- D.A. Carson
Yesterday in Obama's 2nd Inagural speech he spoke about rights for women, blacks and gays. And he linked them all in a way that hasn't been done before by any President ever. He said:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall...
Seneca Falls -1848- The first women's rights meeting ever
Selma - 1965, police beat people marching for the right of black people to vote
Stonewall - 1969 standoff/riot - gays vs. the police outside a gay bar. (I had never heard of this before the President mentioned it today.)
And later he said...
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This kind of support, and tieing in of rights of the sexually deviant to race and gender is historic. (And by the way, my use of the word "deviant" here will one day be called hate speech. The dictionary defines "deviant" as "differing from the norm or the accepted standards of society".) The President of the U.S. is now going to do everything in his power to make sure that homosexuality is never considered deviant again.
Read this blog post by Al Mohler. It's important. Here it is, in it's entirety.
Jan. 10 - A new chapter in America’s moral revolution came today as Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. In a statement released to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Giglio said that he withdrew because of the furor that emerged yesterday after a liberal watchdog group revealed that almost twenty years ago he had preached a sermon in which he had stated that homosexuality is a sin and that the “only way out of a homosexual lifestyle … is through the healing power of Jesus.”
In other words, a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.
The fact that Giglio was actually disinvited was made clear in a statement from Addie Whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural Committee:
“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection, and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part because of his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”
That statement is, in effect, an embarrassed apology for having invited Louie Giglio in the first place. Whisenant’s statement apologizes for the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s failure to make certain that their selection had never, at any time, for any reason, believed that homosexuality is less than a perfectly acceptable lifestyle. The committee then promised to repent and learn from their failure, committing to select a replacement who would “reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance.”
The imbroglio over Louie Giglio is the clearest evidence of the new Moral McCarthyism of our sexually “tolerant” age. During the infamous McCarthy hearings, witnesses would be asked, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”
In the version now to be employed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the question will be: “Are you now or have you ever been one who believes that homosexuality (or bisexuality, or transsexualism, etc.) is anything less than morally acceptable and worthy of celebration?”
Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church, is also founder of the Passion movement that brings tens of thousands of Christian young people together to hear Giglio, along with speakers such as John Piper. They urge a rising generation of young Christians to make a passionate commitment to Christ. In recent years, the movement has also sought to raise awareness and activism among young Christians on the issue of sex trafficking. It was that activism that caught the attention of both President Obama and the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Note carefully that both the White House and the committee were ready to celebrate Giglio’s activism on sex trafficking, but all that was swept away by the Moral McCarthyism on the question of homosexuality.
Two other dimensions of this story also demand attention. First, we should note that Louie Giglio has not been known lately for taking any stand on the issue of homosexuality. To the contrary, Giglio’s own statement withdrawing from the invitation made this clear:
“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”
A fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue of homosexuality for at least fifteen years. The issue “has not been in the range of my priorities,” he said. Given the Bible’s insistance that sexual morality is inseparable from our “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ,” this must have been a difficult strategy. It is also a strategy that is very attractive to those who want to avoid being castigated as intolerant or homophobic. As this controversy makes abundantly clear, it is a failed strategy. Louie Giglio was cast out of the circle of the acceptable simply because a liberal watchdog group found one sermon he preached almost twenty years ago. If a preacher has ever taken a stand on biblical conviction, he risks being exposed decades after the fact. Anyone who teaches at any time, to any degree, that homosexual behavior is a sin is now to be cast out.
Second, we should note that Pastor Giglio’s sermon was, as we would expect and hope, filled with grace and the promise of the Gospel. Giglio did not just state that homosexuals are sinners — he made clear that every single human being is a sinner, in need of the redemption that is found only in Jesus Christ. “We’ve got to say to the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me … It’s not easy to change, but it’s possible to change,” he preached. He pointed his congregation, gay and straight, to “the healing power of Jesus.” He called his entire congregation to repent and come to Christ by faith.
That is the quintessential Christian Gospel. That is undiluted biblical truth. Those words are the consensus of the Church for over 2,000 years, and the firm belief held by the vast majority of Christians around the world today.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons, and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least ten presidential inaugurations is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years, the rules are fully changed.
The gauntlet was thrown down yesterday, and the axe fell today. Wayne Besen, founder of the activist group Truth Wins Out, told The New York Times yesterday: “It is imperative that Giglio clarify his remarks and explain whether he has evolved on gay rights, like so many other faith and political leaders. It would be a shame to select a preacher with backward views on LBGT people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving forward on our issues.”
And there you have it — anyone who has ever believed that homosexuality is morally problematic in any way must now offer public repentance and evidence of having “evolved” on the question. This is the language that President Obama used of his own “evolving” position on same-sex marriage. This is what is now openly demanded of Christians today. If you want to avoid being thrown off the program, you had better learn to evolve fast, and repent in public.
This is precisely what biblical Christians cannot do. While seeking to be gentle in spirit and ruthlessly Gospel-centered in speaking of any sin, we cannot cease to speak of sin as sin. To do so is not only to deny the authority of Scripture, not only to reject the moral consensus of the saints, but it undermines the Gospel itself. The Gospel makes no sense, and is robbed of its saving power, if sin is denied as sin.
An imbroglio is a painful and embarrassing conflict. The imbroglio surrounding Louie Giglio is not only painful, it is revealing. We now see the new Moral McCarthyism in its undisguised and unvarnished reality. If you are a Christian, get ready for the question you will now undoubtedly face: “Do you now or have you ever believed that homosexuality is a sin?” There is nowhere to hide.
I wonder if this post will be used against me 20 years from now?
Some semi-random reflections on the morning after the re-electing of our President.
- I do hope in 4 years the GOP can do better. Much better. I think we can. I thought we could. I was one of those "undecideds" many of my conservative friends were dogging the last many weeks, although I never publicly revealed it. Now, I wasn't undecided about who I wouldn't vote for. I was undecided about if I'd vote at all. I've become increasingly discouraged by the pragmatism necessary in the political endeavor to the point of my conscience being troubled. This is laughed at over in some blog-quarters, but I wasn't going to be cowed by somebody's derision into choosing "Not Obama." I was hugely dissatisfied with the Republican nominee. In the end, I made peace with voting for him anyway. I believe I did the right thing. But while you're making fun of conservative undecideds realize it's largely you who've put us in this position.
- Most people pushed into this corner like me decided either not to vote at all or to vote third-party, which of course ensured the President's re-election. We have nobody to blame but ourselves. In the end, I liked voting for a milquetoast bore -- b/c I think we need more of them in charge of things -- but milquetoast bores don't win elections. And if Republicans couldn't win in the middle of this gigantic mess we're in, we have to realize that campaigning a "Not Obama" isn't good enough. We need a strong, compelling conservative candidate next time around, and preferably a Hispanic/Latino one.
- We now have another four years of the most dangerous President in history for unborn children. It's clear that a more missional way for the pro-life passion is all the more necessary.
- Our President campaigned vigorously on a platform of progressive social issues: same-sex marriage, abortion rights, institutionalized class warfare on the wealthy, entitlements. I believe this is a clear case of calling evil (killing of the innocent, exploitation of the vulnerable and distressed, approval of sexual immorality, theft, and exploitation of the poor) good. I cast my vote as an echo of the woes of Isaiah 10:1-2. This resulted in a clear-conscience vote for Romney as a man unwilling to call evil good.
- I don't think that by and large most African Americans voted for Obama because he's black. I think they voted for him because he's liberal. This is proven by their reception of African American conservative and Republican candidates. When pressed, the greater African American community will choose a white liberal over a black conservative every time. And the stuff found funny about Obama, calling him white, becomes utterly inexcusable for conservative black candidates. Acting "white" is a liability, cause for derision and hate. Change the politics, however, and it's endearing. This isn't racism so much as hypocrisy.
- All along I did hope our evangelical conservative brethren understood that quoting Old Testament statutes to support the idea that Mitt Romney would return our nation to its "Christian foundations" was problematic given that the man would have been executed for heresy under the same statutes. I believe the Scriptures ought to guide our civic responsibilities, including voting, but I am always troubled by how readily we spiritualize our pragmatism and conflate empire with heaven. We help mainstream Mormonism as a Christian movement -- and therefore compromise the gospel -- when we mash up a Mormon candidate with Christian dominionism. But Glenn Beck has been helping evangelical political junkies do that for the last several years anyway.
- Another four years of this Presidency likely means four more years of accumulating crippling debt, increasing unemployment, growth of the welfare state, decline of the middle class, infringing of religious freedom and violation of free speech. As we give freer official reign to sexual immorality we will eventually see more spiritual and emotional anguish bubbling up in systemic and cultural ways. The time will (may?) come when the progressives will discover their shackles. That will be no time for the Church to play "I told you so." It will be a massive opportunity to proclaim and embody the difficult rest of the gospel of Jesus.
- Similarly, there will be more and more opportunities to stand up and be counted. I minister in perhaps the most liberal state in our nation. If trends outside the US are indicative, it is not impossible that our nation will see "hate speech" laws levied against public profession of biblical teachings or the refusal to officiate same-sex weddings (threatening fines, imprisonment, o or simply tax exempt status or whatever). Things will get tougher for conservative evangelicals. Perhaps a separation of the men from the boys is on the horizon. It is crucial that even now evangelical churches all over America stop playing stupid games and offering entertainment and Christianity-lite and start prepping the people of God for devotion to the gospel and taking up of their cross.
Well, I have now completely cemented my well deserved reputation as the worst election prognosticator ever. I was wrong in this space in 2004 and, back when the Thinklings was just a vigorous and fun email forum, in 2000. I had a brief, rare moment of being right in 2008 (one of the most easily predicted election blowouts of all time).
I made the mistake this time of adhering to the conventional wisdom that the economy trumps everything. Boy, was I wrong. As someone soon to be unemployed in this economy (at end of year) here's to vigorously hoping things improve!
On a less hopeful note, hope seems to still be our only concrete strategy as a nation. When facing 16 trillion in debt - a tidy big tidal wave heading our way that was only lightly remarked on, even joked about, in this election - a nation needs something more than wishful thinking. Maybe we're just not ready for that yet. Better be soon, though.
I had also hoped that the candidate I ended up voting for would refrain from saying things like "America is the hope of the world!". No, we're not. We are still a great country, and even, I believe, a "good" country, but there is only one Hope of the world, and He does not share glory (Isaiah 42:8).
Congratulations, President Obama. I didn't vote for you and neither did I, over the past four years, pray for you nearly as much as I was supposed to, to my shame. But I truly hope you are successful in leading our government over the next four years. Please pay attention to the debt, if you would.
Now, here's to a hoped for short break from election year politics, until the next election cycle revs up (in a month or two . . . *sigh*)
Well, we're less than one week out from the election. Do any of you want to hazard a prediction as to who will win?
For the record, I predicted one of the candidates for the win months ago (before the debates, Benghazi, etc) in the comments thread on another post. I'll dig that one up and own up after the election.
- Who will appear in this year's Superbowl?
- Who will win the NBA championship?
Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments thread.
This was way better than watching the actual debate!
Biden: (While Ryan is talking and Biden smiling at Ryan like he's an idiot, he keeps interrupting Ryan's actual answer to the moderator's question.) That's malarky... That's stupid... That's not what he says now... He disavows it now...etc...
Ryan: (Stops speaking and turns to face Biden) Mr. Vice President, I think the American People understand that you disagree with what I am saying, but it doesn't mean that you need to continuously be rude.
Biden: I can't help it. The stuff you are saying is horse manure and the American People know it.
Ryan:You may utter your opinions when it's your turn, but to continuously throw your little comments in while I'm speaking is not only rude and unfair, it's also immature. Not being able to control yourself is a sign of immaturity.
Biden: Who are you calling immature? Why, I was writing bills for the Senate when you were still drinking baby formula! I was meeting with the President when you were in diapers! I was solving this country's problems while you were still trying to color inside the lines in kindergarten. How dare you call me immature!
Ryan: Mr. Vice President, my grandfather had a saying. "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...it's a duck."
Biden: (In a fit of rage) I won't put up with this BS from this punk! (Biden rips off mike and storms off.)
Ryan: (Turns to face the camera) My fellow Americans, you just saw the real man who is but one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.
... come November.
The Supreme Court ruled today upholding ObamaCare. And what they did is weird.
4 of the Justices said that it is unconstitutional. Three conservatives - Scalia, Alito and Thomas, and joining them was the new moderate swing vote, Anthony Kennedy. Weird, right?
What's even weirder is who made up the majority saying that the law is constitutional - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan - the 4 liberals, but guess who joined them and authored the decision? Chief Justice John Roberts. What?!?!?!
Roberts said that law is not Constitutional under the commerce clause as the Gov't argued. Rather he found a reason that the Federal Gov't has the authority to mandate that you buy health insurance...taxing authority. Roberts wrote: "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."
Are you kidding me? Basically what's happening here is that the law says that if you can afford to buy health insurance (whatever that means) and don't then you will be taxed. It's a kind of a fine for not buying health insurance and the Supreme Court upheld the Federal Government's authority to do that.
OK, you legal scholars weigh in here and help me out. Here's what I see happening. Now that the Supreme Court has said that and we know how important Supreme Court legal precedent is, being applied sideways and diagonally to anything that even sort of relates:
What's to stop the Federal Government from "taxing" you to get you to whatever else it wants? Maybe they want you to attend "Sexual Sensitivity" training so that you won't be against homosexuality anymore. And you get taxed if you don't attend. Maybe they want you to use a certain kind of electric car or light bulb, and if you can afford to buy one and don't you get taxed. How many other agendas might the Federal Gov't have that they decide to compel you to do by utilizing this new taxing authority. Essentially fining you if you don't do what they want. I'm not normally an alarmist, but I see our "freedom" talking a slow walk out the door with this one.
Is my slippery slope argument valid or invalid?
What do you think?
I just want to stake my claim now, Rick Santorum will be the next president of the United States... in 2016. I know that no one knows the future, but it's the most likely scenario given past patterns. Here's why:
1- The Republican moderate loses. Like McCain, Dole, George H.W. Bush, Thomas Dewey and Wendell Willkie before him, Romney will lose in November, 2012, so expect Obama to serve a second term.
2-The American public switches to the other party if the incumbent served two terms. (FDR and George H.W. Bush being exceptions, but Reagan was an exceptional president so Bush managed to ride on his coattails to win once, but only once.) Therefore, after Obama is done, it will be the Republican's turn. Whoever they put up will win. Now even if Obama turns out to be Reagan-esque popular (which he won't) his VP won't be able to stretch that popularity for one more term because Biden won't run. The Democratic party primary will be wide open.
3- The next GOP candidate will be Rick Santorum because the GOP nominates the #2 from the previous presidential primary, or at least someone who has run before. Check me on this. You have to go back a long way in history to find someone who won the GOP primary who hadn't run and lost previously. It's how they play the game. I believe there are two reasons for this:
a- The establishment anoints him because "it's his turn and he paid his dues and showed he could win primaries."
b-The hoi polloi vote for him based on name recognition and also a vague sense of it being his turn. They are used to his name being associated with "president" by now.
The Republicans have done this for EVERY GOP primary going back a long, long ways. (The only recent exception being George W. Bush, and he is the exception that proves the rule. He had the name recognition for the hoi polloi and a sense of entitlement from the establishment. The average Republican voter needs to be able to hear the candidate's name with the word "President" in front of it, and it sound OK. That's right. I'm saying that if George W. Bush had ANY other name, he wouldn't have won.) In other words, conservatives really are "conservative". They reject an idea the first time they hear it. It takes them a while to get used to the idea.
Therefore, because Romney will lose, because the public will be ready for a different party to be in the White House and because Republicans nominate the #2 from the previous primary, Rick Santorum will be the next president of the United States. You read it here first. Bookmark this post and save it on your computer.
I met a new friend for lunch a few weeks ago and the topic of the polygraph came up. In the particular instance we were talking about, the polygraph had revealed a deception. My friend, naturally curious, said, “So those things work?” Ironically, my short answer was no. My long answer is below. . . .
I have lots of experience taking polygraph exams. Over the past several years, I’ve taken probably 20 of them, maybe more.
The polygraph -- popularly known as “the lie detector” -- is a device that measures certain physiological responses like blood pressure, respiration, etc. The theory is when people lie, those physiological responses change. The problem with the theory is it has no scientific validity.
In a landmark 2003 study titled The Polygraph and Lie Detection, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) states:
Almost a century of research in scientific psychology and physiology provides little basis for the expectation that a polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy. Although psychological states often associated with deception (e.g., fear of being judged deceptive) do tend to affect the physiological responses that the polygraph measures, these same states can arise in the absence of deception. Moreover, many other psychological and physiological factors (e.g., anxiety about being tested) also affect those responses. Such phenomena make polygraph testing intrinsically susceptible to producing erroneous results.
From my experience, I can say that the polygraph as truth verifier is somewhat accurate. In other words, if someone takes a polygraph and passes, there’s a decent chance that they’re telling the truth. On the other hand, the polygraph as lie detector (what it is popularly known and used for) may be only slightly more accurate than flipping a coin -- and there’s no true way to substantiate even that level of accuracy. As a scientist friend of mine told me, “There are simply too many variables.” In my own experience over the years, the polygraph was exactly 50 percent accurate.
Anecdotally, if I had to put an overall number to the accuracy of the polygraph, I’d give it 65 percent. Furthermore, the more someone is educated on polygraph procedure, and the more inquisitive someone’s mind may be, the more likely the machine will give false results by finding a truthful person to be “deceptive.” To put it more bluntly, the polygraph may be more accurate -- or, at the very least, more effective -- on simple-minded people, but again, the very foundation of polygraphy (linking deception to certain physiological responses) is ill-conceived. The previously mentioned NAS report states, “The physiological responses measured by the polygraph are not uniquely related to deception.”
While it may have some efficacy within certain contexts, the illusion of “lie detection” is too great a power and is often abused by authorities who choose to rely on it. Thus, the fruits of polygraphy are false accusations, job losses, family disruptions, unfounded distrust, and an overall laziness by those who choose to employ the machine.
By and large, the polygraph as lie detector simply doesn’t work as advertised.
I don't know anything about polygraphs, and I don't know how accurate they are, but I know they'll scare the hell out of people. -- Richard Nixon
Inspired by two (seemingly) unrelated pieces I read online this morning.
1- Should Women be allowed in Combat?
I just heard on the news this week that women will now be officially allowed combat roles for the first time in the U.S. Military. This is because in the past 10 years of the "War on Terror", there have been woman who had to take on combat roles by necessity, even if that wasn't their primary role.
In response, Rick Santorum just re-articulated the two basic and traditional arguments against it:
As one reason, Santorum cites “the emotions of men.’’ The White House hopeful says there is the potential that men will not be focused on their combat mission but on what he calls a “natural instinct’’ to protect a woman.
Santorum also questions having women in combat roles because of what he says are “all sorts of physical issues’’ relating to the capabilities of men and women.
I include this quote from him not because I want to discuss Santorum on this thread, but because I expect, for the first time, these two traditional arguments to be mocked and scoffed. He had the audacity to say them out loud and to many these arguments will seem outdated and sexist.
I don't think they are. I think these are timeless and timely arguments. I have never served in the military, but for various reasons I've been blessed with many, many close relationships with those who have. And every soldier I've ever talked to about it re-articulates the two arguments above.
I remember in particular my Junior ROTC instructor, an army ranger who voluntarily served two tours of duty in Vietnam say, "Combat is bad enough with men, your brothers, dying all around you. But still it is a totally different experience to see a woman with her face blown off. There's just something naturally ingrained into men. You have to protect her...and then you will compromise the mission. You won't be able to focus on what you need to do."
It's been over 20 years...and I still remember the soft tone that this very tough man took and the horror I felt, when he said, "woman with her face blown off".
Combat is ugly, ugly business. And yes, it's far uglier when women are a part of it.
2- Why are Hollywood portrayals of women in the role of men always tragic?
From the Plugged-In review of the new movie "Albert Nobbs" about a woman who spends her life pretending to be a man.
A postscript: While addressing the issue of historical gender disparity so profoundly illustrated in Albert Nobbs, I feel compelled to make an observation about its modern incarnation in movies. What happens when one gender plays the other? When men put on a dress and lipstick, the intended effect is almost always laughter. Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. Tyler Perry's turns as Madea. Adam Sandler as brother and sister twins in Jack and Jill. John Travolta as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray.
When women play men, however, the outcome is more often tragic. Sooner or later, we've been taught to anticipate, these vulnerable women's well-cloaked secret—usually under layers of femininity-disguising clothes—will be revealed. And their worlds will explode. Or end. The most prominent example of this (before Albert Nobbs)? The story of Brandon Teena (played by Hilary Swank), horrifically illustrated in 1999's Boys Don't Cry.
I thought of a couple more examples that the reviewer, Adam Holz, didn't mention.
Men as women: Tom Hanks' TV sitcom - Bosom Buddies, Tony Curtis in "Some Like it Hot", Martin Lawrence in "Big Momma's House", Two Wayans brothers as "White Chicks", Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, Barry Watson in Sorority Boys, "Juwanna Man". I'm sure you all could think of more, or look it up. All of them are comedies and not just comedies, but madcap ridiculous comedies.(or at least are supposed to be.)
Women as men: First of all, there aren't as many. There were two comedies, "Just one of the Guys"(1985) and "She's the Man" with Amanda Bynes. (2006) But these are exceptions, and even those had serious undertones and sections. Usually women disguised as men aren't funny. It's usually serious, but more often tragic. Barbara Streisand as "Yentl"; The Ballad of Little Jo, in which a woman must dress as a man to survive in the west, when she is found out post-mortem the pain is expressed as violent anger. In "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" Eowyn dressed as a male soldier so that she can ride into combat, though she performs admirably, her little foray still ends with violence and sadness.
These are serious movies, and the storyline of "woman disguised as a man" never ends well and almost always tragically (both in the dramatic and emotional sense.)
Even Hollywood with all it's liberal sensibilities can't seem to quite escape from...
(yes, I'm going to go ahead and be bold enough to say it)
...our God-given gender roles.
Today I was reminded of this quote by the great Winston Churchill (or at least attributed to him - I don't have it sourced yet):
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."This is going to be a rough year. Hang tight, people, use your God-given discernment, and pray for our country.
P.S. The sad part is that these days every year is an election year.
"Yo, yo, Santa, hold up, I'ma let you finish, but everyone knows I have the best handouts of all time."
The other day I was at work, standing in one of the areas that has TV broadcasts running. I saw this story highlighted on one of the 24-hour news stations:
"President Obama signs executive order cutting government waste"
A number of people were nearby as well and we all started laughing. I mean, really, is that all it took? An executive order? We're saved!!!
All kidding aside, I think there is a profound moral component to the way a government spends money. I also believe that committing our grandchildren to suffocating debt is immoral. The American government has, for decades, spent more than it takes in, but I thought that the recent unprecedented deficits - deficits over a trillion dollars that make past overspending look like pocket change - coupled with the mind-numbingly scary sovereign debt crisis around the world would wake us up as a country. I was wrong. There have been no significant spending cuts seriously and realistically enacted by our congress or proposed by our executive branch. What's strange is that private businesses deal with this all the time. When they face a debt crisis, they cut spending. Our government seems incapable of this.
Meanwhile, the party I don't generally vote for is performing the kabuki theater of "stimulus", "super" committees, and executive orders outlawing bad weather and the post-Christmas blues. The party I generally vote for can't find anyone in our entire 300,000,000+ population who has the experience, gravitas and ethics to have chance of being elected president.
And I don't think anyone on either side is really serious about dealing with the immorality of our over-spending.
The reason, of course, is that we electorally punish them when they behave responsibly.
"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us." - P.J. O'Rourke
P.S. The upshot of all this is I'm beginning to check out politically. My consumption of, for instance, political blogs and news has gone down dramatically in the past few months, and I'm happier for it. But I will pray, and I will vote, and I hope you will too. I think doing those things is important.
For every gallon of gas that is sold in the United States, on average, the local, state and federal taxes come out to 48 cents. The average profit taken away from every gallon of gas by Exxon is --brace yourselves for unsavory news about the oil buccaneers -- 2 cents. If you don't like oil profiteering, then you really have to learn how to see our public servants as the equivalent of 24 Exxons, stacked on top of your travel plans like they were so many leeches.
Exxon feels free to take that 2 cents because they explored, researched, drilled, transported, refined, transported, and sold the gas that you were interested in buying. The government is entitled to it . . . why?
God says not to steal, and not even to think about stealing by means of coveting. We have to learn that our bad attitude toward free enterprise is caused by the larceny in our hearts. We think the way we do about oil companies because we want a piece of the action, for nothing. We don't think that way about predatory taxation for the same reason that one thief doesn't see the larceny in the heart of his fellow thieves. We are looking for the kickback.
As a wise man posted somewhere, "It's not theft if you have to fill out a form." So the devotional thought for the morning is that Jesus wants you to feel sorry for Exxon. And when we hear this call to radical discipleship, our faith staggers. Who can do these things? And the reply comes, comforting our hearts, that with God all things are possible.
So the Republicans are draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagging their feet to get into the 2012 presidential election. (The Iowa Caucus is only 10 months away!)
But no one has officially declared yet, so I'll jump in early and tell you who I'm pulling for:
Tim Pawlenty, two-term Governor of Minnesota
An evangelical Christian, he is a staunch opponent of abortion rights and same-sex marriage -- messages that should help build support among social conservatives in the key states of Iowa and South Carolina.
Other advantages for him in the fight for the nomination include an easygoing style and a record as governor that he touts during speeches. Source
In February 2008, columnist Robert Novak wrote that Pawlenty was the most conservative Minnesota governor since Governor Theodore Christianson in the 1920s. Source
Go to his PAC or his facebook page to find out more.
During his two terms as Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty has used innovative and conservative leadership to balance the state’s budget, cut spending, reform health care and improve schools without raising taxes. Under his leadership, Minnesota has nation-leading health care, the highest school test scores, and a leading economy.
He was elected to the local city council in 1989 and to the state House of Representatives three years later. In the state House, Tim quickly rose to become the Republican majority leader, and led efforts to enact the largest tax cuts in Minnesota history. After being elected governor in 2002, Tim kept his campaign promise and balanced the budget every year without raising taxes. In fact, Tim cut taxes by nearly $800 million, moving Minnesota out of the top 10 highest taxed states – a goal of every Minnesota governor for over 30 years. source
Pawlenty spoke at the 2007 March for Life conducted by Minnesota Citizens Concerns for Life. At the event, he minced no words when it comes to the pro-life position he takes. “We are gathered here to say that there is no liberty greater than the right to life. We’re here to affirm that we need to extend that right to the most vulnerable among us, and that is the unborn,” he said. source
Just wanted to see this headline somewhere.
A good friend loaned me a copy of the book "Game Change" on CD. It is an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the presidential election of 2008. And you know what? Everybody cusses. A lot. All the time. The candidates, their spouses, their aids, their advisers, their staff, the reporters covering the campaign, everybody. I'd say that they cuss like sailors, but that wouldn't be kind to sailors. The new expression needs to be, "Cuss like a politician."
I think I've discovered that for politicians, profanity is a commonly expected part of communicating with others involved in politics. That's how they talk to each other.
I'm also currently reading "Decision Points" by George W. Bush. And you know what? I'm only on chapter 3, and there's already been two occasions where the "f-word" was a major component of a story about how politics functions "behind the scenes". Out of the public eye when the politicians are doing the mechanics behind what the public will see, they use the "f-word" as a major means of communication.
In the one scene, Bush is talking about trying to compromise on legislation with Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, and Bullock uses the "f-bomb",not as an adjective, but as a verb. In other words, it wasn't just added descriptive for emphasis, the "f-word" carried the strategic point across. And Bush deflected it with humor, but used the "f-word" right back. Let me put it another way, in order to give us an idea of the working relationship between him and Bullock, he chooses a story where he deftly turns the "f-word" around on Bullock like verbal jujitsu, and uses it right back.
Later, the "f" word is used as part of a term to negatively describe how the organization of Bush's White House is functioning.
To his credit, Bush never spells out the word, but he refers to it both times in such a way,that the reader knows what word he's referring to. And in each case, the "f-word" is essential to understanding the story he's telling, so just leaving it out wouldn't make sense.
And here's what bugs me. In both of those circumstances, Bush seems comfortable with the term. He knows enough to leave it out of the book, but in the eye-to-eye, man to man world of politics, he seems as comfortable with it as anybody. My guess is that he has to be, because that's how those people talk.
I believe that Bush is a godly Christian man. I also think that profanity is par for the course in politics. Remember those incidents where a major politician was accidentally captured by a microphone uttering profanity? Cheney, Clinton, Bush, McCain, Kerry and many more have all been caught. Guess what... I don't think those were just occasional slips. That's how those people talk to each other when the public isn't listening.
Again I'll ask, "Why?"
Here's my guess: I think that's how the world talks, and I'm just sheltered because I hang out with church people. And when I'm not with church people, people watch their language around me because I'm a pastor. For those of you who live out in the real world, what's it like? Is it 24/7 profanity? Or is that just for sailors, construction workers and politicians?
I got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas. After playing with it a for a few hours, I quickly realized that I'll probably have a Kindle, or something similar, for the rest of my life. I love it.
So far the only book I've paid for on my Kindle is George W. Bush's Decision Points. I read a decent amount of Bill Clinton's My Life back in the day, and it's interesting to juxtapose the two books in my mind. Clinton's was more of a minute by minute memoir of what seemed like every second of his entire life. (How he could recall all that detail from his childhood and early adult life is beyond me.) Bush's book is more to the point, with each chapter highlighting major decisions he made as president (and a few prior to his presidency).
I miss George W. Bush. Reading the chapter on 9/11 is like being smack-dab in the middle of his mind on one of the most important days in American history. I'm impressed with how good of a storyteller he is.
As you all may recall, Bush learned about the 9/11 attacks while reading to a roomful of second-graders in Florida. While walking up to the school, Karl Rove told Bush that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He thought it was strange, and wrote, "I envisioned a little propeller plane horribly lost." A few minutes later, while in front of the group of elementary children, he got the full picture.
I sensed a presence behind me. Andy Card [Bush's chief of staff] pressed his head next to mine and whispered in my ear.
"A second plane hit the second tower," he said, pronouncing each word deliberately in his Massachusetts accent. "America is under attack."
Wow! What a surreal moment that must have been. While probably not understanding the gravity of the situation, clicking photographers captured the historic moment that Bush turned into a wartime president:
Minutes later, after hearing about the third attack, the one on the Pentagon, Bush was livid.
My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war.
My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass.
That's what I love about George W. Bush, and that's what I miss about him. He had an unwavering impulse to defend his America in the very face of evil, and while not being perfect, he did what he had to do.
Thank you, President Bush.