26 November 2008

A Post-Modern Tribute to Thanksgiving

My Friend Mark has blessed us with another of his poems. This is too good to ignore, so please read on.

Tribute, Post-Modern Style

A happy, happy Turkey Day-
"Thanksgiving" it is called;
though god and thanks have been removed,
at this my cat's appalled.

Whom does one thank when god's not there?
to whom do praises ring?
in land of "post" to Christ and truth
one can praise anything!

So on this day I praise my socks,
some squirrels, a piece of pie;
I praise our car with mileage fair-
and not to wonder "why?"

I praise our house, our lawn so green
with Creeping Charlie weeds;
I worship cash that's mostly green,
though recently unseen.

I bow down low before some donuts
I did eat last week,
and honor due to spinach pizza:
melting cheese did creep.

But last of all I praise my bookshelves
full of stuff to read,
since death means zilch in chaos filled,
my cat to them I deed.

And if some folks- when I am gone-
do talk about my life,
for goodness sake don't speak of truth,
of meaning, or of strife.

For it means naught- the whole darn thing-
from birth until depart,
we just exist- that's all there is-
like cows that chew and fart.

Don't be dismayed as to the void
you move and soon will see;
good tires, good socks, good soles on shoes:
post-modern Trinity.

I write this to a faithless world-
"enlightened," it is said;
so pluck that turkey,
bake that pie,
eat much, then go to bed.

Post-Meaninglessness, Arch-Faithless, Pre-Nihilist, A-Spiritualist, Supra-Truthless, Intra-Vacuumist Pietist

10 November 2008

Ten Questions and a Modest Proposal by Dr. Mark T. Mitchell

Ten Questions and a Modest Proposal by Dr. Mark T. Mitchell

I recently came across this article on Center for a Just Society. In the days leading up to the passage of the emergency bailout package, politicians from both parties warned everyone that what was at stake was our American way of life, and without massive intervention the country and perhaps the world was heading toward an "economic apocalypse."

The author states,

I must admit that I am skeptical when powerful folks ask for more power. I'm even more skeptical when they do so using fear as a motivation.
What follows in the article is a series of questions about the ethical issues related to the current financial crisis. Some of the questions are more pertinent than others, but I think that we need to carefully think about them. For example, here is the first question:
1. Is it a fundamental problem when a corporation becomes so big that its failure threatens to bring down the national economy? Could it be that scale matters? Can institutions become so large that their potential harm outweighs their actual (or occasional) good? If yes, then are there measures that could help ensure that economic power is decentralized and therefore less dangerous?
An example of this is, according to a CNN report, if the Big Three carmakers were to cut U.S. operations by 50%, 2.5 million jobs could be lost in 2009.

I think the premise of this question is valid, and even necessary to ask. Many people believe that the standard of living is a reward for living in the U.S., or at the least a quid pro quo relationship.

2. The bailout was ostensibly necessary to protect our "American way of life." That such a reason was offered without justification indicates that our way of life is an axiom that must be assumed but never questioned. But is it too much to consider, if only for a moment, that perhaps our way of life is precisely the problem? Of course, a way of life is a complex thing, but insofar as the "American way of life" consists in living beyond our means, it is unsustainable. To the extent that consumer credit is at an all-time high and personal savings is at an all-time low, the "American way of life" is irresponsible.
My answer as to whether or not this is part of the cause of the financial crisis we are currently experiencing is an unequivocal YES.

The next two questions are questions we do need to answer:

3. Public debt mirrors private debt. Both publicly and privately, we have become a nation that demands immediate gratification. Is such a national disposition healthy? Psychologists tell us that adults are capable of delaying their gratification. If so, then publicly and privately we are, according to this measurement, behaving like a nation of children.

10. In Greek drama hubris plays a key role. This is the fatal pride that brings down even the greatest of men. Is hubris at the heart of this crisis? Hubris is the failure to acknowledge limits. It is the failure to live within the bounds proper to human beings. Ultimately, it is a failure of virtue. When we delay payments rather than our gratification, we reveal our ill-formed character. When our demands for more things are limited only by our insatiable imaginations, vice is running the show. When our leaders tell us that they can solve any crisis if only we grant them more power, hubris has taken center stage.

From my seat in the upper bleachers, it seems that many other people are beginning to be aware of these questions as well, which may help to explain why Obama won and not McCain. McCain campaigned as if there were no problems, while Obama said we need change. If we ask Ronald Reagan's question, are you better off than you were four years ago, then we know what the answer will be.

As I have said before, it is not that the question of abortion and the like are not important, it is that there are other questions out there that people see as important, and also need to be answered.

A person's stance on an issue may not qualify them to run or public office, but it does seem to be able to disqualify them.

Take a look at the article and the questions.

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Barack and the Bible

How did we miss this? 

Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory… for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his warriors down the slopes… into battle.
Judges 4:14

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04 November 2008

How to Live as a Christian, Post-Election

A Christian Response to the 2008 Presidential Election
I have to admit to a bit of sadness over the response of Christians to the election of Barack Obama. I consider myself an independent, and more often than not during my political experience I have voted against a candidate rather than for. That too makes me sad.

I have a couple of observations that I want to comment on.
1. Election Rhetoric.

It struck me that much of what republicans and democrats are saying about this election is much the same as what came out of the mouths of republicans and democrats in 2000 and 2004. Only this time, the remarks have switched parties. For example, republican friends say that a large majority of the country do not agree with the views of the new president (The democrats said this in 2000 and 2004), while on the other hand, democratic friends are saying that the election returns give Obama a mandate for change; again, something that the republicans said in 2000 and 2004.

2. Many of my Christian friends prayed fervently for this election.
Obama won. Did God not answer their prayers?

Or, did God answer their prayers?

God is known to work out his will despite his people. If God did answer these prayers, what does that do to our theology? Still more, what does this say about our support for Barack Obama? I don't want to be put into the situation of second guessing God. My guess is that there is a lot of change in the air, and we have to decide for whom the church will be a handmaid. What if Obama is the gate through which we need to walk in order to bring change to this country and stave off judgment?

3. Election Issues.
There are a lot more issues in this presidential election that are as important as abortion and homosexuality, but evangelicals are shy to address. For example, approximately 30,000 people die of starvation, waterborne diseases and AIDS each day, deaths which are viewed as preventable, yet I am only now beginning to see organizations such as Feed My Starving Children gain visibility. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we better be certain that we don't react to what God is doing when Rhoda comes to tell us that Peter is at the door (Acts 12:12-17).

4. I am astonished at the amount of negativity coming from the mouths of Christians!

Come on people, we are people of hope. The elections are important, but let's focus, okay?

Having said all this, the point of this post is this: We need to stop moaning and beefing about who won the presidency, and pray just as hard for the success of this man in God's will as we did for the whom we thought God wanted as president during this election campaign.

Here are two parts of a post by by Mark Roberts that speaks to the issue of how to pray for the election and the new president (here and here). I like what he says in his first point:

We Should Act Upon the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking in the Way We Relate to Our Fellow Citizens.

There are other blogs that have shown up today (see this one by Randy Alcorn), which encourages me to believe that we will ultimately do the right thing, as soon as we stop focusing on why it was wrong to trust in Obama/McCain and not Jesus.

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