who never promoted his own religion or condemned any others.  He sought to put the altruistic love for others at the heart of Judaism.  John Wesley sought to do the same thing in his 18th century Anglican Church.  He organized his Methodists into small groups that met weekly to discuss social and political issues and to hold each other accountable for regular acts of discipleship.  It was a precedent for the interfaith dialogue group.      

            Theoretically the church is an excellent venue for interfaith dialogue, but in spite of the Wesleyan precedent, United Methodist churches seem reluctant to promote interfaith dialogue.  Ideally the interfaith group is a small group of six to twelve people who have different religious backgrounds but who want to share their journey of faith with those of other religions.   

            To assist those interested in forming an interfaith dialogue group, the Resources provided at http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/p/resources.html include a study guide, The Teachings of Jesus and Muhammad on Morality and Law: The Heart of Legitimacy, along with The Interfaith Fellowship: A Model of Purpose and Process for Interfaith Dialogue.  The website offers 166 topics on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics that address interfaith issues.       

            The search for truth in a democracy contaminated with fake truths is a daunting mission, but one essential for people of faith in their stewardship of democracy.  The interfaith dialogue group is for all whose journey of faith has taken them beyond belief in one true faith.  It can enable people of all faiths to explore together the dynamic world of religion and politics; and just maybe it can help people of faith save their democracy from themselves.      


Notes:

Mustafa Akyol has explored the relationship between religion, morality and politics in Turkey, and reached conclusions that are analogous to religion and politics in the U.S.:  “The religious conservatives have morally failed [and] become corrupted by power. But power corrupts more easily when you have neither principles nor integrity.”  He noted that “religious texts often have moral teachings with which people can question and instruct themselves.  The Quran, just like the Bible, has such pearls of wisdom. A person who follows such virtuous teachings will likely develop a moral character, just as a person who follows similar teachings in the Bible will.”  But Akyol notes that for some people “…religion works not as cure for the soul, but as drug for the ego. It makes them not humble, but arrogant.”  ...In legalistic religious traditions, like Judaism and Islam, this problem occurs when religion is reduced to the practice of rituals. An exceptional Jewish rabbi who lived two millenniums ago, Jesus of Nazareth, spotted this problem. Those practicing Pharisees who are ‘confident of their own righteousness and look down on everybody else,’ he declared, are not really righteous.  This kind of ‘us vs. them’ mentality can corrupt and radicalize any religious community.  Conscientious believers in every tradition need to stand against the toxic urges that turn religion into a hollow vessel of arrogance, bigotry, hatred and greed.  Otherwise, more and more evil will be done in their faith’s name. And more and more people will ask, as many young Turks are asking these days, what religion is really good for.”  See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/does-religion-make-people-moral.html.
In opposing radical Islamists who promote an exclusivist Islam that condemns other religions, Akyol has cited a provision of the Qur’an that accepts other religions of the book and desires Jews, Christians and Muslims “compete with each other in doing good.” See Qur’an 5:48, cited at p. 285 in Akyol, Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, Norton, NY, 2013.     

Mustafa Akyol has described what Jesus can teach today’s Muslims on putting love over law:  “He called on his fellow Jews to focus on their religion’s moral principles, rather than obsessing with the minute details of religious law. He criticized the legalist Pharisees, for example, for ‘tithing mint and rue and every herb,’ but neglecting “justice and the love of God.  …Muslims need to take notice because they are going through a crisis very similar to the one Jesus addressed: While being pressed by a foreign civilization, they are also troubled by their own fanatics who see the light only in imposing a rigid law, Shariah, and fighting for theocratic rule. Muslims need a creative third way, which will be true to their faith but also free from the burdens of the past tradition and the current political context.  …But no Muslim religious leader has yet stressed the crucial gap between divine purposes and dry legalism as powerfully as Jesus did.  Jesus showed that sacrificing the spirit of religion to literalism leads to horrors, like the stoning of innocent women by bigoted men — as it still happens in some Muslim countries today.  He also taught that obsession with outward expressions of piety can nurture a culture of hypocrisy — as is the case in some Muslim communities today. Jesus even defined humanism as a higher value than legalism, famously declaring, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  … If Jesus is ‘a prophet of Islam,’ as we Muslims often proudly say, then we should think on these questions.  Because Jesus addressed the very problems that haunt us today and established a prophetic wisdom perfectly fit for our times.  See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/opinion/what-jesus-can-teach-todays-muslims.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2FMustafa%20Akyol&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Collection&region=Marginalia&src=me&version=column&pgtype=article.  Generally, see Akyol, How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims: The Islamic Jesus, St. Martin’s Press, NY, 2017.      

Deidre McPhillips has cited a recent survey that found most people consider religion the primary source of global conflict today, since “spiritual beliefs create an ‘us versus them’ scenario.  …More than 80% surveyed said that religious beliefs guide a person’s behavior.”  Because religion is a source of conflict, McPhillips advocates faith–based dialogue for interfaith reconciliation.  See  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2018-01-23/tribal-divisions-created-by-religion-most-harmful-in-global-conflict-experts-say.


Related Commentary:

(12/8/14): Religion and Reason
(1/11/15): The Greatest Commandment: A Common Word of Faith
(1/18/15): Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy
(2/8/15): Promoting Religion Through Evangelism: Bringing Light or Darkness?
(2/15/15): Is Religion Good or Evil?
(3/8/15): Wealth, Politics, Religion and Economic Justice
(3/29/15): God and Country: Resolving Conflicting Concepts of Sovereignty
(4/5/15): Seeing the Resurrection in a New Light
(4/12/15): Faith as a Source of Morality and Law: The Heart of Legitimacy
(4/19/15): Jesus: A Prophet, God’s Only Son, or the Logos?  http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/04/jesus-prophet-god-only-son-or-logos.html
(5/3/15): A Fundamental Problem with Religion
(6/14/15): Jesus Meets Muhammad Today
(6/21/15): Christians Meet Muslims Today
(7/5/15): Reconciliation as a Remedy for Racism and Religious Exclusivism
(7/12/15): Reconciliation in Race and Religion: The Need for Compatibility, not Conformity   http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/07/reconciliation-in-race-and-religion.html (7/26/15): Fear and Fundamentalism
(8/9/15): Balancing Individual Rights with Collective Responsibilities
(8/23/15): Legitimacy as a Context and Paradigm to Resolve Religious Conflict
(8/30/15): What Is Truth?
(9/20/15) Politics and Religious Polarization
(10/4/15): Faith and Religion: The Same but Different
(10/11/15): Seeking, Being and Doing on Our Journey of Faith
(10/25/15): The Muslim Stranger: A Good Neighbor or a Threat?
(1/2/16): God in Three Concepts
(1/23/16): Who Is My Neighbor?
(1/30/16): The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
(2/7/16): Jesus Meets Muhammad on Issues of Religion and Politics
(2/27/16): Conflicting Concepts of Legitimacy in Faith, Freedom and Politics
(3/12/16): Religion, Race and the Deterioration of Democracy in America
(4/30/16): The Relevance of Religion to Politics
(5/7/16): Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation
(5/21/16): Religious Fundamentalism and a Politics of Reconciliation
(6/18/16): A Politics of Reconciliation with Liberty and Justice for All
http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/06/a-politics-of-reconciliation-with.html (8/5/16): How Religion Can Bridge Our Political and Cultural Divide
(9/17/16): A Moral Revival to Restore Legitimacy to Our Politics
(11/19/16): Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation Based on Shared Values
(12/17/16): Discipleship in a Democracy: A Test of Faith, Legitimacy and Politics
(2/25/17): The Need for a Revolution in Religion and Politics
(3/11/17): Accountability and the Stewardship of Democracy
(3/18/17): Moral Ambiguity in Religion and Politics
(4/22/17): The Relevance of Jesus and the Irrelevance of the Church in Today’s World
(4/29/17): A Wesleyan Alternative for an Irrelevant Church
(5/27/17): Intrafaith Reconciliation as a Prerequisite for Interfaith Reconciliation
(6/10/17): Religious Exclusivity and Discrimination in Politics    http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/06/religious-exclusivity-and.html
(7/1/17): Religion, Moral Authority and Conflicting Concepts of Legitimacy
(7/15/17) Religion and Progressive Politics
(7/22/17): Hell No!
(8/5/17): Does Religion Seek to Reconcile and Redeem or to Divide and Conquer?
(8/12/17): The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism 
(9/9/17): The Evolution of the American Civil Religion and Habits of the Heart http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/09/the-evolution-of-american-civil.html.
(9/23/17): Tribalism and the American Civil Religion 
(11/11/17): A Politics of Reconciliation that Should Begin in the Church
(11/18/17): Radical Religion and the Demise of Democracy
(12/2/17): How Religious Standards of Legitimacy Shape Politics, for Good or Bad
(12/16/17): Can Democracy Survive the Trump Era?
(12/23/17): If Democracy Survives the Trump Era, Can the Church Survive Democracy? http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/12/if-democracy-survives-trump-era-can.html.
(1/6/18): The Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Diversity in Democracy
(1/20/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Morality and Religion in Politics