Sunday, July 31, 2005

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

The Seattle Mariners are dead to me.

Randy Winn, the best player we had, was traded off yesterday to the National League (for crying out loud!) for two SF Giants players, whom I will now always detest. What kind of name is "Yorvit" anyway?

So, I've taken my disgust and worked it into an adaptation of Joni Mitchell's classic, Big Yellow Taxi:

Late last night, I heard the local news show
Stupid sportscaster said that it was Randy Winn's time to go - Oh -

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Hey, Bill Bavasi, put away your mid-season trade, now!
Ya give me lots of lousy pitching but leave me my boy, Randy Winn, now!

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Oh sure, they've got $100 million to waste on Sexson and Bletre
But now that Randy Winn's gone there's going to be hell to pay - hey -

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.


Mid-season trades are just a terrible thing to do to fans. You've put all this emotional investment in your favorite player, and then they trade him right out from under you without a blink. The SF Giants. Sheesh!

At least I got to see Randy Winn's last game as a Mariner on Friday night. He went 4/5. I can't believe we traded him. I would have rather they traded Jamie Moyer (an excellent pitcher and a Mariners icon, but one whose getting old) or Eddie Guardado (a great closer, but, again, tradeable) or either of those two shmoes they spent, collectively, $100 million on: Richie "The Drunk" Sexson or Adrian "Can't Get Used to the American League" Beltre.

I'm going to miss you, Randy Winn. Thank you for four great years of play. You're too good for this loser team, anyway. May your fingers be filled with World Series rings. May the Mariners rot in the pit of crappiness in which they have buried themselves.

Maybe when I calm down a little, I can focus on my second and third favorite players: Raul Ibañez and Willie Bloomquist. Holy cow, this is a staggering loss.

Friday, July 29, 2005

If You Are Pro-Life . . .

If you are pro-life, and do not yet subscribe to the free daily e-mail newsletter from the NRLC (National Right to Life Committee), "Today's News and Views" by Dave Andrusko, I would like strongly to encourage you to sign up to receive it.

It is an extremely valuable cross between news brief, philosophical reflection, spiritual refreshment and encouragement, and, occasionally, political action alert.

It's a great daily read.

Blessings to you!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

POP-UPS!! &*&$^*%&%#$#*&&(*&(!!!!!!!

Why?! Why in the world have all these lame-o pop-ups infiltrated my cyber-space? I have a pop-up blocker that used to work very well. Now, though it's turned on, it's letting about 98% of all pop-ups through. At first, they were sly. They were "pop-behinds;" They would pop into the background of whatever legitimate page I was viewing, and only reared their ugly heads when I closed out the other page. Now, they have gotten bold and shoot right past my blocker (useless piece o' blankity blank!) and get right in my face while I'm viewing or typing. This is the pits.

Two of the most annoying are "Aqua" and "Venus123." These two come up with myriad attachments that continually download with an irritating "clickety-click-click" constantly. Also, there is this absolutely infuriating "Search Result" thing that comes up and tries to give me links based upon the websites I was viewing. What sickens me about this un-asked for intrusion into my Internet viewing habits is that I spend a lot of time looking up pro-life sites on the 'net, and this "Search Results" thing picks up that I'm "interested" in abortion, so it brings up all these abortion clinics, especially this one in New York with a woman doctor who will perform abortions in her office so you don't have to go to a clinic (how lovely). I feel nauseated whenever this comes up. If you are going to put software out there that noses into people's private website preferences, you should at least have the sensitivity to figure that people who like unborn babies enough to go to pro-life sites are not going to want you to throw it back in their faces that these little babies are right now being murdered in these clinics (or comfortable office settings) you advertise. Yuck!!

How can I get rid of these pop-ups? I guess we'll have to get a new program to download that does a better job than the one that came with MS Internet Explorer. Any suggestions?

Peace to all (except those pop-up companies - Pooh to them!)!


P.S. Who in the world thinks that throwing a bunch of pop-ups in unsuspecting peoples' faces is an effective advertising campaign? I mean, c'mon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And the Prize for the Most Obvious "News" Story of the Day . . .

. . . goes to The Seattle Times, and their enlightening exposé that - wait for it - divorce is bad!

I will pause a moment to let the collective gasp from everyone who has been living under a rock for the past forty years to reverberate around the room and die out. PAUSE. Okay.

Yes, folks, people like the staff at The Seattle Times are waking up to a fact that every child whose parents divorced for little or no good reason has known for years: Divorce sucks. It's bad for kids. It's bad for society. And - and this is the part that may make the demi-children called modern adults sit up and take notice - it's bad for those who are divorcing.

Oh sure, Seattle Times staff reporter, Kyung M. Song, starts with a disclaimer that what follows in the article will sound like a "conservative (boo! hiss!) marriage manifesto." I'm sure that he wants the readership of greater Seattle to know that he is just as aghast at these statistics as any good liberal should be. But wait (he implies)! Don't discount them just because you've heard "conservatives" touting them for years! This advice will benefit your health too! Tellingly, the article starts out by stressing all of the emotional and physical health risks to divorcing couples. Secondly (always, always secondly nowadays), he looks at the health risks to children of divorce.

Then, the article delves into risk factors for divorce. The predominant ones follow:
  • Having divorced parents
  • Marrying young (the article doesn't specify what "young" is, but seems to imply that it is under 20 years of age)
  • Living together before engagement
  • Being previously divorced or marrying a previously divorced partner
  • Having a child before marriage (and to a lesser extent getting pregnant before the wedding)
  • Being much older or younger than your spouse
  • Marrying someone of a different race
  • Following different religions or no religion
  • Having low educational levels

Hmmm . . . My parents did not fall into any of those categories, except the religion one, and that didn't stop them from giving up after 18 years. Oh well.

My mom was married three times. According to the statistics of the article I read, this gives my marriage only a one in three chance of lasting. Baloney! I say. Seeing my mom and her failed marriages and all the emotional distress that she lived with day-to-day has only strengthened my resolve never, ever to divorce. Knowing what it was like to grow up as a child of divorce, knowing the heartache of living between two different houses, choosing constantly between my parents, having every cause for celebration (i.e. birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduations) become a cause for peeling off once again the scab over my wounded spirit, I will never, ever do that to Sadie. No! No! One thousand times, NO! To this end, I carefully chose a wonderful man as committed to marriage as I.

The opposite view from that in this article, one that may not be borne out in statistics, but one much more closely aligned with my own philosophy, is found in this wonderful closing paragraph from Emily Post's Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage (1965):

"At present, the breaking up of homes is so widespread it may be that those who grow up never having known the completeness of home will find it unessential. Or will it be the other way around? Perhaps the children of today's divided houses will be twice as earnest in their efforts to provide their own children with the priceless security of a father and mother together in one place called HOME!"

(I love that book! I have spent many a delightful afternoon pouring over it in a reverie of nostalgia. It totally rocks - especially compared to modern day Emily Post - which is a little too modern; proper manners and etiquette are timeless and should not be subject to the whims of vulgarity that infiltrate society for time to time. I'll stick with 1965 and earlier versions, thank you very much!)

Of course, the Seattle Times article loves to point out that really abusive or "toxic" marriages should come to an end, for the betterment of all. Duh! The problem is that, with no-fault divorce, any little reason has become de rigueur for unraveling the marital knot. Who hasn't seen their parents divorce for the nebulous reason of "irreconcilable differences" and wondered if it was simply because of boredom or something different, something darker? This vagueness in dissolution leads to children who do not know the line between emotional abuse and the normal back and forth, anger and reconciliation, of two people learning to live under the same roof. They end up thinking that anything other than constant bliss is a terminally troubled relationship. They see the wedding as an act of "perfection" and finality in the relationship between man and wife, and not the commencement of life-long refining and, well, tweaking that is really is. This lie of instant gratification is what is most "toxic" in marriage today.

The one divorce statistic that I have always found most troubling, that is not addressed in the article because it is not part of its scope, is the equal or higher rate of divorce between "born-again Christians" as compared to the rest of society. This is so distressing, because 1) Christians should be "set apart" from the world (John 17:14), 2) our lives should be reflections of Christ's infinite forgiveness and mercy ("Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16), 3) we should place others' (read concerning marriage: our children's and our spouse's) needs above our own selfish inclinations, 4) we should obey Christ's admonitions regarding divorce - His narrow standards for allowable divorce - one of the few social issues He commented upon directly (Matthew 19:1-9, Matthew 5:31-32), and 5) we should remember that the "Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16), which, really, should be enough to keep Christians from divorcing for any but the most dire reasons. Once again, just as in the human life issue, Catholics put all of us Protestants to shame.

Anyway, congratulations to The Seattle Times, for this revolutionary piece of reporting. Who knew that disregarding the sacred bond of marriage, which was ordained by the Creator for humans as being the best foundation for society since the dawn of time, would actually be a bad idea? Stay tuned for more cutting-edge investigative journalism that reports:

  • The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was devastating for society, especially for women.
  • Abortion kills actual human children.
  • Abortion is bad for women and humankind in general.
  • Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Savior of the World.
  • Breastfeeding is the best way to feed babies.
  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • You should never wear white after Labor Day.
  • Smoking is a primary cause of lung cancer.
  • Chocolate tastes good.

These and other exciting reports coming your way from the daring reporters of The Seattle Times.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Trouble with Forgiveness

I was in Canada on July 7, 2005, on an island retreat, without television, radio, Internet, or newspapers, so all we heard was that there had been simultaneous terroist bombings in London. Not knowing the extent, my mind immediately went to that terrible day, September 11, 2001, and I dissolved into tears. Thankfully, we found out the next day, the terror attacks in London were not of the same magnitude as 9-11, but any time innocent life is destroyed it is a cause for mourning.

Then, yesterday, there was another set of "copycat" attacks in London - I praise God for His mercy that no lives were lost in those attacks.

I have a lot of issues with Islam. My heart wants to find its Christ-center and pray sincerely for these humans who must, as Carolyn Arends so eloquently put it, "live in such a hell that perpetuating these acts seems rational and justifiable." But, I just cannot yet. The first international incident that I have a clear memory of was the hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. Throughout my life, almost every act of terrorism against civilians has been done by people who call themselves Muslims. And then, that dark day, September 11, 2001, came, and my soul revulsed, and the rage poured in. I cannot yet separate these actions from the religion of Islam. I cannot yet forgive them.

But I know that as we have been forgiven by God, so must we forgive others. There is no way around it. Jesus says over and over, throughout the Gospels, that continued forgiveness from God is directly related to our forgiveness of others (Mark 11:26, Matthew 6:14, 15 and 18:21-35). The original forgiveness, the saving grace of God, never washes away, but, as regenerate sinners, we must acknowledge our continual need for forgiveness by expressing true forgiveness. So, I struggle every day with this hatred that I feel.

I think that I could forgive these monsters were it not for their choice of victims. In other words, if they carried out attacks merely against military targets, I would not have this rage against them. I hate for anyone to die, but at least military or political centers have a symbolism that is understandable. It is the fact that this scum targets people just going about the business of living that makes me ill and hardens my heart. Knowing that they hate my daughter Sadie, who is a delight and a joy and a person so free in her love of others and open and trusting - knowing that had she and I been on any of the hijacked flights on 9-11, that had they seen her sweet face, it would not have stopped them from killing her cold-heartedly by ramming that airplane into the side of a building - knowing that they would slit her throat at any given opportunity and record that heinous act on video tape while shouting that "Allah [not God - never my God!] is great!" - knowing all these things - I just cannot "turn the other cheek." Sweet Jesus, forgive me!

One other thing I hate is that so many secularists associate their satanic god, Allah, with the one, true God of Israel. Then, all religious people get lumped together in the secular mind - Christians, Jews, Muslims, oh, they're all the same, dontcha know? Lord God, please keep Your people from ever falling out of Your arms and into the arms of the Evil One - keep us from ever doing the will of darkness under the name of the Lord of light. Help us to be the peacemakers, whom You call blessed.

I am really, really trying to shed this hatred for Islam, especially for Arab Muslims. It is a constant work for God, since my rebellious nature is always getting in the way of His refinement. I want to pray Jesus' last prayer - "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." - and mean it.

I do not want to be bound to this earth - I want my spirit to commune with the Most High. I know that everything suffered through in this fallen world will fade away in light of eternity - yet, I have so much trouble letting go. I know that the evil terrorists will pay forever for their vile deeds, yet that strangely doesn't bring me much comfort. I don't want to think of people being forever separated from the Holy One - I want people to get it right, right now, here on earth and stop causing so much pain. And, maybe that is the key to open the door to forgiveness. When I think of human souls, led so far away from the light, being kept forever away from the Father, having thought all their time on earth that they had been serving God, I pity them.

Oh, but then I think of Sadie's precious face, her love of life, her exuberance, and I think of the person who wouldn't mind blowing her to bits. I think of the killers in Israel who ran up to a car with a pregnant woman and her four daughters inside and didn't stop shooting until they were all dead. I think of those vile Islamic Chechens in Beslan, Russia last year that took an entire school hostage and killed over two hundred children. I think of every bus blown up in Israel. I think of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. I think of the eleven Israeli Olympic athletes murdered in Munich, Germany in 1972. I think of the Pan-Am plane that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270. I think of TWA Flight 800. I think of American troops being attacked in Iraq by suicide bombers while they were handing out candy to children. I think of the USS Cole in 2000. I think of the nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia in 2002. This list could go on and on.

Yet, God has forgiven me, I know He has. I know that He has separated me from my transgressions as far as east is from west. Why cannot I let go of these events? Am I a hypocrite? No, I do not believe that I am, because a hypocrite tries to hide his failings behind a mask of righteousness. My righteousness lies only in Christ's sacrifice. I have no problem laying out all of my failures to meet His standards for the world to see. I think a lot of us are struggling with this, especially since September 11, 2001. I am so interested, dear blog reader: how do you deal with forgiveness? Does forgiveness mean inaction against evil? If you take proactive measures to prevent further terrorist attacks, using retaliative force, is this wrong from a Christian perspective?

I've asked seminary students, Christian friends, and myself these questions over and over. I hate war. I think it is so awful to put people in a situation wherein they must become killers. I do not know how our amazing troops handle it without becoming monsters.

Is there ever a reason to use the ultimate force of taking life? Jesus said to "turn the other cheek." Would that have worked against Hitler and Hirohito in World War II? I think even most Christians would say, "No." I cannot believe that Jesus would have thought it better to allow the Nazis to continue incinerating Jewish people, than for the Allies to advance through Germany and Poland, liberating many while killing many too. Can you express forgiveness while, at the same time, fighting an enemy to the death? Can you love your enemy and kill him too? I think that fighting Islamic terror is even more difficult, because it is more insidious, more scattered, more decentralized. How much more easy to bomb a hostile country like Germany which is spreading itself across Europe like a festering boil without falling under the censure of the world, than to detain suspects or detect sleeper cells without violating international laws and civil liberties!

These are the tough questions. One thing that Jesus makes clear is that one of the signs of His Coming will be "wars and rumors of wars." He goes on to advise: See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. - Matthew 24:6-8. In light of this, what can we do but get along as best we can - watching, hoping, praying, loving, forgiving? If I cannot be filled with a forgiving spirit now, through the grace of God I can throw myself upon His mercy and pray, similar to the prayer for belief of the troubled father in Mark 9:14-29, "Lord, I will forgive; help my unforgiving!"

And, above all things, despite my many shortcomings of faith and obedience, I am confident of this very thing: That He who began a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ - Philippians 1:6. Amen.

Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated. This is a long and continuing struggle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Summer Reading

My reading tastes encompass high-brow, low-brow, and every-brow in-between. Here's my list for the summer:

Prince of Pleasure by Saul David: English History; A biography of the Prince Regent of England between 1811 and 1820, later King George IV. While he was a blackguard and a hedonist, he was also a great patron of the arts and, to many, a kind and generous benefactor. Jane Austen was commanded to dedicate Emma to him, and she did so most reluctantly. A fascinating monarch.

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey: Christian Living; A Christian journalist's perspective on the life of Christ - highly recommended by many respected friends. I've never read Yancey before, so this should be interesting.

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich: Mystery (sort of); Stephanie Plum is back in this latest mass market paperback in the numerically-themed mystery series set in Trenton, NJ. Saving this one for pool reading on our annual Las Vegas trip.

Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews: Chick-Lit Southern Style; Comedy, drama and mystery mix it up in Georgia for what promises to be a vintage Andrews (Savannah Blues, Little Bitty Lies) novel. I've heard that this one has darker undertones to the storyline, but is still a funny read.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: Youth Fantasy; Yes, I bought this on July 16. Yes, I'm a big fan. No, I won't apologize for it. Pppbbbbltt!

FDR's Folly and Wilson's War both by Jim Powell: American History; History with a libertarian perspective, examining, respectively, The Great Depression and World War I. Jim Powell wrote the excellent collection of libertarian personalities, The Triumph of Liberty.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella: Chick-Lit British Style; This looks like another winner from über-hilarious Brit, Ms. Kinsella (Shopaholic series, Can You Keep a Secret?). A London lawyer runs away from the city and her stressful job and ends up as a servant in the country - only Kinsella and a willing suspension of disbelief can pull this off - I expect many laughs.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by (Stupid) John Irving: Fiction; Okay, I bought this book three years ago and couldn't get into it. Then, I read The World According to Garp by Irving and hated it. Plus, The Cider House Rules (which I have never read), also by Irving, appears to be a positive portrayal of abortion - which infuriates me and consigns the author into one of the outer-rings of hell in my authorial hierarchy. BUT, Rich Mullins and Carolyn Arends both read and loved A Prayer for Owen Meany. AND there's this secret club that people who've read the book get to belong to, and I've always had a weakness for secret clubs. Plus, I finally got to "talk books" with Carolyn Arends up at Barnabas, and the first novel she brought up was Owen Meany. And I had to gulp and admit that I had bought it when I read that she loved it (and about the secret club), and that I just couldn't get into it. So I'm going to gird my loins and grind my teeth and get through this wee tome. Can something that has touched the hearts of two of the greatest songwriters of all time be really bad? Well, we'll see . . .

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux: Travel Essay; My dad highly recommends this and even lent me his copy (which I've had for a year). It's all about the author's travels in Africa. My dad says it's pretty hard on the humanitarian organizations at work on that continent (one of which - Compassion International - I support), so it may be tough for me to stomach. But Dad insists it is well-written and entertaining, and he read Bill Bryson at my behest, so I'll give it a go.

One Nation Under Therapy by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, MD: Social Science; Few things, in my opinion, are more subversively destructive in our culture today than belly-button-gazing psychotherapy. When I worked at B&N, the "Self-Help" section made me physically ill. This book promises to reinforce all my previously-formed prejudices - which should make for an invigorating, comfortable, but, most likely, unchallenging, read.

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling by John Holt and Patrick Farenga: Education/Child Development; I've already begun this book, and I find it incredibly enlightening and helpful, especially since I'm planning to homeschool. John Holt had a lot of empathy for children; and his warm understanding of children as, foremost, individuals shines through on every page.

Well, there's my list so far. Feel free to add your own lists/recommendations in the comments section. (I'm sure they'll be much more erudite than mine - I'm honored to have a lot of smart people visit my humble blog.) I'm always on the lookout for great reads!

A blessed and literary summer to all!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It Is Well With My Soul

I love this hymn:

It Is Well With My Soul
Text: Horatio G. Spafford
Music: Philip P. Bliss

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say:
"It is well, it is well with my soul."

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control -
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin - O, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin - not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more -
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll -
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
"Even so" - it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

The above hymn calls to mind this beautiful psalm:

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is holy within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Not punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father who pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Monday, July 11, 2005

You Can Always Count on the Methodists . . .

. . . to be weenies!

I was baptized in the United Methodist Church, so I have a little bit of a right to chastise this so-called Christian church. Thankfully, soon after joining the UMC, I found the Calvary Chapel churches, to which I have gone ever since. Talk about going from a dead faith to an alive one . . .

Okay, so I'm reading the awesome compendium of libertarian history, The Triumph of Liberty by Jim Powell, from which I got the incredibly stirring quote by William Lloyd Garrison that I am using this week, and I read this:

"In 1836, the General Conference of the Methodist Church ordered its members not to participate in anti-slavery agitation."

Now, too many Christian churches had ministers that personally refused to bring the travesty of slavery into the pulpit. It is a shame that Christians too often stand for the status quo and against the human liberty that should result from "faith in God and His works" (Bastiat, The Law). The message of Jesus can be distilled into this statement: "In the light of God's overwhelming love, you are free indeed." Slavery never, ever should have been in those places that are, through God's grace, Christendom. As a believer, I cannot fathom how this institution survived so long in societies that dared to speak aloud the name of Jesus.

But, it was the Methodists who took this de facto pro-slavery stance to the next reprehensible level in actually building it into church doctrine that members could not agitate to end this evil, vile practice. Oy! Why did I ever join this church?

Now, the UMC is one of those squishy, yicky churches that likes to straddle the fence on the issue of abortion. Ooh, we don't like abortion but ooh it's so tough to say when life really begins and ooh women's health and ooh much prayer and meditation and ooh it's up to the woman and ooh please don't think that we are saying abortion is a good thing but ooh don't think we are saying that abortion is wrong either and ooh it's up to a woman's personal conscience ooh ooh ooh. . . I could just barf! I hold to this statement: You cannot be a Christian and believe that the decision to end a baby's life should simply be left to a woman's conscience. If you believe in God, and you believe that He is the Creator, then you cannot say that matters of life and death should be in the hands of humans - imperfect, sinful creations without eternal perspective. God never says: Go forth and multiply and be fruitful, but, hey, it is okay to destroy your fruit if you please, so long as you've prayed (to Molech) and meditated upon it. I mean, can you imagine Jesus ever counseling a woman to have an abortion? Can you? Jesus asks us for a bit more faith in Him than that.

I hate the moral relativism that can be found in so-called churches like the UMC. God's not a moral relativist, but Satan wants us to be. God calls us out from darkness, into light and out from sinfulness, into holiness. I'm not even talking here about the UMC's attitudes toward homosexuals and women in the clergy. Those two items can be debated within that church at their leisure. What I am talking about are those issues that have no grey area.

Should people be kidnapped from their native land, bound hand and foot, placed on boats like inantimate cargo, shipped hundreds and hundreds of miles, then (if they survive that) placed on an auction block like cows, separated from their families, sold as chattel, held in bondage for the rest of their lives, kept from the sweet gift of liberty that is mankind's birthright from the days of Eden? No! Not those precious souls for whom my Lord shed His sinless blood!

Should a tiny little human person, complete with his own DNA blueprint, handcrafted in his Creator's love and image, the most innocent being imaginable, be ripped by a scalpel from his womb home, or have his wee heart stopped by a poisonous injection of saline, his only crime being that he was inconvenient to another person and unseen by an apathetic world? No! Not that precious soul for whom my Lord suffered on the cross at Calvary!

The very fact that these churches dare to act in the Name of the Most High is the reason that they fall so heavily under my censure. How dare they sanction abortion in their wishy-washy, namby-pamby way, as if it were something that God would ever condone? God is the Creator, and Satan the Great Destroyer. You tell me in whose name abortion should be done.

And then there are those churches, I don't want to call them liberal - the church should be liberal in love and acceptance, considering we're all (at best) a group of regenerate sinners, completely dependent upon His grace - so I'll call them materialistic or faithless, that take some sort of self-righteous stance concerning abortion (especially abortion services in the Third World - too many little, brown children being born nowadays, and, since we can't capture them as slaves anymore, we might as well destroy them in the womb), because of the fear of over-population. Why are these churches so earth-bound? Why do they not have faith that all children are precious to Him who created them - to Him who knew them before He knit them together in their mothers' wombs and counted all of their days when, as yet, there were not any? I love that quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying that there are too many flowers. Do these churches really believe that the God who created the heavens and the earth, who vanquished Satan's plan by His sacrifice, who daily rescues sinners in the flash of His grace, would not provide for a world that at least tries to be in His will? Stop putting God into a box - He will not be contained or defined by your human perceptions!

It is fascinating to me that the very groups that were so against the abolition of slavery are today the ones most hysterical (I like that word, and all the feminine irrationality it encapsulates) about ensuring that every path to murdering her unborn baby be left open to a woman. Once your mindset is willing to put human people into groups of personhood versus non-personhood, it becomes very easy to justify things like slavery and infanticide. I grieve for you, UMC, that your hearts have remained as hard as they were in the bad, old days of American slavery. Please, please return to the loving heart and boundless faith of Jesus Christ, who wants us to pray much and meditate often, but never to ask for or presume we've received His validation when we want to destroy life or liberty.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Ten Things I Love About America

Happy Birthday, U.S.A!

I love, love, love my country for myriad reasons. The top ten of which I'd like to share today:

10) Baseball - I'm glad they're taking baseball out of the Olympics. This sport belongs to Americans, and I never liked the idea of countries like, oh say France, putting together teams wherein it's called something like le bôl de basé. Central and South Americans (and, maybe, further north North Americans) can get in on this too - just so long as the U.S.A. remains the heart of the great game of baseball.

9) Laura Ingalls Wilder - And all that she and Almanzo represent! I think that, better than any other works - historical or literary - LIW (and her collaborator and daughter, Rose Wilder Lane) captured the essence of America on paper. Consider this: "Americans are free. This means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn't anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good." (Little Town on the Prairie).

8) Patriotic Songs - From "God Bless America" to "America the Beautiful" to "My Country 'Tis of Thee" to "God Bless the U.S.A." America has a wonderful treasury of patriotic songs that can be pulled out of our hearts' memories at a moment's notice and bring instant tears to the eyes of those who love liberty.

7) Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, The South, The East Coast, Seattle, The Heartland (aka Jesusland), Hawaii, and Everything in Between - Nothing on earth is more amazing than the variety of cultures, lifestyles, philosophies and terrain that makes up this great nation. No wonder so few Americans have passports - it takes a lifetime of travel simply to explore the U.S.A.! Natural wonders, man-made wonders, the religiously profound, the hedonistically vulgar, near-flat expanses of prairie grasses, snow-topped peaks of mountainous glory - if it exists, you can find a fine example of it in the States (we even have an Eiffel Tower replica - 50% scale - in Las Vegas!).

6) American Farmhouses - Probably my favorite architectural/interior style. I think that deep in the soul of every American is a desire for farmhouse living on a few acres - near enough to neighbors for a barn-raising or a hoedown, far enough away for privacy and independence.

5) George W. Bush - Okay, this is a dicey subject, considering how about half of America despises him and half just loves him. I voted for him (as a pro-lifer, I hadn't much choice - irony? yes!), and I agree with about half of what he says (bringing me into line with about a quarter of America?). BUT, I just love that the rest of the world hates him with purple passion. I love that his very visage throws most of Europe into a frenzy of limp-wristed, pansy pouting. I think that's GREAT! I even get a kick out of the fact that so many Americans detest him - it's good for people in a free country to be riled up and not complacent. Plus, all the right people (left people?) dislike him - Hollywood, university professors, mainstream media journalists, my chic-lefty friends, Holly and John - making the fact that I voted for him (despite some serious reservations) even more delicious.

4) Liberty-Oriented Educational and Promotional Organizations - Every country has some sort of free-market think-tank or even libertarian think-tank, but no country has more of these worthy groups than the U.S.A. We have an entire alphabet of organizations dedicated to promoting and preserving liberty: FEE (Foundation for Economic Education), FFF (Future of Freedom Foundation), AEI (American Enterprise Institute), IJ (Institute for Justice), CATO, L4L (Libertarians for Life), etc.

3) Homeschooling - No country in the world has more parents dedicated to homeschooling their children than the U.S.A. This is nothing but good for the future of our country and, therefore, the world. "As American as baseball, Mom, apple pie, and homeschooling." A great organization that promotes educational freedom is The Alliance for the Separation of School and State. Another important resource is HSLDA (HomeSchool Legal Defense Association). As goeth educational freedom, so goeth all of our other liberties in this great nation - protect homeschooling!

2) Our System of Weights and Measurement - Once called the "English System," until the Brits wimped out and went Frenchy, our system of weights and measures defiantly holds to ancient arbitrary standards, much to the consternation of the rest of the industrialized world. Tee-hee! The metric system is actually just as arbitrary as our own, since it was founded upon a calculation error, with the added burden of having constantly to convert from metric (which no one thinks in) to English (which everyone thinks in). Imagine a kilogram of cherries - now imagine a pint. See?! I also simply love our stubborn sticking with Fahrenheit when it comes to temperatures - especially when I go to Canada and see the citizens there alternating between Celsius and Fahrenheit to their confusion and my merriment. One guy we heard, on a recent trip up north, spoke of having a fever of 104 when the weather was over 30 outside - either he was having a bad fever in very chilly weather, or he was on fire (literally) in very warm weather. I once read that when the U.S. gov'ment decided to go metric sometime in the 1960's or 1970's, KMPH signs were shot down all over the country. An apocryphal story? Yes. Entirely consistent with ornery American contrariness? Absolutely!

1) Our Founding Documents and the "Idea of America" - Very few other countries have a birthday, and no other country in the world has better founding documents than our's. I love that America was founded upon ideas instead of happenstance. The Hand of God and the will of man combined in a holy burst of creativity and courage to birth this amazing land. No matter what the sins of our country (from slavery to abortion to war), we always have hope in something better because of our noble ideals - written down for all the world to see that we strive and hold to something better than the usual depravity that marks too much of human history after the Fall. Because we state so clearly what it is for which we stand united, it is easy for other countries to criticize us, especially when their national identities are much more nebulous and undefinable. That's okay, though. I'd rather fall short of a lofty ideal, yet still have that ideal in place like a shining beacon to which to aspire, than live without ideals (just as I'd rather live with God's standards as my goal, gratefully falling upon the grace of Christ when I inevitably fail to reach it, than live without knowing Him at all). And that is the great blessing and challenge for America: living up to the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for which we declared our autonomy 229 years ago.

Heavenly Father, You who know the secret heart of every human soul, You who have surely never released this nation from Your loving arms through all of our trials and sins and failings - Lord God, please continue to hold us close and lead us to Your perfect will, so that we may be all that You have planned. Thank You for Your tenacity in not letting us go, even through our countless times of disobedience and stiff-neckedness. And, as we sing and pray that God will bless America, let us never forget that America must bless God. Thank You, Father, that You have, in Your wisdom, made an earthly refuge of liberty that has lasted over two-hundred years - please, help us never forget that the first refuge of liberty was given over two-thousand years ago in the great freedom of Jesus Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.