What Are You Thinking?

My friends in Topeka, Kansas, tell me they have seen a bumper sticker that quotes Psalm 109 in reference to president Obama.  It’s not funny.

Maybe I’m sensitive because of where I live.

I sometimes have coffee in Aggieville and wonder if the ghost of Timothy McVeigh is lurking in the shadows.  Aggieville was the first place America’s worst domestic terrorist was arrested.  It was just a bar room fight when he was a soldier stationed at nearby Fort Riley, but he went on to worse things.

A few years after that incident, McVeigh and his accomplice rented a big white truck and filled up with gas in Riley County  before they drove it to Oklahoma City and killed 19 children at America’s Kid’s Daycare Center, along with 150 adults.

During the nineties fanatics were speaking in apocalyptic terms about the evils of Bill Clinton and his wife.  They were talking about concentration camps in the Southwest and Blackhawk helicopters.  They were painting David Koresh as an innocent victim whose righteous blood called for vengeance.  For most it was just talk.  But Tim McVeigh was listening.

Or maybe it’s the hideous figure of America’s worst living hatemonger, Fred Phelps, whom I sometimes have to drive past.  Fred and family give hate speech a bad name.  In February I attended a conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Midwestern Baptist Seminary.  One of the seminary’s graduates had been murdered in church, and Fred and his pitiful band of followers came to picket.

After fifteen years of hate speech directed at physician George Tiller–someone finally listened.  The doctor who performed late-term abortions in Wichita was finally murdered.  It happened on a Sunday morning as he was serving as an usher at his church.

Late term abortion is a gruesome and traumatic procedure–and sometimes a tragic necessity.  Under Kansas law at the time Dr. Tiller was murdered, it was legal only when the mother’s health was endangered.  The law was not strict enough for some, but too strict for others.  But my point is this–murder was not the answer; but people kept chanting “Tiller the Killer” until someone took it seriously.

We have a peaceful way of changing national leaders every four years.  In the meantime, the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders–it doesn’t tell us to take a curse out of context and pray it.  You are entitled to your political opinions–but think about the effects of hate speech:

  1. It may set off an unbalanced person.
  2. It reflects on all Christians and makes us look like ignorant bigots.

In Romans 2:24 Paul quotes from Isaiah, in a passage referring to the people God chose to represent his love and goodness to the world–

God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.

How about that for a bumper sticker?

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On Not Irritating People

A couple years ago I asked a good friend of mine, someone who has a lot practical wisdom, whether I should take a stand more often and be more willing to enter controversy.  I said I was afraid sometimes by failing to speak up, I let bad ideas go unchallenged.  He said there are quiet ways to make a point.  He said,

There are enough people in the world irritating other people.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced he’s right.  I will go on trying to make positive suggestions in a gentle way, but I think I will try to avoid sarcasm–it’s so hard to tell someone’s “tone of voice” in writing.

I also think I will avoid politics, mostly, for the next four years.  The election is over and the people have spoken.  I will write my representatives and talk to people on a local level.

I will say this: I think President Obama is doing his best to bring people together.  Politics is inherently divisive, but he has tried to extend an open hand across the aisle.  If his gestures have been met with a clenched fist, he keeps on smiling.  I thought last night’s speech was remarkably free of blame and bitterness.

No Compromise? (part 2)

Our political climate is intolerant of compromise.  Two people who tried to bring people together are finding out how hard it is to do.

Richard Cizik tried to lead evangelical Christians to compassionate action on a broader range of problems than abortion and traditional marriage.  For example, he believed that if Christians believe in creation, they should be more concerned about preserving God’s good creation than in trying to caluculate how long ago the world was made.  He also led in efforts to fight AIDS and human trafficking.

Some of his critics thought he was leading the faithful away from “moral issues”–as though issues that effect the life, death, and dignity of all people are not moral issues.  Two years ago they tried to oust him from his job as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals due to his embracing of “Creation Care.”  The plan backfired.  It turned out most evangelicals are fond of this planet.

This week, they finally got him.  On an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, he said he was opposed to same-sex marriage–but maybe civil unions weren’t a bad idea.  His enemies demanded–and got–his resignation.  Nicholas Kristoph called Cizik a “huggable evangelical” and said his resignation made for a sad day.

On the other side of the fence, supporters of gay rights are furious with president-elect Obama for asking Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.  Why?  Because Warren is opposed to gay marriage and abortions that are not medically necessary.  Obama’s stated position is that he does not favor same-sex marriage, but he does favor civil unions.

Rick Warren has raised millions of dollars to fight AIDS in Africa, and has encouraged the faithful to support progressive causes.   In fact, he helped get Obama elected when he invited both candidates to a forum at his church.  The president is returning the favor and strenghtening the personal friendship and political alliance he has made (more).  What some would call compromise and bringing people together, others would call betrayal.

Yes We Can!

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder

Here’s the link to Bob the Builder’s official website.  My grandson has been listening to his theme song for about a year now:

Can we fix it?

Yes we can!

Here’s a little tidbit my daughter passed on: President Obama website:

You can submit you ideas and be part of the “change we need.”

http://www.change.gov/

This is pretty neat, I hadn’t heard about this Web site until my friend Melissa mentioned it yesterday. It’s the Obama web site for the transition. It’s supposed to have a lot of information about appointments in the future, but it already has a lot on different issues and places to submit ideas.

Here’s the energy environment page too: http://www.change.gov/agenda/energyenvironment/

Soldier and Mom

Our friend Margaret passed on this exchange of emails she had with her son Klint, who is stationed in Iraq, regarding the election of Barack Obama as our next president.

Mom to Soldier the day after the election

Klint,

I got your message yesterday evening on my cell phone voice mail.  Did you send it on Tuesday?  Anyway, good to hear your voice!

Don’t know how you feel about the elections, but I am so excited, I could “pee my pants” so to speak.  I’m so tired of “Old white men” running the country  This is an incredible breath of fresh air.  Hope Obama lives up the my expectations!  What a chance for change!  Feels like the 70’s!

Love, Mom

Klint Replies and Mom Answers

Mom,

I will try and call again later this week. I am running a school that includes driving, shooting, sneaking around in the woods etc. There is a tremendous amount of labor put into this thing and lots of moving pieces all coming together at once, so I am stupid busy and not getting much sleep. No probs though.

The elections. Hmm, I like Obama and I think there will be a lot of positive things that come from his presidency especially as far as international relations go. My concern is a democrat controlled house and senate to go with him.  I feel that socialism is a threat to liberty and as far as I am concerned it is fascism in disguise, a wolf in sheep’s clothing so to speak. So, having all three houses controlled by people who view government as a redistribution center for others peoples money greatly greatly concerns me.

As far as “old white men”, umm if we are going to use racial terms to describe culture then it should be noted that old white men are the reason that our country has one of the highest standards of living and has generated the most wealth and the most stable govt in the history of the world.

The colonial settlers created a cultural blend of entrepreneurship, egalitarianism and protestant work ethic that was unique in the history of the western world  and they formed that culture into a government.

Those principles should not be thrown out nor should they be mocked by those who do not know history or just how horrible life is in so many other parts of the world.

But as with any complex system, there is room for improvement.  This financial crises has exposed the flaw in under-regulation. That does not mean the whole concept is flawed, it just means that the system needs a tune up. Its a matter of not throwing the baby out with the bath water i suppose, but im afraid that populist rhetoric and mentality will give the three branches too much power to change the system towards socialism and we will end up like England with a 50% income tax rate and so many public funding programs that the govt can not keep track of them.

This type of system by its nature can not generate wealth, it only stifles initiative to create wealth or to excel, especially if you know that the govt will strip you of your earnings in order to fund more govt programs that are staffed by people that can not be fired and are not subject to the standards of achievement that are inherent in private enterprise.

I am, however, excited by the prospect of some real change in environment regulation, because as far as that goes the environment is one of those public arenas that affect everyone and is within the realm of govt to monitor and regulate. I am also happy to have someone that is not in the business of personal morality legislation as i feel that what consenting adults do in their own property is their business and should not really fall within the scope of govt regulation.

Anyway, we shall see, I know that the Iraqi army guys are scared to death that we are going to abandon them before everything has become stable.

The changes this year are amazingly dramatic and for these guys it is night and day. Last year they basically expected to die in combat. They almost viewed it as inevitable. Now, they are buying houses and planning weddings and thinking about life other than violence and death. They view Obama’s win with great concern because they think that if we go home now, then it will be back to the meat grinder for them if the Sunnis decide to try and re-take power.

I for one have spent too much of my time and effort over here to see it fall apart because we decided to leave the job 90% finished.   So, these are my concerns here, and I hope they are ill founded.

And you will have to excuse me for not viewing the late 60s and 70s from a viewpoint other than tragic.

I’m sure it was fun, however. At least you weren’t in China or Russia then.   Wow, umm so that’s my rant.   I will try and call this week if my connection is worth a crap.

Love, K

Ok time for Mom’s rant.

First,  while the 60’s and 70’s were definitely scary militarily, i.e,. Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam war, etc.  It also had some incredible leaps in science and humanity.  Space travel, men on the moon, civil rights – holy cow!  As a kid can you imagine what it meant to watch the space program evolve!  As a black person I can’t even begin to fathom their coming into a new era of equality with all they had endured in the past.

Alright, “old white men” might have been a bit harsh and yes, our founding fathers were “old white men,” but they had a dream and a plan.  I haven’t seen that since Kennedy.  Time for some new ideas.

As far as socialism and redistribution of wealth, Klint, you’re smarter than buying into that bunk!  Taxation, that we have had since the beginning of the civilized world, is about redistributing the wealth, to the causes that keep a civilized world.

It builds infrastructure, builds programs to help the less fortunate, funds our entire social structure from the local police, firemen, schools,  . . .  and so on.

And the problems we are having with the economy, I believe in part is because the government didn’t get involved and put a kibosh on some of the loan programs.  There is a place for government intervention and yes it is a fine line, but it is still needed.

In some ways we are very similar to the 30’s and the President at that time made some far reaching decisions to turn the nation around that probably looked very “socialistic” in it’s scope, i.e., Social Security, public works programs, banking.  But it worked and we are not a socialist  society, at least as far as I can tell.

Yes, having a president and congress all of the same party could have the potential for bad decisions, but in the same light it could have the potential for passing some far reaching reforms.  Let’s hope that is the case.  I do understand your concerns about Iraq, and undoing what we’ve accomplished. Hopefully Obama will listen to his military advisers, unlike the last president!

Ok I’m done, gotta go to work.  Take care,

love these discussions, can’t wait to have them around the dinner table when you get back!

love,

Mom

love,

Mom