By Dr. Jim Ferguson

I’ve often wondered why sharing a good book or movie with someone gives me such joy. Tastes are as varied as humanity, but common visions exist and are apparently sought. My wife, Becky, enjoys murder mysteries, especially if there is political intrigue associated with Washington D.C. I like science fiction, a genre that doesn’t rest well on her palate.

They say opposites attract, but I believe shared fundamental principles are a guide to a successful relationship. Becky once wrote a country and western song entitled Matters of the Heart. Unfortunately, she has no connections with the Nashville music industry, so her lyrics never made the music billboard; they just sing to my heart. In her song she alludes to her practicality and my philosophy. However, in the chorus she says,

“When we both get home and leave our other worlds behind,

on matters of the heart, we’re two of a kind.”

We’ve found an author we both like and together we are reading two of his books. Philip Yancey is a Christian writer and modern apologist. “What’s So Amazing about Grace” is perhaps the most well-known of his twenty books. My favorite is “Soul Survivor” which tells of Yancey’s stormy faith journey in the setting of various authors who influenced and led him back to Christ. Much of what I know of Martin Luther King Jr., Tolstoy, Gandhi and G. K. Chesterton, I know because of this beautifully written book.

In my lifetime I’ve reread perhaps a half dozen books. These include the Bible, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Annie Dillard’s marvelous book, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.” This time as I reread “Soul Survivor”with Becky, I am experiencing even greater joy.

Perhaps it’s the thespian in Becky, but she reads aloud far better than me. Perhaps it’s because she focuses on the words and punctuation, whereas I’m focusing on the concepts. She says she processes information better as she reads aloud rather than when she’s listening to me read.

Information is different when read silently rather than read aloud. In antiquity, humans were an aural society, where stories were  told around campfires rather than in books. Long ago, experts in memorization were important, and long narratives like the Iliad were commonly recited. With the advent of writing around 3000 BC in ancient Sumaria, the written word became increasingly important, but was still only available to the wealthy. With affluence and education, most Americans now read and write. Arguably, we have now moved into the visual age and may be trending toward a virtual reality.

In antiquity, scrolls were meant to be read aloud. Interestingly, Saint Augustine in the 400s AD surprised his colleagues by reading scripture silently rather than aloud. Becky would be surprised to learn that she’s a historical babe, at least when she reads Yancey’s prose to me!

Perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a mess if our legislators were required to read all legislation aloud before voting. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s infamous remark regarding the Obamacare bill, “You need to pass it to find out what’s in it.” How’s that working out? The House of Representatives apparently hasn’t learned this simple and logical lesson because they just passed a 3000 page continuing resolution budget bill last week without reading it. How do I know this? The bill was available only two days before the vote. I could have more easily read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” twice than this gargantuan legislation.

After watching Congress I’ve been asking myself why should anyone vote Republican again? I know that Democrats can’t understand someone who opposes an ever expanding government. Well, I have trouble understanding someone who wants cradle to grave “government care” as envisioned by Obama with his prototypical Julia on the Democrat’s web site. But that’s just me.

If I trusted our government I might feel differently, but unfortunately I don’t anymore.  I’ve lost faith in the “representative republic” designed by the Founders. These men were students of history and designed a wonderful system, but we’ve squandered that heritage and lost our way. We now suffer from career politicians instead of citizen representatives who are elected, serve and then return to their farms and livelihoods. The politician’s desire is to be reelected, and to do so you need money. And to get money you must pay homage to big donors and be a party apparatchik.

In November I voted against the career politician in favor of the Washington outsider in an attempt to change the direction of the country. Perhaps I was naive. Like many others, I thought that Republican control of the House of Representatives (since 2010), the Senate (since 2014) and now the White House would lead to a change from the Obama years. I’m now skeptical.

Trump is the President and CEO of the country, but actually it’s the Washington establishment which remains in control. Members of the establishment include big donors (the donor class), the K street lobbyists, Democrat and Republican party leaders (the ruling class), and the media. You might wonder about the media, but I believe this “fifth column” bunch actually pulls the strings of Democrats rather than the other way around.

The term RINO stands for Republicans in name only. I now see their colleagues as DINOs, Democrats in name only. In reality, there are no Democrats left, they are all progressives masquerading as Democrats. Supposedly we have a choice between the two parties, but I don’t see a tinker’s dam of difference between the Washington leadership of either party, except in their posturing and public pronouncements.

I am a social, fiscal, political, religious, environmental and national conservative. Neither party represents me. Therefore, I voted against the Washington establishment and for the outsider who was once a Democrat and is now labeled a Republican. Trump is not an ideologue like me. But more importantly he is uniformly despised by the “ruling class” which is Washington D.C. It’s such a shame because our American capital is a beautiful town, but it’s inhabitants are scoundrels. There are no Mr. Smiths (Jimmy Stewarts) in Washington. What we have are McConnells, Pelosis and Comeys. Now I even have trouble cheering for the Washington Capitals hockey team because my disgust runs so deep.

So, “How Then Shall We Live” (another wonderful book whose title is taken Ezekiel)? The author Francis Schaeffer advises: affirm the Bible as true, have compassion for those who are lost, speak the truth in love, follow the Way and remember that God is with us.