Censorship


Censored_stampI’m being muzzled! Gagged! Restricted! Censored! And it’s all right. In fact, it’s appropriate and right that I am. I’ll let you think about that and see if you can figure out when and why it would be OK.

When I thought about the inability I have to blog about what I’d like to right now, I started thinking about the whole “censorship” charge. Yes, there are people who claim books are being censored in America.

The issue is most evident in school libraries. It seems the American Library Association’s response to parents’ concerns about the content of some books on school shelves is to cry “censorship.” In one instance a book was removed from a summer reading list, and therefore made its way onto the “banned books” list.

Odd. It seems the great complaint from the parents was that some subject matter wasn’t age-appropriate. But the ALA official responded with this comment:

“Young adult is a big trend right now, and a high number of complaints are directed at those books,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association, which organises Banned Books Week. “There is a lot of pressure to keep teenagers safe and protected, especially in urban areas, and we are seeing many more complaints about alcohol, smoking, suicide and sexually explicit material.” (as quoted in “Book censors target teen fiction, says American Library Association,” emphasis added)

Imagine that! Wanting to keep kids safe! What are these parents thinking? Silly old adults! Why, don’t they know infants should be allowed to play with razor blades and toddlers allowed to play in the streets? Why goodness, such a provincial idea–keeping kids safe! Absolutely, such efforts need to be contended!

Silliness aside, I don’t think these ALA people and their supporters actually understand the concept of censorship. If a child can still buy a copy of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey or any of the other titles on their banned books list, if they can find those books at the public library, then nobody is censoring them.

By taking them off school summer reading lists, or even moving them to a library shelf that requires parental permission is in no way preventing children from reading the book. Rather it’s putting in safeguards for children who might not be ready for such material.

It’s the oddest thing–making rules based on those least in need of protection. Because one four-year-old child can swim, is it banning swimming to put gates around pools so that small children who can’t swim are prevented from inadvertently getting into the water?

In reality, it seems our society has put a premium on protecting kids physically while disregarding their mental and emotional and spiritual health.

Here in California, we regularly have public paid announcements against smoking. Yet this ALA official sees nothing wrong with letting kids read books that might influence them to smoke.

We have the same disconnect about sex. We let kids read about sex with some misguided idea that they won’t turn around and experiment.

Speaking of the book that was taken off the reading list for eleven-year-olds, Charlie Sheppard, editorial director of Andersen Press, the book’s UK publisher of the title in question said, “Some people felt it was unsuitable for 11-year-olds, but I would be happy to give it to my 11-year-old.” The book apparently focuses on alcohol, poverty and bullying, and includes references to masturbation and physical arousal.

Sorry, but I know a lot of eleven-year-olds who aren’t ready for a story like that. Why should they have to be exposed to things children ought not have to carry?

But beyond that point, the idea that removing the book from a required list is tantamount to banning it is ludicrous!

Perhaps if someone told the ALA they could no longer blog about banned books, they’d get a better understanding of what censorship actually means!

Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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Christians And Gay Rights


Anti-Christian_sign_in_Federal_Plaza_ChicagoYesterday the Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed a bill that would have permitted people to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the grounds of religious persuasion. You could think of it as the equivalent of the military’s alternate service for those drafted into the armed services who were pacifists. The intent, as I understand it, was to accommodate people who believe, based on their religion, that homosexuality is wrong.

Of course both local and national news shows, on every channel, covered the story, often tagging it as a clash between religious rights and personal freedom. I couldn’t help but think of the First Amendment to the US Constitution which guarantees a person the right to free expression of his religion. I don’t see anything in the Constitution about freedom of expression of a person’s sexuality.

I also have thought how early in the debate about “gay rights” those advocating for inclusion often argued that what a person did in the bedroom was their own business, no one else’s. That argument has been replaced.

Just last month a particular ethnic group here in SoCal held a parade. Originally a group of LGBT advocates were denied permission to be a part, but that decision was reversed. On parade day, the news shows covered this “happy end” to the conflict as the contingent of homosexuals marched behind their rainbow banner. Presumably what they do in their bedrooms is now something to celebrate.

Christians, who are uniquely singled out because of our opposition to homosexuality–not Muslims or any other group who also oppose that behavior–are portrayed with growing frequency as bigots.

The most bizarre news clip last night was the interview with a member of the LGBT community who was holding up pages and pages of pictures of lawmakers who supported the Arizona bill or who have taken a conservative position on marriage. This individual explained that all these lawmakers would be boycotted.

In other words, if a person says he opposes homosexuality on religious grounds, he would be discriminated against. But somehow, their boycott is not discrimination while exercising your right to express your religious beliefs, is.

The thing I don’t like is the fact that the news media is framing this discussion. Over and over, the same snippet came on the air showing people celebrating who were holding signs urging the veto of the bill. The implication was that this was a big crowd in front of Arizona’s Capitol. And yet the camera never panned out, never showed more than two rows of people, and the people they did show were not tightly packed together.

Of course, one station also aired their recent poll, showing that 52% of Americans now support same sex marriage. I think they forgot to mention the margin of error in the poll (usually a +/- 3%, sometimes greater) or whether it was conducted scientifically or informally. The point is, there’s a great attempt to create a bandwagon effect.

Homosexuality, which is sin, is now being presented as the position which a good, kind, caring person will naturally support. One Tweet, for example, thanked Christians who don’t discriminate.

Such loaded words. Once Christians who said homosexuality is sin were called homophobes. The name was used as a shaming tactic. No one wants to admit they’re afraid of “gayness.”

But the rhetoric has changed. Now homosexuality is getting traction as a civil right and therefore opposing it is discrimination and someone taking that stand is a bigot. This approach is more aggressive. It’s not shame but condemnation. It is a way of saying the religious person is wrong and the gay person is right.

Which reminds me of these verses in Isaiah:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight! (5:20-21)

At the root of the LGBT issue is the fact that those who are choosing against their God-given bodies are being wise in their own eyes. They know what they are like inside and ought not be hampered by the biological organs they’ve been born with–the body which God formed in their mother’s womb.

To me, what’s most interesting in all this is the admission of this inner being–you’d almost call it a soul or spirit–which the LGBT community listens to. If they feel like a woman inside, it doesn’t matter if they have a male body. The inside is what counts.

But that brings up the question: what happens when the body dies? The body, so many people say today, ends life. But this inside someone the LGBT community identifies as the stronger-than-the-physical entity of personhood–does it die with the body? This question, I would think, offers a conundrum for the gay person. If the body ends it all, then why should this inner person hold sway over the body? And if the inner person lives on after the body dies, does that mean there really is life after death, and a whole supernatural world with a God who will judge according to what a person has done during his time on earth?

As I see it, Christians have the greatest opportunity now to speak into the lives of people in the LGBT community. What they believe about their inner person determining their gender identity can open up a discussion about what happens to that inner person.

May we focus our attention on rescuing the lost and not on winning arguments.

We’re No Longer Saving Daylight


westcoast sunsetI enjoyed an extra hour of sleep Saturday night, but I have to admit, each year I find this clock changing nonsense connected with Daylight Savings Time to be annoying. For one thing, I can never figure out which change of the clock shifts us into Daylight Savings Time and which shifts us out.

But this weekend, one of the news anchors said something about the end of Daylight Savings Time, so now I know–at least for a week or so. 😉

Actually I find the whole concept to be ludicrous. I mean, who’s kidding whom, that we’re actually saving daylight by shifting our clocks an hour? For me it’s a matter of whether or not it’s dark when you get up in the morning or when you finish work at night. One end or the other, it’s dark, and as the days get shorter, it’s actually dark on both ends.

So we’re clearly not saving any daylight. No matter what we do with our clocks, the sun ignores us and rises and sets at God’s command, according to the pattern He established years ago when He put the greater light in the heavens to rule the day.

It’s really quite a reflection of Mankind’s attitude, I think–us saying we’re saving daylight.

God saved daylight once. He stopped the sun in its tracks extending the day so His people could experience a great victory in battle.

We don’t save daylight like that, and never will. But we sound so powerful, so in control by saying we’re saving daylight. We don’t want the sun to go down when it actually does, so we’ll save daylight.

That’s the old carnival huckster’s trick, selling the public a bit of swamp land based on sleight of hand. Look at how much light we have in the evening, they say, in hopes we won’t notice how much less light we have in the morning.

So now we’re done with it. For a few months, at least. Not that I think those who believe Mankind is able to manipulate time see us as any less in control now than before. I suspect they believe we are capable of pulling our planet out of global warming or climate change–take your pick. If only Man had been around when the Ice Age first showed signs of becoming a thing! I mean, what aren’t we capable of doing?

Such a sad perspective.

I’ve stood on “solid” ground, with the earth bucking and quaking beneath me. I’ve been in the ocean with one wave after another towering over me so that I knew I wouldn’t have the strength to evade one more. I’ve been in the mountains in the winter as the sun goes down and realized the fine line between being warm and dry and freezing to death.

Who is Man that we think we can save daylight? In truth, there’s not much we can do about God’s creation, though we like to think we can. The spate of floods and tornadoes people from Colorado to Oklahoma experienced this year should wake us up to the fact that we aren’t in charge.

Ironically, God assigned Adam the job of cultivating and caring for the earth. He was the steward, I guess you’d say. But post-fall, we want more, we want more. Now we want to manipulate what God made, for our own ends.

For instance, we develop antibiotics and believe we will eradicate disease, only to discover that in the process we’ve created a strain of germs that are resistant to our drugs. Pandemics aren’t a thing of the past at all but a thing of the future. And so is famine and a variety of other “natural” disasters.

Funny how we can save daylight but make no dent in all the blizzards and hurricanes and tidal waves this world throws at us.

If only we’d come to our senses and run back to our sovereign Father, the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth, and admit that we have been trying to usurp His authority. The world is His, we are the mere caretakers. He gives us the good gifts we enjoy–the rain that brings the food we need, the sun that warms us, the land that produces the rocks and trees to provide us with material for shelter, the very air we breath.

Saving daylight? We might as well say we are dismissing gravity.

Light is God’s realm. He describes Himself as Light, after all. If nothing else, maybe starting or ending Daylight Savings Time can remind us who the true and eternal Light is. And that He is the One who saves.

Published in: on November 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm  Comments (2)  
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Responding To The Supreme Court Rulings


Photo by Ben Earwicker Garrison Photography, Boise, ID www.garrisonphoto.org

Photo by Ben Earwicker
Garrison Photography, Boise, ID
http://www.garrisonphoto.org

There’s an old adage–something about closing the barn door after the horses are already gone. It’s a futile effort–the right action but done at the wrong time. In the same way, I suspect, any effort to size down Big Government, to corral the liberal bent that considers defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman to be discriminatory, is futile.

The Supreme Court rulings of last week that have opened the door more widely to “same-sex marriage” are symptoms, not causes. Scripture makes clear what the road away from God looks like, and if we’re honest, we can see a lot of America in it (warning–the following is not politically correct):

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Rom 1:18-27 – emphases added)

We are seeing played out in front of us these verses: rejection of God, the worship of self, and the resulting release by God, allowing people to act on all their sensual passions.

So, what is the American Christian to do?

There’s a verse in Psalm 18 that includes this line: “And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me” (v 4b). I think one response to an increase in ungodliness and a simultaneous decrease in influence that the Christian might have, is to be terrified. After all, the ungodliness is coming in torrents.

Terrified people either hide or go into fight mode. That’s why you see some Christians circling the wagons and others joining Tea Party rallies.

The Psalmist took a different tack:

In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (v. 6)

Clearly, when we’re confronted with ungodliness, we should be turning to God.

I think we tend to forget that ungodliness is a form of rejecting God. It’s not aimed at us, even though we may feel as if we’re getting caught in the backwash.

At the same time, I think we should continue to carry on with the assignment Jesus gave us when He returned to heaven to take His place at the Father’s right hand. He gave us a mission: to go to the world, every part of it, and make disciples.

This past Sunday my pastor, Mike Erre, preached on this very point. He highlighted the fact that we are to do as Jesus did (it’s what defines followers ;-). “[Jesus said,]’As You [God] sent Me into the world, I also have sent [my disciples] into the world’ ” (John 17:18).

So how did God send Jesus into the world? Not to coerce people to believe in Him. Not to beg them or bribe them or bully them. He invited and He served.

In essence He was obeying the two great commandments: to love God, to love our neighbors. This focus is important. Jesus didn’t invite people to follow Him because He wanted to have more disciples than the Pharisees or because He was raising an army to overthrow Rome. He invited people then to sit at His banqueting table, and He does so now, because He loves.

It’s not a big mystery: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Jesus followed that up by saying He and the Father are one:

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. (John 14:10)

In the gospels, in fact, we learn that Jesus laid down His life: no one took it from Him. God sacrificed His Son, Jesus sacrificed Himself.

All for love, that God might give the gift of grace to a people destined to die.

And that’s how we, His followers, are to love. That’s what our response to the Supreme Court rulings should be.

No Longer A Democracy?


Supreme_Court_US_2010Most history teachers are quick to correct people about the form of government established by the Constitution of the United States. It’s a republic, not a democracy.

Truthfully, since the 1960s the lines between the two have become blurred, as more and more states turned away from caucuses and closed door deals to choose Party candidates through the primary elections.

But nothing has been more democratic than the initiative process in California in which the people themselves decide on proposed laws and state constitutional amendments.

The initiative process brought Indian casinos to the state, the lottery, and medical marijuana. It even raised taxes while the state and its people were still reeling from the recession. California, it’s pretty clear, won’t be confused with a conservative state.

However, in 2000 Proposition 22, the Knight initiative, was passed into law, stating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This law, similar to the Defense of Marriage Act passed four years earlier by the Federal government, added protection to the Family Code which already defined marriage as “a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary.”

Over four and a half million voters passed this law–61% of those who went to the polls. In-court wrangling ensued. In 2008 the California Supreme Court lumped a number of these appeals together and ruled that the law was unconstitutional.

Immediately Proposition 8, an amendment to the California State Constitution known as the California Marriage Protection Act, was put on the ballot. Here’s the text in its entirety:

Section I. Title

This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”

Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution, to read:

Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

For the voter pamphlet then-Attorney General Jerry Brown renamed the proposition, “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.” He gave the following description in the election ballot summary: “changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.”

To this day the media refers to Proposition 8 as a ban on same-sex marriage.

Despite the changed terminology, despite a wall of media giants opposing it, the amendment passed. Over seven million voters decided in favor of the traditional definition of marriage–over 52% of those who went to the poll.

So how can a court undermine the state constitution?

It’s still a little baffling to me. The California Supreme Court upheld the amendment, but then a suit was filed in a Federal District Court in San Francisco.

On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8, stating it is “…unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause because no compelling state interest justifies denying same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.”

A merry-go-round of stays and lifting of stays followed, and in the interlude when Judge Walker unilaterally overturned the will of over seven million voters, a host of same-sex couples “married.”

The problem escalated when Attorney General Brown refused to defend the amendment in the appeals court. Another round of arguments cleared the way for proponents of the amendment, a county here in SoCal, to step up and defend the amendment. The California Supreme Court once again ruled in favor of the people, issuing an advisory opinion that the proponents of Proposition 8 did have standing, and could defend it.

However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 vote, declared the amendment unconstitutional.

The court found that the people of California, by using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw the right to marry they once possessed under the California State Constitution, violated the federal Constitution.

Of course, you need to remember that they only had the “right to marry” because the court had declared Proposition 22 unconstitutional.

The dissenting judge, Judge N. Randy Smith, noted in his dissent that states do legitimately prohibit sexual relationships condemned by society such as incest, bigamy, and bestiality, and impose age limits for marriage without violating constitutional rights . . . He wrote, “The family structure of two committed biological parents – one man and one woman – is the optimal partnership for raising children.” He also said that governments have a legitimate interest in “a responsible procreation theory, justifying the inducement of marital recognition only for opposite-sex couples” because only they can have children. (“California Proposition 8”)

Despite this ruling, the stay remained in place as the appeal went to the US Supreme Court. As you may know, that ruling came down yesterday: “On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to appeal a U.S. District Courts’ ruling that the proposition is unconstitutional. The state government had refused to defend the law.”

So there you have it folks: seven million Californians disenfranchised via a series of moves that would have made carpetbaggers proud.

We have a judge who disregarded the will of the people and an Attorney General who ignored the will of the people. And the Supreme Court, instead of standing up for the people, says, well, your state government didn’t defend your vote, so it’s as if you voters never had a say.

That whole process is not the way a democracy works. An oligarchy, with power in the hands of a few, yes. A democracy? . . . May it rest in peace.

Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm  Comments (15)  
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Where Does Criticism End And Bashing Begin?


569937_hammerinIn Tearing Down The Church: A Tool Of The Devil and “A Tool Of The Devil: Christian Fiction Or Christian Fiction Bashing?” I question the approach of some toward the Church and toward Christian fiction. Could it be that tearing down the Church, that bashing Christian fiction plays into Satan’s hand?

Is that idea the same as saying no one inside or out of the Church should criticize it, that readers ought not critique Christian fiction?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “bash” figuratively to mean “criticize severely.” The question, then, seems to be, what qualifies as “severe”? OED thesaurus gives some great synonym suggestions, but instead of simply listing them, I want to give my thoughts on what qualifies as bashing. Others may have a different take on the term, and that’s fine. For me someone is bashing when the criticism

    * becomes personal (e.g. the author is shallow; the pastor of that church is hateful)
    * generalizes (e.g. Christian fiction is shallow; Christians are hateful)
    * exists for itself, either to make the writer look clever or to curry favor with potential readers. The opposite would be to give constructive evaluation that could help the writer/church or that is intended to warn away potential readers/church-goers from something harmful. (e.g. “Christian fiction is nothing but Amish romance”; Why Men Hate Going to Church or 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday)
    * is based on rumors and not facts (e.g. Christian fiction doesn’t engage the culture; Christians are hypocritical)
    * jumps on bandwagons (e.g. “I don’t read Christian fiction because it’s so poorly written”; “I don’t need to go to church when I can worship God just as well at the beach”)
    * becomes angry or insulting (e.g. nobody in his right mind reads that stuff; nobody in his right mind would go to that church)
    * questions the integrity of others without foundation (e.g. they’re just doing it for the money [applied equally to the writing industry and churches])
    * parrots others (e.g. Christian fiction is preachy; Christians must like fantasy because their bible is full of it)
    * doesn’t let up. OED calls this “railing against” something or “complain or protest strongly and persistently about” something. (e.g. Christian fiction isn’t realistic because it doesn’t allow curse words; Christians are homophobic)

The bottom line is, criticism is not wrong. Constructive criticism can be helpful. Authors join critique groups or employ beta readers on purpose to receive feedback that tells them what’s wrong with their manuscript. Churches have any number of ways of receiving feedback too–all designed to help the group improve and flourish.

I wouldn’t write reviews if I didn’t have the freedom to point out weaknesses or to narrow my recommendation to the group of readers I think would enjoy a book. If I had to lavish praise all the time and make recommendations to everyone, then why bother? Reviews are designed to help, but they often contain criticism.

So criticism isn’t the problem. Criticism is different from severe criticism. And my guess is, most of us know bashing when we hear it or read it, but for some reason, we let it slide, maybe even join in (yep, I hate to admit it, but I’ve been there, done that).

I’ve singled out tearing down the Church and bashing Christian fiction, but I suspect this whole bashing thing might be a problem, containing the seeds of bullying. But perhaps that’s a post for another day.

What are your thoughts on the difference between bashing and criticizing? What did I leave out?

Fair And Balanced Media, continued


There’s no conspiracy, friends and family say whose beliefs align with those self-identifying Democrats who work for the news media. I’ll concede the point, but at the same time, I think it’s essential to note that these non-conspiratorial media folk are not hiding their own opinions, and their opinions are liberal.

Media, of course, includes the various types of entertainment TV, and in this area, where apparently there is no FAA requirement for equal time, the Democrats are making the most of the existent bias.

Back in April Fox News reported that First Lady Michelle Obama already had more TV appearances than any of her predecessors in the first four years in the White House. Laura Bush, with her literacy program, tallied twelve TV appearances. Mrs. Obama? Forty-four. And still going strong.

Since the end of the two political conventions, she made “her first visits to ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ and ‘Rachael Ray’ for appearances that will air in September” and “her third appearance on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman.’ ” (Washington Post)

Obama’s appearances are working for her, [Doug] Schoen [a Democratic political strategist] said.

“I think Michelle Obama is a terrific asset for the president,” he said.

[Dan] Gainor [of the Media Research Center] had no quarrel with that claim, but said it’s all about the 2012 race.

Michelle Obama gains “an overwhelmingly amount of positive coverage” from being on these shows, said Gainor, who also added that these appearances allow her to campaign for her husband.

“What she’s doing is political,” said Gainor. “She’s getting her face out there because it’s an election year.” (see “Michelle Obama becoming the most televised first lady” by Bree Tracey)

Is it any wonder, then, that with a 69 percent favorable rating, she has replaced Hillary Clinton as the most popular national political figure? (See “Poll: Michelle Obama and Ann Romney more popular than their husbands” by Alicia M. Cohn)

But what about Ann Romney? Apparently she’s been on Entertainment Tonight, but primarily her interaction with TV has been a clash with Hilary Rosen over stay-at-home moms, a jab by the executive producer of Modern Family and critiques of what she wears based on how much her outfits cost.

What’s the average person to do with this? First, realize that, sans conspiracy, the media is still all about forming public opinion. There’s a reason David Letterman invited Michelle Obama onto his show three times. There’s a reason pundits talk about how expensive Anne Romney’s clothes are instead of what she said when she was speaking. Granted, she got coverage when she spoke at the RNC, but it was short lived.

So far I haven’t seen her name mentioned in the promos for the talk shows, day or night. Maybe I missed it.

Second, I think the average person can appreciate what Mrs. Obama is doing for her various causes, but weigh those, along with her likable personality, against her positions on marriage, life, size and role of government, and so on. One issue ought not sway a person to believe every word that person says is gospel.

Third, I think it’s judicious to ask questions of those who are criticizing Mrs. Romney. For example, is it their usual practice to discuss the cost of the clothing speakers wear? Did we hear how much Mr. Obama’s suit cost? Or Vice President Biden’s? Or any of the other women, for that matter, who stood on the platform at the DNC?

Apparently I’m not the only blogger who has noticed the different ways the media treats the wives of the two Presidential candidates. This from Independent Women’s Forum:

First Lady Michelle Obama wore a jacket with a $6, 800 pricetag to a Buckingham Palace reception Friday night [July 27]. I could care less and hope that she enjoyed it.

Still, it is difficult not to notice the wildly different treatment the press accords to Democrats and Republicans in these matters. Remember when Ann Romney showed up in a $990 T-shirt to be interviewed on TV? The press went crazy—it showed how out of touch the rich Romneys are (as opposed to how in touch with regular folks the rich Obamas are). (“A Tale of Two Tops” by Charlotte Hays

Maybe there’s no media conspiracy, but that doesn’t mean there’s no media bias. Viewers and voters would be wise to beware.

Published in: on September 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm  Comments (3)  
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President Obama, Faith, And Authority


I don’t know if I can articulate my thoughts adequately in a blog post, but I’ll give it a try. I apologize ahead of time for offending people, because that seems to be the rule of the day — someone speaks their opinion and someone else gets offended; the first someone then clarifies their opinion, but in the end apologizes for it. This way I’ll take care of the apology right off the top. 😀

The opinion, offense, clarification, apology round occurred yet again last February and the first someone was Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The second someone would be those who thought it necessary to defend President Obama, because it seems Mr. Graham said he didn’t know if our President is a Christian. This offended some, in particular those who think President Obama should be taken at his word, and he says he’s a Christian.

It seems he knows quite well what Christianity is about. A year ago at the Easter Prayer Breakfast, he said in part

“But then comes … the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, [Jesus] took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.”

I read those lines with my understanding of Scripture and nod my head. The President has it right.

But what if …

Could he mean that Jesus taking on the sins of the world brought salvation to each person in the world regardless of his faith in or rejection of Christ? Other public statements the President has said don’t rule out that possibility. In fact, they more nearly corroborate it. This for example:

“I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck — no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose — His purpose.” (From the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 6, 2009 quoted in “President Obama’s ‘theology,’ in his own words”)

Is President Obama a Christian? I don’t know. I do believe from his recent comments about the Supreme Court, however, that he sees himself as above the authority of the Constitution, and that gives me pause.

The news hasn’t done a particularly good job of following this story, I don’t think, but in a nutshell, this is the situation. President Obama made comments on Monday that can be described as pressure tactics directed at the Supreme Court, stating that it would be “unprecedented” for them to declare Obamacare unconstitutional, that this would be the hallmark of an “activist” court, something conservatives decry.

The reason conservatives stand against an activist court is because the Constitution gives Congress the right to make federal law. When the courts do so, they are usurping authority.

Is President Obama right that the court would be taking unprecedented action? Well, no, and he knows it.

The Supreme Court, for the most part, is an appellate court, meaning that it reviews the decisions of other courts. In 1803, thirteen years after the Constitution was ratified, the case of Marbury vs. Madison established what has become known as judicial review — the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of other laws.

President Obama, with his degree from Harvard Law School and his lectures in Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, certainly knows this.

Furthermore, Mr. Obama asserted that Obamacare was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” when, in fact, it squeaked by in both the House and the Senate.

The health care law wasn’t passed by a “strong majority,” but rather by a small majority through a technical “reconciliation” measure in the Senate to avoid a filibuster, and a narrow vote in the House that didn’t include a single Republican supporting it. House Speaker John Boehner’s office has made a point of reminding the media of the vote — 219-212 in the House, including 34 Democrats who voted against it (from “In Obama vs. Supreme Court, Politics Knows No Bounds”)

The Los Angeles Times makes another interesting observation — even if Obamacare had passed by huge margins, the numbers would not play any part in a decision about the constitutionality of the law.

Furthermore, the implication of the remark was that the number of votes in favor of a bill was somehow relevant to its constitutionality. It’s not. Otherwise, whichever party or point of view is in the majority would be free to tyrannize the minority. (from “Obama’s Supreme Court comments off the mark”)

What troubles me, then, is this willingness on the President’s part to play above the law and above truth. If he is prone to bend the law he has sworn to uphold and politicize the truth to make his case, what does he think about God’s authority?

Don’t his actions regarding abortion indicate that he is also playing above God’s clear instruction not to kill? Can anyone who has read the Bible miss how heinous God considers child sacrifice?

They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35)

(Yes, yes, I know — there are also stories of bloody massacres in the Bible, but that’s got a different context. There is no wiggle room when it comes to God’s attitude about killing children in the process of worshiping a false god. Abortion is nothing less than killing babies in the process of worshiping self or freedom or a woman’s right to choose).

Part of President Obama’s remarks on Monday appealed to the human element — the fact that people’s lives will be affected. I believe he is acting in good faith. He thinks mandated health care will solve a problem, that it will help people. Just like abortion helps women with unwanted pregnancies.

The human element set over the law puts some person in the position of deciding which humans are going to be affected favorably and which adversely. It says a person, not the Law governing the land, is to decide what is right. And not the Law of God.

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm  Comments (8)  
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The Attack Has Begun


Photo by Gage Skidmore


No sooner did Rick Santorum sweep the three Republican primary or caucus races yesterday than the attacks began. As I’ve noted from time to time on Facebook, Mr. Santorum has escaped the scurrilous invectives up to this point because there’s nothing horrific in his background that lends itself to attack. Leave it to his opponents to find one: his religion. (He identifies himself on his Facebook page as a Christian – Roman Catholic).

The particular recrimination I saw most recently has a picture of Mr. Santorum on the left and one of Osama bin Laden on the right. Under Mr. Santorum’s picture is the caption, “This guy thinks religious law should override secular law.” Under Bin Laden the caption reads, “So does this guy.”

Well, assuming the person who put that bit of “humor” together had in mind some of Mr. Santorum’s socially conservative views, such as pro-life, that’s a pretty effective way of dismissing him as a nut no one need listen to. How sad! If you form an opinion based on selfishness or greed, it is fine if you want to supersede secular law with something new. But if your opinion is formed by a religious admonition such as “You shall not murder,” suddenly you’re viewed as a terrorist.

Of course his views on homosexual marriage received an immediate mention, too — as if this “secular law” has been around for centuries and suddenly this religious freak comes along and wants the rest of society to bend to his God’s laws. Well, news flash. The law of the land here in the bulk of the fifty states of the US is that marriage is between one man and one woman. The people trying to force a change are not the religious “nuts” but those who wish to redefine terms that have been in place for as long as this nation has been in existence.

But this caricature of Mr. Santorum serves a purpose — it demonstrates that there’s really nothing else his opponents can go after except the policies they hate so much, the ones they desperately want to keep out of the White House. All the “gains” the liberals saw under President Obama — specifically, government funded abortions here and abroad, aborted-fetal-tissue stem cell research, the movement toward socialized medicine — will come to an end.

At the least, now that the media can no longer ignore Rick Santorum, we’ll be forced to look at some of the issues that divide our country and need to be discussed … that is, until Saturday Night Live comes up with a skit to make him look like he’s off in left, make that, right field.

They did that with Mr. Gingrich, I guess. I missed the sketch but heard that it poked fun at his idea that our space program should work toward putting a colony on the moon. So now Mr. Gingrich is loony. Ha-ha-ha. Except, I heard him explain his ideas on one of the news shows, and it made perfect sense. He was addressing a crowd in Cape Canaveral, Florida — where people are greatly affected by the fact that we are no longer sending manned spacecraft to explore the heavens — and he was proposing a new way of doing business, one that would lean heavily on the private sector. As Mr. Gingrich said, It’s hard to imagine President Kennedy receiving the same kind of treatment when he proposed sending a rocket to the moon.

But that shows how our politics have changed. Now the person we differ with isn’t just misinformed or misguided or even wrong; he’s stupid, dangerous, the next tyrant or jihadist.

News flash for the Republicans — the Democrats have found the sweet spot. If they can paint a conservative candidate as stupid or foolish or ignorant, they are gold and the conservative candidacy is dead in the water.

They did it to Vice President Dan Quail (though some would argue that he did it to himself, I’d disagree; being a notoriously bad speller myself, I can testify that knowing how to spell potato has nothing to do with what you know or don’t know about governmental affairs). Since then, they’ve done it to President Bush with much less success, Sarah Palin, and a handful of Tea Party candidates during the 2010 election.

Somehow the Democratic candidates escape such accusations, though I can point to a number of their office holders from the state of California who ought to be scrutinized in this area. But why should anyone look back into their college records and see what their GPA is when they don’t hold any ignorant views such as creationism?

You see the bottom line, don’t you? It’s not intelligence or religious law or moon colonies. It’s all about authority. These people who don’t want “You shall not murder” to apply to unborn humans really don’t want anyone telling them what is right or wrong — not the Bible, certainly, but not the Constitution either, and not state propositions or amendments passed by the people. They want what they want, and until they get the law to let them have what they want, they’ll fight the rest of us however they can.

Even by attacking a moral, God-fearing … oops, there’s the problem. That’s what’s earned Mr. Santorum these attacks.

Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm  Comments (12)  
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Occupy Movement The Darling Of Media Eyes


Occupy LA, which has had the help and support of City Council, finally got their eviction notice. In reporting the official pronouncement, one news outlet finally released some numbers. In all 700 people have been involved over the months, though the numbers “swelled” from time to time to as many as 1000. In all fairness, I may have misunderstood. She may have meant 700 tents, swelling to 1000. This could double, even triple the numbers.

I’ve been suspicious of low numbers since the media coverage of the occupy movements began. After all, the camera shots were all tight close ups, no wide views, no sweeps panning a broad area. Nevertheless, the media has religiously covered the events, especially any clash with authorities, though the details of the provocation of such clashes were most often bypassed.

How odd. I mean, there are more people at my church week after week, even if we use the tripled numbers, than showed up at city hall. Did the media bring their cameras to our church service? And how about those 1800 dinners members of our church served on Thanksgiving — media coverage there? I must have missed it.

Another thing I missed from our nightly news and the national early morning news show I watch from time to time were the five rapes connected with the Occupy Movement and the sexual assaults. Yes, I did hear about some property damage, but the news anchors were quick to point out that this activity was perpetrated by a group of anarchists who have attached themselves to the movement. The real leaders, the anchors reported, were actually involved in helping clean up the mess the usurpers created. The news show then put on screen a lone worker trying to scrub graffiti off the side of a building.

No word, however, about using some of the millions of dollars earlier reported that were coming into the Occupy Movement in support of their protests, to pay for the damage and clean-up.

The thing that stands out the most to me about the way the media at large has handled the Occupation movement is the disparity with how they covered the Tea Party. Note, for example, this quotation:

“Tea Party supporters”, says Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor, “have been called neo-Klansmen and knuckle-dragging hillbillies”. Jonsson adds, “demonizing tea party activists tends to energize the Democrats’ left-of-center base”. He notes that “polls suggest that tea party activists are not only more mainstream than many critics suggest, but that a majority of them are women (primarily mothers), not angry white men” (from “Tea Party movement”).

A fairly objective view of the media coverage comes from Poll Watch Daily, reporting on the findings of the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism analysis comparing media coverage (good or bad, apparently) of the two protests.

What I find informative is the decline in Tea Party coverage and the rise in Occupy Movement coverage, though apparently many more thousands of people were involved in the former.

What’s a Christian to make of all this? First, political protests and media coverage, problems in government, in business, in labor organizations, in the political process only reflect the problems in the human heart.

Second, there will be no perfect human solution. Interestingly, the Antichrist will offer a solution which will seem to be The Answer. But there is no answer apart from Christ.

Believers need to focus our energy and efforts on what ultimately makes the only significant difference — changed lives. Only through faith in Jesus Christ will anyone be other than greedy at the core.

We sinful humans are selfish, prideful people; our goodness serves us or conforms to societal expectations more than it serves those we say we’re helping. That’s true for the members of the media, politicians, bankers, anarchists, Tea Party organizers, and homeless people. It’s true for those of us who stayed home through all the protests.

Christ alone can mend the rift that our sinful natures create. He brings us back into relationship with God. In turn God gives us the impetus to care for others as He’s told us to.

When we love our neighbor, and when we see the corporate banker who looks like he’s getting away with highway robbery as our neighbor, we love him anyway and determine not to steal from him no matter how much he’s stolen from others. We also work for a fair and just government that will hold thieves accountable, no matter what color collar their shirt is. And we pray.

Mostly we should pray. God can do far beyond what we ask or think, so imagine if His people rose up and had a Prayer Party or an Occupy Prayer Movement asking for a revival in our land — not so the economy would improve or so that the people we want to see in office, win elections, but so that many more people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, so that they place their faith in Him, and find forgiveness for their sins — what couldn’t God do?

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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