I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

In Arizona, not Oklahoma, what does it matter

Well, it was in the New York Times, and now I heard a story about it on NPR, so I guess everyone has heard that the Arizona legislature is considering a measure to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on college campuses.

On the one hand, this is a really stupid bill. The stated purpose is to prevent things like the NIU and Virginia Tech shootings from being so bad because students, staff & faculty would act as a line of defense against the shooters before police arrive. Unless we are going to require one to trained to be a state trooper to carry a concealed weapon, I doubt very much Joe Public will have the clear-headeness, let alone accuracy, to "take out" a mentally ill student shooting up the school. It could obviously exacerbate the situation and prolong the tragedy, maybe even resulting in the citizen hero being killed by police. But also, these things happen very seldom.

This is my question: Isn't it a civil liberty to be allowed to carry a gun?

As a liberal, I'm happy to have the government regulate buying and selling. Ditto for public safety: for example, I'm okay with the government making sure guns don't blow up in people's hands. But why should I want hand guns limited at all?

Oh, and for the record, Arizona is the only state to have defeated an anti-gay marriage ballot measure. Just FYI.

Accountability

President Bush said Saturday he vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding to break suspected terrorists because it would end practices that have prevented attacks.
CNN. My government tortures people. Am I morally accountable for this given that not only have I not risen up against that government, but have in fact funded it? Is voting against Bush and losing my temper when people talk about him from time to time enough to acquit me before the courts of heaven?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Reflections

I sent out requests for people to respond to a couple of posts I put up. I have posted since then, and as a result their responses are sort of pushed out of sight. Because I get a notice, I've had the benefit of enjoying them. There have been some wonderful testimonials about what believing in Jesus means, and what Seek and Ye Shall Find means. I recommend taking a look.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Politics

First off, last night my pastor commented that when I write about politics on my blog I seemed to get "pretty excited." Ouch. Sometimes the truth of an observation can make it sting despite its gentle delivery. I'll try to be better.

Gideon: How To Fight a Righteous Battle

Here is a story from the Book of Judges, which is a wonderful collection of folktales that I recommend to anyone.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. . . . Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.

[T]he angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."

"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
Gideon requires God to perform several minor feats of magic dealing with dew before he will believe. God complies and so Gideon puts his army together.
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' " So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."

So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place."
Gideon goes on to win the day with his 300.

Obama: How to Fight a Righteous Campaign

Last night Hillary Clinton managed to stay in the campaign. She surely closed some of the gap in the popular vote of primary goers, but probably did nothing to close the gap in delegates. I wish my guy had won, but he didn't. I think his chances of being president have not changed much.

The story will be that Hillary won by going negative. To be fair, it is policy negative: Barack is weak on foreign policy, Barack is not being honest about his position on NAFTA, etc. We really have no idea about where the Obama is a Muslim or similar stuff comes from or even how effective such things are. Nonetheless, she will be encouraged to go even more aggressively negative in Pennsylvania.

The hope of this novice is that Obama, like Gideon, will defy conventional wisdom and not answer with attacks. I hope that he answers her charges, but with nothing more negative than perhaps a little "not only was I right, but I got it right the first time." I am afraid if he does much more than that he will lose his standing as a different kind of politician. Also, I would like to see a positive campaign overcome a negative campaign. I would like to see hope beat cynicism.

Finally, to be clear, I have no idea if this is a successful strategy. It may be necessary for Obama to start a whisper campaign that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian and start publicly attacking her as a win-at-all-costs politician that John McCain will crush in the general election. I just really, really hope that isn't the case.

Linda, how was that?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What difference does it make?

I believe in Jesus. As I have written before, when I say that I believe in Jesus I mean that in the sense that I believe in doing the right thing, I believe in democracy, or I believe in my kids. Yesterday, my daughter and I were talking about the difference between believing in Santa Clause (it exists) and believing in honesty (it is something I trust in and am faithful to). I asked her which she thought believing in Jesus was like. Of course, she said believing in Santa Clause.

I told her that for me it was more like believing in honesty and talked to her about how I thought believing in Jesus made a difference in my life, in the kind of person I am. I think that Christians need to do a better job talking about this. Particularly those of us who do not believe that believing in Jesus will save us from hellfire, or at least believe that is not all believing in Jesus will do for us.

So, I'm sending a link to this post to my friends at Chalice Christian. I would love to hear what difference it makes to you to be a Christian. [Note: I allow anonymous posting, so if you don't have a google account, just post anonymously and share your name in the comment box if you chose.] Of course, I would also really like to hear what other readers have to say.

I'll start. Being a Christian has helped me fight one of my greatest sins--arrogance. I am inclined to think I'm better and more important than others. Through prayer, scriptural study, working with other Christians in discussion, etc., in other words, being faithful to or trusting in Jesus, I've learned to mitigate this personal weakness. The result has been that I am able to enjoy those around me much more than I would otherwise. I can have healthy relationship that would not otherwise be available. I get to lead a happier life.

I look forward to reading what others have to say.