Archive for the ‘society’ Category

Hurray for Lower Birth Rates.

Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 in society, thoughts

Lately this study has been circulating around.  I have heard conservative commentators use this study to show that Obama is, himself, lowering the birth rate to continue to make the United States into the image of communist China (and any other communist, marxist, etc., place).  I have a friend who uses this study to show that with the down turn in the economy people are not trusting God to provide for their needs to have children (or more children).

And yet there was some encouraging figures in this study that did link lower birth rates to a struggling economy.

The rate actually only fell 1% last year
First, there is a lower birth rate among single women (it dropped 3%), but among married women it rose 1%.  Second, there is a lower birth rate among teen moms (they have been falling since 1991 and hit another historic low this past year).  Granted, there are a number of good and not-so good reasons as to why the teen birth rate has fallen.  However, those lower figures in those two categories is a win-win for everyone involved.

Add in to that mix couples who are living together (cohabiting) deciding to put off having children.

So, economically, at least for last year, the downturn has not affected the birth rate among married couples (those the community of faith would see as the best place to have children) and, in fact, the birth rate has increased for this group.

Economically, the downturn has persuaded single moms and teen moms not to be as active and has dropped the birth rate.  Something that the community of faith can say is a good thing.  It may not be all the right or best reasons but at least the hardships that can come with having and raising children by yourself as a single mom and/or teen mom was not as frequent as in years past.  And more often than not children born outside of a married couple tend to (though no fault of the child) put a strain on other areas of our society.

So, yes, I am glad the birth rates are down (where it is more healthy for them to be down for the adult and society)….even if it comes at the expense of being a little worse off economically.  And I am glad the birth rate went up for married couples even in rough financial times.  Perhaps they are getting some faith and trust back.

And no, Obama didn’t cause lower birth rates to turn us into China.

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.

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?

This is Good?

Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 in faith, leadership, politics, society, theology, thoughts

Listening to my daily humor/information show: The Dennis Miller Show.  On his program today he had editor-at-large of National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg.  He was “promoting” his new book, Proud to Be Right.  It was an interesting interview (at least what i was able to catch of it).  But there was a part that severely concerned me.

During the interview he was talking about the “secret” assassination list of President Obama (though most presidents have a list like this of some sort).  He referenced some Al-Qaeda leader whom he would not lose any sleep over if this guy was “taken care of”.

But his, Jonah’s, concern was this: the guy is an american citizen.  And in the same breath made mention that the concern he had with assassinating people did not stem from some moral or theological considerations (which is odd especially from a publication that definitely ‘leans’ right and, therefore, would be comfortable with “family values”) or that a list like this even existed….but, rather, he was concerned that this assassination list included americans.  So his point is that if non-us citizens are on this list…that is okay, but the moment american citizens are listed…then there is a problem.

Now, he did say that there are both republicans/conservatives and liberals/democrats that like and dislike the idea of americans (who are out of favor with the government (terrorists, etc) being on this list…but, again, it stemmed from the concept that americans are what the conversation revolves around rather than, in my opinion what it should be concerned with….killing people who are made in the image of God and for a “moral” “godly” “christian” nation even to have these lists in the first place (and then beyond that, how christ-followers, could be supportive of something like this).

Great Book!

Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009 in blurb, book reviews, culture, politics, society, thoughts

This book has got me fired up!  The author, who has lived in other countries and has utilized their  health care systems, details why the American health care system can learn a few ideas (if they are willing) that will help bring health care to everyone, make it more affordable in the process and make the quality of care, overall, better.  I am part of the way through it and will blog about it when I am done.  Good stuff.

So.  With the apparent “leaks” (read: stolen) from mail “in” and “out” boxes from the CRU;  conservatives, moderates, and liberals (and everyone else) are engaged in a new battle for planet Earth.

Those skeptics of climate change have valid points with some of the revelations that these e-mails provide.  Are some scientists trying to distort some data?  Are scientists who disagree with many or all of the conclusions of climate change proponents having a harder time being published?  Perhaps.  As with anything, we will always have some people who try to do anything they can to prove a point they are trying to make and will do what they can to shut others out of the conversation who disagree with them.

However, The Guardian had a great article on this whole situation.  One of the things that you will not hear from certain circles is that these e-mails date back 13 or so years.  Now, if one is covering up then it doesn’t matter how far back it goes but remember that just because one (or two, or three – out of thousands) covered up 13 years ago doesn’t mean that 1, 5, or 10 years ago they (or anyone else) were covering up data that they were coming across.

Plus, anyone can cherry pick.  A lot of what was “revealed” were one sentence statements that were supposed to cast doubt on the whole scientific community who saw climate change as a real and growing problem.  Here is the problem:

“I love my dog.  I wish she were dead.  Not because she is horrible, but because she is suffering from a horrible disease.”

Someone could come along and pull out my sentence: “I wish she were dead.” and brand me a horrible dog owner and person.  How could I ever wish my pet dead?  But what happened?  My sentence was taken out of its full context that provided the essential meaning to what I was saying.

It seems as well that much of this is referencing so-called paleoclimate data – reconstructing past climate scenarios using data such as ice cores and tree rings. “Climate change is based on several lines of evidence, not just paleoclimate data.” said Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

Beyond these things lies the simple fact that much that is found in favor of climate change is peer-reviewed (of course peer-reviewed is, often, the most reliable source of information in these matters).  Plus there is the piles of piles of data that support climate change to some degree.  So, obviously, the concept is that thousands of scientists are working together to pull a fast one over on… the world.  Just that conspiracy alone should keep Glenn Beck busy for the next 6-9 months.

Even for those scientists who argue that climate change is real and happening there is not one single uniform opinion about how fast it is happening, how long it has been truly going on for, the detailed scenarios of what may happen, the amount or extent of human activity that is contributing to climate change, the course of action that must be pursued to take care of this potentially serious issue.  What they realize, though, is that something….something is happening and it must be addressed.

Many people, especially anxious conservatives, especially of the religious stripe, are uncomfortable with the whole global climate change debate, conversation….overwhelming evidence, that anyone who has concern for the environment, in whatever shape, is deemed a loon, a liberal, a wacko,  or enviro(mental)ist.

So how is this:  why not call it “creation care”?  Okay, not my phrase, but a good one nonetheless. Creation Care sees a multitude of issues and umbrellas it under the banner of taking care of, being good stewards of, not abusing what has been entrusted to us by God.  Would this make it more palatable for Christ-followers in particular?  Would they see that there are numerous verses that show to whom the earth belongs and that one of our responsibilities is to care for the Earth.  We are tenants.  We are not owners.

Quoting at length from the EEN’s website: “the environment” is actually a part of God’s creation – of which humanity is also a part. This is important to stress. As many of the scriptures below will demonstrate, the Bible teaches that both “nature” or “the environment” and humanity are part of creation. Both are inextricably linked to one another, have been ever since God formed us from the earth (Gen. 2:7; 3:19; Ps. 104:27-30), and will continue to be in God’s future when we will exist as resurrected bodies on a new earth (I Cor. 15:35-44; Rom. 8:19-23; Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1). In other words, humanity and the rest of creation are part of all of creation.  Therefore, creation-care does not just mean caring for “nature,” nor does it just mean caring for humanity; it means caring for both. A biblical creation-care ethic is a holistic ethic.”

What type of Christ-follower could disagree with this?  Only one who is blind, unaware of what Scripture teaches about creation, really doesn’t care what scripture teaches, or one who is driven more by their politics than their faith on these moral issues.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, I struggle to find balance and right thinking on global concerns.  But the issue is whether we are asking the questions, constantly, sincerely and not with the idea of proving others wrong but looking at where we may be wrong in our thinking and where we need to, perhaps, get closer to the heart of God in these issues.

There is a saying that applies to the church in particular but can be applied at the individual level: always reformed, always reforming.  My thinking has changed in the last 5-7 years on a whole host of issues (including climate change).  I don’t think I have become more liberal or crazy, but, I truly believe, more in line with the heart of God on some issues.  I am not there perfectly (not even close) but I sense I am moving in the correct direction.  “Moving”….ahhh, that’s the key word.  That’s the difficult word.  That word makes all the difference.