Tag Archives: politics

Opposition Should Be Made of Sterner Stuff

I think we could learn a few things about appropriate, forceful, needed criticism from this guy. Folks, this is not the time to play nice. This is the time to play hardball. See also the video below, which was actually recorded before President Obama’s latest tantrum. (Yes, Dear Leader has been quite busy paying people to make sure nobody can park at the privately owned Mt. Vernon site, paying people to stop World War II veterans from visiting the World War II memorial, paying people to cordon off and monitor a large swatch of the Florida Bay, and on and on the pettiness goes. Because they just don’t have the money to… oh wait, never mind. But remember boys and girls, this is all the House of Representatives’ fault!) This was Bill Whittle’s take on Obama’s last circus act, the sequester, words which could just as well be spoken today.

This is the most petty, malicious, mean-spirited, cowardly and hateful thing that this petty, malicious, mean-spirited, cowardly and hateful President has done. He’s deliberately inflicting as much pain on the American people as he can possibly muster so he can accelerate our way into bankruptcy. He’s doing his best to make it hurt…

I thought of the part where Whittle speaks of the children whose tours to the White House were canceled, “who so desperately wanted to see the House in which they mistakenly believed lived a great, good and powerful man…” when I saw this video some months back:

This video simply angers and saddens me. It angers and saddens me to see how this poor little boy is being used—as a symbol, as a token, as an innocent mouthpiece for an evil empire which even now is laying the groundwork for destroying his future, and his children’s future. I am deeply angry when I think of the lies he has been fed and taught to repeat—how the President is a wonderful man, a harbinger of hope, Emmanuel, God with us.

But by all means, if you want to go on saying that everybody just needs to get into a big ole group hug and sing “We Are the World” a few times, so that all their “differences” can disappear in a pink cloud of sweetness and light, be my guest.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to look for a few hundred millstones.

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George Zimmerman, Justice and the Church

George Zimmerman--I Am a Man

Last year I thought about saying something about the Trayvon Martin case. But then I thought it would be best to wait. The media was generating so much more heat than light, and besides, racial tension is one of those issues one is always reluctant to talk about if one’s opinion strays from the popular narrative. Now that an official verdict has been handed down from our justice system, and George Zimmerman has been declared not guilty, I would like to address some of the appallingly irresponsible reactions I am seeing from the leaders of the evangelical community in the wake of this decision. I don’t mind saying that I am equal parts disheartened, angered, yet depressingly un-surprised to see how thoughtlessly they have, collectively, abandoned George Zimmerman. And I am not the only one.

Let’s begin with this fact, which precisely zero evangelical “voices” have acknowledged: This is a case that should never even have gone to trial. Continue reading

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What’s Wrong With Dan Cathy’s New Friend?

Well, I’m sure by now many of you have heard of Dan Cathy’s friendship with Shane Windmeyer, leading gay activist opponent of Chick-Fil-A. Windmeyer contributes to the Gay Voices corner of the Huffington Post and recently published a piece providing the details of the surprising relationship. Many Christian evangelicals have referred positively to this article and praised Cathy’s decision to cultivate this friendship. The consensus has been that this is a positive, healthy thing that will help “heal division” and further lay to rest the caricature of Christians as “hateful” towards the gay community. Even conservative evangelicals like Denny Burk are reacting this way.

As usual, I’m going to be the lone dissenter. But I don’t want to downplay the significance of this story. On the contrary, I agree that it’s significant. But I disagree regarding how we, as Christians in the trenches of the culture wars, should receive it. Continue reading

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Pray for Rick Santorum’s Youngest Daughter

Via Denny Burk, I just saw the news that Rick Santorum’s youngest (Bella) has been admitted to the hospital for unspecified health concerns resulting from Trisomy 18. It’s a miracle that she’s still alive today, as the vast majority of babies born with the illness die quickly. (Watch an inspiring video about her story here.) However, she does have many complications. Our prayers go out to the Santorum family. Santorum has canceled his scheduled campaigning events for today but hopes to be back by Tuesday, the first primary election (in Florida).

I plan to vote for Santorum even though he may not have the best winning chances. If I can spare the time, I may give my reasons in a longer post later this coming election month.

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Saturday Survey #10

*Here’s the 2012 schedule for NQC. (I for one am amazed they post these so dang EARLY. It’s barely past Christmas of 2011.) I’ll save my full reactions for a separate upcoming post.

*Rick Santorum once again takes heat for taking a stand on the gay “marriage” issue. I really was impressed by the way he handled himself in that clip, even though he conceded a few things I wouldn’t have conceded. Yet more evidence that being nice doesn’t get you anywhere. Here he is almost being too gracious, and he still gets booed. You’ll probably hear more from me on Santorum later.

*Gordon Mote is on twitter. Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

*Ernie Haase is celebrating 25 years of professional singing this year. To allow fans to celebrate with him, they’ve set up a Facebook competition. Check it out.

*Here’s what you get when an English professor writes a book on Southern Gospel. One word: Oy.

*Yesterday, I tried to describe this particular Singing Success technique to my voice teacher. You should have seen her face. I suspected she’d react that way, so I smiled and said, “Okay, so now I definitely know I’m not supposed to do this, right?” “Uh… no.” She’s hilarious. She’ll start naming x or y big-name singer, then lower her voice and say, “She had nodules too.” “Ever hear of so-and-so? Well, she’s like the most famous opera singer ever. Nodules.  Of course Whitney had nodules… And Julie Andrews, well.”

*Speaking of singing, I’ve discovered that my break is higher than Whitney Houston’s. I realize everyone was just dying to know that. :D Actually, that’s not as impressive as it sounds, because it means I have to work on notes that were easy for her, and I’m not talking about the super high ones. It’s the ones right in the middle—well, right in the middle for me, that is. What would be a comfortable upper range belt for her lands right in the place where I’m trying to bridge the gap between upper and lower. Steadily improving though. Meanwhile, Celine Dion is way easier to imitate (not sure if this is good or bad).

*School starts next Monday. Sad yankeegospelgirl.

*Coming up: My favorite southern gospel songs of the year. Stay tuned.

It’s an open thread. What do you want to discuss?

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A Thought On Steve Jobs and Abortion

In the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, people reflecting on his vast legacy have been pointing out that he was adopted. His biological father was a Syrian immigrant who met his mother when they were both students. She became pregnant out of wedlock, and he wanted them to get married and keep the child, but her parents didn’t want her to marry a Muslim. So they split up, she had the baby alone, and he was placed for adoption by prior agreement between both his biological parents.

Now at the time, abortion was illegal, so it was not comparable to a situation today, where it is the widely preferred option. Nevertheless, people have speculated about what could have been and about what would have been lost. We wouldn’t have i-anything. We might not even have laptops or mouses. Aren’t we glad Steve’s mother put him up for adoption?

Yes, we are. But I think we should be careful here. Because I see this argument a lot: Just think of all the diseases that might have been cured, or the new inventions made, or this or that, if all the babies aborted in the last 30 years had been allowed to live. And there is truth to that argument. But should it be the only or even the main reason why we oppose abortion?

I don’t think so. I think we should oppose abortion simply because every unborn child is intrinsically valuable. It shouldn’t matter whether they grow up and, in the words of Saving Private Ryan, “cure some disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb, or something…” or not. It doesn’t matter if they’re disabled or healthy, retarded or mentally sound. It doesn’t matter if they invent the ipod or spend the rest of their life in the care of their parents because they’re never able to feed and dress themselves.

It isn’t wrong to speculate about what good millions of aborted infants may have done for the world. But it is worth recognizing that the loss of their lives should be considered enough of a loss all by itself.

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Imagine…

The bumper sticker says it all.Get your own here.

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September 11th Was Not a Tragedy

Everybody else will probably be asking “Where were you?” so I’ve decided I’ll do something a little different for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Anybody who knows me knows that I have a passion for language—specifically, its proper use. One of the things that I absolutely cannot stand is when people use the word “tragedy” for something that is not a tragedy. Let me explain.

A 4-year-old dies of leukemia. A young mother is paralyzed in a car accident. A teenager mistakenly runs over his little sister with the family van. These are tragedies.

Murder is not a tragedy. When I see people refer to something like, say, abortion as a “tragedy,” I have an overwhelming urge to say “What a lot of crud.” Abortion is a deliberate act of evil. It is not something terrible that just “happened,” through illness, accident, or what have you.

The same is true of the September 11th attacks. I am sure all of you have seen them described as a “tragedy” many times, in many places. I even saw Peggy Noonan doing this the other day. But were they a tragedy? No. The planes didn’t fly into the buildings because their engines malfunctioned. The pilots didn’t fall asleep at the wheel. They were Muslim terrorists who knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going, and they coldly chose to murder thousands of innocent lives as an act of war against the country they hate so much. The correct word here is “murder.” Not “tragedy.”

I would be willing to bet that there are many Americans who, when they stopped to think it through, would agree with me. But why are so many lapsing into this sloppy, mistaken use of the word “tragedy” in the first place? I think perhaps it’s because with the rise of relativism, our society has developed an instinctive shying away from words like “evil” and “murder.” So replacement words like “tragedy” have become so widespread that people use them unthinkingly, even when they really mean “murder.” (In this specific case, another factor is that people are timid about directly ascribing evil to minority groups like Muslims, and the worse a minority behaves, the more excuses are made for them. Unfortunate, but true.)

My challenge to you, my fellow Christians, is this:  Be clear, precise, and unflinching in your condemnation of evil actions, be they aborting a child or flying a plane into the World Trade Center. Let us call them what they are: not “tragic,” but “evil.”

By the way, if you are looking for something profound and inspiring to read today, this piece should fit the bill more than adequately.

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NQC: Cut the Chit-Chat, Cue the Music?

NQC and politics: I’ve already stated what my views basically are in assorted comments on other blogs, but I thought I would collect them in somewhat more organized form here.

So, last year it was Sarah Palin, this year it’s John Ashcroft. Some people think this is great, others don’t. I thought it might be helpful to look at the people who don’t think this is such a great idea and break them up into three rough groups, recognizing that there may be some overlap:

1. The liberals. Let’s face it, the liberals can’t stand Sarah Palin’s guts, and ditto for John Aschroft. So wherever Palin, Ashcroft, and their ilk goes, the liberals’ snark follows. It’s like the law of gravity. Completely inexorable. So this is just another opportunity for them to try to out-snark each other.

2. The quietists. These are the Puritan throwbacks who believe that politics, any kind of politics, is a corrupting influence on Christianity. Therefore, they oppose the invitation of any political candidate, seeing it as a form of compromise or kowtowing to the world.

And finally, we have…

3. The grumpy musical purists. These are the fans and artists who are irritated because doggone it, the NQC is supposed to be about music, not some politician’s speech (or singing, as case may be). “If I want to listen to a politician, I’ll turn on the TV,” they say. Meanwhile, let’s get back to southern gospel.

Group one is beneath notice, obviously. Group two, I believe, is misguided. I don’t really agree with opposing politicians just because they’re politicians. I would only be concerned about compromise and kowtowing to the world if the NQC were inviting a political candidate who by and large did not share conservative values—for example, a pro-choice candidate, or a candidate who’s soft on gay “marriage.” Then I would be concerned. But Palin? Ashcroft? Sure, I may not agree with everything they’ve said/done, but at least they’re Christians and they have a lot in common with what most NQC attendees stand for. They’re on our side in the culture war. We shouldn’t be isolating ourselves at a time when we need true comrades and allies.

The only group for whom I have any feelings of sympathy is group three. It was rather humorous seeing Palin display her unfamiliarity with the genre as she made a few awkward stabs at connecting with fans of the music. But of course, you’re in trouble with any kind of purist when you’re invited to one of their events and obviously can’t talk the talk. It’s true for southern gospel, horse-racing, chess, needle-point… what have you. Myself I just thought it was sort of charmingly funny and didn’t give much thought to it, but others were, perhaps understandably, irritated.

As for Ashcroft, even granting that he loves the music and is scheduled to perform with Greater Vision, let’s think about this for a moment: Okay, so Ashcroft sings and writes his own songs. Well so do I. So do many other southern gospel fans. Are we getting a spot on the NQC main-stage? Of course not. Why would we? We’re just fans! But because Ashcroft used to be an important conservative politician… he does, even though his singing/writing talents aren’t particularly remarkable. To me, that does seem to cheapen the value of the stage a little bit. Now I don’t intend to be snarky,  but I’m just pointing out that the purists have a point. That being said, I would be even more sympathetic to their side if the politicians were truly hogging NQC time. Sarah Palin took a few hours to speak last year [actually now I'm wondering if it wasn't even that much], but it’s not like she was taking up the whole convention. Aschroft is appearing and singing this year, but how much is he planning to sing? Two songs? Maybe three max? If he were slated to appear over and over again, okay. Now I don’t have the schedule in front of me so I’ll have to see how much time he gets when I watch the webcast, but from what I’ve heard it doesn’t seem like it will be a significant percentage. [Update: I've gotten a look at the schedule now, and he appears to be giving a one-hour keynote address. Whoop-de-do.] But I suppose the argument of the purists is that for a politician, any time is too much time.

I guess in the end my message is… lighten up. It may not be the way I would have done it, or the way you would have done it, but we’ve got more important things to be complaining about. Let’s count our blessings and enjoy the show anyway.

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Groveling to the World (or The Wishy-Washiness of Willow Creek)

I recently came across this message from Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels. Apparently Willow Creek wanted to invite Starbucks president Howard Schultz to come speak for a leadership seminar, but the constituency of Starbucks had other plans. Believing the church to be “anti-gay,” over seven hundred angry petitioners came together in protest, threatening to boycott Starbucks unless Schultz declined the invitation. So he did.

At this point, Willow Creek had a choice as to how they could respond. You would like to think they would have said, “Well yes, as a matter of fact we are ‘anti-gay,’ and very proud of it too. Gee, isn’t it nice to be hated by the right people?” Unfortunately, Hybels’ response was a little different:

Where to begin? We could start by the fact that at the end he’s citing Matthew 18 (??) as their basis for trying to “meet with” the petitioners in order to “seek a better understanding” and perhaps come to a point of “mutual respect.” The petitioners, who are (we presume) not even remotely Christian and not associated with the church in any way, shape or form. That sounds like a private grievance with a Christian brother, not. But Matthew 18 seems to be the go-to thing these days… no matter what the situation, Matthew 18 must apply, somehow.

So that’s just weird, right there. But of course there’s a big picture problem here, namely that Hybels is somehow trying to have it both ways. Notice that he does say at one point that the church “challenge(s) homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics of the Scriptures,” and he even elicits some applause. However, he immediately continues with some fluff about “grace-filled spirits” and “honoring everybody’s journey,” whatever the deuce that means.

Official stance aside, what is getting repeated over and over here? It’s this all-inclusive “welcome” message. “The mat on every door at this campus [campus--don't you love that?] has always read ‘welcome’. ” No, the church is not anti-gay. In fact, the church is not anti-anybody. (One would like to ask, “Does that include the world, the flesh, and the devil?” But moving right along…) That’s what he’s harping on, and harping on. Now granted, in a church that size, there wouldn’t really be much you could do to actively prevent somebody gay from walking in on Sunday. But it’s pretty obvious that there wouldn’t be much of an attempt to exercise church discipline on an immoral member, or to communicate a pointedly, explicitly anti-gay message from the pulpit that might “offend” [Edit: In fairness, I just read an article which quoted a 2007 sermon that did contain anti-gay messages. Whether Hybels would preach something similar today is another question.] The clear take-home message here is, “It’s all right, it’s okay.” Make no mistake, Hybels is trying to walk an impossibly fine line, and something has to give. We’re seeing a serious disconnect between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. It may take a few years, maybe even a decade or two, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see even the official policy quietly disappear one day.

But until that happens, the angry petitioners still won’t be satisfied. I can see it now: Church sets up the meeting (if the petitioners are willing to meet at all), and Hybels goes and spouts the liberal line, saying nothing at all about the church policy if he can help it. But sooner or later they drag it out of him, and then it’s all over because as long as the letter is there, they will fight it.

I see this as just one more part of an emerging trend: Christian entities (churches, organizations, etc.) are becoming more and more eager to invite completely secular speakers for secular purposes, in an effort to “find common ground.” Compare with Focus on the Family and Blake Mycoskie. The Church is actively extending these kinds of invitations: “Hey, let’s forget about our differences and have you come and talk about leadership, or giving shoes to poor children, or anti-AIDS charity, or [insert something else generic]?” When those secular leaders yield to pressure from their base to refuse the invitation because of the officially conservative values of the Christian entities extending it, said Christians react by saying, “Oh, we’re so sorry. We’re good little liberals, honest! Er, yes, well, we do officially have standard Christian principles of morality, but can’t we w0rk something out anyway? Pleaseohpleaseohplease? All together now: WE ARE NOT EXCLUSIVE.” Instead of which they should realize, “You know, maybe that’s what we get for trying to work with somebody who doesn’t particularly share our values, at least not enough to stand up to a vocally complaining left-wing base. Let’s invite x solidly Christian speaker next time instead.”

The Church wasn’t built to grovel to the world. She was built to overcome the world. And if taking a stand for what’s right means that we are reviled and scorned… well, somebody kind of important once said that we should count that as a blessing.

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