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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Say What?

While I was at the capitol building in Jefferson City yesterday, I just happened to sit next to a school counselor from a middle school in Wellston, a city in the St. Louis City area. She was there with about 40 students from her school. She had a bright blue sticker that said “Responsible” and “Protection” on her shirt. After a brief conversation with her and the young lady who coordinated the day for Planned Parenthood, I learned that the students were student mentors, basically 8th graders talking to 6th graders about “safe” sex and how to use “protection.” These students received permission to leave school on Planned Parenthood sponsored buses justified as social studies in action by taking a trip to the capitol.

The students, as well as others including a group called “Clergy for Contraception,” were at the capitol to rally against HB 1075, a bill sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Davis. The Planned Parenthood coordinator misrepresented the bill by stating that it would prohibit sex ed instructors from discussing STDs. However, that is not in the wording or in the intent of the bill. HB 1075 bans outside groups such as Planned Parenthood, or any group that provides abortions, from teaching or providing materials for sex ed courses in Missouri schools. When I caught her on this, she brushed it off.

Peter writes about the false prophets and teachers that arose before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. He writes that they “bring in destructive heresies,” have “eyes for adultery, insatiable for sin” and “entice unsteady souls” (2 Pet. 2:1,14). Likewise, today there are false prophets and teachers who blindly teach what they do not understand. They react to a fallen world without any hope or guidance. And they visit Jefferson City everyday.

Psalm 1:1-2
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Six Tips for Happiness

Currently Harvard University offers a course that focuses on how to be happy called Positive Psychology . The course is described NPR’s by Toiva Smith as a practical mix of self-help and science. Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar bases some his conclusions on studies that show how “counting your blessing daily make you happy” in a way that adding up stock market successes never will. In one class, he plays quotes from an Ellen Degeneres episode where Ellen expresses her frustration with life’s business: “we are so busy that we miss out on life.” Tal Ben-Shahar asserts that it is “not natural to be in the rat race” and that Americans need to slow down and enjoy life. He focuses on the power of positive thinking and the need to “simplify.”

One student thinks it is a silly topic for a semester long class. Another says that it challenging because of the “personal transformation” not the reading schedule.

To me it sounds like James’ suggestion to “consider it all joy” to endure trials, or Paul’s secret to contentment: be content in all circumstances. As for the need to simplify, Paul suggests that whether we eat or drink we should glorify God.

In the end, the course exemplifies that even the elites at Harvard are looking for happiness over and above earthly successes. Dismissing faith as unreasonable and perusing the self-help aisles at Borders for answers, students in Tal Ben-Shahar’s course have received validation—in the name of Science—an answer that ultimately will never satisfy the soul.

What do you think of positive thinking? Does it work? Is it biblical?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

While reading various pages on the web, I found the following quote. It ties into the my last post, and thought I would share it.

Gary North has said, "All long-term social change comes from the successful efforts of one or another struggling organizations to capture the minds of a hard core of future leaders."

Do you agree or disagree and why?

If you agree, how does it apply to you personally?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Power of Ideas

At the beginning of my first semester of CDT, the class was assigned the book “Seven Men Who Ruled the World from the Grave” by Dave Breese. We then were instructed to write a short essay on why we were assigned the book. The book didn’t impress me; it lacked style and footnotes. My essay reflected my disappointment with Breese’s underlying biases. Writing from a Fundamentalist perspective, Breese shaped how his readers would act and respond to the facts he presents in the book that bothered me. My essay missed the mark because I failed to over look Breese's agenda and see his point: Ideas rule the world, not men.

John Maynard Keynes understood the power of ideas. In the final paragraph in his General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, he wrote:

...the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influence by new theories after they are twenty five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.

What makes an idea dangerous? Can an idea be dangerous for the good?

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Righteousness of God

"Now it will come about that in the last days The mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills; and the all the nations will stream to it and the peoples will come and say, 'Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the House of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.' For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

Is. 2:2-3

“See, I have taught you statues and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people who will hear all these statues and say, 'Surely this great nation is wise and understanding people.' 'For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?' 'Or what great nation is there that has statues and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?' ”

Deut. 4:5-8

"When the righteous rule, the people rejoice;
When the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Proverbs 29:2

Do you see any common themes? How should Christians respond to these Scriptures today?

I would love to hear what anyone has to say.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My heritage is beautiful to me!

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.”

As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will you allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand are pleasures forever.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Muta Marriages

As I was listening to NPR’s Morning Addition, I caught an interesting piece about the Shia tradition that allows a man, married or single, to marry woman for as little as a few minutes or for years at a time. These short-term marriages are called “muta marriages.” Why would a woman accept such an arrangement? The man, often from the upper strata of society, offers some type of monetary support to the woman, who most likely lives in poverty. There are even muta marriage brokers to help match women with men.

Formally outlawed under Suddam Hussein and not allowed under Sunni Islamic law, the Shia Islamic custom is becoming more popular as Iraqis are gaining more freedom. Woman’s Rights Groups in Iraq are appalled that so many women are being taken advantage of in these short-term agreements. They call it as legally sanctioned prostitution.

Two points strike me.

First, is America really helping the Iraqis gain freedom? And if so, what kind?

Secondly, I have heard more than a few of my college classmates argue that prostitution just reflects a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. Why do Iraq feminists differ from American feminists in this way?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My letter was published!!

Check out my letter in the recent West Newsmagazine. The link goes to the recent letters only; therefore, I don’t know it my letter will still be there after about a week.

I’ve decide that if I’m going to sow seeds, I’ve got to get out into the field. So, I’m going to start sending letters to the editors of the local papers, calling my legislators, and getting people I know to do the same.

That’s my plan anyway. :)