Good Morning! 

Dishonesty and deception are popular tactics of people caught in indefensible positions.  

Maybe that’s why Benjamin Franklin once observed, “Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” 

We begin with an excellent piece from Bill McGurn in this morning’s Wall Street Journal discussing those who start a fire and then derisively label the people who attempt to douse the flames: 

  1. Virginia’s ‘Phony’ Culture War 

From the Wall Street Journal: 

Funny thing about culture wars: No one ever seems to think the left launches them. Take the “1619 Project,” an effort by the New York Times to recast America’s true founding from 1776 to 1619, when a privateer ship brought 20 kidnapped African slaves to Virginia. The project has also been adapted for American classrooms. 

“Yet when parents object to it, as they did in Virginia, the Times accuses the GOP of stoking a culture war,” columnist Michael Goodwin noted in Sunday’s New York Post. Never mind that the “1619 Project” is itself a culture war salvo. 

In short, the culture war charge is lazy. Is the mom whose daughter comes home in tears from a track meet because she had to compete against boys a culture warrior? What about an African-American dad—and there are plenty of them—who objects to his son being told he is a victim because of his skin color? 

Virginia reminds us that progressives often shout “Culture War!” to avoid debate. They don’t wish to debate because they sense, rightly, that the American people wouldn’t be with them if they knew all the facts. The message Virginia voters sent last Tuesday is that they are tired of it. \

  1. The Parents Can’t Leave the Field in Virginia 

From The Federalist: 

We need to finish the fight — and win the war. We need good teachers — and there are a great many — who are sick of this insanity. We need protections in place to allow them to speak up. We need the state of Virginia to protect them from the vipers who surround them and want them crushed.

We need the school boards opened up. For months, these boards have used the police as a weapon against parents; it’s time to free the police from this role and reestablish the First Amendment in Virginia. 

We need to identify the superintendents and principals and teachers and librarians who insist on teaching hate and pornography, and make sure they are fired with prejudice; damn The New York Times. 

For too long, the norm has been that Democrats create new programs while in power, and then Republicans just try to not expand them too much or too quickly. Scuttle that strategy forever. A bad program is always bad, and they should be defunded immediately when we have power. 

Thousands of activist monsters take state and federal money to warp our children. They need to be thrown out in the cold. Leave them penniless; they deserve even less.

The people we’re up against are the creatures who twisted little ol’ rural Loudoun County into a bastion of insanity in a few short years — and that’s just one county. There are more than 3,000 counties in this country, and they want to pull a Loudoun in every single one of them. 

We need to think like they did to take it back: We’ve got to think like revolutionaries

Make no mistake: The left brought this fight to our doors. In Virginia on Tuesday, parents answered their challenge. But there’s a reason we don’t call it the Culture Vote — and that’s because it’s the Culture War. 

3.   Jesus Wasn’t Woke – But He Did Wake Up a Desperate World 

From The Daily Citizen: 

It might be something of a new phenomenon to call Jesus “woke,” but it’s an old and tired habit of leftists (especially those who identify as Christian progressives) to call Jesus a liberal. 

To back up this claim, they cite Jesus’ care and concern for the poor, the weak and the infirmed. They sum up His three-year ministry as a bold challenge to the status quo – confronting the powerful leaders of the culture and championing the underdog. Many who make this claim measure “compassion” by how many government dollars are thrown at an issue, even if it exacerbates the problem. 

Of course, Jesus did express great concern for the poor – but He also did a whole lot more. Trying to narrowly define God’s Son on only a short list of issues distorts and diminishes the totality of His mission and ministry. 

But this one thing is sure: Jesus was no “liberal” by modern definition. 

All throughout the Old and New Testaments, sixty-six books which point to and revolve around Jesus, we read of conservative principles. These include support for the value of every human life, the sinful nature of each person, the proper channeling of God’s gift of sex, the need for personal responsibility, the value of churches and families and the appropriate role of government. 

Those were just a few of the issues Jesus came to address. But in doing so, He didn’t just politically reform a broken world – He transformed it by going to the cross and dying for the sins of a desperate and dying people. 

RELATED: Top US Catholic bishop calls ‘wokeness,’ social justice movement ‘pseudo-religions’ (Christian Post)  

 4.   America’s youth are religious. They’re spiritual. But they don’t trust institutions 

From the Deseret News: 

According to new research by Springtide Research Institute, many young … still consider themselves religious or spiritual, they are wary of religious institutions. And so they are approaching their faith in ways that, to an outside observer, might not look like traditional worship. 

Springtide’s latest survey found that 71% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 identify as religious and 78% embrace the label spiritual. But they don’t find much comfort inside the four walls of a church. Even among those who identify as “very religious,” only 40% said they found comfort by connecting with their religious community “during challenging or uncertain times,” the report stated. 

While almost half of those surveyed reported they attended at least one online service during the pandemic, only 13% reported finding joy in virtual worship; a similarly low percentage said that they found hope in online services. 

  1. America’s Search for Social Utopia 

From First Things: 

The search for social utopia has long been an American temptation, and a certain type of iconoclasm has always haunted the intellectual, political, and social institutions of the American republic. Nathaniel Hawthorne recognized this disposition among the transcendentalists he cavorted with in the 1840s. His sojourn at the experimental, utopian Brook Farm scared him enough that he broke with transcendentalism altogether. He wrote several literary rejections of American utopianism, but none more ominous than his short story “Earth’s Holocaust” (1844).

Hawthorne set this story of a great cosmic bonfire “on one of the broadest prairies of the West, where no human habitation would be endangered by the flames, and where a vast assemblage of spectators might commodiously admire the show.” In the 1840s, western prairie meant the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, or Missouri, in what we might now call the American Heartland. In the story, a group of citizens (the reader infers that they are Americans) decides that the world has become “overburdened with an accumulation of worn-out trumpery.” They determine “to rid themselves of it by a general bonfire.” The unnamed narrator of the story is a mere spectator, and notes at the beginning that “the heap of condemned rubbish was as yet comparatively small,” and “there was merely visible one tremulous gleam, whence none could have anticipated so fierce a blaze as was destined to ensue.” 

Anger at so-called historic inequities, moral impurities, and “national sins” in the United States is often really anger at the narrative of human history. Our age-old iconoclastic, puritan impulse cannot abide commemorating, memorializing, or showing respect to any institution or person who does not conform to the perfectionist moral paradigm of the moment. This is not a hatred of inequality or moral imperfection, but a hatred of our historically flawed but nonetheless beautiful humanity. This presents a dilemma to every American would-be reformer: You can pick humanity, or the dream of utopia. You can’t have both. 

6.   International Christian Persecution: Remembering the Mistreated 

From NRB: 

Consider the country that is listed by Open Doors as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world: North Korea

North Koreans are required to “worship” the Marxist-Maoist Kim family in a peculiar, quasi-religious system. North Korean Christians—estimated at some 400,000 people—face particularly horrendous persecution. Torture. Starvation. Rape. Slave Labor. Public Execution. All this for simply possessing a Bible or otherwise practicing Christianity. 

China is another serious persecutor, and it cooperates with North Korea’s oppression by sending fleeing Christians back across the common border, likely to torture and death. No higher authority–God–is permitted in either country. 

Under Xi Jinping, China is increasingly abusive to Christians. Meanwhile, we see what’s happening to China’s millions of Uighur Muslims—either kept or killed in brutal concentration camps or barely surviving incapacitating surveillance, including facial recognition software, DNA identification, phone tracking, and a social credit system. These technologies are also used to track, capture, and abuse Christians and other religious minorities. 

Let’s remain alert and aware. And let’s remind our mostly safe-and-sound American Christian communities to “Remember…those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). 

 7.   Should You Vaccinate Your 5-Year-Old? 

From the Wall Street Journal: 

If you’re agonizing about whether to have your young child vaccinated against Covid-19, be reassured: The risk is extremely low either way. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 42% of U.S. children 5 to 11 had Covid by June 2021, before the Delta wave—a prevalence that is likely greater than 50% today. Of 28 million children in that age range, 94 have died of Covid since the pandemic began (including deaths before newer treatments), and 562 have been hospitalized with Covid infections. 

Serious complications are so uncommon in this age range that of 2,186 children in the Pfizer vaccine study, no child in either the vaccine or placebo group developed severe illness from Covid. Sixteen of the 663 unvaccinated children developed Covid infections, compared with only three of the 1,305 vaccinated ones—an effectiveness rate of 90.7% against infection. Thus it’s safe to assume that vaccinating a healthy child would take his extremely low risk of serious disease and drive it down even lower. 

There’s an important exception, though: If a child already had Covid, there’s no scientific basis for vaccination. Deep within the 80-page Pfizer report is this crucial line: “No cases of COVID-19 were observed in either the vaccine group or the placebo group in participants with evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.” That’s consistent with the largest population-based study on the topic, which found that natural immunity was 27 times as effective as vaccinated immunity in preventing symptomatic Covid. Natural immunity is likely even more robust in children, given their stronger immune systems. An indiscriminate Covid vaccine mandate may result in unintended harm among children with natural immunity. 

8.   Pastor tackles armed man during church service 

From The Hill: 

Police in Nashville, Tenn., said a pastor tackled an armed man who threatened parishioners during church service, Fox affiliate WZTV reported. 

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said Dezire Baganda pulled out a firearm while sitting in the front row, walked up to the church’s altar waving the gun, and pointing it at the congregation, telling those in attendance to “get up,” according to the Fox affiliate.  

The pastor was praying with several members of the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church at the time. He reportedly tackled Baganda, with other members jumping in to disarm the suspect and holding him down until police arrived at the scene.  

9.   Dallas Jenkins on Jesus, the Christmas story, and “The Chosen” 

From an interview with Dallas Jenkins in World Magazine: 

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest thing about keeping this project going?   

A: The easiest part has been the relationship with viewers. Their response to the show, their passion for the show, their financial sustaining of the show has carried this. God is doing an amazing work, and I feel very fortunate to ride the wave that God has begun. Viewers are responding, and they make it easy: When I come on and do a livestream for 90 minutes from my home and in a few hours we shatter the record for Fathom Events pre-sales or we generate enough money to finance an entire episode of the show, that’s easy. I don’t have to beg, borrow, and steal. 

The hardest thing is everything that leads up to those 90 minutes of the livestream, or the posts we do on Facebook or YouTube. Not one thing about this project has been easy. And that’s OK. That’s how God wants it in many ways, because that’s kept me broken and humble and surrendered. We never get to sit back and rest on our laurels. 

Q: What do you hope people come away with from the Christmas special?  

A: Two things. One is that Jesus was one of us for a time. The stable, the swaddling cloths, the circumstances of this teenager and her fiancé, and how in over their heads they were. And that Jesus was brought into the world, the greatest moment in human history, in such a plain, low-class way—it’s a reminder for us that He was with us, and He wasn’t so far above it all that He couldn’t identify with who we are. 

Q: And the second thing?  

A: Second is the importance of this phrase: “People must know.” The name of the special is The Messengers. That refers to the angels. The angels gave the news to the shepherds. The shepherds gave the news to the people. The angel gave the news to Mary and Joseph. Jesus then gave the news to the world. And we are called to give the news to the world. “People must know” is the theme of the show, and I want people to come away with that desire. 

10. Nineteen-Year-Old Wins Seat on Local School Board in New Jersey 

From The Daily Citizen: 

Parents have been justifiably upset with school boards across the country imposing radical sexual education, gender identity, critical race theory, COVID-19 school closures and other policies on students contrary to how those parents want their children to be educated. 

But let’s not forget about the students themselves who bear the brunt of those policies. Some of them want to see their schools run differently. One of those is 19-year-old Nicholas Seppy, a 2020 graduate of Egg Harbor Township High School in New Jersey. 

Disappointed with seeing his school closed because of COVID-19 and finishing his senior year via remote learning, Seppy decided to do something about the school board whose policies he disagreed with. He ran against incumbent board member Terre Alabarda, and won with 4,042 votes to Alabarda’s 2,830. 

Young people like Mr. Seppy don’t have to wait until they are “grown up” in order to effect change in their communities. With a heart to serve, there is no age restriction on people who want to make a difference. 

Congratulations, Nicholas Seppy. Not just for your political victory, but for becoming an example to the rest of us of how far good citizenship and a servant’s heart can take you.