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November 2010. Why are the Democrats blue?
I know I should have asked this question at least a decade ago, and I
also know that its significance is only symbolic at best. But with this
historic fall, mid-term elections, those symbols (at least given the
polarization we're growing further into) makes me wonder all the more
why Republican states are referred to red states, and Democrats are
all, back in the 1950s, the "red scare" referred to fears of communist
infiltrations in the U.S. So, in a purely ideological sense, Democrats
as represented by their most left-wing extremes, are ideologically much
closer to that "reddishness" — as socialism is a close cousin to
communism in terms of ideology and reliance on government..
January 2010: The Haitian Tragedy, Pat Robertson, the French and the
Media. When I first heard the media news
report that 700-Club Pat Robertson had said that the recent
earthquake in Haiti was God's punishment for Haitian sin, I was
initially outraged. Even if it were true, to make such a judgment would
be an awful presumption for any man to make.
18 October 2009: Perhaps the most revealing about the motivations behind 'Climate Change' leaders? When Britain’s Lord Christopher Monckton asked to address our Congress on global climate change recently, Al Gore reportedly contacted California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to block Monckton and urge that Monckton be denied the privilege. What a revealing action on Gore’s part! Were he truly convinced of his worldview on the science of global warming, he would not fear contrarian views. But at some point in his consciousness, he apparently must doubt the veracity of his Nobel prize-winning viewpoint. After all, nobody who is confident in truth fears confrontation with those who are not party to his view. His actions make for a compelling revelation on the falsehoods he must know he is attempting to push on a largely undiscerning world. So what is his real, underlying motive: political influence, control ... even subjegation?
2 July 2009: Legislating us by design into bamkruptcy? I stayed up a few nights ago, listening to radio, as the vote came in the House of Representatives, passing the notorious Cap and Trade bill by a 219-212 vote. This measure is truly without redeeming qualities. I think six of the eight Republicans who voted for it did so because of pressure from those who stood to benefit from it because of the brokering income that it would generate. Hey, there's enough middlemen in the energy trading business without this layer of greedy malarkey. What may be most scary is how few people I talk with even have any notion of what this bill is about. If the Senate passes anything similar, we would be dramatically escalating the cost of energy over time with the intent, as Obama was quoted in early 2008, of driving all coal-fired plants out of business. In favor of alternative energy — except that the greener alternatives aren't able to replace the energy we lose from the bankruptcy of coal-based energy. And how much more will the economy suffer in its wake; how many more families will go under beneath the unnecessary weight of the added cost? How foolish we would look to the rest of the world, placing ourselves at an economic disadvantage while the rest of the world watches with puzzled curiosity? I'm all for greener, cleaner energy, but let's not bankrupt our economy in near-depressive times to impose this upon ourselves when we are in no position to replace our primary source of energy.
April 2009: An initial flirtation with the free will v. predestination
debate. Predestination, by Biblical definition, may not be
as anti-freewill as it
Yet, when considered within the
constraints of a time-based system (created presumably for the benefit
of Man), might be better understood as His “infinite foreknowledge” of
man’s actions as prescribed by mortal acts of free will.
As Jesus (fully God He be) said:
Still, it is altogether true and logical that a sovereign and omnicient Creator would not choose those whom He knew would reject Him.
Certainly, this is an issue whose discussion and contemplation must be continued in greater depth.
23 February 2009: Was my extended absence refreshing? Boy, have I been distracted; so much so, that it has been most conspicuous, perhaps, by my absence from this front! I actually have published longer treatises related to the main topic of this blog, but it would be a ruse, an outright misrepresentation, to lead anyone to the conclusion that I was just writing elsewhere. No, what took me away so long was a real distraction (some might even say a real estate distraction), and to that, I am not fully delivered from it. But i digress. About the time I left this arena, I did write on The Cost of Tolerance and God, Not As a Religion and even a self-absorbed look back several decades into an intentionally underlinked Past Vanities. But the absence, despite its home-based distractions, has been a hiatus that has revealed to me how academic my faith was in the weakest of senses. Yes, we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are relying on the sovereignty and grace of God in our daily lives until a test reveals to us that it was primarily head knowledge. He has taken me on a journey to not only reveal that to me, but to show me how iinadequate I am to rely on and to compel me to rely on Him. For this, the journey has been worth it, even though I am still on the journey, so I am reflecting on it without having the whole episode behind me. I trust that He will bring the given episode to a conclusion and deliver me from it, although I increasingly realise that I need the ongoing journey of needing and trusting in Him to continue. That must not end when the given trial completes. My life can only bear eternal fruit when my faith resides in the heart and not just my head. It is a common mistake, but a very significant one.The illusion of self-reliance is a particularly American one (although certainly not exclusive to our culture), but as much as our culture pursues the merits of the Horatio Alger "self-made man" ambition, the more vulnerable we become to a self-deceipt that preclude a true, life-assuring dependence on our God.
1 April 2007: Good Friday means he understands injustice. Good Friday has almost totally lost its true meaning in today's culture when, in fact, it means even more than we ever granted it. It is probably the second most-significant "ritual" observance made in the life of a Christian. (I really don't like using the word "ritual" as it connotes a sense of hollow routine or repitition and, as a result, causes us to slowly lose an appreciation of the true meaning once attached to that ritual.) Nevertheless, when you stop and think of what Jesus allowed unto Himself — being crucified — the event itself stands in human history as the greatest of all injustices. But He did it for us; and in so doing, it reveals that, although God never promised us that life would be fair, shows that He more than understands when we are subjected to things unfair and unjust. He has "been there, done that," and all too significantly at that.
3 March 2007: Free will or predetermination, and how a puppy helped me see the relationship. I recall in the 1980s having occasional debates with a cohort in my church small group, Dale Houg (whom I used to refer to as Doug Hale). He was fervently an advocate that God's sovereignty extended to the point of predetermination. I advocated that "tem shall," or "thou mayest overcome" supported by contention that we were granted free will in our lives by the Creator.This debate would later pick up again with my new pastor and friend, Josh Lough. He, too, weighed in on the side of predetermination, while not disregarding the element of free will in each of our lives. It took our family succumbing to owning a puppy that I finally discovered the perspective on the two. With Lacenda Maye, our puppy, in the role of each of us and, me, in the "role" of God — holding the leash — I finally saw that while the puppy was exercising free will, the ultimate control of our direction rested in the hands of the master at the guiding end of the leash.
4 August 2006: If you're first-born is a daughter, that could mean....Did you read the "research" that claims that attractive couples are 36% more likely to have a girl as their first-born child? Considering that it's the male chromosome that determines the gender of the child, how much statistical significance can the "attractiveness" of" the couple" contribute to this "fact?" I may well like the finding, because our first-born was Christina, but is this really good science? Or just entertainment?
3 August 2006: Is Wayne Sousa the correct name in my recollection? In discussing Wisconsin football earlier today, a memory of a Wisconsin receiver who died on a Wisconsin highway in the 1980s came to me. He was changing a flat tire on the driver's side of the car, so he was exposed to traffic. Doing so late at night, and on the I-system (I think it was I-94 to Milwaukee), he was struck and killed. The more I pondered that vague memory, the name Wayne Sousa came to me. A Google check came up empty. Is my recall faulty or did I find another item of historical note not yet indexed by this mighty search engine?
3 March 2006: Don't 'badger' me about it. I am not ashamed to be a Badger, a Wisconsin native, but some characters of our recent history can make me think twice. In the 1950s, the state became known for the heinous crimes of Ed Gein. Then in the 1980s, he was "one-upped" by the inconceivable tortures of Jeffrey Dahmer. Now, another Wisconsinite will soon be tried for a horrible murder that he allegedly "mentored" his nephew to partake of: Steven Amery. Whether he was a monster before he spent 18 years for a crime DNA later said he didn't commit, or whether the time behind bars helped create the monster, such history and circumstance will never excuse what it may help explain. The depravity that man can sink to knows no bottom...
1 March 2006: Both sides now. It grieves me when I see supposed "Christian" groups like the one that's been covered frequently in the press — those that say "God Hates Fags." They don't know their Bible, and I suspect they don't care to. But even in lesser displays of blindess and coldness, we too often forget that, regardless of the sin, God nevertheless loves the sinner. And for someone as holy and righteous as God who, though all powerful, is unable to regard our iniquity—His love for us (all sinners) is so fundamental to who He is that He can yet love us. This is only possible because He is God, the same God who not only is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13.8), but who transcends time (before anything was, "I am"). At least we can possibly grasp the ability to love unconditionally despite hating some of the things done by those we love (we're called to do that as parents, after all). Similar qualities of God are beyond our grasp and likely always shall be (e.g., how He can His sovereignty predestine those who will belong to Him, yet grant each one of us lifelong measures of free will, even to disregard, disobey and deny Him?). Only the One who can now, because simultaneously He was and forever will be "I am."
1 August 2003: Hey, watch where you're going! If you just read the July 30 entry and conclude that I'm gay bashing, you're in error. Although I do support the Bible's classification of homosexuality as a sinful lifestyle, I do also have two friends who are gay (including one who is slowly dying as a consequence of it). And this is not a contradiction. Remember: God wants us to follow His standard of loving the sinner while hating the sin. Indeed, I doubt any of my friends condone the gluttony that has made me paunchy and out of shape (and, if unchecked, the consequence of that sinful lifestyle behavior can lead to death as well); yet I know I am loved by both family and several friends. Consider this, then: A far more odd, as well as destructive, notion seemingly espoused in the world is that in order to love someone you must also love that which is slowly destroying them (i.e., to accept the sinner you muse accept the sin, without acknowledging it as sin, of course). Does that make sense? God loves the sinner while hating the sin, and we would do well to do likewise.
30 July 2003: The ultimate gender-bender...same-sex marriage. While I grant that the history of heterosexual marriages over the centuries hasn't exactly been a stellar example of marriage as designed and sanctioned by our Creator, certainly legalizing same-sex marriage is even a further cry from the original blueprint. I agree with our president when he said that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. Once again, by design, it prescribes that "two shall become one" for the intended fundamental, societal goal of continuing the human race. While not all hetero unions result in children (and some that do definitely lack any and all parenting credentials), the union of same-sex couples can only attain this by "artificial" means. If we must recognize such unions in some legal, corporate or other sense of policy, we must never call it "a marriage." The definition can't possibly support that. (Although, perpetuating some odd irony, I have noticed that nearly all same-sex couples I have met or seen have distinct "male-type" and "female-type" counterparts, either in appearance, conduct or both.)
16 May 2003: Are we getting the PNAC of it yet? It's difficult to wax political, as we are not privy to much that goes on behind the scenes — and I suspect we'd be all the more disillusioned if we knew. Nevertheless, this costly war in Iraq attempts justification on the grounds of Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction." But based on the policies advocated by the Project for the New American Century, Iraq was a target long before 9-11. The leaders, many in the Administration being core or affiliate participants in PNAC, just needed some topical justification. Now, don't get me wrong; we probably should have finished the job we started against Saddam and his regime long ago, during the elder Bush's reign. And, during the Clinton years we looked the other way to such an extreme that our current actions look like a total about-face. Still, it wouldn't hurt to be acquainted with PNAC; if nothing else, it may provide us with a foreshadowing look at things to come. William Kristol, a name quite familiar in Bush's inner circle, chairs the organization.
13 February 2003: The "Purfuit" of Happiness? Yeah, I realize that the founding fathers didn't really write "purfuit," they just had an odd second type of "s" back in those days. Nevertheless, I'm not aware of any place in Scriptures (and you're most welcome to prove me wrong on this...I'd love to be wrong on this), but "happiness" neither seems to be a goal or prescription for the Christian life. We should be "content," most certainly (although in a consumer culture, it is contrarian to everything around us), and we are called upon to experience "joy," which is not the same as happiness. In many ways, "joy" is far superior to "happiness": you can feel joy during times of suffering and even pain, when happiness would be utterly impossible. I might have first discovered what "joy" is during the early years with our first-born child. Even though exhausted by the sacrifice, I could comfort our daughter during her middle-of-the-night tummy aches, cradling her in my arms in the downstairs rocker-recliner. I didn't sleep well, if at all, but I distinctly remember the joy washing over and through me as I watched her fall comfortably asleep in my arms, trusting in me as we all should in the Lord. I'm not very good at the latter, I'm sad to say, but I experienced a great lesson via the former. And it's one of life's fondest memories.
23 December 2002: You Realize How Precious Life Is... When you lose one quite dear to you. My dad passed away at 4:15 a.m. on this day. A gentle, dear man whose last three weeks found each breath an exercise of labor and conscious effort. He never smoked, but other failures of our mortal flesh can take our breath away, too. Thankfully, he was confident of his eternal destination, but those of us who remain behind shall miss Dad dearly.
28 November 2002: Going Digital In Another Part of My Life? While up in Minnesota visiting my dad, sister and brother-in-law, I went shopping with my sister to help her Christmas shop for my daughter, who joined me for the trip. Somewhat to my surprise, I ended up purchasing a Canon ZR40 digital miniDV camera for the family (er, myself?). This is my third movie camera (videocam?) in at least a dozen years and, with each one, the form factor gets smaller. This one is almost uncomfortably small to hold. And the storage medium, MiniDV™, is also smaller than that which preceded it. Nevertheless, the resolution is better, not quite PAL levels, but close to NTSC's 525 lines vs. the 240 (?) of VHS. Best of all, digital editing is much easier now — I can reduce 30 minutes of dreary home movies to digestible two minute morsels (using the free iMovie), and distribute them as QuickTime® movies.
31 October 2002: How Should I Respond to Halloween? As I child I, of course, looked forward to dressing up and collecting hoards of candy. If that were all that was prominent about this holiday, I would not have grown increasingly averse to its celebration as I grew older. Still, it's important not to overreact simply some of its historical roots are spiritually dark. Like most "American" holidays, it has become hybridized over generations to the point that its purity — for good or evil — has become diluted and confused. Are its Celtic origins of most concern, or its rumored derivations from the notorious Vlad the Impaler of the 15th century that should be of greatest concern? Or what the dark influences of today may do given this opportunity to harm the young and vulnerable? Was it ever an innocent event?
25 October 2002: Am I Naive? Between all the political scandals and campaign mud-slinging (the latter more than usual, I believe), I am once again disillusioned. I kind of assumed that one of the reasons we Wisconsinites live in this state is because it is not as corrupt as some warmer states south of us. (I can't believe that most of us reside here because of the weather.) Then again, maybe the blind, selfish and greedy displays of sin from Enron, Tyco, WorldCom and the like can't be isolated to those corporate entities — its endemic and a sorry symbol of the times. Even here in the cold climes of this Northern melting pot.
5 August 2002: Fear of the Truth? You hear stories about college science or politics classes that assert an "open mind," then tell the class, "I am assuming that no one attending this class is "pro-life" or "believes the religious, superstitious explanations." This attempt to preclude intelligent, truly "open" discussion is likely a fear of truth or vulnerability on the part of the professor, or a blindness to all that may encompass. Indeed, those who block scientific discussions of "intelligent design" vs. "evolution" are missing the point entirely. One can explore the concept of intelligent design without pursuing religion or spirituality. The order in our universe, in life cycles and even the food chain each suggest such an intelligent source for the world we live in. It only begins to enter the religious or spiritual realm when such research and discussion lead individuals to ponder: "If such an intelligent designer is behind all this, what does He think of me? How can I reach Him? How should I respond?"
31 July 2002: Risky Performance. All businesses assume a certain level of risk in order to conduct commerce. This is fundamentally true in the insurance business. However, following a year of horrible performance and considerable losses, the General Casualty Insurance Companies of Wisconsin have begun issuing notices of nonrenewal even to longtime policyholders whose premium payments have exceeded their claims history (you might understand if it were the other way around). So much for rewarding loyalty and good faith, eh? What does this say about how much confidence we should have in their ability to assess risk? Furthermore, whatever happened to a key to business longevity — that of relationship?
30 July 2002: Fecal Fumbles on the Football Field As Well? The latest poop from the Green Bay Packers is about their draft pick from the U. of Miami, Najeh Davenport. Apparently not fully appreciative of his status as a public figure — now that he is an NFL draftee — Davenport engages in alleged behavior that he couldn't possibly want the world to know: he is charged with breaking into a woman's dorm room and defecating in her closet. Perhaps he had a long-term purpose in mind. After all, most athletes get slapped with a nickname that follows them throughout their career. We can only assume that, in apparently performing this execrable and excretory act, this Miami grad wants to play with the nickname of "Dumper" Davenport. So be it.
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