All In the Institutes . . .

“Susan was not killed in that last railway accident, and we should not speculate about her final destiny unless we want Aslan to growl at us for impudent guesswork about somebody else’s story. And besides, if anybody wants to argue that the ultimate Cair Paravel in the center of the ultimate Narnia only had three thrones in it, well, I wish them luck. Bless me, it’s all in the Institutes — bless me, what do they teach them in these schools?” (From The Romantic Rationalist, p. 74).

Three Feet of Partly Cloudy

The real losers last night — not that anyone is likely to take real notice — were the pollsters. This is not the case because we had a wave election, because a number of people were predicting that. The surprises all came in the margins.


“What I drink and what I tell the pollsters I drink are two different things.”

Races that were not supposed to be close, like Warner and Gillespie in Virginia, were close. Races that were supposed to be close, like Kentucky, weren’t close at all. This kind of thing happened in state after state, in race after race. Now when this happens from time to time, as it does, the one-off surprise is chalked up to the electorate having wild mood swings. The twenty point spread between the poll results the week before the election and the actual election results is attributed to a whole bunch of people making up or changing their minds. But it is actually the result of the very nature of polling itself.

What happens in a poll is that 2,000 people are asked their views, the necessary “scientific” adjustments are made, and this is then assumed to be the mindset of three million people. The reasoning process is called induction, where you are going from the particular to the general. Whether or not that reasoning is strong or weak depends entirely on whether your sample size is representative. Of course, you don’t know whether it is representative or not until after the election, at which point you should calibrate your methods. But we have now gotten to the point where the poll results are treated as mini-elections, with settled results, and the elections are treated as big elections, also with settled results.

What ought to happen is that our pollsters should be on television this morning, acting like a local teevee weatherman who has had to deal with multiple irate callers who had to shovel three feet of partly cloudy off their driveways. “Folks, this is not an exact science . . .” At its best, polling is educated guessing. At its worst, it is wish fulfillment therapy. At its best, polling is having thousands of conversations with people in the run-up to an election. At its worst, it is little better than telling the king which way he should go because your guild is the best haruspicy firm in the business.

Only God knows the end from the beginning. Mortal men want to know the future and they cannot. Mortal men want to know the future so badly that they are willing to pay big money for any plausible account. And much of the time, it can all seem pretty plausible — because the voting public is following the polls also and many times a reinforcement theme is created. Polls can and do create real momentum, and really can affect the outcome. But of course, if a bald eagle happened to land on a general’s helmet right before the battle, that could affect the outcome as well.

In all this, we should remember Isaiah’s taunt. “Shew the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that ye are gods. Yea, do good, or do evil, That we may be dismayed, and behold it together” (Is. 41:23). Whatever else we may say about the political results of this election — and I would want to say that the unraveling of Obama’s apotheosis is almost complete — we can also take comfort in the fact that many of our nation’s soothsayers had their pointy cone hat knocked off, the one with the stars and crescent moons on it.

Floral Theology

“Let me take a moment to conduct a very brief tour of the Narnian tulip garden — a place of fond memories for me because this is where I first learned my foundational lessons in the meaning of grace. Now I admit that these are Narnian tulips, so they don’t look quite the same as what we are used to — they are larger, for one, and they open to the sun more quickly than those that some of our stricter brethren have duct-taped shut. Nevertheless, we should be able to quickly recognize the gaudy splash of colors that characterize our floral theology. It is either the Calvinist tulip or the Arminian daisy — ‘He loves me, He loves me not . . .'” (From The Romantic Rationalist, pp. 72-73).

So the Election Is Tomorrow

As you prepare to go to the polls, please keep in mind that a stark choice lies before America. Tomorrow is a critically important election, one in which we shall choose between evil and fecklessness.

One the one hand we have the party of death and sodomy, lechery and license, while on the other we have the party of milquetoastery. Given such a choice, who can fail to be roused to action?

Actually, I really am hoping for an electoral bloodbath for the Democrats because their peculiar kind of hubris does need a few more holes in it. I hope that after the election a man would be unable to swing a cat on the Senate floor, not that this is likely to occur, without hitting a Republican. I do hope this is the outcome, and am planning on voting accordingly. Join me, will you?

This is because I am long overdue for a change up in my exasperation. I am tired of the Death Star blowing up planets, and want a quiet return to the petty mendacity of yore.

If this is a wave election — which it looks like it might be — one possible new exasperation will come from the fact that John Boehner may no longer need the Tea Party fire eaters in order to get anything passed, and will be in a position to tell them to do what the Republican establishment has long yearned to be able to tell them to do, which is to pound sand.

If the wave were big enough, Congress would be within shouting distance of being able to over-ride presidential vetoes — not that there would be that many Republicans, but because a wave election might put the fear of God into some Democrats. The first order of business would of course be to repeal Obamacare — and our exasperation will come when we see the fecklessness, a word that cries out to be used at least twice in a post like this — of the Republicans.

And of course, let us never forget that Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to set jurisdictional limits on the federal courts, including the Supreme Court. Wouldn’t it be dandy if Congress prohibited federal courts from saying anything whatever about same sex mirage? Or abortion?

Although there are some Republicans I admire, I have no illusions about the Republican establishment. They wouldn’t do such things because they don’t want to. I am not holding my breath, in other words.

At the same time, I will go to the polls cheerfully tomorrow, whistling an environmentalist tune, but making it plural. Save the planets.

God Rest Ye Merry

Below is a very kind Facebook post that Kirk Cameron put up. After that are a few more comments from me about the furor his movie Saving Christmas appears to be causing. This was apparently a rumpus we needed to have.

Okay, some backstory. Kirk has a movie coming out called Saving Christmas. I have a short preliminary review here. As part of promoting the movie, Kirk and I had a brief conversation about Thor and Jesus that you can read here. And the book we are talking about, and the book that Kirk references in the Facebook post above can be found here.

Now I think I mentioned in my short review that the movie was not directly about saving Christmas from the Forces of Secularism (although that is related, at least indirectly). No, the movie is about saving Christmas from the forces of overly-precise Christians, who couldn’t find Christmas in their Bible search software, and who think we shouldn’t have anything to do with it. Now while this might seem kind of extra-Christiany, this is actually falling for one of the basic lies that the enemy is trying to tell us.

And from the comment thread on Kirk’s Facebook post where we are talking about Jesus and Thor, it is manifest that Kirk’s movie is absolutely the right thing at the right time. D.L. Moody once said that if you throw a rock into a pack of stray dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit. This message of saving Christmas from Christians is generating a lot of yelps.

In my time with Kirk, I cited a verse from somewhere in Hosea. Here it is: “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.” (Hosea 2:17, ESV).

It is not the path of discernment to judge things by what they used to be. Wedding rings were a pagan custom — the Romans thought that a vein ran from your ring finger to your heart, and the way you bound your heart was by putting a ring on that finger. They used the right hand, and we use the left, but that is why we do that. Thor’s day is Thursday, but not anymore. I use that example because Thor’s name is not quite forgotten. Woden’s name is a little more distant (Wednesday), and Tuesday and Friday are almost clean out of the picture (Tiw or Tyr, the god of single combat, and Frigg, the Old English Venus). And the reason you make a wish before you blow out your birthday candles is because back in the day a soothsayer would then come ambling up to the table and tell your fortune from the patterns that the smoke made. When was the last time you made a little smoke for the soothsayer at your birthday? Well, you made the smoke but it wasn’t for the soothsayer, because you’re a Christian and you don’t believe in soothsayers. No capnomancy for you.

Instead of being ashamed of the superstition, you ought to thank God that the increase of His Son’s government will have no end, and then memorize Hos. 2:17. That, and you should take the scroogiest Christian friend you can persuade to go see Saving Christmas.