Friday, May 29, 2009

Say it ain't so, San Diego

...Broyles said, "The county asked, 'Do you have a regular meeting in your home?' She said, 'Yes.' 'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' 'Yes.'"

The county employee notified the couple that the small Bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of County regulations, according to Broyles.

Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed "unlawful use of land" and told them to "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit" -- a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars...


The saving grace (or silver lining, if you prefer) is the attention this blatant attack on the 1st Amendment will draw to our most modern of citizens, in this most free nation on earth.

The Church historically flourishes under persecution; let it be so today.

Continually in prayer

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to be "continually in prayer?" It is fairly axiomatic among Christians I've spoken to, that we should be doing this. However each conversation ends up with: "Yeah, but then you have to go to work. Maybe go back into prayer during lunch or on the commute home." So we typically proceed in thinking that "continually" means "daily" or "regularly."

Here's another suggestion. God calls us into a loving relationship. When you love someone, you're thinking about that person all of the time, occassionally to distraction. God being omnipotent can love everyone without becoming distracted. Then again, most people I know talk on the cell, or text, or at least eat fast food while they drive. If you can do that, can't you think about God, too? Perhaps being continually in prayer is the most important multitasking available to humans. If you want a loving relationship with God, you need to think about Him as you conduct ALL of your daily living.

Unreasonable? Maybe, maybe not. I'm sure you have done something your spouse (or S.O.) has asked you, "Were you thinking of me AT ALL when you chose to do that?" How much more so with God, Who loved you before you were conceived. The Bible suggests that the relationship between Christ and the Church (all Christians, the body of believers) is like a marriage. When we are "married" to Christ, we are expected to put on new clothes, a new life. New attitude, new behaviors...

And I suggest, new multitasking. Give it a shot. Perhaps you wear one of those rubber bracelets which says "WWJD," or have a Bible verse taped to your desk, or whatever. Just try to be continually in prayer, and see what God has in store for you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Face of Prayer

Hattip to G&R Tactical.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What makes us different

We're pondering the Christian foundations of the U.S. and, in this season, turning our thoughts to Memorial Day. Although we traditionally contemplate WWII and the "Greatest Generation," it is also important to remember those who are fighting for our freedoms right now.

Americans generally have a reverence for life which is unknown to America's enemies. Enjoy this bittersweet, solemn and yet entertaining movie: "Taking Chance." I guarantee you will be choked up during at least one scene, and you will walk away with an even deeper sense of pride in the American soldier.

And please don't go around saying, "Happy Memorial Day."

That just doesn't make sense.

If you see a Veteran, say, "Thank you." Just two more things:

Putting on that uniform they are saying to all of us.....
"I will put myself in harm's way for you. I will take your place in time of danger."

"If you are an American, you know of two people who have died for you: Jesus Christ, who died for your soul, and the American G.I., who died for your freedom."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The American Way

Permission to circulate gladly granted by the author. Download an easy-to-print version.

The American Way, by Alan Korwin, May 21, 2009

I was fortunate to be invited to a meeting of thirteen deep-thinking well-educated men recently, and for two-and-a-half hours over lunch we examined some of the critical issues of our time, from our perspective.

The question came up, "What Is America?" and I ask you today, "What is America?"

It seems to me this is a question without an answer, because America is as many things as there are people to define it. It is a complex and huge topic that could fill encyclopedias and not scratch the surface.

But it dawned on me that a few fundamental principles of America stand out. These are the principles that have made America great. These are the reasons America is a shining beacon of real hope for the entire world, such as the world has never known. These are guidelines that people have adopted in their hearts, instilled in their families. These are understandings that drive people from their homes across the entire planet and to our borders. These fundamental principles are The American Way, and this can be described.

I've been a champion of The American Way for as long as I can remember, and way before I even knew that this was what I was championing.

The American Way is hard work. It is keeping the benefits of your hard work. It is ownership of private property, and the sanctity of a contract between people.

It is the idea that you and you alone own the fruits of your labors. It is the idea -- of paramount importance -- of self ownership. You and you alone own and are responsible for you. It's a tautology. The king doesn't own you. The state doesn't own you. You own you.

This is not a right you demand, or get from the state, or earn. It is a fundamental right of the fact that you exist. It is a right that comes from your Creator, by nature. It is the natural order of things. And it is honored here like nowhere else -- that's why we've achieved so much.

The American Way is the idea that all you Americans can make something of yourselves, because you are free to do so. This is the great magnet that draws people here. In 2006, net immigration into 78 nations from Albania to Zimbabwe was below zero -- people were fleeing. In America in that year, more than two million people, risking life, limb, family and arrest, walked across blinding miles of blazing snake-infested desert to get here. That says something. Half got caught and sent back. Half snuck in. Those are problems for another time, but that raw drive speaks volumes about what we have accomplished that their native lands have not.

In one of the documents that helped start our country, Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, published in the year of our founding, 1776, he described principles that drive The American Way (although it was too early for him to call it that). Wealth of Nations, in the country's infancy, identified what has led to unprecedented opulence, prosperity abundance, opportunity and freedom that is The American Way.

Smith recognized that private property, free trade, self interest, limited government and division of labor were the basics of capitalism and cornerstones of personal freedom and economic security.


So these are the factors that make you and me special, and make the land we live in special, and attract many non-Americans to this special place, seeking to be Americans. But along with the teeming masses yearning to be free are undesirable miscreants seeking to leach off our success, eat out our substance and do us harm, who must be resisted. Col. Jeff Cooper put it plainly: Some people prey on other people. I don't like it. That's just the way it is.

So I ask you: Do you intend to preserve, protect and defend these special attributes that make us what we are? You bet we do! Will you resist the constant forces that seek to diminish, denigrate, defeat and delete these special attributes? You bet we will!

The American Way can be summed up, not perfectly, and not for all cases, but it can be summed up for our purposes: The American Way is the idea that the people are the rulers and the rulers are the servants. Have we strayed from this? Yes. Does that make it less true or less valuable or less right? Not at all.

The American Way is the rule of law, individual responsibility and government of limited delegated powers only. It is free markets, free enterprise, low taxes, entrepreneurship and capitalism. The American Way is moral and just and yes, has a strong religious underpinning, whatever your religion may be -- so long as your religion does not include forcible coercion of others. It is "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," but definitely not, "You better submit to our way," no matter how strongly convinced that your way is right.

Convince people to follow and you follow the precepts that drive much of what we are. Force people, and you are by definition the enemy of The American Way. Neither political party has a really good score card on this.
The American Way is what has generated the most opulent, abundant, prosperous, generous, productive, creative, inventive and loving society the world has ever known, light years ahead of whatever is in second place. Our politicians have lost support because they've abandoned our goals.

The idea that such a land could even exist was beyond the comprehension of earlier societies -- the ideas that made it possible had not been invented yet. The uniquely American ideals of freedom were born here. They were birthed by a lucky confluence that skeptics might say were coincidental. True believers might say it was destiny, or divine providence. And who knows who's right. The important thing is that it happened.

Our natural geography, limits of technology, self-selected pioneers and thinkers in a brave new land, the abuses and usurpations of a tyrant, the homogeneous nature of voluntary leaders, simultaneous existence of so many geniuses in one place and one time, an abundance of natural resources, existence of such vast expanses of untapped wilderness -- all contributed to the damn lucky creation of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights that set us on our way.

When people are turned free to do what they will, they do what we have seen here. Acting in your own self interest, you persevere, plant and harvest great seeds of innovation and wealth. And great wealth results from the work of your loins. True Americans, recognizing the great blessings that have been bestowed upon us, share those fruits, like no society before us has ever done. Americans donate and share more food, more wealth, more health care, more humanitarian aid, more power of righteous self defense, than the world has ever seen -- without exception.

And what of guns? Guns, guns, guns, they are so American. All nations have guns, but only in a scant few do the people have guns. And only in America is there a wildly western tradition of a gun for everyman. Only in America is there broad understanding that guns save lives. Guns stop crime. Guns keep you safe. Guns deter evil. Guns are good.

Colt, Remington, Winchester, Browning, Smith and Wesson -- is it just coincidence that Americans have guns, and use guns, and have invented some of the finest firearms ever known -- and the fact that America has been the freest nation on earth? It is not coincidence. Guns are why America is still free.

We know and easily accept that you can't let slaves have guns and expect them to remain slaves. Does that mean that if the forces of darkness were to succeed in their endless effort to disrupt our long-standing balance and disarm peaceful, innocent Americans, that America would be devolve into slavery? Is it safe to confiscate guns from the innocent? I'm not eager to find out!

Why is it safe to give all those dangerous guns to other people, just because they have government jobs and are paid with your tax money? Why can they be trusted any more than any of you who actually earn the money that pays them? What magical writing says guns are OK but only if rulers have them all? Where does it say that a man in government is more trustworthy than a man in his own home?

We know that just the opposite is true. It is our resistance to the bad idea that only leadership should have power that put power into the hands of the people and created The American Way. It is the understanding that the power to govern is only legitimate if it comes from the consent of the governed. When the power to govern is disconnected from consent, you have classic tyranny, no checks on leadership, only those latitudes leadership arbitrarily decides to offer. That, my friends, is the Anti-American Way.

Guns are indeed why America is still free. Guns in the hands of the masses help assure that leadership cannot just run wild. It stops them short. Guns are power to the people.

Slaves must be disarmed. Americans must never be disarmed. A disarmed docile subservient America would cease to be the magic magnet it is.

Now, there's corrosion in the aging machinery of The American Way. Jefferson's warning that the natural tendency is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground is true, and 200 years of yielding and gaining have taken us to a strange place.

Our great strides forward are at grave risk today. The idea of true human freedom, freedom from the state, freedom from arbitrary rule, appeal to a power higher than any government or man can exert -- these are what give us what we have. Today, far too many people, influenced by dastardly powers, reject the very things that give them the power to speak out against us.

We are now infested with czars -- a drug czar, an education czar, an environment czar, and now even a border czar. Czars are horrors yet we're embracing them, welcoming them into our midst. Czars are toxic waste, destroyers of freedom, autocratic tyrants who have no place in our system. Yet they are praised and promoted with glee by our failed "news" media. Tolerance of czars is a repugnant result of the insidious success of political correctness. Czars should be removed and replaced with representatives.

But our representatives need to be replaced with representatives, because they've long since left the scene.

We have reached a point where our laws are written by secretive government operators and clandestine conspirators, creeps working in deep basements without the light of public scrutiny, who draft endless edicts that cannot be read by a person of decent education. The edicts are thrust upon our elected hollow men, who are coerced and intimidated into signing before they have read what they are handed, and saddle us with unacceptable, anti-American crap whose contents they don't know.

Think about that. The laws are now written by people you don't know, can't name, can't see, signed by people without reading or understanding, and then held against you at the point of a government gun and prison. That, my fellow Americans, is corrupt. It is tyrannical. It is intolerable.

Our elected participants should fall to their knees in shame and tears for what they are complicit in forcing upon this great nation and its people. But they show no shame. They justify, and excuse and continue. How much further must that travesty go on before a few heads are on pikes on the K Street bridge? A bridge, by the way, actually named after Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner.

Tyranny has its appeal. Especially in the young, a desire to follow rather than lead burns hot. It's easy to be sheep, to obey, to stand in line, take what's handed you, care not for the higher values. They are far from the roots that got this tree growing. And their schooling, run by the very government that schooling is supposed to tame and keep in check, encourages the collectivist antithesis of The American Way.

Freedom is hard work, but worth it. Socialism, the Anti-American Way and our arch enemy, seems easy, because it runs on other people's money and sweat. Too many Americans today have had their values turned upside down and actually crave socialism, or can't even tell the difference between craven collectivism and freedom's liberation.

We have our share of difficulties, and our ability to surmount them looks increasingly grim. And when you're the big dog, as freedom has made America, people and groups and nations and even ideologies nip at your feet.

The have nots, the do nots, the know nots, freeloaders and the useful idiots wound up into a frenzy by people of ill will and a disgraceful media, seek to take you down. Seek to hurt you. Seek to diminish your accomplishments, cast aspersions on your greatness, work to undermine your success, mean-mouth your achievements, deny, rewrite and twist history to say it isn't so. They would rather pick at the nits than recognize how far America has drawn humanity out of the primordial goo.

Americans know our greatness. America haters hate our greatness. Too many of our own countrymen are misled, misguided, propagandized and brainwashed into hating -- blind fuming hatred -- of the very hand that feeds them.

America haters are the most pernicious, deceitful and hate-filled enemies of all that is good and prosperous and productive and beneficial to humanity. Too many exist within our midst, in our Congress and schools and newsrooms and within the bureaus of the czars. And they are clever, and devilish in their cunning, and left unchecked they will indeed ruin the greatest society the planet has ever seen, and then dance in the bloody gore of the havoc they reek.

If you believe in The American Way, if you have benefited from The American Way, if you want your children and their children and generations to come both here and abroad to bask in the glory of The American Way, then you need to rise up -- in all your righteous glory and indignation -- and denounce the siren song of those who would rend and ridicule what we have achieved.

You need to always say the obvious, and flatly refuse to participate in the debilitating socialist disease of political correctness! Don't joke about it, which reinforces it, denounce it! You need to substitute e pluribus unum -- "From Many, One" for the leftwing sickness of multicultural divisiveness. You need to know that belief in limited government, low taxation, delegated powers, free markets, free enterprise, gun ownership, religion and personal responsibility makes you a moderate not an extremist. Those who tell you to reject these core American values, they are the extremists. The extremists are calling the moderates extreme, and the media helps sing that song. Clinging to The American Way makes you a centrist, a moderate centrist. Only a vile and corrupt media could see it otherwise and then promote an upside-down cake of the truth.

You must loudly and publicly reject laws that violate the separation of Congress and the States, laws that violate the 10th Amendment by delegating forbidden powers, laws that grow government illegally, laws that use color and sex and language to force compliance, quotas, and deceptive non-equality. Equal treatment under the law, not enforced treats and benefits through income redistribution. Special treatment to favored groups is the behavior of tyrants. We are and must remain a nation built on merit and compassion, not central dictates and giving away your money to other people.

You can do all these things, and keep America at her heights of glory. You can for generations to come preserve all the things that made America great and this shining beacon of liberty it has been for more than two centuries. You need to ask yourself, of every proposal that comes down the pike from central government, state government, local government, media pundits and all others who profess to know what's right for you, "Does it maximize freedom?"

Does it maximize freedom, that's the question. That's the benchmark.

If it maximizes freedom, it's good. That's what our Founders knew. That's what got us to this great pinnacle of success from which we are now slipping. If it would do good but does not maximize freedom, it must be rejected. If government could take action -- but has no authority to do so, it must be rejected. There is always another way. The American Way.

Thank you, and may God bless America.
Alan Korwin

Thank you, Alan. Considering current events, it's no coincidence Alan takes note of America's "czars"...see "Soft shoe" post below.

May God bless America indeed and, through her, may God bless the whole world.

Soft shoe

You may have seen the video of Kruschev beating his shoe on the table and declaring, "We will bury you." After the Berlin Wall fell, did we assume this could never happen?

"American Capitalism Gone with a Whimper"

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.
Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.
The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.
These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?

So do we go dancing our way into the dustbin of history? Forbid it, Almighty God.

Hattip to Smallest Minority, via Arms and the Law

Weird science

Go over to TC and let me know if that ain't the truth:

"For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" 1 Corinthians 1:18-20

That is the brilliance of the American system of government as designed and laid out in the US Constitution. The concept is that the more general and large the government, the less ultimate power it possessed. There are checks and balances everywhere to, hopefully, ward off attempts to hijack the government for narrow purposes.
A friend recently wondered aloud whether as Christians, there is nothing we can do other than pray and spread the Gospel, and that we shouldn't worry so much about this world. He may be right, but to paraphrase Hugh Hewitt, we may not be of this world, but we are in it.

I also think some of Dave's writing has to do with the justifiable pride in being a man, with the attendant emotions a man naturally has, notably, the desire to actively defend what is right. A dear old friend of mine, who has been a lifelong Catholic priest, often mentioned he was proud of being: a man, a Catholic (Christian), and a priest. I'll bet most men wouldn't find anything wrong with NOT being ashamed of his gender, however I'll also bet not many have actually contemplated the concept. Yeah, we've heard plenty about "I'm woman, hear me roar," but how many men have consciously said, "I'm proud to be a man." When you consider the post below, about emasculizing our culture with an attack on hunting, think further that post-modern society has elements which suggest being a man is sinful in itself. That woman is holy and man should feel guilty. Isn't this a new Manichean heresy? Now there's some weird social science.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's it good for?

I had occassion to attend the NRA convention in Phoenix last weekend, and what a class act that was. Incredibly polite children learning tips at the air rifle range, manicured displays of pistols, shotguns, and rifles of every configuration...most right out there where you could pick them up. Know what? I didn't see one nasty sign or hear one voice raised in anger. And I read that large numbers of the attendees were legally "packing heat." So let's look at this topic.

The most famous Right of the people is the 1st Amendment, an acknowlegement that we possess the right of free speech, assembly, press, petitioning the government, and practicing religion. Now keep in mind the founding fathers did NOT say the government grants these rights, but rather it acknowleges these rights are inherant in human beings. One of the most infamous (to many people) is ironically the 2nd Amendment, which I'll quote here: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Many people would suggest that unless you belong to the militia (which they think means the National Guard), you should not own guns. That's historically disingenuous, since the militia in Revolutionary times meant all able-bodied males from 17-45 who are NOT in the armed forces.

Others suggest guns are O.K. for hunting, but not otherwise. GONG! Not according to our founding fathers, who assumed hunting was a given, for as young a chap as could swing a longarm and bring home dinner. Arms are for defending the rest of our rights, thank you very much. Still others may say, that's all fine and dandy, but "What would Jesus do?" Here's one response (in the Gospel of Luke): And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one."

So, although we should trust in God alone, we do not throw away those rights He endowed us with, rights the U.S. Constitution recognizes. Today we hear much in the news about whether the U.S. should restrict the rights of its citizens to benefit other countries, and other such nonsense. Jesus was a leader, not a follower, and to maintain our rights and live freely, neither should we follow the whims of other nations. Here's a little blast from the recent past...

Too Young To Hunt? By John Hay Rabb, Posted: 10-08-05

... the Humane Society of the U.S. and the rest of the antihunting community argue that youths under age 18 are not mature enough to hunt safely with a firearm. Never mind that millions of 16-year-olds are handed driver's licenses each year. Tragically, thousands of these youthful drivers are killed or seriously injured before their 18th birthdays. By contrast, there were only 89 hunting fatalities in 2002. Of these, 29 involved hunters less than 12 years old.
Celebrity animal rights activist Mary Tyler Moore recently excoriated state fish and game officials for allowing young people to hunt so that license revenues would increase. "The government should not be in the role of promoting and placing firearms in the hands of children," she said. "Basketball, baseball and books are much better alternatives."
...According to the National Sporting Goods Association, there are almost 18 million active hunters in the U.S. As a participatory sport, hunting ranks higher than baseball, soccer, softball, tennis or volleyball. Hunting is also safer than some other popular sports. The National Safety Council reported that in 1995 there were 1,700 swimming-related fatalities and 836 boating-related fatalities. In the same year there were only 87 hunting-related deaths.
By seeking to limit hunting to those individuals who are at least 18 years of age, the animal rights movement has carefully planned the ultimate demise of hunting in America. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, 80 percent of all first-time hunting experiences occur between the ages of 6 and 15. There is only a brief window of opportunity to interest young men and women in hunting. After about age 12, young people are increasingly drawn to computer games, cars and the opposite sex.
...But if hunting must wait until a child reaches age 18, then parents may see little reason to buy guns for their children. Taken to its logical extreme, interest in firearms could virtually disappear in the next generation. For the coercive utopians this would constitute a victory beyond their wildest imagination
In reality, the HSUS will never persuade a majority of congressmen and state legislators to go along with its hare-brained scheme to increase the minimum hunting age to 18. But in politics, sometimes you win by losing. Even after its plan crashes and burns, the HSUS will derive solace from the knowledge that it has put its issue on the radar screen. The organization needs only keep its powder dry until the next congressional and state legislative sessions begin.
The most important responsibility for today's hunter is to train his replacement. He must pass along his love of hunting to the next generation. ...

Indeed, we must train our "replacements" and pass along our love of Christ as well. This is a most important responsibility if they are to remain free: in body, soul, and spirit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reading through, for the 1st time

My friend Dave over at Troubled Corinthian mentioned recently that non-believers may think the Bible isn't much of a good read. After they become Christians, the Bible takes on a whole different meaning. As an adult convert, he discovered the Bible as literature in a way that "cradle Christians" don't naturally appreciate, since that kind of reading generally implies a suspension of disbelief. For Christians, the belief itself is primary, and suspension of disbelief plays into the more existential/philosophical battle.

At any rate, this year I'm going for it, on track to reading the Bible through in 2009. As with other literature, I've found I look for characters with whom I can associate, however I also look to the opposing character, to see how I also relate to him: Job and his "friends," Saul and David, Naomi and Boaz, and so on. These interrelationships are archetypes for humanity, and I usually see a little of myself in all of them.

So I'm connecting with God as I appreciate the depth of His Word. I found a 365 day Bible which also organizes chapters chronologically, so David's Psalms are inserted throughout the events he was experiencing. Great read. So here's a challenge: find 20 minutes a day to profoundly change your life for the better. Worst case, it's a notable accomplishment. And you probably already have a Bible, so you don't have to buy anything or go anywhere...or get on the StairMaster, or do yoga...

And if you need a little political reflection (don't put off the Bible for it, though!) go here:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who's the boss...For the children

Two concepts which drive me bonkers, and which so many people (especially men) unthinkingly support by repetitive use: one's wife is "the boss," and "we're doing it for the children." Analyze the use of these throw-off phrases, to see if they reflect an imbalance in relationships.

First off, even to some modern thinking that men and women are basically the same in addition to being equal, the concept of the wife being the boss is at times disingenuous, weak, or a backhanded compliment. If the husband should actually husband his family, this term is philosophically self-defeating as well. I understand it's a term of endearment, and "if Mom's not happy, the family's not happy," and so forth. However, to call one's wife "the boss" is unhealthy and may even, in some circumstances, cover up her actual disempowerment.

Whether married or not, a woman wishes her man is prepared with great ideas and things to do, even if that occassion is "her choice," in addition to him being a chivalrous gentleman and her defender. For now, we won't go into other ramifications of being a husband, but let's suffice to say that we should ceast and desist this practice of calling the female spouse "the boss." Reasonable alternatives may include "cruise director," CFO, and so on.

Second, our generation seems overly preoccupied with the concept (or excuse) that life is "for the children." Now I'll grant that so much of what we do has eternal consequence and, for many if not most, the greatest inheritors (for better and worse) of our earthly example are our children. However, it's crucial not to equate our children with that eternal consequence.

Again, I understand we often laugh while we say this, while appreciating an elementary school band for instance, yet if we spend the overwhelming majority of our extracurricular hours being occupied with or for our children, our relationships with God and spouse will suffer for it. It's a slippery slope to provide more and more opportunities for the children while denying them for ourselves. Life apart from our children has eternal consequence as well, and we must not allow parenthood to become idolatrous.

Edit, 9/19/09:
Lat night my wife and I discussed another reason why men do wrong in saying, "My wife wouldn't let me do such and such." This allows men to suggest they are not responsible to make decisions. It also demeans their marital relationship. By "not allowing" a spouse to do something, this put them into more of a parent-child relationship. So, whether or not you really mean it, please refrain from these trite sayings.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Everyday Miracles

Around 5 or 6 years ago I watched "Signs," a Mel Gibson movie which made me re-think the existence of coincidence, or things which occur "by chance." Since then, my worldview has more and more solidified into the belief that there is no such thing. This occurred during the growth of the "intelligent design" movement in U.S. education, which came to the public noteably via Ben Stein's movie, "Expelled," and to me in the "Truth Project." The deeper my relationship with God grows, and the more I ponder, the more I realize God's hand in everything, in all of creation: His creation. He can no more adopt a laissez-faire attitude than can parents ignore their children's pleas for help. At times you let them learn hard knocks but, when they come back, your arms enfold them again. God always wants to be in good relation with us.

In other attributes we enjoy, like humor and creativity, God shows through. This is what I think about most when I recognize what some would say is a coincidence. God taps on my shoulder and says, "Hey, it's Me! Got yer back! Don't forget!" God, acting through daily events and in our imagination, as we recognize interrelated occurences in our lives, which are designed to bring us closer to Him and each other...these are miracles. And what do you know, but this exact same lesson sings through the theme of the below referred book, "The Shack." Is it a perfect display of doctrinal Truth? Probably not. And I doubt the author would suggest that. However there's plenty of goodness going on in that novel, such as this quotation with which I'll conclude, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Centipede's Tail

I came across this desert creature in the middle of a trail, its head buried in the abdomen of a dead mouse. Eight or nine inches long, its orange segmented torso the diameter of a flattened pencil, 100 yellow legs continually shifting--gaining purchase--in the sandy ground. After watching for a spell, I blew at it and POOF, the last pair of legs flinched up, readying to pinch like poisonous, monstrous earwig jaws. After a few more puffs, I gingerly poked that pair of legs with a stick, and over and over they nabbed at the stick...

...but the head worked away in the gullet of the mouse. Most creatures would scamper away, or defend their meal, or quit eating in any case. This one continued to feed as its defensive rear pair of legs mindlessly groped at the annoyance. Finally I swept it to the side of the trail, lest it be crushed by a nervous hiker, and it turned this way and that. Until I re-joined it with its dinner, and it plunged head-first, back into the belly, back to the best meal it may have seen in some time.

On one level, these rear legs are our security systems, whether store-bought or mind-forg'd--upon which we depend for our sanity. A gated community, a cynical attitude, a pistol: these fill the gap so we need not perpetually mind the barbarians at our gates. However defense works best in layers. Merely one of these tools won't suffice, and may even work to our detriment. And yet, at the logical extreme, all of these may be defeated by paranoia .

Without God, humans have their heads buried: if not in the sand, in their work, in their hobbies, in their own "personal Jesus" (or, as a friend mentioned to me, their "substitute saviour.") Those defense mechanisms are working away, and usually on a program separate from our present-time consciousness! Much has been made of the "mind-body" dualism, however we know there's a much deeper division at work. We will discuss a proper defense, of the mind and body, however I pray we are granted the Grace never to consider these without a defense of the spirit.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Freedom's crossroads

A great advocate of human freedoms, I hereby introduce you to Oleg Volk:

Oleg is a professor and photographer, and one of his photos is captioned thusly:

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness,
nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory.
I love only that which they defend.

(hattip to Tim @ USCCA, quoted from J.R.R. Tolkien's Two Towers, 2nd book of 3--also the shortest, and the best IMHO--in the Lord of the Rings trilogy)

To dramatize the relationship between physical and religious freedom:

How much have you pondered your physical security?

How does your physical freedom affect your ability to think freely?

Would God be in control of both, given the invitation?

If it comes across your desk, don't veto it

I'll go into the historical derivation later...

Bill of Grace is a play on Bill of Rights, since I'm particularly interested in the relationship between religion and politics in our conception of freedom.

When I taught History long ago, a student posited: "But doesn't the government give us the right to..."

Then I cut her off, stood up from the child-sized desk I was squeezed into, and tossed it behind me for show. Well, it scooted across the carpet several feet and bumped the door behind me, and the students immediately gawked as I proclaimed: "The government doesn't GIVE you ANY rights!"

Then I spent a few minutes preaching about where the founding fathers thought our rights originated, what POWERS the government lawfully has, and why the concept of federalism is crucial. That event came in handy for several topics thereafter, such as the Nullification Crisis, the Civil War, and so on. Sadly the event also broke a bridge with that student, for which I am still sorry.

We'll discuss the Bill of Rights occassionally, but for now let's consider that they were an affirmation of the human rights already existant before the founding of any nation. This is astounding. But even more poignant is the Grace upon which these rights were founded.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bill of Grace

Get a hold of a copy of "The Shack" (Young). Worst case, you've had a quick read which will inevitably come in real handy for a friend. More likely, you'll enjoy this page-turner, and it will be a conduit to change the way you live. Then pass it on. Now here's some context for our discussion:

Mr. DeMint is spot on: "We can argue about how to rein in the federal Leviathan; but we should agree that centralized government infringes on individual liberty and that problems are best solved by the people or the government closest to them" (originally in the 5/2/9 WSJ).

The issue posed to me, via Young, is that individual freedom shouldn't be the ultimate goal. For the U.S., for human politics, maybe. But for the human soul? We grant that freedom to our deepest-seated values. We set our brains to process certain values daily, and even minute-by-minute...and to satisfy our responsibilities to those values. On what or Whom do you spend your mental energies? For some, that's God. For others, it's their kids. For others, it's a sense of security. To what or Whom do you grant your freedom?

Still quite young in world history, our country is experiencing growing pains:

James Madison in The Federalist:
“”The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”
The founding fathers believed in a balance between state and federal power. This state sovereignty movement clearly arises from the belief that the balance of power has tilted too far and for too long in the direction of the federal government and that it’s time to restore that lose balance.

My question for you is: are you ready to allow a sovereignty movement in your soul?