Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everyone!

I hope everyone has a good time this evening and plugs in with their neighborhood.

Here are my movie recommendations for after the kiddies go to bed:



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Would the rhetoric be different if....?

  • If the Obamas had an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?
  • If Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
  • If Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after she had a severe disfiguring car accident?
  • If Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?
  • If Michelle Obama became addicted to painkillers and had acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
  • If Obama had been a member of the Keating Five?
  • If Obama was known to display publicly, an issue with his temper?

Would the educational backgrounds of the candidates be an issue if they were reversed?

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:

Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.

Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:

University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.

Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

John McCain:

United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:

Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester

North Idaho College - 2 semesters – general study

University of Idaho - 2 semesters -journalism

Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester

University of Idaho - 3 semesters -B.A. in Journalism

If you are like most, your partisanship would skew your response. I, of course, raise an eyebrow at this stuff.... but I am sure there are those with an opposite list that I would shrug off. It makes you wonder.

What I find most interesting is that, one way or another, this election is about Obama. I meet few republicans who are behind McCain... they are simply against Obama. What is sad is that many of the reasons they articulate against Obama are false. I have heard from two different Christians in the past few days that they are nervous about his Muslim ties. Good Grief!! I guess those endlessly forwarded emails do work their magic.

In fact, one Christian I know feels it is still appropriate to paint Obama as a Muslim (regardless of his conversion to Christianity from an agnostic tradition) because "When you study the Muslim culture, you know that Obama is a Muslim (CULTURALLY) because of His father. The Muslim faith travels through the fathers line."

Well .... I guess it is okey-dokey then! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Turning 40

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Dickens' phrase sums up my journey through the 30s. The highest highs and the lowest lows of my life occurred in this decade.

Toward the early part of my thirties there were a number of years when my wife and I would have happily divorced to put an end to our self-created misery. My greatest failures as an individual occurred during this time. All the paths I should have taken, but didn't. I would take it all back... but I learned and I grew. Tragedy and pain are hard... but you learn .... you learn.

On the bright side, this decade saw the birth of my two children - on whom the sun rises and sets. They have taught me more about God the Father in their short lives than years of Bible study.

My wife and I also made the decision to move to Utah from Michigan in the mid-thirties. That was something no one ever foresaw... including us. We felt at the time that it was something God was calling us to. Other folks said we were running from our difficulties.

I think both views are correct.

Sometimes when the game is going bad, it is just best to reshuffle the deck and start fresh... and I think that is just what the Master Dealer did.

Considering that my wife and I are presently holding a Royal Flush, I think we made the right call.

The 40's look promising.

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;

Monday, October 20, 2008

Trinitarian Joke

I had to borrow this joke from Logan's blog, cause it really sums up how I have felt about trinitarianism the past few years (He has more, so head on over). I will probably detail my present views in a blog sometime, but suffice to say that I would have been hard pressed to develop any of the common explanations of the Trinity through simple scripture reading.

Jesus said, Whom do men say that I am?

And his disciples answered and said, Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elias, or other of the old prophets.

And Jesus answered and said, But whom do you say that I am?

Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being coequal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple."

And Jesus answering, said, "What?"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Christian Prayer at Political Rally

Before you watch this, let me clarify that I in NO WAY chalk this up to McCain. I can easily imagine a flip version of this happening at an Obama rally. What I do want to consider is the dividing line between our views and the views of God. This prayer was partisan and presumptive in a way that, prior to seeing it, I would not have thought possible.

I would write a blog on this, but a local Pastor here in SLC already wrote an article that says it all. You can find his article, which appeared in today's Salt Lake Tribune, here. The only point I would add to the article is that the Pastor's prayer also displays his ignorance... Buddhists do not pray to the Buddha.

I think we need to keep a clear separation between our view... and speaking for God. Otherwise we end up where this Pastor got himself to:
  • My views are right
  • God is right
  • My views are God's views

Peter Pan Approaches

Toward the end of November, I will be in a local production of Peter Pan. My daughter has been in two previous productions with the South Jordan Community Theatre. Since I was driving her to most of her rehearsals, and because she was enjoying it so much, I decided to try out for this latest production. I liked the idea that this was something she and I could do together.

Boy-oh-boy, did I underestimate the level of commitment that is involved in a theater production. I did 7 hours of dancing, singing, and "Arrgghh"ing today (I am the pirate Cecco). I had a blast and am really enjoying getting to know all my fellow pirates, but my feet sure are sore.

I am so glad for the opportunity my daughter and all the other young people are getting though this play. They are learning so many skills and being so productive with their time (I think I was pretty useless at their age).

We walked though most of Act 2 today. It was neat to see all of the pieces coming together. I am highly looking forward to opening night!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arguing to win, not to understand (or, "Here is my answer Mr. Hannity.")

I was listening to Sean Hannity on my way home from work. It is an effort to try to understand where the extreme Right is coming from, not for pleasure. How anyone can listen to Hannity endlessly repeat the same thing hour after hour, day after day, is a wonder.

In a moment of exasperation he asked, "How can the Left continue to support Obama, with all of this evidence stacked against him?" I think he was truly befuddled.

What he doesn't understand is that a man like him has no credibility outside of his most ardent followers. Every accusation Hannity makes against Obama carries so much exxageration that one never knows where the truth ends and the lie begins. He is like the boy who cries wolf.

So the reason he is looking for is simple... he is not an honest man. The truth is that if McCain HAD jumped ship years ago and gone Democrat and was running with Liberman on the same platform and talking points he does now, Sean Hannity would be shredding him - not defending him. As much as Sean may reference truth, the reality is that his truth changes according to party lines.

This is why people like myself are not moved by many arguments given by the Right, these arguments are looking to score points... not be consistent or truthful. I am not saying that people on the Left don't do this as well, but the Left doesn't have 24 hours a day of AM radio training them in this mode of discourse.

An example of this came in last night's debate. McCain said the American people need to know about Senator Obama's relationship with William Ayers. Obama then gave a detailed review of his relationship -

"Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago. Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board that was funded by one of Ronald Reagan's former ambassadors and close friends, Mr. Annenberg.

Other members on that board were the presidents of the University of Illinois, the president of Northwestern University, who happens to be a Republican, the president of The Chicago Tribune, a Republican- leaning newspaper.

Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that's Mr. Ayers."

McCain then went on with his talking points as if Obama had not responded -

"... Sen. Obama chooses to associate with a guy who in 2001 said that he wished he had have bombed more, and he had a long association with him. It's the fact that all the -- all of the details need to be known about Sen. Obama's relationship ..."

Ummmm..... he just gave us those details......

It is clear that McCain really didn't want an answer to his question. He did not refute what Obama said... McCain just pretended Obama hadn't said it.

What I will say in McCain's behalf is that I do not believe that incident is a demonstration of what is at his core... he is just trying to get some traction in these last weeks.

However we all meet, or hear on the radio, or read on blogs, people who are like this at their core. They get frustrated and angry that we will not see life their way. They take it as a personal affront that we disagree with them. When you meet them, here is my advice.... smile and nod. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Last Debate

No surprise, but I think Obama clearly outshone McCain. It seemed that with most questions, Obama told the American people what he was going to do, whereas McCain spent his time trying to make us afraid to vote for Obama. I guess the polls will tell us over the next few days how well McCain's approach worked.

I think McCain's worst misstep was to go back to the Ayers issue after Obama had detailed what their relationship was. I think it made McCain sound very small.

I think both candidates showed their lack of knowledge on what really troubles American education. Obama gave a tag at the end, while McCain said nothing, but neither addressed what is really holding us back. As long as we keep spinning around merit pay, vouchers, unions, curriculum, standards, accountability - blah, blah, blah - we will see no change. If you want to see this teacher's commentary on the educational system, click here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hats off to McCain

I really appreciate John McCain's attitude and words in response to some of the harshness and unreasonableness that can come out of folks during these political times (listen to the BOOS he gets for speaking truth about Senator Obama). Senator McCain chose the high road and was a great example to all of us.

I get emails almost daily detailing outrageous untruths about Senator Obama. These are usually being forwarded by Christians!! It always amazes me how little regard for truth is held by people who use the word truth like it is a trump card in a Euchre game.

HT: Igneous Quill

Friday, October 10, 2008

Maher has it Backwards

Let me first say that I like Bill Maher... a lot. I think his HBO show, Real Time, is first rate. His panel is always lively and informative. I agree with Bill, or can at least sympathize with his view, most of the time.

I am looking forward to seeing Bill's movie, Religulous, but reading some of the reviews I understand that I probably won't hear much different than what I have picked up on Real Time. Unfortunately, what I hear from Bill is well intended but backwards. Maher, like many atheists, believes that religion is the root of what ails us. If we could just do away with Religion, we would have a better world. I disagree with this view on many theological fronts, but let me give a non-theistic reason for disagreeing. I believe Maher is looking at an effect and calling it cause. Religion does not drive our dysfunction, it is merely the vehicle for much of it. If religion is not available, we will find many other things to demean and kill each other over. Like the Sneetches in Dr. Seuss, if the other group gets stars too, we will have ours removed. The stars are not the point. The point is the need to have an outside group, to have someone to be against, to beat, to conquer.

My friend and fellow blogger, Brook, made this point in a recent blog. He writes that most people today treat opposing viewpoints as if it were a sports competition. The other side does not need to be conversed with or understood... they need to be beaten.

I think Bill ends up supporting the very attitude he would like to see go away. I understand his frustration (and I often succumb to it myself), but his approach is just perpetuating the problem.

As Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Third Option for the Palin Debate

In a previous post about Palin, I said in the comment section that if Palin does well at the debate it would be fair to forget the Couric interview. When I said that though, I was proceeding from the assumption of only two possible outcomes. Either:

A. The depth of Palin's knowledge and preparation would be shown for the shallow level that it is and she would lose horribly.

She would hold her own very well, and the Couric interview was just a bad day or a case of the jitters.

However, I did not consider the third possibility:

C. She would be instructed to memorize her talking points and not to deviate one iota from them, lest McCain put his foot up her rear (metaphorically speaking) after the debate.

I was suspecting C throughout, but she clinched it for me when she said that she was not going to answer their questions, but rather speak to the American people. I imagine her handlers gave her that line for when she was really, really stuck. The format of the debate allowed the C option to be pulled off and Palin was able to keep her head above water. I will be surprised if we see her in any open interviews from this point on.

I don't like to be this harsh because I am sure that she is a pleasant enough person to hold a conversation with while your kids play soccer - but LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD?? I kept asking myself during the debate - What, What, What made McCain choose Palin over Romney?? Is his Mormonism that big of an anchor? I think Biden would have had his hands full with Mitt.

HT for the chart: Shuck and Jive

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Politics and Religion - Both share the Modernity/Postmodernity struggle

I encourage you to head over to Out of Ur to read their article The Hansen Report: Modern versus Postmodern Politics.

I think the writer of this article gives a good summation of how modern and postmodern views affect our interpretation of religion and politics. He states that the arguments of McCain and Obama, and the way in which they are argued, are very reflective of the growing pains that religion is experiencing today.

From the article :

Obama spoke with empathy about the personal effects of the current financial crisis on Main Street America. He advocated greater oversight for Wall Street. McCain, too, said he wants oversight, but he emphasized different reasons for the crisis. He spoke of individual greed and said the government needs to hold the failed executives accountable. As the debate progressed, McCain spoke passionately about members of Congress who perpetuate the "evils of this earmarking and pork-barrel spending." McCain underscored personal morals where Obama accentuated communal values.
McCain is a man of action and frank talk. Obama sees intrinsic value in engagement, which may even produce unexpected tangible consensus. You could plug in certain pastors and see the same differences.
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