Archive for the 'Politics' Category

[After a bit of wrestling/internal debate, I've decided to go ahead and cross-post my guest column from VerumSerum last weekend that primarily deals with healthcare, but ultimately with issues of "right to life" and where such responsibilities ought to lie. One more note: If you don't understand satire, please read no further.]

A MODEST PROPOSAL

For Preventing the Poor Senior Citizens in America from Being a Burden to Their Children or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

It is a tragedy today to encounter men and women who have passed by the productive years of their lives – times when they held meaningful jobs which provided the grease with which the wheels of society are oiled. Men and women who now find themselves in the pitiable situation where they are dependent upon the generosity of others to provide their ever-growing needs. Needs that, when met with increasingly sophisticated technology, will expand the duration of years in which they live in such miserable dependence.

I think it is fair to say that all parties concerned would agree that the huge number of senior citizens that must be carried on the backs of their children and society is a looming nightmare, and that their deporable state is partially the fault of a healthcare system that is going bankrupt at a time in which they need it the most. Therefore, it seems to me that whoever can find the easiest, cheapest and most fair way of rescuing these citizens from their state of dependency, and society from the burden of their care, would be owed a deep debt of gratitude.

As such, I feel that it is my duty as an American to come forward with a modest proposal that would be such a welcome remedy. A proposal that would fit well, and most logically, with plans already in motion in our fair capital, where lawmakers toil in their benevolent desire to aid the citizens of this grandest of nations, Washington D.C.

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Check your wallet!Well, I can say that I definitely made a mistake trying to break up my thoughts on health care into multiple posts, rather than one big one.  In Part 1, I laid out what I believe to be a Christian view on where provision of health care belongs, and on the role of government, as seen in Scripture.

In short, the basic principle is this – It is the job of Christians and the church to help bring healing to the world.  It is the job of the government to provide for the common defense, a system of justice and rules for civil order.  We have reached the current crossroads because both have failed in their mission to this point.

Now, the question at hand, though, because of current events, is what should the government do about health care.  Some have taken the previous article as an argument for the status quo, which it was not.  It was simply a statement of my belief that Christians should not be content with the government taking a role that should belong to them and to the church.  It was also a warning that such a move of government, outside of its Sciprutal boundaries, is a move toward entitlement and further enslavement of its people.

What this is and is not

Now, though, I would like to outline some ideas – things that the government can do that are within its boundaries – that would help fix the current system.  This is not to say that I do not think the church should be actively involved in helping to fix the problem by filling the current void.  I think that the creation of hospitals, clinics and other provision of care should be at the forefront of the church’s mind, not just the “spiritual” well-being of the people.  This compartmentalization (of the spiritual from the physical) is a disaster, aided and abetted by the fundamentalist tradition of the past 100 years.

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The Asclepieion at PergamumIn the city of Pergamum, the governing center of Asia Minor, when the Apostle John arrived on the scene in the decades after Paul and Timothy’s work there, he found cities that were intensely religious, though not at all predominantly Christian.

The people in this city worshiped many gods, of whom the predominant ones were:

Dionysus – the son of Zeus and the god of wine and orgy, and patron god of theater. His shrine provided free wine and meat to those who came to worship him there, and he was said to provide life for all, even after death. It was also believed that, during secret rituals, he converted water into wine to give to the people.

Asclepius – The god of healing and medicine. His temple complex – the asclepieion, was, as Dr. Tim Brown puts it, “the Mayo Clinic of the ancient world”. The sick and infirm could come to worship at the asclepieion and receive free healing and medical care.

Demeter – The goddess of grain and fertility. Worshipers at her temple could have their sins forgiven by sacrificing bulls and bathing in their blood. Additionally, they could receive free bread and clean water from her temple.

ConcernAnd then, above all of these gods was Caesar – the “king of all kings and the lord of all lords” in Rome (as Domitian demanded he be called). Pergamum was the first city to deify the Caesars, beginning with Caesar Augustus. At the top of the hill on which Pergamum sits was the temple of Caesar, who provided for all of the gods, and to whom homage must be paid in order to receive the blessings of the gods – wine, food, water, health, and basic welfare (through other minor gods like Hestia, Cybele, etc.).

It is no wonder, then, that the Apostle John chose to emphasize certain miracles of Jesus to provide counterpoint of Jesus’ lordship, with the first three sets of miracles mentioned being 1) turning water to wine (Jesus is Lord and provider of eternal life, not Dionysus); 2) Jesus healing the official’s son and the man at the pool of Bethesda (Jesus is Lord and provider of healing, not Asclepius); and 3) Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Jesus is Lord and provider of our bread, not Demeter).

In short – it is Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who is the provider of all, and not the gods and governments of this world.

The Nicolaitans

In John’s book of Revelation, he twice condemns a group of people called Nicolaitans, who appear to hold to a form of antinomianism, believing that because God had fulfilled the law with Christ, they could be free to live as they wished, and that they could partake in the different forms of temple worship and have their needs met, because they knew that the “gods” of these temples did not really exist.

In Ephesus, it is believed that the Nicolaitans were able to escape persecution under Nero and, later, Domitian, by burning incense to Caesar and accepting his “mark” on their goods and their person. This allowed them to freely buy and sell in the marketplace (agora), to hold public office, and to avoid the punishments of Rome for not worshiping Caesar (see Rev 13:16-17).

So What?

An offer you can't refuseBy now, some of you are probably thinking something along the lines of “Thanks for the history lesson, Chris, but what does this have to do with a ‘Christian’ position on health care?” Others likely see where I’m going with this:

As Christians, we should all be concerned with the gods of this world – particularly the government – taking over the responsibility for the expanded provision of the needs and desires of its people.

I would underscore this by noting that when we forget who our provision comes from – from God, alone – and see it as the product of our own work, our employer or our government, we become idolaters. However, I see the warnings from John to the early Christians as two-fold – don’t seek to have your needs met by the passive gods of the world, but also beware of what will happen when an active, intrusive one steps in to take over.

This is not to say that we should be in favor of maintaining the status quo, or in turning away the poor from life-saving medical treatment. Rather, we should be looking for ways to make such government take-overs unnecessary.

All Things in Common

A few weeks ago, Rob Bell and Ed Dobson taught at Mars Hill Bible Church on the early church in Acts 2:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

They noted that this was a free, loving choice on the parts of the believers, and not something done out of guilt or coercion. Supporting coercive government systems (socialism, communism), they noted, are not the way of following the early church. Subscribing to a “survival of the fittest” or a laissez-faire mindset is not the answer, either. Rather, it comes down to those who have been blessed with abundance to share out of love and those who have been blessed with scarcity to receive out of love (as Peter did, when he allowed Jesus to wash his feet).

DomitianA government-managed system of provision, though, circumvents both ends of this equation – coercing those who have (under threat of law) to provide for those who do not (by the government’s definition) under the guise of “dignity” (i.e. they can thank the government for their provision, not individuals or organizations).

The way of Jesus is for the church to see a need and to be enthusiastic about trying to fill it – not out of coercion or guilt – but freely, out of love.

The problem with depending on the government, though, is that every time the government decides to encroach in an area of “benevolence”, the church sees no need and then retreats. This has happened historically, and is particularly evident in the American experiment of the past 233 years or so. Whether it is education, health, welfare, or the homeless, when Christians have acceded these areas of service to the government, the church has retreated and become further irrelevant.

It is no mistake that fundamentalism arose in parallel with this abdication, as focus on the temporal needs of the masses withered and the focus on the eternal became all-encompassing. It is also no mistake that the predominance of the emerging/emergent 180-degree “flipping” of focus from eternal to temporal will exacerbate the problem just as easily.

From where does my help come? If, slowly, as it has been doing, the Caesar of today becomes the all-giving provider of needs, how quickly will worship of this Caesar become the predominant “religion” of the land – or has it already happened – on both ends of the political spectrum?

If there are members of our churches – brothers and sisters – who must take government assistance because they are not receiving it from the church, it is a crime we in the churches are committing via our lack of love. If these members won’t take the assistance from the church, but prefer the “dignity” of the state, it is a matter of the sin of pride. If our churches exist in communities where people are unable to get the care they need, the provision of the government is an indictment of the faithlessness of those churches.

Why should Caesar coerce and redistribute what the church was designed to give out of love?

The Nicolaitans, Take II

Once the trough opensNow, just as there were Nicolaitans in the first century, there are sure to be some today who would note that the state is a lifeless entity which need not be feared/revered, but only appeased so that it might be used for humanitarian purposes. Where the line is crossed, though, I believe, is similar to the point at which the temple of Demeter became an instrument of Caesar (or more accurately, where the Church became an instrument of Constantine) – where benevolence becomes compulsory and acceptance of the “dignity” granted by the nanny state is mandatory.

Which is what is, inherently, what is being proposed by the US House of Representatives and committee bills in the US Senate. While there is a good deal of smoke-and-mirrors involved in the plans, the long-term trajectory of these plans is a single-payer system in which the health of the citizenry is beholden to Caesar, and 97% of the people have to accept his mark (noting that I’m speaking from a partial-preterist position, not a dispensationalist one…) or go without.

Will we be selling a little bit of our souls to the state by accepting their mandatory hand-out? Will we just be good little Nicolaitans, crossing our fingers and rationalizing that God is providing to us through the faceless entity of Caesar, while our churches fade into further irrelevance?

Or will we be willing accomplices of the state, cheering it on with homilies like “My hope is that the Church will rise up and speak for the least of these who cannot speak for themselves” while supporting its takeover of the church’s mission? Or will we try and shame the Church into selling out to the beast by saying “my hope is that the Church, despite the prospect of having to make sacrifices, some even costly in more ways than one, will stand up and say, ‘This is the way of Jesus’?” Or might we just try and work the coercive shame on individual Christians, making this into an issue of “selfishness” by telling them “I would like to see less of Christians demanding their ‘rights’ and more of demanding justice for all,” as if this were actually an issue of justice, rather than one of mercy and kindness.

Summing it Up

Standing up to CaesarThe bottom line – the government is not a friend of the church or of the people. Its purpose, according to Scripture, is to provide a judicial system, common defense, and societal order. Its mission is completely different than that of the church, and its lifetime is limited.

No matter how much we, like Jesus’ disciples, want the kingdom of God to be a literal, physical, political power on earth, that is not what Jesus came to create. When we abdicate the purpose of the kingdom and hand it over to the kosmos, we are no longer advocates for the kingdom. When we try to make the kosmos the tool of the kingdom – whether from the right or from the left – we are destined to fail. Spectacularly.

In my view, and in light of the roles given to the church in Scripture, I would say that it is no more the place of government to take over the health care system than it is for the church to take over the national defense. That it is even being contemplated is an indictment against the Church and a potentially disastrous overreaching on the part of the state.

Here’s to hoping that sanity will prevail.  Government can play a role within its biblical mandate – particularly within the realm of the justice system and in maintaining order – in ‘fixing’ what is currently broken in the US health care system.  Making health care a “right”, provided by the state, is beyond its mandate, though, and the church should not be its water-carrier.

[A couple of programming notes - 1) I have briefly ended my self-moratorium on political news/discussion, insofar as it concerns health care issues, as I do have some expertise and interest in this area that could be useful for the discussion; 2) I don't plan on expanding it to other areas of politics; 3) While this article fits the demographic of CRN.Info, I may not cross-post later articles which do not deal with issues of the intersection of Christianity and the health care debate.]

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Scare TacticsMaybe I’m just unlucky, but I don’t think so.

…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to…

I remember getting my first email account, almost two decades ago.  We didn’t even call it ‘email’ – it was just an app on the VAX that passed messages back and forth between us engineering students.  It wasn’t until a few years later that some of the usenet discussion groups I replied to got me added to some spammer lists.

Spam sucked (and still sucks, though we have much better tools to deal with it now).  But one variety of ’spam’ sprung up soon after I got my first home email account – the ‘email-forwards’ (EFs).

I don’t even remember who the first person was that hit me up, but I recall that it was about a kid with cancer who was trying to set a world record for get-well cards received.  And, like the first drop of rain believing it was not responsible for the flood, this note was just the beginning of a deluge.

Break the Chain

Science News CycleGrowing up, I remembered my Mom throwing away several chain letters that came to me from friends (in this thing we had called a “mailbox” that was made out of steel, wood and nails, not just electrons), and explaining to me why not to get sucked into these things. (See – I really was listening, Mom!)  That advice would prove invaluable as the tidal wave of EFs began to arrive.

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(Ever notice that EFs, and the people that send them, tend to not recognize that USING ALL-CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING IN A LIBRARY?!?!?!?)  So, if I don’t forward this, does it mean that I don’t love Jesus – OR does it mean that I love both God and my neighbor, because I have spared God the misuse of His name, and my neighbor the misuse of his mailbox (the kind made of electrons and hopefully no nails)?

Now, while most of theses EFs were just annoyances, many of them contained information so erroneous that there were occasions I just couldn’t help myself from hitting “reply all” (no need to just reply – sometimes crap needs to be stopped dead in its tracks, kind of like the whacked-out doctrine of Universal Reconciliation) and sending a reply with a link to (the then pretty new) snopes.com, with an appropriate link debunking the Urban Legend/Fake Virus Warning/Misled Heretic Warning sent in some EF’s.

After a while, the EFs became fairly politically-minded, as well – whether it was a 10-meg PowerPoint with the star-spangled banner playing behind a bunch of photos of eagles, mountains and skyscrapers, or a moonbat theory about Bush being the cause of 9/11.  Ideology seemed independent of EF’s – though there was a common thread of “there is a conspiracy” and “we are the resistance” and “keep the underground movement to save us from _____ going”.  In short, just code for

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

Staging Interventions

This guy needs an intervention!Probably one of the saddest things about the EFs was that they were being sent by people I knew and genuinely loved and cared about.  Most of my resistance to the crap they were sending me was simply in the form of my “DELETE” key, and occasionally the snopes link accompanied by a kind note to please check out the claims of what you’re sending before you send it.  But, in the same way that hiding the bottle of beer from your drunk uncle at Christmastime does little to break the grip of his alcoholism, such half-measures seem to come to no avail.

Over time, though, I’ve held several “mini-interventions” at family gatherings, over lunch at work, and in other places I know people addicted to EF’s.  In most cases, the message got through (at least enough that I got removed from their EF list(s), though I would like to believe they were cured of their horrible addiction to conspiracy theories, monster-sized powerpoints, and wild-eyed urban legends) and I stopped getting this stuff from my loved ones, and the EFs they send me now are not of the pull-your-hair-out variety, and are things I actually would want to read.

Except…

Christians to the “Rescue”
A Miracle!

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

As with many things in pop culture, like rock music, you can expect modern Christians to be about a decade late to the party, a couple of notches below baseline quality, and about thrice as annoying as the original.  EF’s are no exception.

It started in earnest just a few years ago for me, I recall – email forwards from Christian acquaintences wanting to tell me about

TEN SIGNS THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS SOON TO FOLLOW THE INVASION OF IRAQ!

accompanied by whatever the day’s healine was, plus a good healthy dose of King Jimmy English, particularly from Daniel and Revelation.   This was soon followed up with things about

RICK WARREN IS THE FALSE PROPHET OF THE BEAST – IF YOU LOVE YOUR FRIENDS, YOU WILL TELL THEM!

And it was crap like this that led me to meet some like-minded folks who (I believe) were also being led by the Spirit to come together and create CRN.Info which, while nowhere near perfect,  I’ve been able to use (as have others) in a similar fashion to snopes.com in debunking the EFs full of sewage from such hellish sources as “Slice of Laodicea”, “Apprising Ministries (sic)”, “Lighthouse Trails”, “Christianresearchnetwork.com”, etc.

Kind of like George W. Bush refusing to sell his home to African Americans, these sites (sadly, managed by professing believers) spew forth enough untrue tall tales to keep a hangar full of gossips busy until Judgment Day, and enough conspiracy theories about the end of the world that you’re pretty sure Judgment Day is almost upon us (current predictions seems to be around Dec 21/23, 2012 – Maybe I’ll repost this on 12/25/12).

Current Events

Ken Silva?In the past week, I’ve learned via EF that (gasp) Rick Warren spoke in front of a group of Muslims to promote civility between Muslims, Christians and Jews without teling the Muslims they were headed to hell (the typical knock on Warren being more about what he didn’t say than what he did say) from some woman who seems to think Warren owes her some accountability.   Granted, this was from the same source telling me a few months ago that Rick was selling out to the homosexuals (all the while I was in a protracted mediation on his Wikipedia page, preventing a liberal group of folks from branding him as a militant homophobe).

Additionally, I’ve received at least four predictions of the End of Times (centered now on 2012), two identifications of the Anti-Christ (the Pope and Obama seem to be in a neck-and-neck race for this dubious distinction), and a whole slew of folks who seem to want my money (for Jesus, of course) to save America for God, to provide accurate prophecy based on events in the Middle East, to save the family from the rising tide of Obama-lovers, or to protect the church from those (cue foreboding music) eeeeeeevil emergents…

And last night, I received a warning from someone who may have read my Facebook profile from a couple weeks ago when I finally got around to reading The Shack and didn’t hate it. (In fact, while I went in expecting to dislike it, I actually found it to be spot on and eloquent on a number of issues Christians tend to be ham-handed with, even though there were parts with which I disagreed).  The warning, though, had the opposite of its intended effect – I don’t know that I’ve laughed so hard in awhile:  The letter was a collection of links from Slice, Apprising, CRN and Lighthouse Trails.

Kind of like getting a letter from McDonalds about the dangers of eating fresh fruit.

The Common Thread
0 N03Z!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

If there is a common bond that attaches all of the spammy EFs together it is an inherent spirit of fear – Fear of those whom we disagree with politically; Fear of the End; Fear of Christians whose doctrine isn’t 100% in line with ours; Fear, Fear, Fear.  Basically, it is porn for the mind – designed to stoke our fears while releasing our inner Eichmann.

But that shouldn’t be what we’re about.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Indeed, we have an obligation not to live according to the sinful nature – of gossip, slander, lies and fear. Trust the Spirit, not forwarded emails trying to scare you about the End Times, or The Shack, or Rick Warren, or Rob Bell, or whatever church these devourers of widow’s houses scheme up to scare immature believers. Live according to the spirit of Sonship you’ve been given, as heirs of God, to whom the Spirit will lead and guide in community with local believers.

Stop forwarding gossip-mongering, slanderous, fear-inspiring crap to fellow believers.

Slowly … Back away form the “Forward” button … there you go…

Well, except for this article. In this particular case

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(just kidding :) )

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JerusalemSince we seem to be in a mood to discuss government, etc., I thought I might go ahead and cross-post an article from my personal blog w/ a serious/humorous counterpoint – one that particularly lays out the differece between a short-view of history and a long-view of history.  It’s something that struck me a bit while I was in Ireland, where something is “old” when you can at least date it back to the 16th century, and Americal, where “old” is maybe a hundred years, give or take.  And it’s in this vein that I think we often take the expedient/short view.
__________________________________

From the desk of “all the news I need to know I learn on FARK” (NOTE: I’ve not watched cable news for 6+ months now, and all my news I get from FARK, music radio, or random discussion):

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued an unprecedented statement clarifying President Barack Obama’s demands for Israel to stop expanding Jewish communities in areas it acquired following the 1967 Six-Day War, including Jerusalem.

The statement, issued Wednesday, applies to the area known in Israel by their Biblical names, Judea and Samaria, and as the West Bank by the international community.

There are now 128 Jewish communities in these areas, with a population of almost 300,000 Jews.

Mrs. Clinton explained President Obama demands that there should be no expansion in these communities for the purpose of “natural growth.”

That would include an American demand to stop construction of kindergartens, schools and housing for young couples.

The Response?

Israeli Government Press Director Daniel Seamen reacted to this Obama administration statement by saying: “I have to admire the residents of Iroquois territory for assuming that they have a right to determine where Jews should live in Jerusalem.”

There are sometimes I just absolutely love the Israelis – and this is one of them.

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Obama wants to forbid church attendance… or so some say.  Every time this kind of hype and hysteria is promoted, Christianity in general, and individual Christians in particular lose a little more credibility.  And (just maybe) rightfully so.  This time it is in response to a bill that would create a youth corps which would require anyone receiving school loans and others to serve at least three months as part of the brigade.

I admit from the outset that I have not studied, nor read, HR1388.  Nor do I need to, since I am not addressing the bill at issue (it’s a pet peeve of mine when some condemn a book they have not read, a movie they have not watched, etc….); what I am addressing is the hype and hysteria of this article.

The title makes a pretty amazing accusation.  The Obama Youth brigade forbids church attendance – simple statement of fact, there is no hint that this is a question – it is presented as fact.

The article begins with the necessary data on HR 1388:

This bill’s title is called “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education” (GIVE). It forms what some are calling “Obama’s Youth Brigade.” Obama’s plan is require anyone receiving school loans and others to serve at least three months as part of the brigade. His goal is one million youth! This has serious Nazi Germany overtones to it.

It’s that final phrase that introduces the hype, hysteria, and the first crack in credibility. “This has serious Nazi Germany overtones to it” – seriously?  OK, I see the parallel between the so-called Obama Brigade and Hitler Youth in the Governmental sponsored youth organization sense.  But lots of countries have youth organizations and they are not Neo-Nazi.  If we used this kind of logic, any gathering of religious people that serves flavored water could be said to have “serious Johnstown overtones to it.”

That silliness aside, the real issue is stated in the next paragraph:

The Bill would forbid any student in the brigade to participate in “engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.” That means no church attendance or witnessing.

This followed by a few select lines from the actual bill.  They are:

SEC. 1304. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.

Section 125 (42 U.S.C. 12575) is amended to read as follows:

SEC. 125. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.

(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.

According to this article the bill would require those receiving student loans to serve three months in a civil corps.  [As an aside, I think this is a great idea... what better way to stem the tide of entitlement than require a little "sweat-equity?"]  The article also says that being part of the brigade “means no church attendance or witnessing.”  According to the article, the Bill would prohibit any student from participating in worship, religious education, and witnessing.

But is that what it really says?  When I read the quoted portions of HR1388 it read as these religious activities were not eligible as fulfillment of the three months of service.  It does not say anything about forbidding church attendance or witnessing… you just cannot work off your three months leading worship, teaching the Bible, or mowing the church yard.

Now, it is possible that the bill does in fact say, that for the three months you belong to the brigade you cannot attend any worship service, receive and religious instruction, or even talk about your religion – but I doubt it.  But even of it does, this article does not come close to demonstrating this fact.

All this article does (and others like it by the the accumulative effect) is lessen our credability in the arena of ideas by making Christians appear unable to discern nuances of meaning, or make credible and logical arguments.

(HT: Slice of Laodicea)

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Let me start by saying that I think * I agree with the overall point of this C?N post — publicly using others’ material without acknowledging the source is a Bad Thing ™.

But two things about this article give me pause — one serious and one kinda funny.

—- Seriously (in the literal sense) —-

The title of the post is “Sermon Copying: When The World Has More Integrity Than The Church”.

Now, it’s ridiculous to compare a Christian with an unsaved person to show when the Christian is better than the unsaved person.  Even comparing Christians with each other is silly.  The only relevant measuring rod for the Christian is Jesus Himself.  We all fall short, but (thankfully) the Christian has Christ’s righteousness attributed to him.

So why isn’t it just as ridiculous to compare a Christian with an unsaved person to show when the Christian is worse than the unsaved person? Again, the only relevant measuring rod for the Christian is Jesus Himself.  Whether the Christian is better or worse than another person is beyond irrelevant.

A less charitable person would note that a lot of the ADM posts seem to have a subtext of “Luke 18:11" href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2018:11;&version=50;" target="_blank">at least I’m not that bad“.

—- Seriously? (in the facetious sense) —-

In support of this (fallacious) comparative point, the author asks three rhetorical questions early in the post.  In order to coincide with this point, the answer to the questions must be “no”.  Let’s look at the first two and the implications of assuming that the answer is ‘no’:

… can you imagine a member of congress standing up and saying “Last night I was doing some research and 74% of …” when he didn’t, but was reciting another person’s experience?

I would like to welcome the author to America.  This is the only explanation that I can fathom.  Who else but a person new to this country wouldn’t know that 99% of what congresspersons claim as their own, isn’t really?

Or what about a CEO standing in front of his board of directors saying “I remember it like it was yesterday,” while every word he speaks is another person’s history?

This question makes me happy for the author.  It’s quite clear that he has not spent one day in corporate America.  Spending time in corporate America is not something that I’d wish on my worst enemy, so I’m glad that he hasn’t had to endure this grotesque, soul-sucking torture.

* I say “I think” because I (admittedly) didn’t read every one of the 2653 (!) words of that post.

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On this day when the 44th President is sworn into office I have many thoughts and prayers.  Kendall Payne sums up my thoughts best in her song “Pray”. BTW I also love the pastors words at the end.

On this day may you shine forth brightly His light. I will pray for you my friends.

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God is allowing this to be unleashed because of America’s rebellion and the wickedness within His own church.

The “this” in the above declaration of God’s behavior is the accusation that someone has “rented several rooms at Washington’s Doubletree Hotel for their Sodomite orgy.”  It’s hard to say who posed this theological rot since no author was given.

But it does raise some interesting questions such as:

In what history is this person living that America was so godly in previous generations?  How is America rebellious now and she was not before?  Was America not in rebellion when she enslaved a race of people?  Was she not in rebellion when she committed near genocide for gold and land?  Was she not in rebellion when she persecuted people based on their religion and/or nation of origin?  The assertion that God is somehow so much more upset with us now, because the nation is tolerant of this sin as opposed to that sin is theologically retarded.  Such assertions remind me of the warning: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).

Now, regarding “wickedness within His own church” – let me see if I have the logic correct?  God is allowing a group of homosexuals to openly flaunt there sin because of wickedness within the church?  Now “church” was not capitalized, so I am not sure if the author is thinking in terms of local churches or the Universal Church.  I have a hunch such theological distinctions are beneath our author… that, or they are not able to discern them -  but I digress.  So, we are to suppose God is allowing sinners to sin based on others sinning within his church?  Two questions: 1) for what are God’s purposes in this? 2) is this anything new?

Sure, the particular sin may be new, but that’s only real estate.

Finally, this whole declarative statement of what God is doing in Washington this week was preceded by “There’s no stopping them now” – the “them” being the homosexuals.  What a telling statement.  There is no stopping them… now?  Why because the President of the U.S.A. thinks they are not sinning?  Because Gos is allowing them to sin?  And have we ever stopped them before?  Is it our job to stop them?  Is calling their sin a “Sodomite orgy” really going to help win them to Christ – or just make “someone” feel better?

I find the thought of people lost in their sin(s) sorrowful – regardless of what sin it may be.  I find homosexuals trading the natural for the unnatural to be repugnant – whether they do it in groups or in pairs is irrelevant.  But I find the attitude of this unknown poster at Slice of Laodicea to be both.

[I am hoping this does not turn into yet another thread of comments on homosexuality - that is not the point]

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(the question is, “Faith in what?”) *

About a week ago, Jerry noted SoL’s praise of this Joseph Farah article regarding Rick Warren’s acceptance of an invitation to pray at president-elect Obama’s inauguration. Jerry’s post was primarily regarding the SoL article; mine is primarily regarding Farah’s article.

I won’t bother addressing the infantile (and self-defeating) nature of citing Obama’s middle name (been there, done that), nor will I do anything more than note Farah’s snarkiness via the overuse of quotation marks.  Suffice it to say that his style stinks (and not just because he makes the silly Hitler reference); I’m more interested in the substance.

OK, one small sidenote that isn’t that substantive. At one point, Farah refers to Rick Warren as “a brother in the Lord”. Given the fact that — in the days when SoL allowed moderated comments — several commenters definitively stated that Warren was not a Christian, and were never chastised for such blasphemy, it’s somewhat surprising that Ingrid would praise such an article.

Let me state, up front, that I agree with Farah that Obama’s policies regarding abortion are evil.  I state this based on his record and his actions, not the drivel that his pro-life supporters fell for.  It is Farah’s belief of what actions should be taken in response to these policies (and the twisting of Scripture to “support” his attitude) that I have a problem with.

Farah admits that “we are commanded to pray for our leaders” (how generous of him).  But he immediately follows this by stating:

But there is no suggestion in the Bible that we are ever to be used as political pawns by praying at their events – especially when they are promoting the wholesale slaughter of innocent human beings.

I have three problems with this statement.

1. Even as Captain Cynicism, I find this statement incredibly cynical.  Granted, being immersed in the muck of politics would garner cynicism in Will Rogers.  But when that cynicism starts bleeding over into your faith, there’s a problem.

2. Somewhat related to that, Farah shows a very limited and pathetic view of prayer.  Even if the motives of Obama (or whoever on his staff invited Warren) are 100% impure, and they simply want to use Warren, this is prayer we are talking about.  Ya know, communication with God.  What kind of wuss does Farah think God is, that Obama’s motives trump that?

3. I will give Farah this much — there’s not a “suggestion” in Scripture — there’s an outright command from Jesus Himself.  In Matthew 5:41, Jesus tells us:

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

The background on what Jesus refers to here is pretty straight-forward.  In Jesus’ day, a Roman soldier could legally compel any Jew to walk with him for a mile and carry the soldier’s pack (or whatever other burden the soldier had).  Jesus said that if such a fate befell one of His listeners, he should walk a mile more than he was legally obligated to go.

So let’s break this down.  A representative of the government forces you to do something that benefits you in no way and benefits him immensely, and Jesus commands you to go even further.  But if a representative of the government asks you to do something that you ought to be doing anyway, and he is doing so to garner benefit for himself, then Farah commands you not to do it.

Farah closes his article by saying:

It’s time for Rick Warren to decide whether he stands with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or if he stands with the world and his “friend,” Barack Hussein Obama.

I would say that it’s time for Warren (and everyone else) to decide whether he stands with Jesus or with Joseph Farah.

Me, I’m going with Jesus on this one.

* I was going to title this “Sola Scriptura, my ass”, but I didn’t want to have to pay Jerry the royalties.

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