Food Stamps, Al-Qaeda Remembers 911, Making Mis-Gendering a Crime, and Remembering Robert Penn Warren

SIGNS AND WONDERS

SNAP Out of It. The Bible is clear that Christians should have compassion for the poor. However, the federal government’s food stamp program, called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is often anything but truly compassionate, with a massive bureaucracy that is impersonal, demoralizing, and, critics charge, wildly inefficient. SNAP has been remarkably resistant to reform, though the Trump administration has proposed a reduction in funding for the program. WORLD has a new expose on the SNAP program that helps explain why it has been so resistant to change (partial answer: Both Republicans and Democrats are afraid to touch it) and what the Trump cuts will and will not mean. (Partial answer: not much. Trump proposes $193 million in cuts over 10 years. The program spends nearly $80 billion a year. In short, the cuts are a drop in the bucket.)

Al-Qaeda Remembers. Sixteen years after 9/11, the so-called “War on Terror,” also often called America’s longest war, shows no signs of ending. This week, according to Mindy Belz’s “GlobeTrot” column, “al-Qaeda released four messages, one of the most telling a photo of the burning World Trade Center towers showing Hamza bin Laden as a child embedded in the flames. Hamza, a favored son of Osama bin Laden, vanished for years before reemerging in 2015 as the most likely candidate to lead a fractured global jihadi terror network.” Hamza told his followers: “Sell your soul cheaply for the pleasure of [God]. Know that inflicting punishment on Jews and Crusaders where you are is more vexing and severe for the enemy.”

Mis-Gendering a Crime? A bill making its way through the California legislature would make it a crime to “misgender” nursing home residents. SB 219 says elderly transgender people must be referred to by the pronoun of their choice, and a failure to do so would result in fines up to $1000 and a year in prison. The bill’s author, Scott Weiner, calls his legislation the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-term Care Facility Resident Bill of Rights. The bill further stipulates that a failure to use the preferred names and pronouns would be called “gender-based harassment.” In related news, another bill before the California legislature would allow residents to choose one of three gender options on all official documents and IDs. The bill, if passed, would be the Gender Recognition Act. Oregon and Washington, D.C., already have similar laws. The bill passed the California Senate in May and is expected to pass the House.

Remembering Robert Penn Warren. A few scholars and journalists are beginning to realize that if you want to fully understand the Age of Trump, it’s helpful to look at populist movements of the past. That’s why I suggest to all lovers of politics, history, and great writing Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men.” It has been called the greatest political novel ever written, and one of the great novels of any kind. I mention this book in part because this week we also remember the anniversary of Robert Penn Warren’s death. (He died on Sept. 15, 1989.) His contribution to American letters was immense. He was the only person to win Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction (for “All the King’s Men”) and poetry. Warren was one of the Fugitive-Agrarian writers active in the 1930s and beyond, and many cultural historians call their 1930 book “I’ll Take My Stand” a milestone for the conservative movement. Warren and Cleanth Brooks founded the Southern Review, which became one of the nation’s top literary journals and one that has been friendly to fiction by Christian writers over the years, publishing Flannery O’Connor and Bret Lott (who also edited the journal). As I get older, I also find Warren an inspiration in another way: He produced some of his best work in his later years. He wrote one of his greatest poems, the book-length “Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce,” when he was in his 70s.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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  • gladys1071

    I disagree with the criticism of food stamps. If it wasn’t for food stamps my sister would have gone hungry, and other friends of mine that were unemployed were able to feed their children.

    If it helps those that need it, i think it needs to stay.