Finding Churchill’s Faith

God & Churchill“King and country, in that order, that’s about the only religion Winston has.”

So wrote Lord Moran, Sir Winston Churchill’s friend and physician. Most historians would agree. After all, did not Churchill himself quip that he was “not a pillar of the church, but a flying buttress”?

Yet if Churchill had no religion beyond king and country, how do we account for the references to “God” and “Providence” that appear so prominently again and again in his speeches? Were they no more than a politician’s cynical nod to the religious sensibilities of his countrymen? Continue reading

Whose 5776?

I realized how experience-poor I actually was as soon as I began to travel, which I’ve done as often as I can ever since. Anyone who has escaped a parochial bubble knows the advantage of losing your bearings, the fraught discovery that everything you’ve thought was normal turns out to be just your own tribal variant of an unimaginable profusion of ways to know, feel, and act in the world. There are, you come to learn, countless local versions of a normal breakfast, a normal parent, a normal song, a normal god. It’s disorienting to realize that when you get back home again and are going about the routine business of your life, the foreign lives you’ve glimpsed are still going on as strangely — and as ordinarily — as ever. And it’s discomfiting to realize that if they knew how much we privileged our own normalcy, they’d figure out what kind of hicks we’d have to be to believe that. Continue reading

Donald Trump Fires Up Evangelicals

8567813820_57dc199e5f_oWhat could Trump—a man who openly admits that he has never asked God for forgiveness—possibly say to a group of Evangelical Christians? So I put on my speechwriter’s cap, and here is my naughty speechwriter’s version of what a Donald Trump speech to Evangelicals might sound like:

I’m very glad you’re here today, because it’s very important that you should understand why I, Donald Trump, should be the standard bearer for Evangelical Christians in the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading

“Have you no decency, sir?

Donald_Trump_March_2015So Donald Trump says that Sen. John McCain, who was a POW for over five years during the Vietnam War, who was tortured horribly during his confinement and who refused an offer of early release is “not a war hero.”

I am reminded of what a lawyer named Joseph Welch said over 60 years ago to another blustering bombastic bully who, to the shame of the GOP, was also a Republican: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Continue reading

“A Monument to Intellectual Integrity”

LittlemoreWhen I was in England in April, I lunched with some old friends at Oxford. Then I turned my back on the majestic towers and spires of the great university and took a bus to the obscure village of Littlemore some three miles away. My destination was a row of shabby, single-story cottages that had served as a coaching station in Victorian times.

And yet, as the English writer A.N. Wilson has observed, that row of shabby cottages is, “much more than the grand colleges of Oxford, a monument to intellectual integrity.” Because it was here, in 1845, that John Henry Newman was received into the Roman Catholic Church. Continue reading