Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Health Care Politics

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012 in culture, leadership, life, people, society, thoughts

So with one decision by an unexpected source we now have mandated health care.  My point is not to add another voice to the goodness or badness of that decision (there are far more brilliant minds than mine who can’t figure it all out), but something else all together.

Conservatives are up in arms over this decision and have tried to blame Chief Justice Roberts’ vote on everything from epileptic seizure medications to putting the perception of the court on a higher pedestal than his principals.

Other conservatives are praising Roberts’ in a back-handed sort of way saying that he has now paved the way for a Romney victory in November.

Hasn’t Roberts’ done exactly what conservatives have always said should be done within the courts (and especially within the highest court in the United States)?  But it is funny how by Robert’s doing exactly the thing conservatives want they have casted him as someone who does the complete opposite of what he should be doing and the only reasons they have to say this is because he didn’t vote the way they think he should have voted.

Isn’t it possible that Roberts’ voted in favor of the health care law not because he liked the law himself, personally.  But maybe, just maybe, he voted for it because he didn’t see it as unconstitutional.  He heard the arguments, he weighed the evidence, he consulted law books, and drew from his vast knowledge of law and history and came to the conclusion he did with a sound mind and rational thinking…is this possible?

Would it have been in our best interest, as a nation from what we expect from our courts, for Roberts’ to simply vote along party lines?  Why would I want a Supreme Court judge to vote along party lines?

Roberts’ did the unthinkable…he thought.  He pondered.  He weighed.  And in the end, contrary to the voices that I hear around me, he didn’t play in the legislative arena.  He stayed well within the bounds of judicial prudence.  He voted whether a law was constitutional or not.

Roberts’ is not perfect.  So was his decision (or any of the other judges) completely neutral?  It is impossible to know for sure.  When it comes down to it….only he knows what and how much outside influence, or party politics, or whatever goes into any of his decisions.

Some liked his vote.  Other did not.  I am not saying I like the ruling.  I am not saying I am completely opposed to the ruling.  But I think one judge did what he was appointed to do and I think for that he needs to be commended.  It gives me hope that people can see beyond their own agenda’s, their own interest, or the interests of those that “got them there”.

So thank you Judge Roberts’ for thinking deeply, coming to your conclusion and then voting how you did even though you must have known the reaction that would come by way of your decision to do what you were called to do for our country.

Exercise as Spirituality.

Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2012 in life, thoughts

My friend Charlie Dean has been telling his story lately of his recent loss of weight (why he lost it, how he lost it and what it has meant for him).  I applaud Charlie and all of his hard work and dedication.  It is not easy for most of us to “drop the pounds” and Charlie will be the first to tell you that he is a “foodie” so it made it all the harder at times.

What I appreciated about his posts is the connection he is beginning to make between food, theology, exercise and spirituality.  Some may scoff and feel that “exercise profits little”, some may have legitimate concerns because “genes”, or sickness, or illness have stacked the deck against them.

My point is to walk that fine line between seeing the real issues people have with weight loss and seeing the connection between how we treat our physical bodies as an indication of our love and respect for our creator.

For the past 4 to 5 years I have been involved in recreational running.  I have never entered a race (nor really plan to).  I run for me.  I keep time, mark my routes, and have gotten up to around 6 miles per run (I would like to run more but time is really an issue).  I have also incorporated Zumba Flat-abs on my off days (yes, Zumba…..and yes, it really does help!), and, also, on my off days jump-roping for 20 minutes.  I don’t say this to impress anyone, for most people do far more than myself (and can do it far faster and far better than I)…I say this because I have been struck in the last several years between the connection that Charlie is now coming to see.  There is a connection between how we treat our bodies and our love (and respect) for God.

I don’t say that last statement lightly.  It tells us in Gen. 1 and 2 that God created.  He created the earth, sun, moon, stars, planets, trees, birds, fish, etc., etc. and at the end he created man and woman.  And we are special because we have been created in his image.  Christians may disagree on how far we are to take creation care but no thinking christian would disagree with the idea that we are stewards of what God has blessed us with and we need to respect and care for it to the best of our ability.  Shouldn’t this be the same thinking in relation to our physical bodies?

We care for our physical world and yet we have little respect for our physical bodies (and this gets played out in a thousand different ways).  This doesn’t mean we have to be the guy in the gym 24/7 that neglects his wife, kids, job, friends, spiritual life just to get his physical body in shape….that is wrong in the opposite direction and just plain messed up.

Yet how many of us will neglect our physical bodies for the “more spiritual” things?  How many of us will miss the connection that our physical body is a “spiritual issue” and that to mistreat our body is to show a lack of respect for God for what he has blessed us with and given to us?

We rightfully want to save human life but will willfully destroy our own by the choices that we make or don’t make in relation to eating and exercising.  Some may argue that choice is exactly that: their choice, their right.  Yet, that misses the point that nothing we have is ours.  We have been given our bodies to steward and take care of, just like we have been given the earth to steward and take care of.

By way of admission.  I have never struggled with my weight.  I have wanted to lose 5-10 pounds but I don’t know personally the frustration of trying to lose weight in large proportions.  But I do know the frustration of trying to eat better and make wiser choices of what I put into my body.  I know the frustration of trying to “get in shape”.  Just because I am not overweight doesn’t (and didn’t) mean that I am (was) physically fit.  It is hard and takes hard work…and I am not there yet.  I journeying forward.

I see so many friends from high school and college beginning to run, exercise, and get in shape.  It took until our mid to late 30’s to get to this point but I am thankful that so many are starting to see the connection and seeing how they treat their bodies is an indication, to some extent, on some level, of how they treat and love God.

I’m Not P.C., except that I am P.C.

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 in life, politics, thoughts

This post could have been written about someone on the left saying or doing something foolish (plenty of examples), yet, i narrow my remarks to one Bill O’Reilly.

O’Reilly, one of the stalwarts on the FOX News Channel (are they really that “fair and balanced” when they keep saying it over and over – are they trying to convince us that they really are?) and a nationally syndicated columnist.  In his recent article, entitled Hating the Rich he said that, “Capitalism is no beach day. The strong and sometimes ruthless prosper. The ill-educated and unfocused often fail.”

This is little more than evolutionary thinking applied to economics.  The strong survive, the weak fail.  And, according to evolution, rightfully and properly so.  But wait!  He never said “weak”.  He did say “strong”, but not “weak”.  Hmm.

He wrote that the “strong (and sometimes ruthless) prosper” but the “ill-educated and unfocused” often fail.  Why not just write “weak” instead of what he did write?  Maybe it just wasn’t prudent to be anti-politically correct.  I mean, who really wants to call other people “weak”.  But if that is what you meant and were using a phrase pulled from evolutionary thinking that applies that language…why not just say it?

I guess it is okay to be vehemently anti-p.c., unless it is more convenient to be p.c. and then you can be p.c. as long as you back up your p.c. by a strong stance against p.c. because being anti-p.c. shows that you are not afraid to speak your mind, unless speaking your mind would really show that it is not anti-p.c. that you embrace but rather b.s. and therefore, it is more wise to be p.c. rather than anti-p.c.

*the last paragraph only meant to show, hopefully (and I probably failed) with a touch of humor, that everyone will be p.c. to some extent (and that is okay!).

My thoughts turn to how God used not only educated people, but “ill-educated” as well to accomplish things in his good creation.  How God used the rich and the poor to accomplish things too.  And in a weird and hard way to grasp God seemed to identify with and have a huge heart and huge compassion for the poor and needy of this world (and not just the “spiritually” poor and needy).

Instead of saying some won’t make it because they are “ill-educated” or “unfocused”, i.e., ‘weak’, why not ask why is someone “ill-educated” or “unfocused”?  What are the factors, the environment, the history, the patterns, and/or the examples that people have going for or against them?  Are some just lazy?  Yup.  But to characterize those who won’t make it big, or even find themselves at least in the middle, in our system as ill-educated or unfocused is to blindly ignore many other factors that go into one’s life and the path(s) they take.

The Hushed Tones of Grace and Humility

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 in faith, life, politics, thoughts

Grace and humility is so lacking in discourse anymore.  And, yet again, the culprits are, everyone to be sure, but exceedingly those who claim that civil discourse has been displaced by angry, hateful people who want to turn this country into a socialist experiment.

Just the other day I heard Michelle Obama referred to as “Moochelle” because of her apparent love of telling others how to eat but her own fondness for greasy, fatty foods.  If one wants to point out hypocrisy with our leaders (and their spouses)….fine, but why must you lower yourself to this childish level?

I heard, from other source, President Obama described as having “just big ears”.  What possible explanation could provide justification for this 4th grade insult?

These are the same comments that fall into the line of thinking that claim those who side with Obama, or question our presence in Iraq, or whatever are America hating, communist loving socialists (or something like that….there are so many words flung around it seems to be a competition of who can string together the longest phrase of inflammatory insults).

All this proves is that no love for discourse or differing opinions is wanted (but isn’t allowing diversity  truly an American thing?).  It proves that either conversation is not welcomed or conversation cannot truly happen because those phrases are said simply to shut down conversation (perhaps because the person using them has no real arguments to maintain a conversation with).  It proves that if you still live in a mentality where if you can simply cut down your opponent with elementary/junior high humor….you win.

For me….if that is the type of conversation people want to purse (name calling, etc)….then, okay, you win.

I would rather speak in hushed tones of grace and humility.  Not that I do this at all times, for i don’t.  I don’t do it as much as I should, or as much as I would like.  Grace and humility isn’t not having an opinion (even a strong one).  It’s not about weakly backing down from a “tense conversation”.  But it is about listening.  It’s about loving.  It’s about cutting through all of our desires to be right and proving that…or at least, proving the other person wrong.  It is speaking what we believe but speaking that with a sense that there is so much more to learn and know.  It is speaking with a sense that maybe, just maybe, our opinions could be tweaked by the other, now or later.  It is speaking to truly know the thoughts of those we are speaking with.

Conversations in hushed tones of grace and humility will never be loud or self-seeking but be quiet redemptive moments that speak for truth in ways in which “the other” will know that even if there is disagreement there is love and respect.  Truth isn’t diminished with grace and humility….truth is put on display through that grace and humility. It is funny how truth tends to be heard more in “hushed tones of grace and humility” rather that shouted and yelled out.

Osama, Faith and Good vs. Evil

Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011 in faith, jesus, life, politics, theology, thoughts

Wow.  To see the reactions of people (either ‘for’ or ‘against’) this whole “death of bin Laden” has been amazing and, yet, troubling to see at the same time.   This, i guess, is part two of my thoughts on this whole event.

First, I am thankful that bin Laden is no longer able to carry out any further evil plans or plots against the United States or any of her allies.  However, saying that, I do not “rejoice” in his death.

I have heard many say that this is a triumph of good over evil.  This seems to place the US in the role of “good” and others in the role of “evil”.  This is a reference that I cannot buy into.  Many may say that I don’t “love the US, appreciate my freedoms, etc.”.  Well….i love God and love His kingdom first, foremost and finally.  I do appreciate the freedoms that living in this country have afforded me.  But this isn’t the issue.  The issue revolves seeing ourselves with the white hat.  The good guys.  The guys whose side and cause God is on.  I believe that God has allowed an imperfect, sinful nation to get rid of a sinful, imperfect, evil-intented, man.  I am thankful, again, that he has no more opportunities to carry out his evil acts but i do not and cannot rejoice in his death.

Going back to my original post, i mentioned a very good friend who commented that God did allow killings to show that killing is wrong.  Just to retouch that exchange.  We do see, in the Old Testament, some killings that we have to wrestle with and through.  However, unless we see God speaking to a secular nation like he did with the Old Testament nation of Israel then some things have truly changed. Also with the coming of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament we see none of this (using violence against or killing others) supported or suggested.  The only time it is hinted at is where Paul tells us the government has the right to “bear the sword”.  Whatever that phrase meant…it did include the idea of death….however, Paul is not giving a ringing endorsement of this use by the government.  He is simply saying they have a right to do it.  So i am not yet convinced that “we kill to show others who kill that their killing is wrong” is a viable option for a Christ-follower.  I know some will disagree (and there is legitimate room for disagreement and discussion) so I am not pressing this too hard or far.

However, what I am convinced of is the idea that this killing will only incite more violence.  I said this in my last post.  And just in the last couple of days al-Qeada has vowed revenge on America and her allies.  So while many rejoice and think that we have “won” or gained a “victory” we have just incited more opposition to us.  This is the way of violence.  It doesn’t work.  This is why Jesus gave us an alternative way to live as his followers in the world.  Ones that don’t rejoice in violence or the use of it because we know that it doesn’t work and always leads to more and more problems.

Like many I was appalled when I saw people in the Middle East dancing in the streets at the fall of the twin towers.  I thought “how could they truly be celebrating people losing their lives because of an evil plot?”  Yet many were dancing in the street at the news of bin Laden’s death.  Is there a difference?  Some might say that “innocent” people died on 9/11.  I truly and honestly understand the point.  And to a large degree agree with it.  However, outside of a relationship with God found in and through the person of Jesus we all stand guilty and condemned before God.  So, theologically, we have a hard time justifying that people are born into innocence and go about our lives living in innocence.  I mean, even as a Christ-follower, i am not free of doing wrong, sinful, hurtful things towards others.  But here is my larger point….others dancing in the street at the death of 3,000+ people does not make our own dancing in the street over the death 1 any more righteous or right.  What they did was wrong, what we did (in terms of rejoicing and celebrating death) was wrong.  3,000+ lives, all created in the image of God and loved by Him, snuffed out in a matter of minutes.  1 life (yes, full of evil and hate) created in the image of God and loved by Him snuffed out in the matter of seconds.

Did the US do what it had a right to do?  Yes.  Could it have done it by capturing him, instead of killing him?  Perhaps.  Would that have been a more “christ-like” thing to do (capture vs. kill)?  Yes.  Am i thankful and glad that bin Laden can no longer create, implement and execute some of his evil plans?  Yes.  Am i celebrating and rejoicing over and in his death?  No.  Violence and death have again had its way (just like it had it on 9/11).  I look forward to the day when there will be no more violence or killing or death and i work for that day even now….but i understand the person who ultimately will usher that day into it’s fullness will do so in a completely right, just and perfect way.

Girls Gone Wild

Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 in life, society, thoughts

Ke$ha, Britney, Christina, Miley, Rhianna, Nicky Minja, Lady Gaga, Avril, Beyonce, …these are all “hot” artist right now (by “hot” i mean popular, well-listened to, etc.).  But have you noticed a particular theme surrounding each of these artists?

Many of these young ladies are very talented at what they do (sing and dance).  All of them, however, have been aided in no small part by their bodies and their desperate attempts to look “sick and sexy-fied”.  This is a shame.

This is what many young girls are listening to and singing along with on their IPods.  Is this the best we have to offer impressionable young women?  What’s worse is that it is young adult women offering these kind of lyrics to young girls.  When you can watch video after video of the above mentioned artists and either see them in some sort of weird, s/m bird attire or see them wear basically their underwear on stage, or extremely short, short shorts or skirts, and see them busting out of their bras or extremely tight shirts and then trying to tell young girls to “feel good about themselves” it seems that we are giving them a very conflicting and dangerous message.

In a world that objectifies women, in a world in which we have over 20,000,000 sex slaves in the world, in a world in which clothes for our young women are getting shorter and tighter, in a culture in which approximately every 2 minutes a women is raped….yet the message of these artists is “be a woman, show your boobs, show your body – because that is how you will become successful and famous”.  Many women in our world are trying to leave/flee hurtful situations in which they are looked at and ogled simply because they are women and they can sexually satisfy a man…and yet, in our american culture (that is exported throughout the world) our young artists are willingly showing off their parts, relishing in the fact that they can turn boys/men on, and not ashamed that they are using their bodies for their own gain.  This is definitely not your grandmothers’ women’s lib.

The sad part is that many of these young ladies feel that by doing this they are truly in control.  We can dress like this and men will be turned on and we will be famous and have some sort of power over these guys.  Yet, with each article of clothing they remove they take one step back from being in control.  They lower themselves to the point where they feel that the only way they can make it is by revealing more and more and the envelope keeps getting pushed further and further.  So this is the message young daughters around the country (and world) are getting:  don’t be measured by what type of person you are becoming, how you treat others, etc. but rather be measured by your measurements.  Be measured by how “sick and sexy-fied” you look, be measured by how “hot” you look in your underwear, be measured by how hip your lyrics are that promote freedom based on the ability to do anything you want, be measured by how you look on the outside.  And it doesn’t matter how much these artists say in interviews that they want young girls to succeed in school, or life….because music has power.  Young people do not sing and remember long paragraphs from interviews where artist may promote the value of hard work, etc,….they sing and remember lyrics and images of young women crawling around on video shoots wearing hardly anything at all.

What is worse is that young men then come to expect this type of behavior from their girlfriends.  And so if their girlfriends aren’t going to dress or act like Ke$ha, or Miley, then they will find someone who will.  And so their girlfriends, not all, but many, will start to become like these artists not only to retain their boyfriends, but because they sense there is some sort of magical power they have now over boys.  Yet when you have to degrade yourself to get something….you really don’t have that much control.

This is our culture’s mixed up view of sexuality.  A public sexuality (which is what these artists really are promoting) is not a real or substantive sexuality.  It is fake…it degrades and cheapens something beautiful, true and honest found between a man and a woman in the context of a loving, committed marital relationship.  Public sexuality is easy but leaves a trail of heart-ache, pain, degradation….true sexuality is hard, yet leaves a trail of true beauty, wonder, amazement and joy.

No Cal, It Isn’t Subjective.

Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 in life, money, society, theology, thoughts

Politics is a funny thing.  It makes even conservative Christian conservatives say things like, “President Obama has spoken of some of these CEOs as not “needing” the money they get. Again, that is a subjective judgment. What he should be doing is shaming those companies that lay off workers while paying their top management such exorbitant salaries and benefits. Stockholders ought to demand that no competent worker should be laid off if a CEO earns above a certain amount of money. Stockholders also have a moral responsibility beyond the dividends they receive.” (taken from his April 5th editorial, Spreading Wealth the Right Way).

Imagine….a conservative saying something is “subjective” and “open to debate” (this latter phrase used earlier in his piece)!  I know, I am throwing a broad net.  I, actually, don’t mind most of what he says in the above paragraph (I included it and not just the one line b/c i wanted to give a more complete – and accurate – picture of what he was communicating)…but it is one line that really bothers me.  This is the sentence: “Again, that is subjective.”

He seems to be saying when President Obama states that CEO’s, many of whom, make 400x what their average employee earns, don’t “need” their hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation (or tens of millions of dollars) that he, Obama, is focused on the wrong thing because we aren’t really able to say, with certainty, that enough is enough.

This is what I have come to realize in life.  The only reason people feel that they need millions and millions of dollars is because they have chosen a lifestyle that needs tons of money in order to be able to support all the things they want.  Just as in sports and a post i wrote on Albert Pujols….is anyone really worth $30 mill. p/yr?  Or $75 million?  Or $125 million?  Is it wrong to “earn” hundreds of millions of dollars while hundreds of millions of people in the rest of the world live in abject poverty?  Is it wrong to earn tens of millions of dollars while the majority of the world lives on $10 (or less) a day?  Is it wrong to earn that much money while people right in our backyards can’t make ends meet and are going bankrupt b/c of out of control health care costs (which happens to be the number one reason why people  go bankrupt)?  While I agree with Cal Thomas that no competent worker should be laid off while a CEO makes above a certain amount….i will call something what it is (which is really odd given that Cal Thomas normally likes to call it what it is)….greed.  Selfishness.  Self-importance.  No, Mr. Thomas….saying that a person who is earning hundreds of millions of dollars is greedy and selfish and earns too much and doesn’t need that much money is not making a dogmatic statement on a truly subjective issue.  It is making a common sense (a tea-party favorite), realistic, even scriptural view of wealth and possessions statement.  To say that one’s need of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in pay is subjective is putting it in the same category of: which flavor of ice cream is the best?  The issue, to me, isn’t about is it wrong for some to make more than others (it isn’t) but, rather, how much money does one “need”.

Our wants in the west so easily slip into the realm of need.  But our wants are about lifestyle issues.  If you have a 15 room mansion with a pool and 4 cars; a second home in Colorado; etc.  do you “need” an annual salary of $25 million dollars (or more)?  Yes, but only if you view being able to pay for a 15 room mansion, a 2nd home, multiple cars, etc. as a need.  Obviously, if you have them they are a need.  But that begs the further and deeper question: do people need a 15 room mansion with a pool, multiple cars, etc. in the first place?  Or has desire and want crept into the land of “need”, taken up residence there and messed up our view of reality, stewardship, wants and true needs?