Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Cross and Double-Cross

In Washington, the President affirms his humility at a National Prayer Breakfast to be followed by ego gone amok in Las Vegas as Donald Trump, after hinting for days he will endorse Gingrich, gets ready to bestow his grace on Romney.

Here is a contrast in current American culture between the place of the Cross and the Double-Cross as Barack Obama underscores “Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto to whom much is given, much shall be required’” as Trump, to whom much was given at birth, grabs for more attention with his childish hide-and-seek media antics.

The President, delivering his political message “that I am my brother’s keeper, and I am my sister’s keeper,” goes out of his way to embrace the previous speaker’s criticism of those who bask in “phony religiosity” while failing to care for the poor or respecting those with whom they disagree.

Obama echoes a biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, saying, “We can all benefit from turning to our creator, listening to him, avoiding phony religiosity...Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us.”

The pastor and theologian Bonhoeffer, who was killed by Hitler in the waning days of World War II, had criticized the German Church for conferring comfort on believers while turning a blind eye to the inhumanity of the Nazis.

“Cheap grace,” he had written, “is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance...absolution without personal confession.”

In Las Vegas, where everything is cheapened and grace is sought only at the gaming tables, the question of Donald Trump’s endorsement matters only to those who are not offended by seeing a super-hustler use the U.S. presidency to promote the upcoming new season of his TV show.

A contest in Nevada between casino owner Sheldon Adelson’s SuperPAC money for Gingrich and Atlantic City casino namesake Trump’s mouth is as far from a religious experience as you can get.

Unless you have a taste for political purgatory from now until November.

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