He’s On To Something.

Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2012 in culture, theology, thoughts

By now the bloggers, commentators and all “patriotic” Americans have weighed in on Chris Hayes’ comments about “being uncomfortable with using the word hero” to describe fallen soldiers.

Read what he said,

“I think it’s interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words “heroes.” Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word “hero”? I feel comfortable — uncomfortable — about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.”

What makes what he said so highly controversial to the point that his opponents would classify him as “disgusting”, “arrogant”, “selfish little worm”, “ugly” (yes, Rose from Quinn and Rose fame called him the last three words, including “ugly” – I thought she was “above the fray” of resorting to 6th grade tactics when disagreeing with someone)?  Frankly, nothing makes it controversial unless you wrap militarism, nationalism, patriotism, and, yes, religion up in the same flag.  Not only did he say that he didn’t want to “desecrate” memories of fallen soldiers.  He also believe that in individual circumstances there were cases of heroism.  And he also believed that he could be wrong about his viewpoint.

I happen to agree with him.  I just read that evangelical Christians are the most pro-war segment of American society.  Have we forgotten that most Christians up to the time of Constantine did not support violence?  Have we forgotten that the majority of Christ-followers through church history have embraced what has been called the Just-War Theory?  The theory embraces several core criteria that have to be in place in order for a Christian to embrace a war and, also, to call it just.  The amazing idea though is that ALL the criteria have to be satisfied and not just one or two points.  In other words the theory was used to weed out most wars and to label most of them as unjust.

So much has changed.  Just War Theory is now virtually forgotten and anyone who has trouble calling fallen soldiers “hero’s” is labeled “ugly”.  Christians, instead living in the constant reminder that the empire could turn so quickly and easily against them with the use of violence now support war overwhelmingly against others (at least evangelicals anyway).  At the very least let us count those who work for peace (in non-violent endeavors) in a violent world as “hero’s”as well.  This may make some mad, or irritated, or uncomfortable….i get that.  Yet I see Jesus calling us to live differently and to live in peace, I see the NT writers calling us to live in peace.

My wife and I were talking the other day and she commented that war and peace were difficult issues.  And, to a certain extent they are.  Yet, i think we have made them complicated.  I am not sure if the early church would have had any problems renouncing war and violence of all types.  So what has changed in the intervening years?  The scriptural call to peace or our attitude toward war?

In a violent world there is nothing much more heroic than one who lives not bound by cultural expectations but lives in the morals and values of the kingdom that Christ brought with him at his incarnation, and says “I will not participate in death, destruction and violence towards others rather I will bring life, healing and hope and show a glimpse of the age to come in my stand for peace and non-violence.”

We still have to work against evil, death, violence, injustice but let us long to have our first inclination to stand against those things be done in a way that doesn’t fight with the weapons of this world but with the creativity, love, and hope of the prince of peace.

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.

Like the Left?

Posted: Monday, March 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Rush Limbaugh says that his “poor choice of words” and the fact that he used “those” words has made him stoop to the left’s level and “become like them” even against his “own instincts and knowledge”.

Or maybe, just maybe, he has exposed a little more of what truly lurks in his heart.  Perhaps he hasn’t identified with the left at all, but rather, has identified with humanity.  In this case, for ill. 

I started to write this post to slam Rush and to criticize him for his comments but soon found myself convicted that what I was about to do and the words that I was about to write were no better. 

Rush’s comments prick the false veneer that most of us carry around.  We all claim (at least at one time or another) to be above the fray, to be more “knowledgeable”, or whatever, but at the end of the day what is in our heart will flow, eventually, out.  And that can be quite bad, embarrassing, hostile, evil, hateful, envious, etc. 

Rush didn’t become like the left in using those words he became like the left and like the right a rebellious person who is filled with attitudes and thoughts that haven’t been brought under the shaping and cleansing power of Christ, in trying to justify and backtrack and make excuses. 

We all have those moments, we all have those thoughts, attitudes, and actions that don’t reflect Christ.  The difference is will I, as a Christ-follower, own up to those times (without seeking to make myself look good, or justify any wrong action or thought on my part), ask forgiveness (simply say I am sorry and I was wrong), and allow myself to be shaped and formed a little more into the image of Jesus.  

I know that like Rush, I probably have a long way to go. 

(L)in-sanity.

Posted: Saturday, February 25, 2012 in sports, thoughts

By way of truthfulness…I am not a Knicks fan.  Period.  However, it has been pretty amazing to watch the run of Jeremy Lin.  On a punk team, he is a shining star.

Many people are thrilled with the meteoric rise of the Harvard grad and his incredible ball play.  The kid can play.  Straight up, hands down, flat out….play.

I wish Lin all the best and all the success he can accomplish in the world of professional basketball.

However, only .02% of male athletes who make their high school team will make it to the NBA.  Or, 1 out of 5000 high school boy basketball players.

In other words, if we want to hold Lin up to our “student/athletes” it would seem best to do that by highlighting, not the fact that he studied hard and went to Harvard (how many kids, let alone smart kids, actually make it to Harvard?), or that he worked hard and got to the NBA (how many kids work hard and still don’t get the very thing that they have worked so hard for?), but rather, we should hold Lin up to the fact that he graduated high school, went on to college (I realize the idea of everyone going to college is another issue), and GRADUATED from college.

In a recent article from the New York Times roughly 60% of NBA players are broke within 5 years of retiring.  In addition, roughly 10% of it’s current players have gone back to college to earn their degree.

Jeremy Lin isn’t a role-model because he went to an IVY League school (in fact Lin wanted to go to Stanford but wouldn’t give him an athletic scholarship and wanted him to be a “walk-on”, Harvard who doesn’t give athletic scholarships guaranteed Lin a spot on the team – so let’s not even praise Lin to highly for “choosing” to go to Harvard)  and then made his dreams of playing in the NBA.  Lin is a role-model (along with a small number of other NBA players) because he worked hard, got decent grades, went to college, graduated with a 3.1 GPA and earned a degree in Economics.

Lin saw the value of hard work.  It paid off for him in ways it does not pay off for most people…but that is how it goes.  But Lin is a success because he saw the value of hard work, and an education with graduation.

The Seraph Seal Review

Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2012 in book reviews

“It’s the end of the world as we know it…”  In this engaging (though not always convincing story), authors Sweet and Wagner give us a glimpse of one version of the future.

The plot, at least at the start of the book, jumped around to so many different story lines that the book seemed very disjointed.  It reminded me of the movie, Syriana with all of its jumps and cuts.  Yet, like the movie, as it progresses, the book begins to tie together  those threads into a whole.

At it’s premise it deals with a group of people who are struggling to find their role in the unfolding drama of “last day” events.  While I appreciated the move away from the “Left Behind” silliness I could only shake my head at times of some alternate end-times scenario silliness just forced in the other direction.

I am thinking, in particular, of the the way in which the book ends (though examples could be pulled from a number of places).  I don’t want to give the ending away but I felt cheated that the authors chose to end the book in this fashion.  I am not one to feel that the authors owe me a clean, sanitized, happy ending…but at least one that is somewhat believable.

But, it is a work of fiction.  And as such, the authors are free to develop the story as they see fit.  Especially as we deal with “last day” issues the cloud of unknowing is admittedly strong and open to considerate and thoughtful possibilities within a fictional work which Sweet and Wagner have given us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Six Pack 2011 Edition

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 in books, thoughts

Moved here .

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.