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Thursday, February 28, 2008

National Sabbath

Should the United States have a day in which all but essential services are required to close? A friend of mine from Germany pointed out that her parents are shocked to come her, where they know everyone goes to church, only to find so many people working on Sunday. They feel terrible for those people.

Should we have the courage to set one day aside and banish the pursuit of capital during that day?

Related, here are some random links about accommodating religion of others.


Should it not be any religion's Sabbath? What if we required everything to close on From 4 a.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. Wednesday?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It is illegal for liberal politicians to speak at their chruches.

Well, maybe not, but, "[t]he Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ's national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's address at the UCC's 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in 'political activities.'"

Don Clark, a Chicago attorney who serves as the UCC's national special counsel, said the IRS investigation will afford the UCC the opportunity to correct "inaccuracies and misperceptions."
"It's disconcerting, since the IRS did not communicate with us, or seek any facts from us, in advance of their coming to this understanding," Clark said. "But we feel confident that once they are made aware of the facts that they'll draw a different conclusion.

"This inquiry will provide an opportunity for the United Church of Christ to correct any factual inaccuracies and misperceptions that may have prompted the underlying concern, and to reaffirm the importance of the constitutional rights of free speech and association that have been implicated," Clark said.
Was this new that a political figure would speak at a church? Maybe to a liberal church while the worst president in American history in office. But for the record:
Sitting presidents and presidential candidates have a long history of speaking before non-profit, faith-based bodies.

In January of this year, both Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke separately to the national gathering of the National Baptist Convention of America. In April 1996, when her husband, Bill Clinton, was seeking re-election, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, who is United Methodist, spoke before her denomination's quadrennial General Conference.

In March 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave his famous "Evil Empire" speech before the National Association of Evangelicals.

In September 1960, then-candidate John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, appeared before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association to explain the “so-called religious issue” and “to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election.”
Full report from the church.

We need to remember how bad this administration is. We need to remember that its slash and burn political behavior has infected government agencies everywhere. It is not just about illegal wars and illegal wire taps. It is everywhere.

Hopefully the investigation will go away, but why find reason to believe without contacting the church? How is it possible that after eight years of tearing down the separation of church and state with everything from abstinence only to creationism to editing EPA reports to hiring unqualified lawyers from religious schools to violating the Hatch Act this administration possibly has the nerve to do this? I believe we discussed early the audacity that Clinton showed in some of her attacks on Obama. This, this my friends is audacity.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Internet Candy from the Pew Foundation

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has put up a study on its website that is absolutely fascinating. The data is very interesting. It gives tons of information, not just about what religions are practiced in the United States and where, but also what the practitioners are like. It allows for comparisons of age and income brackets between and within religions.

WARNING: This link may not be appropriate for work. Not because it is vulgar or anything, but because the website is so well put together it threatens to eat away more time than you may want to give.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sermon on the Mount, Thirteenth

Someday, I want to revisit the difference between lesser of two evils decisions and indistinguishable evils decisions. But, I also want people to read my blog and not think of me as a jerk. So, let's get back to Jesus.

*The counter-numerologist in me, I think it is cool that we should wrap things up with the thirteenth reflection.

The Sermon on the Mount concludes with three points: living in accordance with the Way is restrictive, living in accordance with the Way it will be obvious from results, and living in accordance with the Way will help you survive troubling times.

First, the narrow way.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
This could easily relate only to conduct. Take food & drink in moderation. Just have normal sexual relations. Work hard, but not to the exclusion of having family. Worship God. But we know from the rest of the sermon that this also refers to our hearts. It is easy to hateful, but we are not to be so. It is easy to be lustful, but we are not to be so. I submit that we can learn to be hateful or forgiving. While at any one minute, we cannot control our mood, in evolving as human beings we can. Agree?

Next, judged by our fruits.
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
I take this as duel purpose advice. We should check ourselves. Are we getting what we seek? Is our faith bearing fruits, such as happiness and fulfillment? If not, we should change. Likewise, it tells us how to evaluate others. It says that the work of the faithful should be verifiable. It is not enough to say, we're doing this because God says so. We have to be able to say, we're doing this for X and look, here's X.

Finally, our faith is a foundation.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
This is something I have found to be true. In times of trouble, my faith has given me comfort. My church family has done so. Though my faith cannot stop the rain from coming or the stream from rising or the winds from blowing, it can brace me against the storm. I certainly do not think Christianity is the only faith that allows this. Indeed, I suspect that it is not even limited to spirituality. But I know, that my Christianity helps me.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
So the speaker had good command of his subject matter and was able to hold their attention. I wonder if he made good use of visual aids? ;)

Political Season

I am going to try to say this prayer before clicking on the Politics tab on CNN.com between now and November 2008.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Country has not learned its lesson.

Who is more populist than John Edwards, greener than Al Gore, older than John McCain, and has an ego that puts Bill Clinton's to shame? RALPH NADER. Because stupid Americans have not suffered enough under the Bush Presidency, Nader's "principles" have driven him to try to get John McCain elected president. Such a noble, selfless man, that Ralph Nader.

To be clear, I understand that the Republicans had a lot to do with getting Bush in office, but I don't want to turn a blind eye to Nader's role in 2000 and now in 2008. Ralph Nader: American hero.