Donald Trump and his view of personal property

From Neo-Neocon’s excellent blog: Donald Trump loves the regular folks—unless their homes happen to stand in Trump’s way

As a large-scale real estate developer, Trump has sometimes sued in his efforts to use government to condemn houses belonging to people of modest means whose homes—which Trump considers insufficiently attractive—have stood near his big developments and have chosen to exercise their liberty by refusing to sell to him. That’s one of the reasons Trump agrees 100% with the SCOTUS decision in Kelo (decided in 2005): he sees it making it easier for him to use government to compel the sale of a person’s house even against that person’s will.

It’s Trump’s prerogative to approve of Kelo, and it’s certainly understandable that someone in his line of work might have that point of view. He has every right to build his projects, and to try to buy the land of those with adjacent property. But if more people knew about the tactics he has used in trying to get government to force people out of their homes against their will, and his own condescending and often insulting comments about those same people and their modest homes, he might not be seen in such a positive light. With Trump, the legal often seems to segue into the personal.

There are several examples. One occurred in the 1990s, when Trump was trying to buy the home of a 70-ish Atlantic City widow named Vera Coking. He wanted her property not for building his casino, but in order to use the land as a waiting area for limos. She had lived in the same place for three decades, and said no to Trump’s offer to buy. After that, Trump tried to get the city to condemn her property and buy it for a reduced sum, and the court battle took five years.

. . .

Ms. Coking had said earlier that “This is my home. This is my castle.” Trump had disagreed; he had built a different kind of castle with a different kind of aesthetic, and he made it clear that her home didn’t fit into his picture:

Everybody coming into Atlantic City sees that [Coking] property,” Trump continued…”They’re staring at this terrible house instead of staring at beautiful fountains and beautiful other things that would be good.”

Here’s a picture of the Ms. Coking’s “terrible” house, in front of Trump’s casino:
cokinghouse
As Neo says, “I’m not sure everyone would agree as to which of the two buildings is more aesthetically pleasing.”

Allegiances

It seems to me that we are losing our mind as a country,  culturally, morally,  and politically. This seems like a bad thing, but in it there is a beam of hope. Maybe a veil is being lifted.

Allegiances are shaky things. Pledge your allegiance to the wrong thing and you will see your hopes dashed. It seems to me that we’re coming out of a three decade experiment in really getting things wrong,  allegiance-wise. We thought aligning ourselves with political power was the answer to what ails our land, but we were wrong. We went down to Egypt to make unholy alliances for our salvation, when Egypt was never equipped to save anyone.

We should never have tried bringing living water to our thirsty nation by drinking the poisoned cup of political idolatry.

The veil is being lifted. I’m once again seeing some of our Christian leaders kowtow to our self-proclaimed saviors but I’m not buying it. Not anymore.

I’m not buying what they are selling. I’m going to vote. But I’m not putting faith in that vote. A political party won’t save us. That’s something only God can do.

Teaching

This will be a bit stream of consciousness: I’m privileged often to lead Bible discussions,  teach the scriptures,  and even mentor others to do so. This is such a blessing to me,  and I also believe,  based on interactions with others and also that inner “when I run I feel His pleasure” sense,  that God has equipped and gifted me to do this.

But I never shake that underlying low-voltage feeling of micro-panic when I’m preparing, and right beforehand. Once the Bible gets opened I normally stabilize. Sometimes,  in my best moments,  half of me is sitting outside myself,  in the circle,  being taught by God right then.

I go through seasons when I feel some self-condemnation in my teaching.  It’s hard to explain.  I taught recently and went home defeated because while I was teaching I felt really good but when I got in my car to go home I was blasted with the conviction that I had entirely missed the point of what I was teaching. I had missed Jesus,  which means those in the discussion circle did too.

I’m blessed and privileged to be leading this next Tuesday at an on-campus Christian club at our nearby community college. It’s so amazing how that’s even happened.

I’m praying God will prepare me because at this point I don’t have the first idea what scripture I will lead from. May he be glorified,  not me.  And may I give them Jesus and not miss him myself.

No one person can make a pencil

This is fascinating insight. I first read of this example in P.J. O’Rourke’s excellent book on economics, Eat the Rich. Today is the first time I saw the original Milton Friedman video that explains this [h/t Ed Driscoll on Instapundit].

Most of us have it pretty good while hardly ever realizing how much of our modern comfort is the result of this amazingly interconnected world we live in.

Tired of waiting for Aslan

In her column Nikabrik’s Candidate, Gina Dalfonzo sheds light on the Donald Trump phenomenon through a character in C.S. Lewis’ novel Prince Caspian. Nikabrik, you may recall, was originally a loyal Narnian, but he so hated and feared the Telmarine invaders that he decided that if Aslan continued to delay to intervene, they may as well get help from another powerful source: the White Witch.

Nikabrik’s fears are legitimate. His enemies are real and powerful and committed to the annihilation of his entire race. He is right to recognize the need for help. He is wrong to decide that help must come from a force equally merciless—wrong when he tells Caspian, “I’ll believe in anyone or anything . . . that’ll batter these cursed Telmarine barbarians to pieces or drive them out of Narnia. Anyone or anything, Aslan or the White Witch, do you understand?”

When his friend Trufflehunter reminds him that the Witch “was a worse enemy than Miraz and all his race,” Nikabrik’s retort is telling: “Not to Dwarfs, she wasn’t.” His own people and their safety are all that matter to him now. Instead of being an important priority, this has become his only priority—and any attempt to remind him that other considerations exist brings only his contempt and anger.

This is how good people with strong, ingrained values—people who have invested time and money in the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and similarly noble causes—can come to support a man who changes his convictions more often than his shirts. This is how people concerned about the dignity of the office of President end up flocking to a reality-show star who spends his days on Twitter calling people “dumb” and “loser.” This is how some who have professed faith in Jesus Christ are lured by a man who openly puts all his faith in power and money, the very things Christ warned us against prizing too highly. As one wag on Twitter pointed out, “If elected, Donald Trump will be the first US president to own a strip club,” and yet he has the support of Christians who fervently believe that this country needs to clean up its morals.

As Joseph Loconte has observed, the Narnia stories offer us “a view of the world that is both tragic and hopeful. The tragedy lies in the corruption caused by the desire for power, often disguised by appeals to religion and morals.” How dangerously easy it is for the desire for power to take on that disguise—and how easily we Christians fall for it.

Tired of waiting for Aslan—who may be nearer than we think—we turn elsewhere.

Read the whole thing. Now I don’t think Trump is actually comparable to lucifer, of course, but I do think his fervent support among evangelicals (if polls are to be believed) is really alarming.

Worth waiting for

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

(Romans 8:18-19 ESV)

Think about it: how much of your time is spent waiting for something (whatever that something may be) versus obtaining and fully enjoying that something? Have you noticed how much of your life you spend waiting?

When we’re young, we wait to get older. When we get older, we wait to get through school, or get married, or get a new job. Here in Houston we wait for extended lengths of time in traffic.

Humans spend a lot of time waiting. Many of us get very accustomed to living in the “wait”, and make the mistake of never really being where we are, because our minds are where and when we want to be; that distant time and far land where things will be quite alright. We wait and hope and focus on that day when our ship will come in or we will retire and travel the world or finally write that book or that song or finally get the girl or finally find our beach.

This waiting, this longing is natural in fallen humanity, even though we often shoot the arrow at the wrong tree. This sense of waiting, of everything not quite as it should be, is lit, however brightly or dimly, with the knowledge that it could be and maybe will be. That light of hope was put there by God, who has put eternity in our hearts. But rather than wait on the promise, we wait for things in the here and now, happenstances in our temporal circumstances because they seem more obtainable than what God has promised.

But look at what he has promised! Glory! In fact, the whole creation itself waits eagerly for what will be revealed when the Lord makes us, finally, what we were always meant to be.

Romans 8 goes on to describe how creation groans, and we ourselves groan inwardly and wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters of the King, because of what our Lord (and big brother!) Jesus has done to make that adoption a certainty.

Sons and daughters of our loving, royal Father. Now that is something worth waiting for!

Wait

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV)

I read a piece of really stunning microfiction yesterday (unfortunately I don’t have the link. [Update 1/25/16: found the link]) about a guy who was abducted by strangers, locked in a room with a telephone, and instructed to never use the phone or else bad things would happen to him. He was fed crackers and water each day and after several weeks he was, understandably, starving and going out of his mind.

He finally used the phone. Without getting into the bizarre details, the result was really bad, but irony was that if he had just waited five more hours he would have been released.

It was a good story and I was reminded of it when reading Isaiah 40 tonight. Waiting is hard; the end of Isaiah 40 speaks to this. The voice in verse 27 expresses what most of us have sometimes felt, a feeling of abandonment by God. I’m waiting here but I’m not sure if he even remembers me.

The Lord through Isaiah reminds us of something important. God is not limited in any way to come to our rescue. He is not tired. He doesn’t get tired. He knows and understands everything. He seeks to give power to those who are losing their might.

This is all inextricably tied to waiting on him. What does that mean? What does it mean to wait on the Lord? And secondly, why do we have to wait?

I think this is important to understand; this idea of waiting. We are beings who have never known anything but the flow of time, and so we’re locked into temporal thinking and our spiritual sight, our perception of the bigger picture, is extremely limited in most of us. So we find ourselves at times in desperate need of rescue but with no rescuer in sight.

God does this to us, I think, on purpose, for reasons higher than I can imagine but I think partly to teach us some of the basics of life in his Kingdom, including the basic 101s of patience and faith. So we will find ourselves wanting desperately for something to happen, but forced to wait. What do we do while we wait? I don’t think this passage implies that we do nothing. We need to wait for him because there are numerous (more than we know, I suspect) things in life that we truly are not going to be able to take care of on our own, so the ultimate fix for our problem is truly out of our hands. But when you’re waiting for the Lord to come to your rescue, that’s a perfect time to, for example, cry in the wilderness and make straight paths in your life for him.

He is coming. The people Isaiah was writing to still had centuries to wait for their Savior, but he was on his way, in God’s inscrutable, perfect timing.

Wait on him. He will renew your strength. He will rescue. You will soar, you will run, you won’t get tired.

He’s on his way!