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Author: Trumpet Media

Repenting of Identity Politics

New Zealand revealed the tragic logical end of evils like Christian Nationalism.

The March massacre of 50 Muslims during worship in New Zealand was first and foremost a human tragedy, one felt deeply around the world. Unfortunately the massacre also signaled a political tragedy, displaying the logical end to a type of engagement increasingly defining the public square: identity politics.

As British columnist Brendan O’Neill put it, “Increasingly, it feels like the New Zealand atrocity is what happens when the politics of identity, the reduction of everyone to cultural or racial creatures whose relationship with other cultural and racial cultures must be monitored and managed, comes to be the only game in public life.”

The simplest definition of identity politics is summarized at Wikipedia: “a tendency of people sharing a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity to form exclusive political alliances, instead of engaging in traditional broad-based party politics, or promote their particular interests without regard for interests of a larger political group.” Adherents have no interest in broad-based politics because they believe that no other group can empathize sufficiently with them to truly understand their group. Only one born into the group identity, or who becomes “woke” through a kind of revelation, truly knows the score.

Without genuine understanding between groups, the only way to gain political influence is through the raw use of power. Political power for those who are patient. Violence for those who are not. But the bottom line is the same: It’s about and only about gaining power for the benefit of your group and at the expense of other groups. This is not to suggest that every current advocate of identity politics champions …

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Across 27 Countries, Most Don’t Mind More Religion in Society

Pew survey of 30,000 people finds a median of 39% favor, 13% oppose a “more important role for religion.”

Despite signs of increasing secularism in the United States, far more Americans favor an increased role for religion in society than oppose it.

According to a massive new report from the Pew Research Center that queried more than 30,000 people across 27 countries, almost three times as many Americans say they would view “a more important role for religion” in the US as a positive change (51%) versus a negative change (18%).

In general, that sentiment is shared around the globe—at the same rate. Across all countries surveyed, a median of 39 percent of respondents favor religion becoming more important in society, while only 13 percent oppose it.

Only 5 of the 27 countries surveyed have populations in which those opposed to religion playing a more important role outnumber those in favor. All 5 are in Europe: Sweden (51%), France (47%), the Netherlands (45%), Germany (35%), and Spain (38%), where an openly atheist prime minister was elected last year amid concerns over his vows to remove religious symbolism from institutions and religion from school curriculums.

In the African nations of Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Tunisia, along with other countries in the global south such as Indonesia and Brazil, the idea of religion gaining more importance in society is viewed favorably by large majorities of the population.

Pew highlighted one country where views vary by religion: Nigeria, which continues to be rocked by deadly sectarian conflict.

“The vast majority of Nigerian Muslims (88%) are in favor of a more important role for religion, while a smaller majority of Christians (61%) say the same,” stated researchers. “However, it’s important to note that roughly a quarter of Christian respondents …

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Bringing a Tent Peg to a Sword Fight

Why God sends his people into battle armed with the tools of everyday life.

In the first Battle of Armageddon, the enemy commander was killed with camping equipment. Speculation about the next round has been the stuff of bestselling books and blockbuster movies, replete with speculation about a world government, flying locust-scorpion warships, bar codes, conspiracies, the EU, nuclear weapons, and a giant meteor steaming toward earth with Bruce Willis on board.

But the first time a war was fought at Har-Magedon (the hill of Megiddo), the decisive blow was struck with the most everyday objects imaginable. Sisera, commander of the mighty Canaanite armies, had his head crushed by Jael, a tent-dwelling woman wielding a mallet and a tent peg (Judges 4:17–22).

It’s a striking story in many ways. A woman, Deborah, is judging Israel, which is unusual in itself. The man charged with leading the Israelite army, Barak, refuses to fight unless she goes with him. Israel wins the battle despite overwhelming odds. When the victory is celebrated in song (Judges 5), the main characters are (again) three women: Deborah, described as “a mother in Israel,” the mallet-wielding Jael, and Sisera’s luridly vile mother. And the peg through the temple is pretty unforgettable.

Yet this story also forms part of a recurring pattern in Scripture, in which Israel defeats her enemies with tools instead of weapons. In this case, Israel has no shields or spears but conquers, instead, with a peg and a “workman’s hammer” (5:26). Another judge, Shamgar, defeats the Philistines with a cattle prod (3:31). Gideon wins with jars and trumpets (7:19–23). The Philistine king Abimelek is killed by a millstone being thrown over the wall (9:53), the second time in five chapters that an obscure …

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Of Truth-Telling and Bridge-Building

How Jesus modeled relationships of surprising frankness and trust.

When I first moved from Missouri to Tennessee, I was welcomed by sweet tea, potluck dinners, and people waiting to hold doors for each other. I’m grateful to have soaked in the warmth of Southern hospitality all these years. The shadow side of Southernness, however, is that sometimes I wonder if people say what they really mean. Admittedly, I too have sugar-coated the truth. But I want to speak the truth in love, and I want to hear the truth in love.

When I read the gospels, I’m refreshed by the language Jesus uses with his friends. It makes me want to be a better friend. But I’m also startled: When I read his conversations with Peter or with the disciples or the woman at the well, I realize that I have a lot to learn about telling the truth. Jesus not only spoke frankly but encouraged his friends to do the same.

Consider Thomas, after the Resurrection: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). My discomfort with this demanding statement probably has more to do with my own doubt than with Thomas’s confrontational personality. (Here in the South, disappointments are best kept hidden.) But Thomas speaks up. Jesus graciously hears him and invites him deeper in: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27).

What makes this kind of mutual forthrightness possible, I believe, is hinted at in 1 John: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (3:18). Whole heaps of words can amount to nothing, but in relationships forged of authenticity and deeds, even a few …

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I Marked People for Death. Jesus Marked Me for Life.

How a Latino gang leader found salvation in prison.

In prison, I was a shot caller.

Shot callers have an elevated rank in the gang world. They are the power-brokers who determine who gets hurt (or killed) and who doesn’t. They command respect.

I started down this path as a teenager in South-Central Los Angeles, as a leader in the Rockwood Street Locos. I led the way when we invaded homes, broke into cars, ransacked convenience stores, and stabbed rival gang members. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the streets were bloody. Most of the time, it was kill or be killed.

Eventually, the LAPD caught up with me. I was sentenced to nearly 13 years for second-degree murder—along with 52 counts of armed robbery. I actually breathed a sigh of relief that those were the only charges the cops could pin on me.

Life Was Very Cheap

While awaiting transfer to New Folsom State Prison—a Level IV maximum security prison near Sacramento, California—I was housed with 120 murderers and violent criminals inside Pitchess Detention Center, north of Los Angeles.

At Pitchess, we segregated ourselves: blacks aligning with blacks, whites with whites, and Latinos with Latinos. Several dudes from two long-established gangs, 18th Street and Florencia 13, approached me about becoming a shot caller there.

One of my responsibilities was the control and distribution of shanks, the crude homemade knives used for stabbing another prisoner. I slept with all 13 of them under my mattress. When a riot went off, I made sure the right people got shanks. There were many violent upheavals at Pitchess, and inmates got stabbed and killed all the time. All it took was a wrong look at the wrong person, and you were done for. Life was very cheap.

After about six months, I was transferred to New …

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