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Friday, May 29, 2009

political rant about fear-driven politics

I'm tired of what I like to call "fear-driven" politics, which is simply politicians acting like it's the end of the world if we don't do something right now.

Boston Globe article (google it because I'm not linking to it) this morning:

"In a call from Air Force One as he returned from a western fund-raising swing, Obama said that if Congress doesn't pass a healthcare overhaul this year, the opportunity will be lost, perhaps forever."

Yes, if we don't pass nationalized healthcare right now the Republicans...err...anti-healthcare forces have won--forever--on this topic. If only it were that easy. Oh, if only it were that easy.

And of course I concede that, yes, Republicans use the same fear-driven antics too. But I suppose I find it ironic that Obama said that he was about hope, not fear. Why isn't he more hopeful about "healthcare overhaul"?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is there room on college campuses for male advocacy groups?

What started as satirical article in University of Chicago's The Chicago Maroon quickly inspired the first male-student-advocacy group in the country.

Third-year student Steven Saltarelli, author of the article and founded of the club Men in Power, noticed that there were 11 women’s advocacy groups but no men's groups on campus.

Ali Feenstra, a fourth-year student and member of the Feminist Majority club, opposes the idea that men need their own club. Students need "to think about the reason for the creation of female-only spaces, queer-only spaces, an independent reason why people might need to go there to feel safe,” she said. “It can’t just be ‘Because it exists for women, it should exist for men.’”

But why not? Don't feminists argue that because men are presidents of companies, women should be too?

Saltarelli isn't alone on his campus, as 25 other students attended the first meeting, and he's not alone in recognizing that being born male doesn't mean instant success. Studies predict that men will become more and more of minority on college campuses and statistics showing that “men have far higher instances of suicide and drug use than women” to support a group dedicated to raising awareness about men's issues.

Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychology professor at Florida State University, observes that "a few lucky men are at the top of society and enjoy the culture’s best rewards. Others, less fortunate, have their lives chewed up by it," in an article he wrote titled, "Is There Anything Good About Men?"

Men in Power was highlighted recently in a Chicago Tribune article and is on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are Impartial Judgments Possible?

What do you think about the following quote:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

The New York Times included the above quote from Judge Sotomayor, who's Obama's current choice from the Supreme Court vacancy in article today.

Does ethnicity or gender affect our judgments? Do our experiences trap us in a box that makes it impossible to make impartial judgments?

How to we know if our conclusions are better? Maybe our experiences give us tunnel vision and help us justify our opinions and beliefs and conclude that our decisions are better.

What about white men who've grown up in poverty. Would they have better discernment skills than those who did not?

What are the implications of this quote?

Monday, May 25, 2009

'Pray it won't fade away'

Searching fulfillment and satisfaction consumes our lives. When we find it, or think we've find it, we might pray, as Beyonce does in her song "Halo," that it would never "fade away."

She sings about a man who is her "saving grace." This man inspires sensations that make her feel like she's "been awakened" that are all consuming: "You're everything I need and more."

She views her whole world through her "angel." He lightens the dark areas of her life and she "addicted" to him.

She's got no more worries or fears.

Beyonce's song "Halo" exposes how it's all to easy to enthrone mere humans on the throne of our hearts and let them rule our emotions.

The problem with idols, especially human ones, is that they can't deliver. Relationships, especially sexual relationships, can't take the place of God in our lives because they will eventually fail us in every way. Even with the greatest of intentions, people hurt us as they pursue self-fulfillment in their lives. The temporary feelings will fade and leave us empty, possibly more empty than before meeting our false "savior."

When we feel the bitter sting of reality, we can either question whether the "fleeting pleasures of sin" are worth it or pray that our senses are dulled to allow the fleeting pleasures to satisfy us.

Beyonce's song "If I were a Boy" reveals the bitterness that results from lifting up broken people in undeserving ways.

Beyonce's songs "Halo" and "If I Were A Boy" show different sides of sensual love; both views miss the mark but highlight people cannot satisfy the deepest longings of our souls.

Let us fix our eyes on a love that's greater than sensual love. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2).

Let him captivate you with a love that will never fail or fade.

Edited on 6/3/09

Saturday, May 23, 2009

God speaks even in the "flat" times.

God speaks to me when I ride my bike.

While riding my bike one brisk morning, God reminded me on Creve Coeur Mills Rd.--a flat road--that life has got its high, low, and flat times.* The "flat" times, our daily walk, are good for building good habits.

In the flat times, I'd say, we are neither in despair, struggling to keep up our heads, nor over joyed, full to the brim with happiness; we are putting one foot in front. I don't think this time can be categorized as the "valley" because we have our needs met; we don't have too much or too little. Boredom is the great temptation, as the grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side mirage will dazzle us if we lose our focus.

On a bike, speed and cadence generally remain stable on a flat road. It's not as hard as peddling up hill and it's not as easy as letting hills carry you, but you've got to keep peddling or you'll fall over. While in training, flat roads are great places to build endurance by holding a consistent, moderately fast (70-80%) pace. The goal of training being to ride faster for longer.

In this life, God calls his children to walk worth of the great call on their lives (Eph. 4:1), which requires learning to put off the old "self" and to put on the new "self" (Eph. 4:17-23). In other words, our focus is learning to respond to the good urges** and kill the bad ones (Crabb).

The punch line from my short conversation with God: I'm to work towards consistency in responding to the good urges, which is best cultivated in "flat" times. Even more, I need to daily set aside time for prayer, Bible reading, and meeting with others for mutual encouragement to develop habits that will help me sprint out of the valleys, coast along the hills tops and endure to end of the ride.

*Ok, so I don't know if one can really say that these are cut and dry "seasons" of our lives, or more specifically, my life. Maybe these times can someone over lap. I'm merely using these terms "high," "low," and "flat" to describe feelings that I have at different times in my life.

**The good urges come from the new heart gives to those who repent and rely on God (Acts 4:12, Acts 26:20, Ezek. 36:26-27).

Crabb, Larry. "Connection: A Radical New Vision." Crabb writes: "The center of a biblical theory of personality is the idea of two sets of urges within us, good passions and bad passions, bad passions that exist because of the fall, good ones that are reliably present under the new covenant. God deals with our bad passions and good passions in a way we are expected to imitate; connecting with another Christian involves doing for each other, as we struggle with our internal civil war, what God does" (73).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Should Republicans Worry About Small "l" Libertarians?

There are many streams within the Republican Party and within conservatism; some good, some bad.

Reagan said, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism," during an interview with Reason magazine in July 1975.

Ron Paul represents the movement within conservationism and the Republican Party to remember government will never be the solution to our problems.

"I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves," said Reagan.

Gov. Mark Sandford: "Liberty is the hallmark of the American experiment."

Sen. Lindsay Graham's "almost pejorative" comment...

I'm excited about a discussion at 2009 Eagle Forum Collegian Summit that will look at which way the Republican Party should be heading: towards government interference or less so.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Conservatives, Let's Get Creative—Online

Most people have good ideas. Few people implement.

What are some of the barriers to implementation?

And why does it seem like the government-solution oriented people are producing more creative media online than those who recognizes the inherent problems of government intervention?


Environmentalist activist Annie Leonard’s 20-minute video attacking capitalism called “Story of Stuff” is being viewed by kids in classrooms across our country and around the world in addition to getting millions of hits on YouTube despite it's misleading data and false logic. Why? Because it's wonderfully creative, funny and connects to a basic human value: we should treat others as we would want to be treated.

But Marxists don't have a monopoly on creatively, humor or understanding the power of connection.

We're the one's who believe producing, as oppose to believing wealth grows on trees, is essential to survival right?

Nice example of a creative use for media:

Maybe the title of my blog post should be, "Conservatives, Let's Implement."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Working Out or Communion With God?

Do you ever feel like you have two waring personalities struggling to dominate who you are?

Well, I do.

In many ways, I'm in an ongoing war with Ruth, Queen of Sanctimoniousness, who cares deeply about how holy people think she is. Last week, we went head to head on the matter of falsely dividing my life into "sacred" and "secular."

I was trying to decide how much time a "good" Christian would set aside for playing sports. (Yes, I'm obsessed with planning out my entire life including how much time I set aside for play.) But the Holy Spirit couldn't let me continue on is a silly game of pretending that playing ultimate frisbee is some how less holy than serving at food pantry.

I'm deeply convicted that serving the poor is central to following Christ; however, serving to the point where I have no time for relationships outside of my church family misses another aspect of Christ's perfection: he loves people who don't love him back. If I'm only around Christians, how can show love to those who don't know him? Is my heart for serving the poor more about appearing holy than caring for those who I'm serving? Could I be serving more productively somewhere else, that might appear less holy, but expresses God's love more clearly?

Moreover, God speaks to me when I swim, bike, or run after frisbee discs--as well as while I work, go to church meetings, But there does seem to be this nice clearing of my mind when I'm working out that allows God to open my eyes a little more to His truth.

Even more, God isn't bound by the limitations we like to put on ourselves. We like to think we can create a rule book to guide our lives, as if we can say, with certainty, that dancing is always wrong and reading our Bibles is always right. Yes, I do believe reading one's Bible can be wrong if one's heart is simply to appear holy. Central to the gospel is measuring our lives by His perfect standard, but more than a set of rules, following Christ requires humble reflection not only of our external actions, but also our internal motivations.

I've decided to blog about how God speaks to me while I'm in "play mode" in an ongoing series of posts that I will tag "SBR," which stands for Swim, Bike Run.

Edited, 5-20-09

Friday, May 01, 2009

What is a "Hate Crime"?

All crimes are motivated by hate. If something is motivated by kindness, can it by definition be a crime?

But that's the controversy: who decides if someone is motivated by love or by hate? Who's definition of love are we using?

Rather than try to wrestle with why people commit or don't commit crimes or how they feel homosexuality, Congress should let the courts follow in the same tradition they have since the founding of our country: punish people for crimes they have committed not thoughts that have crossed their minds. Prosecutors should provide evidence to as to whether someone committed a crime or not and leave the wastelands of inner motivations between the individual and God.