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Friday, July 27, 2007

Songs of Revelation

Here is the 8th verse from the fourth chapter of Revelation.
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
This chapter begins what I think of when I think about this book. Wild visions. Here's the whole chapter. The picture, which comes from this site, is what I think of when I hear about the unearthly animals.

I am surprised by the number of hymns that are based on words from Revelation. This verse has the first one. We used to sing a song, painfully slowly as I recall, in my churches growing up that began with the words: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." The song also includes the lyrics "Holy, holy, holy. All the saints adore thee. Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea." Also a reference to this chapter.

So, what to do with this imagery? It is powerful, and for that reason I believe it ends up in songs and pop culture. I think about times when you feel like the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and such imagery is comforting. Also, I've had faith moments where I felt that the presence of God broke into the situation and commanded attention. So, following a thoughtful and reflective reading, I guess the ideas are not as foreign as they might at first seem.

Poverty & Pornography

Reflecting on the Contract with America, it occurred to me that I do think pornography is a problem. I think sexualizing children is a problem. And I think defiling the sanctity of sex by mixing it with commercial advertising is a problem. But I just don't think the government should be the source of the solution. I think it is ill equipped for such intimate issues.

Presumably, conservatives who are Christian likewise see poverty as a problem. They would have to be much less abstract in formulating the moral imperative to care for the poor. But, I would suspect they don't think the government should be the source of the solution.

Here's the problem. Shouldn't this mean that liberals who are Christians would work hard for non-government actions to challenge the use of pornography. Likewise, shouldn't conservatives who are Christians work hard for non-government action to combat poverty? (And obviously, pornography & poverty are stand-ins for other similar issues.)

Without any data, I would guess the conservatives have the advantage on this score. But I think in both cases you find liberal & conservative Christians supporting non-government actions that further the cause that they believe it is appropriate for the government to address more vigorously than the causes they think should be solved by non-government entities.

Perhaps we don't really think the government should or should not act based on the nature of the problem. Perhaps we really just think the government should attack the important problems, and despite our feelings that the other problems are problems, we just don't think they are the big ones.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An idea whose time has come?

Since Newt's been in the news, and a friend insists that the Contract with America was in fact a good idea, I thought I'd throw it up for interests sake.
1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
2. THE TAKING BACK OUR STREETS ACT: An anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, "good faith" exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer's "crime" bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.
3. THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: Discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility.
4. THE FAMILY REINFORCEMENT ACT: Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in American society.
5. THE AMERICAN DREAM RESTORATION ACT: A S500 per child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief.
6. THE NATIONAL SECURITY RESTORATION ACT: No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.
7. THE SENIOR CITIZENS FAIRNESS ACT: Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years.
8. THE JOB CREATION AND WAGE ENHANCEMENT ACT: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis, strengthening the Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages.
9. THE COMMON SENSE LEGAL REFORM ACT: "Loser pays" laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation.
10. THE CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators.

Here's the page I found this on. The links to more information still work.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stuff that worries me

Matt has been pretty good about keeping me from developing a theme that all things Bush are evil, and all things evil are Bush. In my post about Al Qaida regaining strength, Matt pointed out a possible plus in the Bush administration. (Although he made it clear there were plenty of minuses.) This graph from an L.A. Times story (which to be fair was cited by Atrios), is a good example of evil things that aren't Bush's fault.

I really think we've over stretched ourselves. And I think there is a moral component to over indulgent consumerism. And I think foreclosures big and/or refinanced houses is going to be the first step in the what hip parents call the natural consequences of our poor choices.

John the Revelator

I've wanted to re-read Revelation for a while now. I think as the weather gets a little more tolerable here in Phoenix, I will begin to treat myself to a cigar and a Scotch after work and return to the project.

It is a short book, for sure. So I know reading it doesn't seem like a project. But it is so dense with symbols and psuedo-interpretations that fill you mind ahead of time, that I expect it to be a challenge.

Fun fact number one is that the book is a single Revelation to John. Unlike the collections of psalms and lamentations, and unlike letters to groups such as the Ephesians, Romans, and Galatians, the title of the book is singular. (Also, Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, and nothing tells you how many wise men there were. :))

The book has found its way into pop culture. My favorite is the blues song. (Depeche Mode did a John the Revelator wherein they seem to be accusing President Bush of being both the anti-Christ and John the Revelator.)

Here are the first three chapters. This book begins in a very pragmatic fashion. When I looked at it recently I was surprised by this. I mean, who would have thought that the book that has been the source of so many horror movies begins like a letter from the regional minister to churches.