Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Love Your Neighbor Politically

When Jesus was asked what is needed to inherit eternal life, he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself."

There are many ways for believers to love their neighbors as themselves. There are also many ways to withhold love from neighbors. Some of the ways to love or withhold love from neighbors is over-the-fence, around-the-corner, down-the-street, across-town, and other one-on-one type care and activities. However, just as important, and usually more consequential, is the affect of public policy on our neighbors.

When the new country of the United States of America was formed, it was formed as a country that would be governed “by” and “for” the citizens of the United States. America is not a country where the citizens have only a vote and a say in the affairs of government; America is a country where the citizens ARE the government.

As citizens, and therefore members of government in the United States, it is the duty of believers to participate in the creation and changes of public policy through political activity because every penny that is taken through taxes and every penny that is spent by government has an affect on our neighbors; sometimes good, but often times bad, as government increasingly comes under the control of special interests that are not interested or concerned with the welfare of our neighbors.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Purpose Driven Believer

I try to live a purpose driven life. For me, “purpose driven” is the only logical way to approach decisions and set priorities. Purpose driven methodology is a series of questions and answers that lead to a goal and an appropriate level of commitment made to reach that goal. “What”, “why”, “how”, and usually “when” questions all need to be answered before the right decision can be made, the proper priority determined, and the appropriate level of commitment made.

There is no doubt in my mind that spreading the Gospel message should be the top priority of Christians and Christianity in America. When we get to heaven, we will all be at the mercy of God for salvation. Non-believers need to know what Christians believe and why Christians believe what they believe in order for them to also have the opportunity of eternal life through the grace and forgiveness of God.

Christianity is not just about the afterlife, though. While on earth, everyone has some control over the society they share with others. By spreading the Gospel message and defending the faith, Christians can maintain a just society while helping others understand the traditional Christian view of salvation and everlasting life. Before departing earth, Jesus told his disciples to teach others what he had taught them. Believers are expected to follow His example and do what He said.

The “how” question regarding the spread of the Gospel message is not as easily answered as the “what” and “why” questions. While this is not the only issue that divides believers, it is a Christian purpose that can have many different approaches. From my perspective, many of the different approaches to spreading the Gospel do as much harm as good in reaching the unsaved, but my perspective has many limitations. Therefore, I am careful not to criticize anyone who is going about spreading the Gospel message the way they think is best and most effective.

However, when forming their own view and opinions, most people are just as observant of the actions of others as they are considerate of the views of others. Therefore, it is mandatory for Christians to be accurate in facts, clear in explanations, and consistent in actions because living the Gospel in a transparent way is an essential component of spreading the Gospel.

Living the Gospel means behaving and acting in ways that are consistent with the Gospel message being proclaimed. Some behaviors are mandatory. Some behaviors and actions will vary depending on the abilities, circumstances, and tolerance for risk of the believer. Some behaviors are not absolutely mandatory, but should be a part of the life of the mature Christian. Praying, fasting, and giving are all obviously part of this list of behaviors Christians should be doing. In my next post, I will make the case for why political participation also belongs on the list of behaviors of mature Christians in America.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Reagan Myth

It’s good to see one columnist who is fair to President Bush when comparing the size of government now to the size of government in the President Reagan years.

Hats off to Fred Barnes.

Selected excerpt:
With Reagan in the White House, spending reached 23.5% of GDP in 1984, the peak year of the military buildup. Under Mr. Bush, the top spending year is 2005 at 20.1% of GDP, though it is expected to rise as high as 20.7% this year, driven upward by Iraq and hurricane relief.

Mr. Reagan was a small government conservative, but he found it impossible to govern that way. He made tradeoffs. He gave up the fight to curb domestic spending in exchange for congressional approval of increased defense spending. He cut taxes deeply but signed three smaller tax hikes. Rather than try to reform Social Security, he agreed to increase payroll taxes.

The myth would have it that Reagan was tireless in shrinking the size of government, a weak partisan always ready to deal with Democrats, and not the hardliner we thought he was. The opposite is true. Reagan compromised, as even the most conservative politicians often do, to save his political strength for what mattered most--defeating the Soviet empire and keeping taxes low. Today, the latter still remains imperative, and the former has been superseded by a faceless death cult. We can't understand George Bush if we distort the real Ronald Reagan.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Narrow Gate

  • Deny Self
  • Take up Cross
  • Follow Christ

Doesn’t sound like prosperity to me.

Doesn’t sound like Church either.

Sounds like a narrow gate.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

An Air Force Colonel's View of Marines

Thanks Michael. I loved reading this.

An Air Force Colonel's View of Marines

Dear Dad, If I ever hear airmen griping and complaining, I jump into them pretty quickly, now. Most people over here have nothing to gripe about compared to Marines. Marines are different. They have a different outlook on life. One Marine Private was here for several days because he was a lower priority evacuation patient. He insisted on coming to attention and displaying proper military courtesy every morning when I came through on rounds. He was in a great deal of pain, and it was a stressful to watch him work his way off the bed and onto his crutches. I told him he was excused and did not have to come to attention while he was a patient,and he informed me that he was a good Marine and would address "Air Force Colonels standing on my feet, Sir." I had to turn away so he would not see the tear in my eye. He did not have "feet" because we amputated his right leg below the knee on the first night he came in. I asked a Marine Lance Corporal if there was anything I could get him as I was making rounds one morning. He was an above the knee amputation after an IED blast, and he surprised me when he asked for a trigonometry book. "You enjoy math do you?" He replied, "Not particularly, Sir. I was never good at it, but I need to get good at it, now." "Are you planning on going back to school?" I asked. "No sir, I am planning on shooting artillery. I will slow an infantry platoon down with just one good leg, but I am going to get good at math and learn how to shoot artillery". I hope he does. I had the sad duty of standing over a young Marine Sgt. when he recovered from anesthesia - despite our best efforts there was just no way to save his left arm, and it had to come off just below the elbow. "Can I have my arm back, sir?" he asked. "No, we had to cut it off, we cannot re-attach it", I said. "But can I have my arm?", he asked again. "You see, we had to cut it off." He interrupted, "I know you had to cut it off, but I want it back. It must be in a bag or something, Sir." "Why do you want it?" I asked. "I am going to have it stuffed and use it as a club when I get back to my unit." I must have looked shocked because he tried to comfort me,"Don't you worry now, Colonel. You did a fine job, and I hardly hurt at all; besides I scratch and shoot with my other hand anyway." God Bless the Marines!
Col. Brett Wyrick

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Two Nations

An old friend has started a new blog named Two Nations.

Excerpts from first piece:

  • As a Christian, a passionate conservative, a soldier, and an American, I grow increasingly alarmed at what I'm seeing happen to my country; I fear we are more deeply divided than we were in 1861 with as little or less possibility for compromise. On the one side, you have folks like me who actually believe that there is such a thing as objective truth, that there is meaning, and that words actually contain plenty of said meaning. It is therefore axiomatic to me that documents such as the Bible contain meaning - original intentions - of authors spanning centuries in time, and that that meaning can be ascertained by readers centuries later if they will respect that fact and seek to ascertain their meaning bearing in mind historical context, grammar and usage, etc.

  • If we're going to have a productive debate, we have to at least agree on some common ground. I may believe that the Framers intended one thing in the 1st Ammendment, for example, and you may stand by another conclusion. But at least we're both in agreement that something like "original intent" exists, and we're therefore in the same "ball park". But consider this: If the Steelers and Patriots show up at the stadium they need to both agree on the basic rules of the game their playing, hopefully football. What would happen if an umpire decided that the offsides rule was out of date and sought to throw it out, particularly on a crucial play? Fans would have his head!

  • What I'm saying is this, those who do not adhere to the idea that the Constitution and the Declaration contain the values and rules, the covenant, if you will, between those in government and the governed may call themselves many things, but . . . they are no longer Americans!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Give 'em Shelter

Good news for the homeless.
by William Tucker

Selected Excerpts:

  • At a remarkably underreported conference in Denver in May, advocates for the homeless met to discuss a pattern of falling homeless populations across the country. In the past six months, New York has announced a reduction of 13 percent, Denver 11 percent, Portland 20 percent, Miami 30 percent, Philadelphia 50 percent. The story merited squibs in the Denver Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Rocky Mountain News. The New York Times ran a page 19 story almost a month later. Beyond that, silence.

  • One factor now motivating local officials is a realization of how much the homeless are costing them. "In San Diego, researchers tracked a population of 20 homeless people for almost two years, measuring what they absorbed in free medical care, ambulance services, emergency-room hospital visits, and law enforcement," says Mangano. "They were astonished to discover that every individual was costing the city an average of $200,000 per year. For that kind of money, the city could have bought them each a penthouse apartment. The most dismaying thing was that in the end the people were right back where they started."

  • "Housing First" has now returned to the original idea--that housing is the problem--with a twist. The problem is not that the federal government is not building public housing. The real problem is that cities have been very efficient in eliminating bottom-rung housing through building code enforcement, zoning restrictions, and (in cites such as New York and San Francisco) rent control. All these "reforms" were supposed to upgrade "substandard" housing and improve opportunities for the poor. In fact they worsened conditions for the very poor.

  • "We made progress that is visible, measurable, and quantifiable," says Mangano, anticipating that Ph.D. students will soon be lining up to study this rare public policy success story. Now if only the press will pay a little attention.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Don't Believe the Hype

Al Gore is wrong. There's no "consensus" on global warming.
So, presumably, those scientists do not belong to the "consensus." Yet their research is forced, whether the evidence supports it or not, into Mr. Gore's preferred global-warming template--namely, shrill alarmism. To believe it requires that one ignore the truly inconvenient facts. To take the issue of rising sea levels, these include: that the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940; that icebergs have been known since time immemorial; that the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average. A likely result of all this is increased pressure pushing ice off the coastal perimeter of that country, which is depicted so ominously in Mr. Gore's movie. In the absence of factual context, these images are perhaps dire or alarming.

They are less so otherwise. Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why.

So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.

First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists--especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce--if we're lucky.

BTW, Mr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.