Entries by Harold Heie

America After Donald Trump

This Musing will appear as an Addendum in a book I have written that will be published by Cascade Books in the Spring of 2021. Therefore, you will find references to various chapters in that book, which is tentatively titled “Let’s Talk: Bridging Divisive Lines Though Inclusive Respectful Conversations.”

I wrote this concluding addendum to my book shortly after the Associated Press declared that Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.  I am assuming that the courts will not find sufficient merit in the lawsuits being filed in various states by Trump’s lawyers to overturn this result

In the reflections that follow, I will first explain why I am pleased with this election result. I will then present my vision for the future of America, starting with the presidency of Joe Biden. A critical distinction that will inform all of my reflections is between the “ends” one hopes to accomplish through the political process (the goals of one’s political agenda) and the political “means” one uses to seek to accomplish one’s desired ends. For reasons that will eventually become apparent, I start with the issue of “means.”

Not Voting is Your Worst Possible Choice

Since I plan on voting for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election, my first target audience for this reflection consists of those citizens who consider themselves to be “progressives”; having supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the early primaries.

Having talked with a number of such “progressives,” I sense that many citizens who situate themselves in that category are thinking of not voting because they will not vote for President Trump and they don’t believe Joe Biden is progressive enough to warrant their support. I will now unpack why I think such a decision by these progressives “not to vote” is a bad idea.

I believe I understand the reasons these progressives have for not wanting to vote. They are strong proponents of the progressive agendas advanced by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, and they do not wish to settle for the “less progressive” agenda that would likely emerge under a Joe Biden presidency.


Peaceful Protestors are not Vandals

I am writing to express strong disagreement with the assertion by Bonnie Reinders that the Democratic party “calls riots peaceful protests” and “justifies vandalism and violence in our cities.”

Bonnie fails to acknowledge a clear and indisputable distinction between two groups of people who have been out on the streets, in Portland and numerous other cities in America, including Orange City, where about 400 local residents participated in a peaceful Partnership for Justice march.

To be sure, a small minority of protestors, representing unacceptable extremes on both the political right and political left, have been vandals. Those in Portland who have damaged a Federal building have clearly broken the law and should be held accountable. I agree completely with President Trump that they should be punished in accordance with the laws of the land.


I Will Listen to Your Pain

The first step that led to my commitment to listen to the pain of others came when no one was willing to listen to my pain.

It was in the summer of 1993 when I was called into the office of the President of Messiah College (PA) and was told that my services as Vice President for Academic Affairs was being terminated immediately because of my “lack of deference to the President and Board of Trustees.” From my perspective, the reason for my being fired  was that my collaborative leadership style was diametrically opposed to the command-and-control style of the President and Board.

A bruhaha resulted amongst my faculty. In an attempt to calm the troubled waters, the Board solicited the services of a mediator, who, I was told, talked to a lot of people, but never talked to me. 

How could that be since it was my firing that led to the turmoil? The pain of being fired was amplified significantly by the fact that this mediator was not willing to listen to my side of the story; not willing to listen to my pain. I had been silenced.

Jesus Would Approve: Serving Others During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic is ubiquitous. Much of this coverage focuses on the respective roles of politicians at both the federal and state governments in addressing this crisis, a topic for a possible musing at a later date.In this musing, I will focus on those media reports that are often reserved for the end of newscasts; reports about the on-the-ground heroes among us. 

I am encouraged and moved to tears by the media reports on those many citizens, irrespective of political affiliation, who are actively serving fellow Americans in dire need. These heroic Americans include doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners serving Covis-19 victims in hospitals, emergency rooms and  nursing homes, often putting themselves in danger while doing so; persons volunteering at food pantries seeking to provide adequate food supplies for those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic; those working in grocery stores; those providing delivery services of food and other necessary goods; those first responders, such as paramedics, policemen and firefighters; those participating in drive-by birthday celebrations or singing to their neighbors from their apartment balconies; those making encouraging telephone calls to elderly friends who are house-bound; those providing for the education of the children of America by means of virtual learning; and those parents caring for their children round-the-clock at home. The list could go on.

Christians Viewing Reality Through Western World or Global South Lenses: A Two-Way Conversation

It is indisputable that Christianity, as practiced by the institutional church, is thriving in the global south (centered in Africa, Latin America and Asia), where the majority of Christians now live, and is declining precipitously in the western world, especially among those many millennials in America who now designate their religious affiliation as “none.”

Given that reality, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, in his excellent book Future Faith, calls Christians in the Western World to listen carefully to their brothers and sisters in Christ in the global south about their views regarding the Christian faith that are at odds with dominant Western Views.

Christian Churches and Colleges Moving from Weak to Strong Views of “Acceptance” and “Peace”

I applaud those church congregations who have made a commitment to the core value of “acceptance.” One such church that I know well has been criticized as the church where “anyone can go.” That should be taken as a compliment.

But I propose two challenges for such “accepting” congregations and for Christian colleges that claim commitment to the Christian value of “acceptance.”

Expressing your Christian Beliefs with Deep Conviction, Openness, Gentleness and Respect

Richard Mouw, President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary, points to the rarity of Christians combining deep convictions about their beliefs with gentleness and respect toward those who disagree with them in a fascinating and disturbing reflection on the many sermons he heard during his boyhood days in a Christian Reformed Church in New Jersey on the last two sentences in 1 Peter 3: 15.


Sitting with Others and Listening

In my recent book Reforming American Politics, I propose 12 steps toward reforming American politics that flow from my commitment to stated Christian values. My first proposal is that before you begin talking about disagreements regarding hot-button political issues, you first need to lay a strong foundation by developing personal relationships of mutual understanding (hopefully leading to trust) with the person with whom you disagree. But how do you do that?

A First Step Beyond Postmodernism and Tribalism: A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath

Postmodernism is a complex movement that defies an easy description. But one discernible aspect of the movement is to call into question the “universality of Truth.” As the argument goes, we all have our socially constructed views about the “Truth” relative to the matter at hand; but there is no “Truth” (with a capital “T”) that transcends our individual or group “truths” (with a lower-case “t”). This leads to an easy relativism; you have “your truth,” I have “my truth”; there is no point in talking about our “differing truths.”