Tuesday, April 12, 2016

70 Years of Gallup Polls: Americans Still Christian, Still Attend Church As Much As They Did In The 40s and 50s

Here is a good example of how the media is influencing what we think, without us even realizing it. All over the net, ministry-consultant websites quote the common belief that "church attendance is down" and "America is post-Christian".  Yet, study after study shows that Americans overall are still faithful to Jesus Christ, and still believe their religion is most important to their lives.

Gallup results in 2013:
"Americans are no less likely to report having attended church in the past seven days today than they were in 1940 and 1950 -- albeit with many fluctuations since that time, including higher reports in the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. Americans' self-reports of the importance of religion are also no lower than at points in previous decades. "



The Pew Research Center has not been tracking this long enough to be able to make wise comparisons with our fathers' and grandfathers' generations, but the Pew survey in 2014 mirrors Gallup's 2013 & 2014 findings.

Despite this, Pew points at their 2007 results to claim that Americans are "becoming less religious". I think the Gallup research shows that statement to be somewhat an example of interpretive bias: looking at the same numbers and finding a different result. While Pew did have some differences between 2007 and 2014, the Gallup data points over the years show the futility of using two recent years to predict trends reliably.

70% of Pew's 2014 respondents continue to confess Christ as their Savior, while  Gallup found 75% of Americans are Christians in 2014, with 50% being Protestant. Gallup noted here, too,  that this is mostly unchanged over the past 70 years:
"In the 1950s, Gallup surveys showed that up to 71% of Americans identified as Protestant, and small percentages had no religious identity. Then, as now, however, well more than 90% of Americans who express a religious preference identify themselves as Christians."
Pew has an interesting survey that also shows the vast majority of Christians of all denominations are involved with their congregation. While the title proclaims, accurately, that "Church Involvement Varies Widely Among US Christians", the most pronounced variation is between high involvement and medium involvement. Only 12% overall "seldom" attend or are not currently members. Dark blue is "high involvement", light blue is "medium involvement":

 "Those who are members of a congregation, attend religious services at least weekly and attend a prayer or scripture group weekly or monthly are categorized as having a “high” level of congregational involvement, while those who are not members of a congregation and who seldom or never attend religious services and small group prayer or scripture-reading groups are in the “low” category. All other respondents are categorized as having a “medium” level of congregational involvement.
Among U.S. adults who are Christian, three-in-ten have a high level of congregational involvement, while 58% have a medium level and 12% fall into the low category. "

Please always dig into the actual results on any studies like these. Look past the headlines and past the data-point blurbs to see the facts for yourself. You will usually find that the real American world is still alive and well, despite the sensation and insanity reported by the news or pushed by politicians and activists.

Christians are standing firm against the forces that want to deceive us and destroy our faith. Remember this in your own personal battles: you are not alone when you stand up for Jesus. You are surrounded not only by the "great cloud of witnesses" Peter told us about, but also by the faithful men and women and children of America today.

Be of good cheer! When it comes to the Church in America, be heartened: souls are still being won to Christ Jesus, and most of us are still worshiping together on Sundays in the church building. Let us pray for each other and run with patience this marathon that God has set before us!



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rogation Days: "Justice in the Preservation of the Boundaries"

"Rogation Days" were a church tradition in Europe that involved the whole community walking the boundaries of their village lands, led by their Priest and asking the blessing of God on it all.

Maybe if we had kept walking the boundaries and teaching children the landmarks, we would not be in such danger from the new iconoclasts today, who seem determined to tear down every landmark of civilization. From the article "Rogation and Ascension"  on Full Homely Divinity:

"The reminder of boundaries had another important impact on communal life. In a poem by the 20th century American Robert Frost, the poet's neighbor asserts that "good fences make good neighbors." Boundaries are often very important in relationships. As members of parishes beat the bounds, they would often encounter obstructions and violations of boundaries. The annual beating of the bounds provided an opportunity to resolve boundary issues. It also led to the tradition of seeking reconciliation in personal relationships during Rogationtide. The sharing of a specially brewed ale, called Ganging Beer, and a mysterious pastry, called Rammalation Biscuits, at the end of the walk was a good way of sealing the reconciliation.
"George Herbert gave the following good reasons to beat the bounds: 1) a blessing of God for the fruits of the field; 2) Justice in the preservation of the bounds; 3) Charity, in living, walking and neighbourly accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if they be any; 4) Mercy, in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution of largess which at that time is or ought be made."  [in The Country Parson, Chapter 35]


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday: The Kingship of the Lord of All Creation


The Catholic version of the Holy Bible contains books and sections that were contained in the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament used during Jesus's time, but that are not a part of Protestant versions.  
This passage, following Verse 23 of the Catholic version of Daniel Chapter 3, was posted by a commenter  over at The Last Refuge (aka Conservative Treehouse). Thank you Mary Ann for opening my eyes to this perfect prayer on the day we celebrate Jesus's Kingship over all Creation!  
28 Then the three, as with one mouth, praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace, saying:
29 “Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers,
    and to be praised and highly exalted for ever;
30 And blessed is thy glorious, holy name
    and to be highly praised and highly exalted for ever;
31 Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holy glory
    and to be extolled and highly glorified for ever.
32 Blessed art thou, who sittest upon cherubim and lookest upon the deeps,
    and to be praised and highly exalted for ever.
33 Blessed art thou upon the throne of thy kingdom
    and to be extolled and highly exalted for ever.
34 Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven
    and to be sung and glorified for ever.
35 “Bless the Lord, all works of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
36 Bless the Lord, you heavens,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
37 Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
38 Bless the Lord, all waters above the heaven,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
39 Bless the Lord, all powers,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
40 Bless the Lord, sun and moon,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
41 Bless the Lord, stars of heaven,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
42 Bless the Lord, all rain and dew,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
43 Bless the Lord, all winds,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
44 Bless the Lord, fire and heat,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
45 Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
46 Bless the Lord, dews and snows,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
47 Bless the Lord, nights and days,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
48 Bless the Lord, light and darkness,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
49 Bless the Lord, ice and cold,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
50 Bless the Lord, frosts and snows,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
51 Bless the Lord, lightnings and clouds,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
52 Let the earth bless the Lord;
    let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
53 Bless the Lord, mountains and hills,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
54 Bless the Lord, all things that grow on the earth,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
55 Bless the Lord, you springs,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
56 Bless the Lord, seas and rivers,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
57 Bless the Lord, you whales and all creatures that move in the waters,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
58 Bless the Lord, all birds of the air,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
59 Bless the Lord, all beasts and cattle,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
60 Bless the Lord, you sons of men,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
61 Bless the Lord, O Israel,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
62 Bless the Lord, you priests of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
63 Bless the Lord, you servants of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
64 Bless the Lord, spirits and souls of the righteous,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
65 Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
66 Bless the Lord, Hanani′ah, Azari′ah, and Mish′ael,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever;
for he has rescued us from Hades and saved us from the hand of death,
    and delivered us from the midst of the burning fiery furnace;
    from the midst of the fire he has delivered us.
67 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures for ever.
68 Bless him, all who worship the Lord, the God of gods,
    sing praise to him and give thanks to him,
    for his mercy endures for ever.”


May you and yours join with all the Universe in praising our Creator, the Author of our Salvation, Jesus Christ, in this Holy Week, and ever after.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Problem with Talking Point Gossip about Donald Trump

I love to read a variety of sources, opinions, and topics. As you look down my sidebar, this becomes obvious. We all have to be a bit skeptical when we read, but I look for sincere independent thinking and legitimate research that uses (or at least acknowledges/links to) original sources, as opposed to the kind of intellectual gossip columns that deal in cloning opinion of elitist "Influencers".  So I prefer The Drudge Report and Sharyl Attkisson and Christopher Taylor and Doctor Mabuse over some others that might seem ubiquitous elsewhere.

Sadly, my Sidebar is changing. I've kept rational writers like those named above who do their own independent research before forming opinions. But... I've removed those writers (including the very well known) who allow "thought leaders" to build their opinions for them: what others think instead of original sources.  I think most of them don't realize they are being manipulated.  Unfortunately, it calls into question everything else they write about.

I'd rather send people to bloggers who think for themselves because independent thought is the most honest kind. And independent thinkers are less likely to fall prey to manipulation whether through peer pressure or media bias.

It is American to support different candidates. It is cool be passionate about it. I can even understand a passionate dislike of one candidate. I've got those I feel that way about - after doing my own independent research on them.

I've given historical and factual reasons for my support of Mr Donald Trump. With lots and lots of links to full uncut texts at independent sources untainted by the present election or geo-political atmosphere.

I'm cool if someone has a legitimate reason for opposing Donald Trump. If someone has read his actual policy positions in full and still thinks he is wrong. If someone has watched his recent interviews on Face the Nation etc, has read the lengthy interviews with him over the past 30 years, the serious news articles about him over the past 30 years, the best-selling books he has written, the speeches he has given at places like CPAC and the Scottish Parliament, and still thinks a business approach is wrong for America, well, we can disagree on that opinion but it at least is a fair one that was legitimately developed.

If someone supports one of his opponents and thus opposes him because they see him as "the opposition"...   Heck, if someone admits they are a lock-step Establishmentarianist and WON'T support Mr Trump because they don't want an outsider.. even that is cool.

But that isn't what is happening. Instead, so many of those who lash out against Mr Trump do so by quoting the talking points and gotcha words they have been given, insulting not only the man but also those of us who are serious thinking people who have SELECTED Donald Trump out of a broad field.  They don't argue the merits of another candidate. Instead, they call names, use derisive appellations, and poke fun at him and those who are voting for him.

Mr Donald Trump actually has more broad-based support than any other candidate has had throughout this election cycle. And obviously, he has a LOT of that broad-based support across all of the artificial dividing lines the Left (and apparently the NRO-Defined Conservative Right) have created to separate us. The voters have proven that.

So the persistence of quoted talking points tells me these "Never Trump" folks (their own self-assigned appellation!) did not do their own research into either Mr Trump, his candidacy, or his supporters' reasons for choosing him.

If they didn't do their own independent research about Mr Donald Trump before acquiring the opinion they choose to dispense to the public, that says they also may not do their own independent research about other serious matters.

And that is a serious problem to me. Because if they will choose to believe gossip and ignore remarkable facts about a matter with which I am familiar, how likely are they to do so in other matters where I might have otherwise trusted their information?

I think most of them don't realize they are being manipulated.

Unfortunately, for me, it calls into question everything else they write about.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Renowned Christian Leader Dr Ben Carson Endorses Mr Donald Trump

Thank you, Dr Carson, for running for President, and for endorsing Mr Trump now that your own candidacy has ended. We are more grateful than you can know for your dedication to America and for your powerful leadership, especially in these recent years. Your courage at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013 set a flag in the ground for Christian America's future as a Godly nation.

Dr Carson, you have been standing stalwart with that flag all this time. I look forward eagerly to your future work and endeavors. May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and yours always.






Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Donald Trump Advising the House Task Force on Urgent Fiscal Issues in 1991

Want to see Mr Donald Trump's negotiating skills in action? Here he is advising the House of Representative members of the House Task Force on Urgent Fiscal Issues in a full hour discussion, during the 1991 Recession. Note the respect and admiration these elected representatives expressed toward him.



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