Saturday, April 25, 2020

Resetting Our Lives after the Pandemic

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed virtually everything in our lives and the lives of others.  What comes next?

The computer is a useful analogue.  Viruses can cause computers to crash, and when they do they have to be returned to factory settings and be reprogrammed.  The coronavirus pandemic will cause similar dysfunctions for all of us.  When we try to reset our lives after the pandemic, we will find that many familiar programs no longer function.

How will we reset our lives after the pandemic?  Even after a vaccine controls the coronavirus, life in America will be different.  Political, religious and educational institutions will never be the same and will have to be reprogrammed to accommodate new realities.  Many of the cultural traditions and institutions we grew up with will not survive in a post-pandemic world.

The November elections may come too soon to gauge new political realities since we will likely still be in the pandemic.  Politics and the economy, which are inextricably bound together, will likely still be in disarray.  Uncertainty is likely to prevail until a vaccine is available.

In religion, the seeds of transformation have already been planted and are beginning to sprout.  After the pandemic, not all traditional congregational activities will be revived, but the church will adapt and religious activities will continue in new and unconventional forms.

Education will have to be reinvented utilizing distance learning technology.  In public schools that should produce more positives than negatives; and in higher education, it’s past time that distance learning is fully integrated and emphasized in universities and colleges.

We need to remember that in a democracy, we are the masters of our political destiny.  We have no one to blame but ourselves for whatever comes after the pandemic.  We need to accept responsibility for reshaping the world around us, and not blame others for our failings.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, one thing is certain: It’s the universal and timeless moral imperative of the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves--including our neighbors of other races and religions.

If we apply that altruistic principle to the issues we will face in a post-pandemic world, we can’t go wrong.  The future will remain a mystery, something that God alone can see; but we can help shape the future by contemplating the new realities that will follow the pandemic.  

This commentary will attempt to start that process, and I invite your response.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Musings on Megalomania, States Rights and the Future of American Democracy

   By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Who really won the CIvil War?  If it was a contest between states rights and the rights of the people to control American politics, then states must have won.  The coronavirus pandemic and the last election affirmed that the Constitution gives the states and not a popular majority of voters the last word in American politics.

How so?  The Constitution gives the states an advantage over the popular vote in both the electoral college and the senate.  Whichever party elects the President and controls the senate controls the future of American democracy, and that won’t change unless the Constitution is rewritten--and that’s not going to happen.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought together an informal coalition of the governors of ten consistently blue states, three on the west coast and seven on the east coast.  They include close to a majority of the U.S. population, but are only 20% of the states. The remaining forty states are either red or swing states. That tells us a lot about the future of American democracy.

It’s ironic that a president who was elected with less than a majority of the popular vote, thanks to the electoral college, would claim absolute authority over the states to decide how and when to reopen for business.  Only a megalomaniac who is ignorant of the Constitution would make such a spurious claim, but it’s typical of President Trump.

He’s the same president who claimed the coronavirus was a Democratic hoax on February 28, then two weeks later considered it an existential threat to the U.S. and granted himself emergency powers to combat it.  And after a rare bipartisan effort passed emergency pandemic relief, Trump insisted on putting his name on all relief checks. A political Santa Claus. 

Trump’s former Secretary of State described him as being mentally unfit to hold the office of President,and Trump responded that he was a very stable genius.  Is Trump a megalomaniac? Webster defines megalomania as a mental disorder characterized by delusions of grandeur, wealth or power, and a passion for, or for doing, big things.  If it looks like a duck….   

It’s a great irony that most of Trump’s supporters are white Christians, since Trump’s megalomania is the antithesis of the virtues of humility taught by Jesus: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.” (Mark 10:42-44)

Trump equates humility with weakness, but true humility is stronger than arrogance and enables leaders to follow the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors—even those we would rather avoid—as we love ourselves. Humility is a virtue that can reconcile us and redeem our politics from the corruption of worldly power and pride.

Since his election, Trump has corrupted the Executive Branch of government and transformed the Republican Party into his own instrument of absolute power.  Trump exemplifies Lord Acton’s aphorism that Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Overweening power produces arrogance based on a sense of superiority over all others, while humility—the antithesis of pride—is based on the belief that we are all equal in the sight of God.  

Trump’s supporters have said they support him for standing up for what is right.  If they consider his megalomania and self-centered politics to be right, they ignore the altruistic moral teachings of Jesus that are summarized in the greatest commandment that extols loving others as we love ourselves.  Megalomaniacs like Trump can only love themselves.

         Donald Trump has demonstrated symptoms of megalomania for many years, yet his white Christians supporters consider him their political messiah.  Their support of Trump’s narcissism, nativism and vulgarity, mocking disabled people and demeaning women, Muslims and immigrants, reveals how the arrogance of power has eroded political morality in the U.S.

It will always be a mystery that a megalomaniac like Trump was elected president of the U.S..  He’s unfit for the office and should never have been elected. Will the electoral college allow history to repeat itself this November?  The Founding Fathers had good reason to protect state’s rights with the electoral college, but they obviously didn’t foresee this result.


Chris Cilliza of CNN noted that The Wall Street Journal editorial board, a notoriously conservative group, got it right “...when the WSJ published a piece headlined "Trump's Wasted Briefings" that criticized President Donald Trump for his performance at the daily coronavirus task force press briefings. Here's the key bit:
‘But sometime in the last three weeks Mr. Trump seems to have concluded that the briefings could be a showcase for him. Perhaps they substitute in his mind for the campaign rallies he can no longer hold because of the risks. Perhaps he resented the media adulation that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been receiving for his daily show. Whatever the reason, the briefings are now all about the President.’
That absolutely nails what's gone wrong with these daily briefings. What began -- roughly a month ago -- as a useful way to inform a public desperate for facts and information in the face of the surging pandemic has turned into the Trump Show. Or, in the words of Trump himself in a 1990 interview with Playboy magazine: "The show is Trump, and it is sold-out performances everywhere."
Everything you need to know to understand Trump and how he views his life (and the presidency) is contained in that one quote. The world is one big reality show to Trump. He is the executive producer, the maestro in charge of filling each day with the most watchable material. And that most watchable material is produced -- in virtually every situation -- by him.”  See 

Robert Costa and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post have noted that Trump casts himself as pandemic patron, personalizing the government’s spread of cash and supplies.  “President Trump often speaks of federal payments coming to many Americans as an act of his own benevolence, calling the bipartisan stimulus legislation “a Trump administration initiative” and reportedly musing about printing his thick-and-jagged signature on the government checks. [Treasury Secretary Mnuchin later acknowledged that Trump’s name would be on the millions of checks sent out by the Department of the Treasury]  
The president has sought to portray himself as singularly in charge — except for when things go wrong. In those instances, he has labored to blame others and avoid accountability.  Day after day, in his self-constructed role of wartime president, the task Trump seems to relish most is spreading cash and supplies across a beleaguered and anxious nation. ‘Honestly, people should respect, because nobody has ever seen anything like what we’ve done,” Trump said this week, a point he has been making regularly.’ ...Trump has cast himself in the role of generous monarch who is saying, ‘I have given you this, dear subjects’ — and it’s a remarkably selfish and self-referential performance,” historian Jon Meacham said. ‘It’s our money, for goodness sake,’ he added, referring to taxpayers. ‘It’s not his money.’  Trump makes no secret of his preoccupation with how the moment plays for him politically. ‘Every poll says I’m going to win because, you know, you say he’s gotten good marks, but I’ve gotten great marks on what we’ve done with respect to this,’ the president said last week on Fox News Channel, comparing himself to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D).
By providing daily updates on the resources his administration has doled out, Trump has tried to leave the impression that he is in control of the pandemic.  “We’ve set every record you can set,” Trump claimed on March 29. “The federal government has done something that nobody’s done anything like this, other than perhaps wartime. And that’s what we’re in: We’re in a war. My administration has mobilized our entire nation to vanquish the virus.”
“Donald Trump has spent his life marketing himself and products associated with himself, so it’s not surprising that he would approach this the same way,” said David Axelrod, who served as a senior White House adviser under President Barack Obama.  Axelrod added, “Even the press briefings, the gist of his remarks every night is, here is what I am doing for you, and everybody is happy and nobody’s ever seen anything like it. He can’t help himself. He is a frenetic self-promoter.”
Timothy O’Brien, author of the biography “TrumpNation,” which chronicles Trump’s life in business, said Trump then was “a performance artist,” fixating on the cosmetics and atmospherics of a deal more than the details. “He personalizes every moment he is in right now because that’s how he has always rolled for 73 of his 73 years, which is to say he’s the master of his domain, what’s on the playing field are his toys, and people who don’t comport with his goals are off base,” said O’Brien, a vocal Trump critic who advised former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign and is a senior columnist at Bloomberg Opinion.  But when things go awry, such as the drain on medical supplies in New York and other hot spots, Trump has been swift in shirking responsibility or claiming ignorance.” See

At a news briefing on April 13, Trump asserted that “...he has total authority to reopen the economy, not the states.”  When asked what authority he has to reopen the country, he didn’t hesitate to answer: I have the ultimate authority,” the president responded, cutting off the reporter who was speaking.  Trump later told reporters, “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total and that’/s the way it’s got to’s total. The governors know that.” Trump said the local leaders “can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.” 
Robert Chesney, a law professor at The University of Texas at Austin said, “This isn’t ancient Rome where there’s a special law that says in the event of an emergency all the regular rules are thrown out the window and one person, whom they called the dictator, gets to make the rules for the duration of the emergency.  We don’t have a system like that.” Not only does the power Trump asserted have no basis in reality, experts said, but it’s also completely antithetical to the Constitution, the concept of federalism and the separation of powers--whether during a time of emergency or not.” Vice President Pence was the only authority to back Trump, saying, “Make no mistake about it, in the long history of this country, the authority of the president during national emergencies is unquestionably plenary.”   See 

A number of Constitutional authorities refuted Trump’s claim of ultimate authority the day after he made it, forcing Trump to walk back his assertion of ultimate power.  He has since said that governors will make the decisions on when to open their states for business. Hopefully, Pence also got the word.   

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Seeing the Resurrection in a New Light

   By Rudy Barnes, Jr.  
         Easter is about resurrection and it’s the focal point of the Christian religion.   It’s about belief in a miracle that’s beyond human reason, but a mystical reality. Jews and Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet, but not as the risen Christ; and while Muslims do not believe in the resurrection, they believe that Jesus will return on the last day to usher in God’s kingdom.    

         Something truly miraculous happened on that first Easter, but until the Apostle Paul proposed his atonement doctrine the nature and meaning of the miracle remained mysterious.  Jesus never taught that God sent him as a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of all believers, but Paul’s atonement doctrine has remained at the foundation of Christian beliefs.  

        Paul was a Pharisaic Jew who understood blood sacrifice as an atonement for sin and believed in the resurrection of the dead, and Paul and many other Jews had been expecting a messiah who would usher in God’s kingdom on earth.  Jesus taught of a coming kingdom of God, but like other prophets before him, Jesus emphasized a God of mercy, not sacrifice.

The events leading to the crucifixion reported in the Gospel accounts are inconsistent with the crucifixion being a divine sacrifice.  The Gospels report that religious leaders who felt threatened by the radical teachings of Jesus convinced Roman authorities to execute Jesus as an insurrectionist.  The crucifixion of Jesus was itself a terrible crime, not God’s holy sacrifice.

Today we can see the resurrection in a new light.  Rather than being a blood sacrifice to atone for sin, the resurrection can be understood as God’s validation of the teachings of Jesus as the Logos, or the living word of God (John 1:1-14).  That would make the teachings of Jesus the way, the truth and the life and the only way to salvation (John 14:6).

In John’s Gospel Jesus is presented as the Logos (John 1:1-5).  If God is love (I John 4:16-21), then the new command of John’s Gospel to love one another (John 13:34) is the heart of the Logos.  To emphasize belief in Jesus Christ as God at the expense of following Jesus as the word of God is to distort God’s truth; but exclusivist church doctrines do just that.

Robin R. Meyers has argued how to save a declining church in the title of his book, Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus (HarperOne, 2009).  It’s not a new idea. Thomas Jefferson considered the teachings of Jesus “the most sublime moral code ever devised by man” and disdained exclusivist church doctrines.

         Christianity and Islam both promise salvation to believers and condemn unbelievers; and Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet and accepts the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as a common word of faith.  The two religions should be reconciled on the altruistic teachings of Jesus as the universal word of God.      

         In a world of increasing religious pluralism and with people of all faiths suffering from a devastating world-wide pandemic, Christians and Muslims should reaffirm their common word of faith in the greatest commandment to love their neighbors of other races and religions as they love themselves. Then the light of God’s love can dispel the darkness of the pandemic from our spirits and reconcile us into the universal family of God.

         It’s time to see the resurrection in a new light.  Easter is a time for new beginnings and spiritual rebirth for all people.  The Hymn of Promise says it well: In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be; in our death a resurrection, at the last a victory, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.  It’s God’s universal promise of reconciling love.

Notes and References to Resources:

The Hymn of Promise (by Natalie Sleeth, 1986) is at page 707 of The United Methodist Hymnal.

This commentary was originally posted on April 5, 2015 as commentary #19 at later related commentary, see Trump and The Apostles’ Creed: Is It a Prayer or a 
Profession of Faith? (12/8/18), and Musings on Jesus and Christ as Conflicting Concepts in Christianity (11/23/19). It’s related to Life after death and the resurrection in The Teachings of Jesus and Muhammad on Morality and Law:The Heart of Legitimacy (the J&M Book) at page 74.   On the Islamic understanding of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, see commentary on Jesus on the cross in the J&M Book at pages 203-208.  The Gospel of Mark has no post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, and the accounts in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John are unique and uncorroborated in the other Gospels.  

On Paul’s understanding of resurrection, see I Corinthians, chapter 15; and on the atonement as it applied to the crucifixion and resurrection, see Romans 3:21-26.

On Jesus’ preference for mercy, not sacrifice, see Matthew 9:10-13 and Notes on Promoting Religion through Evangelism, posted February 8, 2015.  

On Christian creeds and exclusivism, see The Rest of the Story in the J&M Book at pp 333-334.    

On the greatest commandment as a common word of faith with the story of the good Samaritan in Luke’s version, see blogs posted on January 11, 2015, and on January 25, 2015.  

On the new command of John’s Gospel, the J&M Book at page 325; on Jesus as the Logos and the way, the truth and the life, see Faith and Eternal Life in the J&M Book at page 394.

On the Logos, see Jesus: A Prophet, God’s Only Son or the Logos? see   

On Religion and New Beginnings: Salvation and Reconciliation in the Family of God (1/4/2015) see

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Resurrection of America's Values

    By Rudy Barnes, Jr.    

America is looking for a resurrection of its values but is divided over whether wealth or health should be a priority.  When President Trump vowed to reopen America for business and fill church pews on Easter he set the stage for a classic conflict of values.  He has since agreed to follow the advice of health experts on social distancing, but the conflict in values remains.

The stock market is considered a barometer of America’s materialistic and hedonistic culture, and its recent crash came when the requirement of social distancing forced many businesses to close.  America’s conflicting values are derived from its culture and Christian morality, and they pit selfishness against altruism and wealth against public health.

President Trump politicized the coronavirus threat as a “Democratic hoax” and belittled the advice of medical experts that it was a major threat; then he praised himself in daily briefings on how well he was handling the crisis.  Last week Trump fired the skipper of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt for making it public that his ship had been contaminated by the virus.  

America needs to resurrect the altruistic and universal values taught by Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus affirmed his teachings to be the living word of God. Jesus taught that we are all children of God, but the church teaches that only Christians go to heaven and the rest go to hell.  Hell is real, but it’s in Satan’s worldly domain and is not part of God’s eternal kingdom.

God’s will is to reconcile and redeem people of all religions into the universal family of God, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer.  Unfortunately, Satan does a convincing imitation of God in the church and politics; and in the cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil, Satan is winning the popularity contest in America’s democracy.

The church lost its moral compass when it was divided and conquered by charlaton white evangelicals who promote distorted “family values” and a prosperity gospel that conflicts with the teachings of Jesus on God’s will and wealth.  In 2016 white Christians elected a man as president whose immorality represents the antithesis of the altruistic moral teachings of Jesus.

The moral teachings of Jesus are summed up in the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves.  It provides a universal moral imperative that’s taken from the Hebrew Bible, was taught by Jesus, and that has been promoted by Islamic scholars as a common word of faith.

Jesus addressed our conflicting values on wealth and public welfare.  He said, blessed are you who are poor, and woe to you who are rich (Luke 6:10-26); and said, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34)  Jesus made it clear that altruistic concern for the least, the last and the lost took precedence over the selfish desire to accumulate wealth.

Easter is a time for Americans to reflect on their values and to resurrect the altruistic values taught by Jesus in their politics.  In a democracy any resurrection of the altruistic moral imperative to provide for the common good must come from voters. God doesn’t have a vote.  That means that any resurrection in America’s political values will have to wait until November.

Most Americans still claim to be Christians.  We can only hope that most will be good moral stewards of democracy in November and reject the divisive politics they legitimized in 2016.  But Satan is ahead in the polls. To restore political legitimacy in America, voters must promote a politics of reconciliation based on the altruistic moral values taught by Jesus.


Trump’s dramatic turnaround on the coronavirus, from it being a Democratic hoax to a major threat to America, illustrates his proclivity to dramatically reverse directions and claim victory and then deny any inconsistencies.  What’s truly amazing is that his base buys his radical duplicity. See

Tara Isabella Burton has asserted that “America’s civil religion is capitalism.  Trump’s coronavirus response proves it. Facing a plague, he wants us to sacrifice at the altar of commerce.
...Americans — traditionally faithful and religious “nones” alike — are more than willing to link financial success with visions of divine favor. It’s a tendency that unites practitioners of New Age-tinged spirituality, such as Marianne Williamson and “The Secret” author Rhonda Byrne, and evangelical Christians, as many as 40 percent of whom subscribe to the “prosperity gospel”: the notion that God rewards his most faithful with material success.  Prosperity gospel preachers like Creflo Dollar and Trump’s current spiritual adviser, Paula White, regularly teach that Christian faith (and, more often than not, generous tithing) will bring believers untold riches. “No bank in the world offers this kind of return,” prosperity gospel preacher Kenneth Copeland writes of the church in his book “The Laws of Prosperity.” Financial success is proof not just that you’re working hard enough, but that you’re believing hard enough: that God, personally, has chosen to bless you.  ...When the language of buying and selling, product and profit, so dominates our discourse about our identities, our society and our metaphysics, capitalism becomes indistinguishable from religious faith. Once we made human sacrifices to appease the gods; now, we’re told, we must do the same to appease the markets.
...Even Americans who don’t explicitly subscribe to the prosperity gospel accept its tenets: Financial success, and how we deploy it, are integral parts of our moral worth.  ...In imagining an economic resurrection, Trump is sending a message that America values material thriving more than public health. Should he get his way and the pews fill up on Easter, the god worshiped that day won’t be that of any church, synagogue or mosque, but of the marketplace.”

John Pavlovitch has said, “Some people adore capitalism so much, they’re willing to sell their souls to support it.”  He described the recent stimulus and relief bill promoted by Trump’s Republican Party and supported by acquiescent Democrats as “a slush fund trojan horse disguised as economic crisis aid...that pads the already heavily buffered nest eggs of corporations and does little for day laborers and the working poor.  This is the repugnant sham of pro-life Christianity revealed in all its grotesque ugliness. This is what the Religious Right really thinks about human life: if the price is right, it is all expendable. This is the economy of soul capitalism: their money is worth your life. Other’s supply can meet their greedy demand. For all their tearful, showy displays of phony religion, all their impassioned pleas about embryos in the womb being sacred—they will let sentient human beings with grandchildren and spouses and decades of wisdom, die on the altar of their 401Ks.” See

In arguing for universal salvation, David Bentley Hart debunks the concept of hell in That All Shall Be Saved.  “The ‘infernalists,’ as he calls those committed to belief in the eternity of hell, take a position that is unnecessary, unbiblical, incoherent, and above all, he insists again and again, morally repugnant.” See

Katherine Steward has asserted that the road to coronavirus hell was paved by evangelicals. “Religious nationalism has brought to American politics the conviction that our political differences are a battle between absolute evil and absolute good. ...Only a heroic leader, free from the scruples of political correctness, can save the righteous from the damned. Fealty to the cause is everything; fidelity to the facts means nothing. ...For decades, Christian nationalist leaders have lined up with the anti-government, anti-tax agenda not just as a matter of politics but also as a matter of theology. ...Limited government, according to this line of thinking, is “godly government.”  ...When a strong centralized response is needed from the federal government, it doesn’t help to have an administration that has never believed in a federal government serving the public good. Ordinarily, the consequences of this kind of behavior don’t show up for some time. In the case of a pandemic, the consequences are too obvious to ignore.  See
Brian Klaas has related our economic values to our politics, advising voters who choose their wallets over their values in 2020 are taking a big risk.  Klaas asks: “Do you vote according to your wallet, or your values?  Voters face some disturbingly straightforward questions as they head to the ballot box this November.  What’s the price of your values? Would you sell our democracy? And what abuses are you willing to accept as long as your stock portfolio grows?  ...As never before in American history, voters face some disturbingly straightforward questions as they head to the ballot box this November. What’s the price of your values? Would you sell our democracy? And what abuses are you willing to accept so long as your stock portfolio grows? So far, the answers aren’t reassuring.  ...If all Americans were actually willing to vote according to their values, Trump’s candidacy would already be dead. But here’s the unfortunate truth: We are a country full of millions of people who are willing to look the other way and abandon our values so long as the stock market goes up, our 401(k)s soar and the economy shows no sign of slowing down.  ...Nonetheless, we can no longer ignore an unsettling fact. Many American voters simultaneously believe Trump is a dangerous bigot unfit for office and that he should be reelected so long as the economy stays on track. Those voters will likely cast the deciding votes. ...Those voters who fixated on their 401(k)s may live to regret the consequences of their choice. By making a Faustian bargain in the short term, they’re sealing a far worse long-term fate for both their wallets and our values. 

Max Boot has described the firing of Capt Brett Crozier, skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt:
“The U.S. government was fatally ill-prepared for the spread of a pandemic that has killed more Americans over the past month than died in Iraq over the past 17 years. The military could have done more to help but, like other government agencies, it was slow to act. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has come under fire for failing to cancel business as usual even as the virus spreads through the ranks.
...The only official in the entire government who has been publicly disciplined to date for mishandling the coronavirus is a Navy officer who acted to save his crew from an outbreak. This makes no sense save in the upside-down moral universe inhabited by the Trump administration.  Crozier sent an urgent letter to his chain of command on Monday, making clear that 90 percent of his crew needed to be evacuated immediately. Already more than 100 sailors out of a crew of nearly 5,000 have been diagnosed with covid-19 — and the disease was sure to spread fast in the close confines of the ship. “We are not at war,” Crozier wrote. “Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”  Because Crozier raised the alarm, most of the crew is finally being evacuated from the ship in Guam. But an article on Crozier’s letter in the San Francisco Chronicle (and then other newspapers) embarrassed the Defense Department leadership. 
...About a month ago, when Trump was still calling concern about the coronavirus a “hoax,” the New York Times reported that Esper had “urged American military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the coronavirus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of President Trump’s messaging on the growing health challenge.” This was a dismaying directive that seemed to put politics above force protection. Now Crozier’s firing will be seen, rightly or wrongly, as another step in the politicization of the military.  Trump has already done a great deal to undermine the military’s good order and discipline by pardoning personnel who have been accused, and even convicted, of war crimes. Trump even feted disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was denounced by his own platoon mates as “evil” and “toxic,” at Mar-a-Lago. The message that the administration is sending to the armed forces is that committing war crimes is acceptable but telling the truth and protecting the personnel under your command is not.
At least Crozier can take solace in the cheers and applause of his crew as he left the Theodore Roosevelt. They realize he was a great leader — “one of the greatest captains you ever had,” as one sailor said — even if the acting Navy secretary does not. Every cheer was an indictment of a Pentagon leadership that seems to have lost its moral bearings." See

Related commentary on the greatest commandment and love over law:
(1/11/15): The Greatest Commandment: A Common Word of Faith
(1/18/15): Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy
(1/23/16): Who Is My Neighbor?
(1/30/16): The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
(3/31/18): Altruism: The Missing Ingredient in American Christianity and Democracy
(10/13/18): Musings on a Common Word of Faith and Politics for Christians and Muslims
(2/23/19): Musings on Loving Your Enemy, Including the Enemy Within
(7/20/19): Musings on Diversity in Democracy: Who Are Our Neighbors? 
(7/27/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Love Over Law and Social Justice
(8/31/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Politics of Christian Zionism
(9/21/19): An Afterword on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics from 2014-2019
(10/5/19): Musings on the Moral Relevance of Jesus to Democracy
(10/12/19): Musings on Impeachment and Elections as Measures of Political Legitimacy
(10/26/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Discipleship in a Democracy
(11/9/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Virtual Alternative to a Failing Church
(11/16/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Irrelevance of Morality in Politics
(11/23/19): Musings on Jesus and Christ as Conflicting Concepts in Christianity
(12/14/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Prophets, Scripture and God’s Truth
(12/21/19): Musings on Advent and a Not-so-Merry Christmas for American Democracy
(1/25/20): Musings on the Legal and Moral Standards of Political Legitimacy in Impeachment
(2/1/20): Musings on the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Altar of Partisan Politics
(2/22/20): Musings on Why All Politics and Religion Are Local (and not Universal)
(3/7/20): Musings on America’s Need for a Politics of Reconciliation, not Revolution

On Christianity and capitalism:     
(3/8/15): Wealth, Politics, Religion and Economic Justice
(8/9/15): Balancing Individual Rights with Collective Responsibilities
(10/18/15): God, Money and Politics
(1/30/16): The Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
(6/4/16): Christianity and Capitalism: Strange Bedfellows in Politics
(10/1/16): The Federal Reserve, Wall Street and Congress on Monetary Policy
(2/11/17): The Mega-Merger of Wall Street, Politics and Religion
(3/11/17): Accountability and the Stewardship of Democracy
(9/9/17): The Evolution of the American Civil Religion and Habits of the Heart http://www.religion
(9/16/17): The American Civil Religion and the Danger of Riches
(12/16/17): Can Democracy Survive the Trump Era?
(1/20/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Morality and Religion in Politics
(1/27/18): Musings on Conflicting Concepts of Christian Morality in Politics
(2/17/18): Musings of a Maverick on Money, Wall Street, Greed and Politics
(6/15/18): The Prosperity Gospel: Where Culture Trumps Religion in Legitimacy and Politics
(4/27/19): Musings on the Legitimacy of Crony Capitalism and Progressive Capitalism
(6/29/19): Musings on a Politics of Reconciliation: An Impossible Dream?
(8/24/19): Musings on How a Recession Could Transform Religion and Politics in 2020
(9/28/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Polarized Politics of Climate Change
(12/28/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the End as a New Beginning
(1/4/20): Musings on How a Depression (or a War) Could Make America Great Again
(2/8/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on America’s Love of Money and Lack of Virtue
(3/28/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Quick and Dirty Economic Revolution

On Christian universalism:
(12/8/14): Religion and Reason
(1/4/15): Religion and New Beginnings: Salvation and Reconciliation in the Family of God
(2/8/15): Promoting Religion Through Evangelism: Bringing Light or Darkness?
(2/15/15): Is Religion Good or Evil?
(4/5/15): Seeing the Resurrection in a New Light
(4/19/15): Jesus: A Prophet, God’s Only Son, or the Logos
(1/2/16): God in Three Concepts
(1/21/17): Religion and Reason Redux: Religion Is Ridiculous
(1/28/17): Saving America from the Church
(4/22/17): The Relevance of Jesus and the Irrelevance of the Church in Today’s World
(7/22/17): Hell No! 
(8/5/17): Does Religion Seek to Reconcile and Redeem or to Divide and Conquer?
(8/12/17): The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism  
(9/29/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Resurrection of Christian Universalism
(10/6/18): Musings on Moral Universalism in Religion and Politics
(10/13/18): Musings on a Common Word of Faith and Politics for Christians and Muslims
(12/1/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Mystical Logos
(12/15/18): Musings on the Great Commission and Religious and Political Tribalism
(12/22/18): Musings on Faith and Works: The Unity of All Believers and The Last Judgment
(3/2/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Post-Christian America
(3/9/19): Musings on the Degradation of Democracy in a Post-Christian America
(3/16/19): Musings on the Evolution of Christian Exclusivism to Universalism
(4/20/19): Musings on the Resurrection of Altruistic Morality in Dying Democracies
(5/11/19): Musings on the Relevance of Jefferson’s Jesus in the 21st Century
(5/25/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Divinity and Moral Teachings of Jesus
(6/8/19): The Moral Failure of the Church to Promote Altruism in Politics 
(6/15/19): Back to the Future: A 21st Century Pentecost for the Church
(6/22/19): The Universal Family of God: Where Inclusivity Trumps Exclusivity
(6/29/19): Musings on a Politics of Reconciliation: An Impossible Dream?
(7/20/19): Musings on Diversity in Democracy: Who Are Our Neighbors? 
(8/3/19): Musings on the Dismal Future of  the Church and Democracy in America
(8/31/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Politics of Christian Zionism
(9/7/19): Musings on the Self-Destruction of Christianity and American Democracy
(9/21/19): An Afterword on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics from 2014-2019
(9/28/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Polarized Politics of Climate Change
(10/26/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Discipleship in a Democracy
(11/9/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Virtual Alternative to a Failing Church
(11/16/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Irrelevance of Morality in Politics
(11/23/19): Musings on Jesus and Christ as Conflicting Concepts in Christianity
(1/11/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Christians as a Moral Minority
(2/22/20): Musings on Why All Politics and Religion Are Local (and not Universal)