Love is the content of faith in Jesus

I don’t think it makes sense that faith can be had alone (sola fide).

The kind of faith we might place in Jesus Christ isn’t something we can shop around and conceivably place in some other person or thing. If this weren’t true, it’s really not Jesus Christ in whom we have faith, but rather in the role he plays in a larger narrative that may well have nothing to do with him, really.

The form and content of our faith in something must be informed by the object of our faith (that is, the something). And for a Christian, to have faith in Jesus is to love Jesus. To believe in Jesus Christ (instead of some other hypothetical object of faith) means to make love the content of faith. To say other than this is to, I think, secularize love, which makes the Gospel arbitrary.

And love, of course, doesn’t just happen in a singular moment – that is, it doesn’t accord with the a perspective of absolute forensic justification at the point and time of initial conviction.

Lapsed into the material

From this book by Christopher Knight, parish priest of the Parish of the Holy Transfiguration in Walsingham, England, and a Senior Research Associate and Associate Lecturer of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge.

The Fall was often seen, in the patristic era, as being a transition not only into our present biological state but also into time as we now experience it. As Philip Sherrard has put it, it was a lapse ‘into a materialized space-time universe’.

This is just one selection from a whole line of work by Knight (and, for that matter, many other theologians). It’s important because it helps solve the dilemma Cardinal Ratzinger posed so forthrightly in God and the World:

Suffering and death are essential to the structure of things. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice.

Ratzinger scholar Matthew Ramage summarizes the “problem” in a 2021 paper:

…death and the selective pressures associated with it played an essential role in the development of life from bacteria to the myriad flora and fauna that grace our planet today.

Homo sapiens did not exist until this evolutionary process had already been happening for a billion years. How, then, can Adam have (through sin) brought death into the cosmos? How should we think of man’s “fall” (if we should think of it at all) into sin and death?

An atemporal fall is a good place to start, I think. This is what Knight is relating—that what we know as “space-time” (or even “empirical”) existence is itself fallen. That we can experience reality only in sequence—that moments disappear into the past, out of our immediate reach—is itself something that is not right (or that, at least, we could imagine, maybe, being some other, better way).

Lots of complexities here. I hesitate to even talk about this, because it can feel absurd to try to imagine a timeless experience of anything. Even our thoughts happen in timeful sequence. But Jesse Hake does a good job here, based on his conversations with Jordan Daniel Wood, whose views on this subject get a decent, concise treatment at Eclectic Orthodoxy.

Hart on the demonic

From David Bentley Hart, writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

But it is quite possible to decline to believe in the literal individual existence of an entity called Asmodeus (for example) without thereby denying that there is a dimension of real experience — or at least a dimension where experience and objective reality are only indiscernibly distinct from one another, if at all — that is properly understood as the demonic. In regard to that dimension, the names given demonic beings are incantatory rather than indicative, ritualistic rather than taxonomic. They do not indicate certain discrete entities so much as they gesture evocatively toward a “dark something” that cannot be denied but that remains utterly elusive of clear definition.

Genuine grief would turn the world inside out

A poignant passage on grief, from Joseph Bottum writing for Washington Examiner last Feburary.

Genuine grief would turn the world inside out, if it could.

We speak of ghosts as pale and insubstantial, but in grief—the real thing, the fierce inconsolable anguish at the death of a loved one—the dead seem more tangible than the living. The absent more material than the present.

In the inverted world of sorrow, the missing person exists in sharp detail, and the ordinary world retreats: a dull, gray tabescence.

When we mourn, the dead are not ghostly. The rest of reality is what comes to seem unreal.

The Bible is not a system

David Bentley Hart in That All Shall Be Saved:

Really, on the whole, Christians rarely pay particularly close attention to what the Bible actually says, for the simple reason that the texts defy synthesis in a canon of exact doctrines, and yet most Christians rely on doctrinal canons. Theologians are often the most cavalier in their treatment of texts, chiefly because their first loyalty is usually to the grand systems of belief they have devised or adopted; but the Bible is not a system.

A very great deal of theological tradition consists therefore in explaining away those aspects of scripture that contradict the finely wrought structure of this or that orthodoxy.

Christian faith is love

Here’s Ratzinger in Introduction to Christianity:

The apparent reinterpretation here – in Matthew 25 – of the christological profession of faith into the unconditionality of human service and mutual help is not to be regarded, after what we have said, as an escape from otherwise prevailing dogma; it is in truth the logical consequence of the hyphen between Jesus and Christ and, therefore, comes right from the heart of Christology itself.

For this hyphen – let me repeat – is at the same time the hyphen between faith and love. Therefore it is also true that faith that is not love is not a really Christian faith; it only seems to be such – a fact that must redound both against any doctrinalistic misunderstanding of the Catholic concept of faith and against the secularization of love that proceeds in Luther from the notion of justification exclusively by faith.

There is no literal meaning

I’ve transcribed this Jonathan Pageau video. I’ve made edits where the text was confusing, and to optimize this for reading (the video was improvised monologue). He hasn’t approved this transcription, but I’m confident it’s a good representation of the ideas he presents herein.

A problem I encounter when talking to people about symbolism is the literal-versus-metaphor idea.

But in fact, this isn’t a problem once you realize that there is no such thing as literal.

Now, of course, I already hear a bunch of people screaming “No! He’s saying that the Bible didn’t happen! That everything is just a metaphor!”

Not exactly. I’m trying to break that duality. I’m trying to destroy it, because it’s not useful in understanding how meaning occurs and how things manifest themselves.

Now, when I say there’s no such thing as literal, what I mean by literal is this strange, pervasive idea that there is such thing as a direct description of something. That there is such thing as a description of something that is not bound up some narrative or image. That there is somehow a meaningless description of something that is not already imbibed in meaning.

People will often argue that the descriptions in the Bible are literal. And these people talk in such a way that they infer there is some kind of neutral description of reality that is possible—one that does not already have some kind of value or meaning latent in it.

But this type of description is not possible. When you describe something (no matter what it is you describe), you must do so with some purpose in mind. You need a framework, because reality is too big. There are too many details. You have to focus your time and attention on some particular events and leave any number of the millions of other possible events surrounding some episode unsaid.

Now, this already undermines the notion of literal meaning. Because if, say, I’m telling a story and I don’t mention the folds in the characters’ shirts or the fact that one of them cut themselves shaving that morning, then I’m leaving out facts of what really happened. But that’s because they are not relevant to what I’m trying to communicate—they are not part of the purpose for which I’m describing that event.

Now, depending on the purpose for which I’m describing something, I will use different types of language to describe it. The idea that somehow accuracy in a scientific sense of the word is always desirable is, of course, completely wrong. It is completely absurd because accuracy falls into an indefinite amount of detail.

Let’s say that I’m describing a fight and I want you to understand what happened. Now, I could use language that is extremely accurate. I could say something like:

“You know, the guy put his left foot in front and then the other person’s right hand came at this speed toward his face, and he flinched slightly when the fist hit his face. He displaced so many hairs and displaced so many pores and so many tissues in his check were disturbed. Then his head moved three centimeters to the left and then it moved forward four centimeters,” et cetera, et cetera.

I could describe the event in extreme detail, but as I’m describing it accurately, I’m not getting to the purpose for which I’m describing the event. To do that, I use hyperbolic language, like “The guy got smashed! He got his ass whooped!” in order to help you understand what happened in the fight. And in the end, this hyperbolic language – these figures of speech, exaggerations, etc. – will end up being truer to the purpose for which I’m describing the event. Truer, in fact, than I would have been had I attempted to be perfectly accurate.

Now, that’s extremely important to understand—especially if we’re looking at stories in the Bible. Each story in the Bible—each book in the Bible—has different ways of describing things based on the purpose for which they are describing them. There are different styles, different ways, different analogies used in order to help you understand the reason for which one is writing the text.

So this very idea that, somehow, you can get to some literal description of reality is extremely problematic and it’s not useful. It’s better to, rather, understand the purpose for which a story is being told.

Even a scientific theory or description is never literal or neutral. When you do a scientific experiment, you must frame that experiment narrowly, because there are too many details. If my purpose in a scientific experiment is to prove something about water, I will not give you descriptions of surrounding trees or rocks, or a description of the cloud cover that day. Instead, I will talk only about the facts of the thing that I’m trying to describe—an extremely narrow frame. I will use a certain kind of language—quantifiable language—in order to describe the phenomena, with the purpose of you understanding the mechanistic causes that bring it about (so that, for example, you could then reproduce it mechanistically, too).

But mechanistic reproduction is not always the reason why we’re describing an event. To use figures of speech can sometimes be more effective and more powerful than then using this kind of quantifiable language.

Now, if I use figures of speech or analogies to describe something, does that mean I’m not actually describing an event? Of course not! I’m still describing an event—I’m just using different ways of explaining it.

The point I’m making here is that it’s important you know the Christian persuade of describing reality is that the world is made by logos. The world is made by meaning and purpose, and the very cosmology in which Christianity exists excludes the possibility that there can be some kind of neutral reality that exists “at the bottom,” somehow, that is not informed by meaning (or logos).

The Bible itself describes the creation process as a process full of meaning and purpose. That said, I don’t understand how people can have this weird idea of a neutral reality existing underneath the world of Christianity. The Christian world is a meeting of heaven and earth. It’s a meeting of patterns, logos, meaning, and purpose. And this potentiality there at the bottom—what St. Maximus calls logos and tropos, this notion of purpose and meaning and the particularity of something—means heaven and earth joining together in a sort-of mini-incarnation. It may not be an incarnation in the same way that Christ is incarnated, but it is analogous in that it’s an invisible meaning and purpose which joins a kind of indefinite particularity, and that meaning is where reality exists. That’s where the world where life—where all these things—exists.

Once this starts to break in our thinking, a lot of things become less problematic. A lot of things become easier to deal with, because one of the problems that we have is that people seem to want to know the neutral event behind the stories.

Let’s say you’re reading Genesis. You’re reading the description of creation. You want to get to this event that, somehow, you think you can access “behind the story”—what really happened. But you don’t have access to that. And you can’t get to it because it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist on its own. As they are described, the events that happen are this framing—this coming together—of meaning and particulars.

What we do have is just the story. Especially when we’re talking about something like the creation story or other ancient stories that have been around for thousands of years. What we do have is the story. If you try to somehow get to what is behind the story in this neutral manner is not the right way to read them. People do think that somehow they tried, through these archaeological methods or through these historical methods, to get to what is behind the story in Genesis But it’s a futile trip. It’s especially futile if you think that once you get there, using archaeological methods or these different modern scientific ways of breaking down the text—you’re going to get to something which is truer than what the story is offering you.

Once you understand this, a lot of things are going to free up in your mind. A lot of problems are going to go away.

One of the one of the examples that I like to use is of the prophecy that that Elijah is going to come before the Messiah.

There there’s this Old Testament prophecy that says Elijah is going to show himself before the Messiah. So when Christ is here, the disciples asked him about this prophecy, and Christ tells them that Saint John the Baptist is the Elijah that was to come before the Messiah. He says if you’re able to receive this, that is what happened.

Now, the question that is asked is “Did Elijah come before the Messiah?” The answer is yes, Elijah did come before the Messiah. Elijah was John the Baptist.

You see what I’m doing there? I’m not trying to get to this weird, literal, neutral reality behind it. I’m trying to show you how Christ can quite easily take this prophecy and show that it’s actually a pattern of reality manifesting itself, and that here is the manner in which it manifests: Elijah as this pattern of St. John the Baptist—those two come together. Elijah did manifest himself before the Messiah.

Now, that is the answer that I will give to everything. Did Adam and Eve fall in the Garden? Yes. Did Adam and Eve eat the apple in the garden? Yes. I have no problem saying these things are true, and that they are the best description of that event and the best description of that reality. I’m not trying to, in some weird scientific sense, get behind the story to find out what it is that really happened. I have no idea what we think we’re going to get. The story is the story, and it’s the best way to describe the event.

Many problems modern Christians have come from the fact that, that without even knowing it, they have completely taken upon themselves this modern, “scientific” description as being the highest reality.

I remember hearing a Protestant tell me, “Science is just the mind of God.” Well, it’s seriously problematic to engage the world that way. Because then you always end up trying to get behind the story to find some scientific description which you could find behind the story. But it’s not there, because science is not the first the first degree of reality. Science is the best or only way to describe reality. If your purpose is to show people how to live, or if your purpose is to help people understand events that happened so long ago that all your reference points are basically gone, we use story tropes and manners of describing that are the best way to describe that event. Because of this, it’s extremely problematic to say that there is this weird opposition between literal and metaphorical.

Now, there are other people who somehow think that the metaphor is going to save them. That saying that something is a metaphor is going to get them out of trouble.

This is particularly true of Communion. I’ve seen often that people bring this up when I talk about Communion—that this is truly the body and blood of Christ. Now, always, someone will show up and say “No, it’s not it the real body—that’s so disturbing because then it’s a weird cannibalistic thing. It’s just a symbol, it’s just a metaphor.”

Well, you’re not getting out of the problem that easy. First of all, I will not accord to you that it is just a metaphor. But I’ll entertain that idea for a second. Then how are you getting out of the problem? You’re saying that it’s too disturbing that we would eat the real body and blood of Christ, but it’s not disturbing that you would eat the metaphorical body and blood of Christ? Is that not just as weird and disturbing as saying that it’s real?

Consider this rather disturbing example: Imagine some weird cult came up with a ritual where they eat the feces of someone, or they eat they have a kind of inverse satanic Communion where they eat the feces of their master and then you know someone says “Oh no, we’re not really eating the feces of our master. It’s just a metaphorical eating of the feces. We just make this bread in the form of feces and then we eat it. It’s less weird that way.”

But is it really? Why is that less disturbing? Why is that less of a problem?

So rather than punt to metaphor, it’s best to deal with the mystery of communion rather than try to skirt around it and avoid it by saying that if something is just a metaphor, it’s meaningless. It’s not.

I sometimes joke say there’s no such thing as literal and there is no metaphor. Now, that’s not exactly how things work. But it true that we can’t just throw something away and say, “Oh, that’s just a metaphor.” Because there’s a reason why we’re using that metaphor, even if it’s just a metaphor! There’s a reason why we’re using those particular words and that specific purpose. Metaphor, literal—these terms are not useful toward helping us understand how meaning occurs and how things unfold.

Now, to deal with this this problem of the body and blood in Communion, and to deal with the idea that it’s neither literal in the scientific sense nor is it a metaphor in the modern way of understanding metaphor, we have to understand that it’s symbolic. It’s the bringing together of elements and joining them with a spiritual essence. That that is how reality functions.

You could get to the same idea, for example, when we say that that the church is the “body of Christ.” Is that literal or is that a metaphor? Well, it’s neither. It’s not literal and it’s not metaphor. It’s a symbolic truth that helps us understand what a body is—how a body comes together and manifests something which is above it, something spiritual. Because anything that is a body is always an accumulation of parts. And just because you can’t visually see those parts close together does not mean that they aren’t parts which are separate from each other.

In your body, for example, there’s a lot of space between your molecules. If you think that that relatively small amount of space between your molecules is not bothersome, but the relatively the big amount of space between the members of the church is somehow bothersome, that’s a problem. The church can’t be a body. But the story of the church-as-body shows us that yes, the church can be a body—an accumulation of people can be a body just like the accumulation of molecules that comprise your body. The way this happens is neither literal nor metaphor. It’s symbolic. It shows the spiritual essence—the logos—via stories of unity and multiplicity.

I hope this helps you understand that the language of literal and metaphor is not useful to help you understand reality.

Why I Oppose Banning Gender-related Therapies for Kids

One of (not the only) the reasons why I oppose bills that limit the types of medical care available to children (including transgender therapies) is because think parents are better-suited to make these kinds of decisions along with their children than are state governing authorities. I certainly I want my own kids to see that I believe this—that what happens to them ought to be up to us as a family, and no one else.

And I’d bet that many (not all) proponents don’t really think their kid could desire to transition genders. So they see this as a law for “them” that won’t affect “us.” Therefore, as sacrosanct and parental authority may be in other areas of life, it’s worth the “loss” here because, well…it’s not really a loss if you’re convinced it can never happen to you.

(I’m open to pushback on that being a common perspective among proponents of laws banning transgender therapies for children. I can’t read people’s minds, after all.)

But whether I’d win or lose that bet, I’ve been there (“This can’t be happening to me…”) one too many times to let that shape my thinking about these issues.

I suppose all this adds up to the simpler point that:

I believe there can be reasonable exceptions to the general idea that irreversible gender-related therapies for minors are bad. And if there are reasonable exceptions, then sweeping legislation is not the right answer.

IEP on Hartshorne and Unchangeableness

A selection from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article Charles Hartshorne: Dipolar Theism. I’m a fan of process philosophy/theology. It’s been a years-long journey to fully understand what exactly is being proposed by Hartshorne, but I’m confident now in both my understanding and the value of process theology.

…some forms of value—aesthetic qualities in particular—do not admit of a maximum. Just as it is impossible to speak of a greatest possible positive integer, so it may be impossible to speak of a greatest possible beauty. The fact that Mozart’s music achieved a new level of beauty does not mean that there was nothing left for Beethoven to do. Another analogy is interpersonal relationships. It is a good thing to be flexible in one’s responses to others. The ideal is not unchangeableness; it is, rather, adequate response to the needs of others. It is true that stability and reliability of character are desirable. But this means, in part, that the person can be relied upon to respond in ways appropriate to each situation, and responsiveness is a kind of change. The analogy is particularly appropriate in the divine case since there are always new creatures to which God must respond and hence there is no upper limit to the values associated with these relationships, for each is as unique as the individuals with whom God is related.

Who is your enemy?

I think it’s important to believe this:

That the biggest enemy to you (and the way you want to live) is something inside of you, and not some “people” who are “out there.”

If you don’t believe this, I think it’s important to try hard to believe this.

If you find it prohibitively hard to believe this, consider your ultimate goals. What gets you up in the morning? What’s driving you? What makes you happy (or what do you think will make you happy)?

And if you still can’t believe this, meditate on this question: Does what I think makes (or will make) me happy depend on other people not being the way they are?

If your answer to that last question is yes, I think it’s a good sign that you will benefit from rethinking your entire outlook on life and completely getting rid of this belief.

There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.

Bad arguments for Biblical inerrancy

I attend a PCA church. Many would call it “conservative.” Though it’s not in any membership vows, the church leadership believes the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

This particular issue has been on my mind for a few years, now. Mostly because despite the centrality of Biblical inerrancy to the entire denomination, I’ve never heard a good argument for it. Some take it on faith, which is fine. But most of these will also level some bad argument or other as to why the Bible is inerrant.

Here are some of those bad arguments, plus my responses.

ARGUMENT: The Bible says it is inerrant and infallible.

RESPONSE: No it doesn’t. That is an inference based on a number of specific verses that do not refer to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, except insofar as you embrace the idea of inerrancy (and completeness) already. It begs the question.

ARGUMENT: The Bible is God’s Word. God cannot lie. Therefore the Bible must contain no lies.

RESPONSE: This begs the question. Also, must God’s Word be inerrant? What is our standard or reference for God’s Word?

ARGUMENT: Without inerrancy, how would we know what of the Bible to believe? How can we trust any of it if some of it might be in error? What is our trustworthy guide for faith?

RESPONSE: This presumes we need some inerrant guide in order to find God (or to know anything, for that matter).

ARGUMENT: If you don’t believe the Bible is inerrant, you’re making yourself the standard of truth. You are deciding what parts of it are true and false, based on your own personal preferences. You are making yourself God.

RESPONSE: This does not address the question of whether the Bible is inerrant. And what have we but our own reasons when deciding whether some claim is trustworthy? Choosing to believe the Bible is inerrant is also a matter of personal preference.

ARGUMENT: The Bible, across thousands of years of criticism, has never been proven wrong.

RESPONSE: This begs the question, as those who canonized the Scriptures did not include books with obvious error, just as the Reformers redrew some lines around the canon in the middle of the last millennium.

RESPONSE: Biblical authors make many claims that cannot possibly be disproven. They also makes claims that we know today are wrong, but for which we’ve simply updated our interpretation (i.e. David’s insinuation that the sun moves around the earth).

RESPONSE: The Bible does contain obvious inconsistencies. The sign over Jesus’ head on the cross, for example, has three different phrases across three different books. By some standards of inerrancy, this should most definitely be an “error.”

ARGUMENT: God wouldn’t allow us to have been mistaken for so long.

RESPONSE: Is the same true for other Christian traditions that you believe have been in error for a thousand years?

ARGUMENT: The Bible is what God gave us. Why would it be wrong?

RESPONSE: Who says God gave us the Bible?

RESPONSE: Then why would there be scribal errors? Why is that allowed?

The bottom line is that I don’t think inerrancy (and infallibility) is something to believe, then check off so one can move forward. Or that it is somehow a prerequisite for faith. I think that working this out is what it means to grow in faith.

I don’t know of any gross errors in the Scriptures. I generally believe what I read therein. But mostly I simply grow from my reading of them—it’s not, for me, a matter of believing or not believing. My own reason and convictions are so fickle, I can’t honestly say I’m sure that I believe the same things from one moment to the next. But I like reading the Scriptures, and I don’t care whether they are inerrant or infallible.

The Second Naiveté?

Thanks to whoever transcribed this David Bentley Hart lecture (text here). I’ve listened to this a few times, despite the horrible audio. Here’s a quote:

And of course, Origen give us that precious notion that everything incoherent, unseemly, incredible, or contradictory in scriptures, everything repellant to reason or moral intelligence at the literal level of the text, though it be the intention of the authors of the text, serves for the Christian as the necessary skandalon – the necessary stumbling block, which would cause us to stumble and awaken us to the folly of treating the literal level as the place where the Holy Spirit comes to meet us in giving us the wisdom of Christ.

Tielhard de Chardin on Evolution and Bad Theology

On the perils of bad theology to human prospering:

Although we too often forget this, what we call evolution develops only in virtue of a certain internal preference for survival (or, if you prefer to put it so, self-survival) which in man takes on a markedly psychic appearance, in the form of a zest for life. Ultimately, it is that and that alone which underlies and supports the whole complex of biophysical energies whose operation, acting experimentally, conditions anthropogenesis.

In view of that fact, what would happen if one day we should see that the universe is so hermetically closed in upon itself that there is no possible way of our emerging from it — either because we are forced indefinitely to go round and round inside it, or (which comes to the same thing) because we are doomed to a total death? Immediately and without further ado, I believe — just like miners who find that the gallery is blocked ahead of them — we would lose the heart to act, and man’s impetus would be radically checked and ‘deflated’ forever, by this fundamental discouragement and loss of zest.

Pierre Tielhard de Chardin

Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address

Here is a transcript of President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address, delivered from the US Capitol on January 20, 2017.


Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.

And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.

It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.

We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.

So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words. You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

Thank you.

God bless America.