“The Bible is not an instruction manual for American greatness.”

Ted Bauer
5 min readSep 20, 2021

Got a newsletter from The New York Times Opinion section this morning, ultimately pointing to this essay on the politics of “We will not forgive.” The author of the essay, Esau McCaulley, is a professor of the New Testament at a Christian college. So, he’s not a politician, and he’s wading into the culture wars stuff inherent in all politics with a New Testament (“love for all”) stance, which is squarely opposite how most behave whenever you use the word “Biden” or “Trump” in the front part of a sentence.

Whoever wrote the newsletter promoting this column wrote this:

“We will not forgive,” he said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

Biden went on to quote from the Bible’s book of Isaiah, to praise members of the American military who answer the call to serve. He’s just the latest U.S. president to invoke Scripture while talking about foreign policy.

But the Bible is not an instruction manual on American greatness. It is a set of sacred texts that, among other things, tells a story about who God is. Yes, in some places in the Bible God calls for revenge upon his enemies. But in Isaiah, God casts a vision for a world without war, where mighty lions and meek lambs lie down next to each other. And in the Christian gospel of Luke, we see God, in the form of Jesus, asking that his enemies be forgiven.

“What if, in response to tragedy, we declared war on the human despair that is a breeding ground of terrorism and steered far more aid money and efforts to helping the poor and refugees?” he writes.

Interesting concept. Hard in execution, but interesting. Yesterday while lounging on a Sunday, I watched this:

Pretty good, if a bit depressing. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of “deaths of despair,” this is a good starting place:

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism paints a troubling portrait of the American dream in decline. For the white…

Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.