Speaking for the Victims of Progress

Those who call themselves progressives (liberals) are almost universally in favor of a woman’s right to choose.  They are pro-choice.  This is not a controversial statement.  Perhaps there are some liberal Democrats in this country that are pro-life, and for that reason I had to qualify my statement with “almost”.  Sweeping statements are a surefire way to close people’s ears and eyes.  That’s the last thing I intend to do here.

A while back I wrote about abortion (see An Inflammatory Issue: Abortion).  If you’ve read it you’ll notice that I made a great effort to control my passion for the sake of presenting my case.  But, after reflecting on it I realize that to speak about such a monumental loss of life without fiery passion is entirely a waste of everyone’s time.  It must be possible to be both reasonable and passionate.

Before I continue, I’d like to remind you that over 45 million abortions have occurred legally in the United States since Roe V Wade in 1973.    The population of Massachusetts was about 6.5 million in 2009.  The population of the United States was about 300 million in 2009.  That means that about 7 times the population of Massachusetts has been aborted and nearly 1/6 the total population of the entire United States.  In just 38 years.  How high will the number be  in 50 years?  How about 100 years?  Does it even matter anymore?  Have you become numb to these figures?  Or is your political and personal stance on pro-choice solid enough to support this holocaust?  Isn’t it amazing what a good rationale can do for the conscience?

Often we have heard that it is a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body.  Absolutely, a woman has the same rights as men under the Constitution.  But what about her baby?  Is a baby something like a tumor that spontaneously generates inside of the woman’s womb?  Or, is a baby just as much the father’s as it is the mother’s while forming inside of her?  What happens when a man wants to keep the child and the woman chooses to abort it?  Does he have rights?  I know this must sound like ignorant blasphemy to some of my more liberal readers, but it’s at least worthy of thoughtful consideration.  Do we as fathers have to submit to the will of the mothers until the mother either chooses to keep it or the government steps in to say you have to keep it?  A woman’s right to choose life or death for her offspring is supported by the law.  That law came out of a decision that determined that fetuses up to a certain point are not alive, and therefore have no protection under the Constitution.  The Constitution, you see, only protects those who deserve protection.  It can do nothing for the most helpless among us.  Some speak of the Constitution as if it were Divine Law, or God himself.  I couldn’t submit my life to an entity who chooses not to protect the innocent, the weak, and the voiceless. My God is not evil.

I have heard it said that pro-choice is not pro-abortion.  The reasoning behind it being that the individual would never personally choose abortion, but they support another individual’s right to do so.  At first glance it seems to make at least some sense.  But then you think a little harder and you realize that it is not only irrational, but also the ultimate manifestation of the belief in subjective relative truth.

If you are pro-choice, you are pro- abortion.  Just like if you didn’t like the slave trade in 18th century England, but supported the trader’s right to earn a living.  They can choose to be slave traders if they want, but you will have no part of it.  How do you feel about that?  Something is detestable, and you choose not to stand against it because you’ve decided that freedom trumps human dignity.  We look back at our ancestors in disgust, but what would they say about us?  How barbaric and inhumane.

We live in an age full of truths with no Truth.  It is full of purposes with no Purpose.  Everything is subjective, and nothing is absolute.  The freedom of the individual is paramount.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody, you can do what you like and believe what you like.  But here’s the problem.  The beliefs of many progressive-minded people in our country are leading to actions that have hurt many millions.  I’m so tired of hearing and reading about how dangerous the beliefs of evangelical Christians are in this country.  For the love of God, let no true Christian enter public office or they will poison the system with their terrifying Truth!  Meanwhile, kind-hearted well-intentioned progressives are believing in abortion on demand and 45 million beings that would have been just like you and me are erased from existence.

The victims of progress cry out to me.

Hackers: Holding the World Accountable Without Any Accountability

This post is in response to a post by Curtis Entenmann called 1s and Os.  I encourage you to read his post before reading this one.  And if you haven’t looked at our posts on Equality yet (Mine and His) , I would encourage you to take a look see.

Curtis wrote about an anonymous hacker group called LulzSec.  I gathered some info from a few news sites and found a statement issued by the group, which they posted in honor of their 1000th tweet.  Read the statement here to see what they are saying.   This group recently completed a 50 day hacking spree that resulted in attacks on Sony, Nintendo, the CIA and many other institutions.  According to their statement, if we are to read it as any indication of what actually motivates them (who knows?)  they seem compelled to educate the pitiful masses of how vulnerable and ignorant they are, and they are not apologizing for finding the whole thing entertaining.  They have compromised the security and privacy of millions, and they say things like the following:(This is graphic, but I don’t want to censor it so you can see the caliber of people we’re dealing with)

Yes, yes, there’s always the argument that releasing everything in full is just as evil, what with accounts being stolen and abused, but welcome to 2011. This is the lulz lizard era, where we do things just because we find it entertaining. Watching someone’s Facebook picture turn into a penis and seeing their sister’s shocked response is priceless. Receiving angry emails from the man you just sent 10 dildos to because he can’t secure his Amazon password is priceless. You find it funny to watch havoc unfold, and we find it funny to cause it. We release personal data so that equally evil people can entertain us with what they do with it.

I get a sense that they are saying things like this and doing things to evoke a response from the masses.  Perhaps they want to show them how corrupt their leaders and institutions are, and in the meantime make a commentary on how sick and twisted human nature is.  So, like a preachy alt-rock band in the likes of Tool or Slipknot, they are making it an art form to tell the people how messed up their world is.

Here is what they said at the end of their 50 day hacking spree:

Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance, leaving behind – we hope – inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love,” the group wrote. “If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere. Anywhere.

What is their purpose?  What do they want?  WHO ARE THEY?

Curtis supports their efforts to expose corruption.  He writes, “I for one am all for these “hackers” who aim to expose the corruption around us. A government should fear it’s people, not the other way around.”   Curtis then goes on to say that hackers could even go further by going after our own government and financial institutions.  He believes that it is better to expose corruption in this manner than to live under the influence of it.

Here is my response.

LulzSec and other hackers who act in a similar fashion could have any number of motives.  These motives could be pure and true, or they could be twisted and self-serving.  They are viewed by some as modern-day freedom fighters, exposing the corruption behind our powerful leaders and institutions.  They are viewed by others as criminals, internet vigilantes who put personal and national security at risk.  Very well.  But none of what I just said matters.  Here’s why.

Hackers pride themselves on holding the world accountable to whatever standard they believe they should be held to.  But they themselves cannot be held accountable for their actions because they are anonymous.  I don’t care how righteous or evil they are at the core, they are nameless, faceless, reckless, and dangerous.  Action, any action, without accountability is only subject to the whims of the individual.  And if you take this total lack of accountability and you add the massive amount of power at the fingertips of these individuals, you get worrisome results.

That doesn’t mean that they do not serve some good purpose.  We live in a world where our identities (the personal information that makes up part of our identity) exist on computers.  Too many of us do not understand how vulnerable we are to the leaders and institutions that control our information.  Hackers understand our vulnerability better than most.  Many of them want to expose our dangerous ignorance.  I get that. And that message should be delivered to the people.

But once again, I cannot support the actions of individuals who operate without accountability, and who exercise so much power to disrupt or topple structures which make up our society.

An Unreasonable Belief in Equality: The Longstanding Tyranny of Religious Influence

The Declaration of Independence has something written in it that sounds a lot like it was tainted by religious ideas.  Here is the section.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- Declaration of Independence 

I’m not going to use the Founding Fathers to prove to you that this is a Christian nation.   Glenn Beck ruined that argument for all of us. What I want to do here is look at this idea of equality.  What is it based on, and why do we believe in it today?

If I pick apart that snippet of the Declaration it reads like something that you probably wouldn’t find in a modern government document.  That part about a Creator being self-evident stands out to me.  Would our leaders write something so bold and offensive today?  Wouldn’t the network news channels be all over that, showing various negative responses from those who believe in the separation of church and state and who fear that our government officials are being brainwashed by religious beliefs?  Wouldn’t there be a call for reason over religious bias? No?  Yes?  Maybe?

It is self-evident that the Creator (God.  Accidental evolution has nothing to do with creation) made all people equal.   The people created by God are equal.  Alrighty.  What about the people who weren’t created?  Are they equal too?  Let’s explore.

To say that people are equal in relation to God is to recognize a quality of God and not people.  It says more about God to say that we are equal than it does about us.  In this way, we are equal because we are all under God’s authority and God’s law.  We all have the divine spark, the breath of life, the spirit given by God.  Under God we are all in equal need of God for life and purpose.  In relation to God our physical differences take a back seat, and we see ourselves as God sees us… as spiritual beings.  Equality makes sense in relation to God because it is a reasonable consequence of a belief in God.  If God is God, we are equal in our dependence on Him and we share an equal place in the Universe as His creation.  Where I get confused is why the reasonable non-believers believe in equality.

A popular saying among those who don’t believe in any divine creator is, “Show me the proof.”  Very well.  Now let me ask you to show me the proof that we are all equal.  Show me the evidence for equality.  How does your reason lead you to believe in such a faith-based idea?

Will you say that the government told you it was true?  Did the Constitution tell you it is so?  Has society beat it into your brain that all men and women are equal in the eyes of the state?  Did your parents tell you?  Why do you believe in equality when there is so little evidence for it?  Is it because it feels nice to say that we are all brothers and sisters?  Be careful, you’re starting to sound like a believer.

Open your eyes to the world around you.

Physically, people are far from equal.  Some are taller and stronger, and some are weak and sickly.  There are those whose brains don’t work so well, and those who understand calculus without much trouble.  Some don’t seem to be able to lose weight and some can just eat whatever they want and stay skinny.  You’ve got Mr. Muscles and Mr. Skinandbones living side by side believing they are equal.  Yet, clearly we are not equal in the physical realm.

Socially there isn’t much equality either.  You’ve got rich people and poor people.  You’ve got white-collar and blue-collar workers.  Some have millions and some live on the streets.  Certain groups of people experience  regular racial discrimination.  You’ve got the Haves and the Have Nots.  Where’s the proof that we are equal?  Don’t look to society for evidence.

So what are you basing this unfounded belief on?  Are we all equal in some abstract deep sense?   You believe in everyone’s right to happiness and a good life.  I’m no better than you and you are no better than me.  This sounds great, but where is it coming from?  Is it the belief that we are all just animals that came out of the ocean?  Once again, if that’s the case why base your belief on anything more than the  physical reality?  Why do you shun God because you can’t see or touch Him and then accept blindly something as  intangible as perfect equality?

I make this point because I fear weak belief.  A weak belief can be easily altered or tossed out.  If you are basing your belief on something that is abstract and “deep”, or simply taught to you by your government, what happens when the belief is challenged by some hard external pressure, or even the government itself?  When the Nazi’s took control of Germany, they did a great job of convincing the people of inequality.   Were the Jews equal to the Germans at that place and at that time?  Yes? No? Maybe?

Tell me, why?

Side Note:  My friend, Curtis Entenmann has decided to start his own blog in which he intends to respond to my wild conservative Christian ideas.  I will also be responding to him.  We will be posting links to each other’s blogs from time to time so I really think you should check it out.  It should be interesting to see two people with many opposing views reacting and challenging each other.    His blog is just starting out, but very soon he is sure to have many posts.   Here is the link to  Curt’s Blog.  I’m willing to bet he will say something about this last post in a few days.

The Evils of Social Justice

Do you remember when Glenn Beck said, “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice‘ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!…Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That’s what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. . . . But on each banner, read the words, here in America: ‘social justice.’ They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy.”

I remember there was a big response from all sides on this controversial quote.  Many Christian churches condemned Beck’s words.  But not every Christian church stood opposed.  And I believe many Christians in America today agree with what Beck had to say.

Recently I attended a church, and I won’t say which, where the pastor stated that social justice is in opposition to Christianity.  Now, before I go further I should state what social justice is.  Social justice is any effort to make all people of equal standing.  So if one group is oppressed, social justice would work to end their oppression.  Another definition I found is the fair distribution of advantages, assets, and benefits among all members of a society.   I think that definition is important because it sends off red flags in the minds of certain people.

To some, social justice means socialism.  And I believe that is the problem people have with the word and its implications.  But, as usual, things aren’t this simple.  Let me try to explain all of this the best that I can.

From the conservative standpoint, socialism is a false ideology that stifles individual growth and creativity.  It promotes a welfare state in which the upper and middle working classes have to support the millions who either can’t work or refuse to.  It also goes hand in hand with government control over our lives since individuals are less responsible for their own well-being and more dependent on the system.  And with that comes a threat to independent thought and individual freedom.  So when they smell even a hint of this ideology (as we saw with Obamacare), they freak out.  I think a strong reaction against it makes a lot of sense when you hold to this viewpoint.  If you think conservatives are mindless rage-aholics, maybe you should try to see things from their perspective.

Anyways, what I see happening in some churches and with some Christians is this negative association between social justice and socialism where the former is an indication of the latter.  And where this comes into conflict with the Christian message I believe occurs on a number of levels.  Some are obvious and some are subtle.

The conservative mind makes a connection between socialism and a liberal agenda.  One of the most repeated and damning accusations of Obama is that he’s a socialist.  There is certainly some credence to this connection between liberals and socialism.  Liberals tend to be most outspoken on issues of social justice (gay marriage, women’s right, immigrant’s rights) and also more inclined to take from the wealthy to give to the poor (spreading the wealth) through taxation.  Now, the connection I make to this conflicting with the Christian message comes directly from this liberal/socialist association.  Liberals tend to fall on the wrong side of many issues of morality in the eyes of conservative Christians.  Issues like abortion and gay marriage are perhaps the most publicized.  This negative association of liberals with immorality, or beliefs that are wrong,  helps to feed hatred and fear for all of the things they stand for, including social justice.  Basically, there is guilt by association.  To many conservative Christians liberals are ungodly.  Now I’ll expand on that.

There are pretty much two ways of viewing the world, human-centric and God-centric.  Those who do not believe, or simply do not care for God will tend to elevate the place of humans in the world.  They will make mankind the center of everything.   Those who believe God is the center of this life will base their value of human life according to what the bible teaches.  The bible teaches that humans are evil, and only by the grace of God can they live according to the truth and accomplish truly good works for their fellow man.  The God-centric people, if they actually follow the God of the bible will be able to love other people more freely.  The human-centric people must believe in the goodness of people since people are what they have put their hope in.  Humanists believe that people need to be educated and afforded good opportunities in order to reach their full potential.  Many liberals (not all) are humanists who believe that the answer to the world’s evils are more education and greater wealth for the impoverished.  Afforded the opportunity, people will choose good over evil.  Education, or greater enlightenment is the answer.  More knowledge and greater technology will save mankind.  This is why the message of social justice is so crucial for these people.  If we make a way for people to live well, they will thrive and choose goodness.

The problem that many conservative Christians have with this is that it is propelled from a false philosophy removed of God.  And more than that, they believe it is false to believe in the inherent goodness of people.  They believe that the answer to the world’s problems is personal salvation through Jesus Christ.  Only when one individual after another is transformed by the life of God will real good change occur in the world.

So, to summarize, the problem many conservative Christians have with social justice is that it is often fueled by a human-centric worldview associated with socialism and an immoral liberal agenda.

But that’s not the end.  Social justice should be embraced by the Christian church.  Jesus taught us to minister to the poor and the oppressed.  The bible commands us to “Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17).  If anything, Christians should be at the front lines of social justice, and not making damning judgments of those who hold to opposing philosophies.

Ok, that’s the end.

(Afterthought:  I should have been more clear in my conclusion about what I see as the role of the Christian church.  I believe Christians should be at the front of social justice as it pertains to the welfare of other people.  Historically, Christians were the ones founding hospitals and caring for the sick and needy.  This type of humanitarian effort should be a major focus of the church.  But, when it pertains to the advancement of social agendas that stand opposed to the Christian’s beliefs about mankind and God, Christians should not be compromising their beliefs in the name of social justice.  This wouldn’t make any sense as the Christian would see it as inevitably harming their fellow man and supporting such an agenda would not be the loving thing to do, nor the right thing.  I should have done a better job at differentiating between social justice in the political sphere and social justice in the humanitarian sphere.) 

The Battle for the Modern Mind

What a title, huh.  I hope I can live up to it.

There are a lot of isms out there, and none of them should be taken lightly.  You’ve got relativism, hedonism, legalism, pluralism, patriotism, nationalism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, atheism, theism, agnosticism, humanism etc etc etc into eternity.   All of these and the many that I haven’t mentioned represent particular philosophies on life that affect the human condition.  Basically, they work to shape and define our world.  We live and die by them.  They matter.

Very good.

Moving on.

How important are ideas to the human race?  I think they are more important than you or I think.  Wars are fought to preserve them.  Peace is one of them.  Hitler had some.  Gandhi had some of his own.  Darwin, Einstein, and Martin Luther King Jr. had a few as well.  Ideas change the world because they change people’s minds.  They are invaluable.  A good idea is worth more than a glass of water in the ninth circle of hell.  You get the idea.

You see, there is a battle raging constantly, and I’m calling it the Battle for the Modern Mind.  It is a war of thoughts, philosophies, beliefs, and opinions.  The weapon is media and the chief ammunition is language.  If I’m sounding like a crazy conspiracy theorist I guess there’s no way around it.  But I’m not reaching with this observation.  I believe most people will agree with me.  In fact, many people will think I’m stating the obvious.  I’m digressing.

I write this in order to address the overarching struggle that we face in our modern interconnected world.  It is a struggle to discern what is true among so many competing ideas.  We are bombarded with ideas like a house cat caught in a hail storm.

Nothing is certain.

Death is certain.

There is an afterlife.

Conservatives are racists.

Liberals are socialists.

God is good.

God doesn’t exist.

We were created.

We spawned from nothing.

The universe is expanding.

Cell phones cause cancer.

Cell phones are safe.

Obama is great.

Obama sucks.

People are equal.

Your pleasure is important.

The needs of others is important.

Truth is relative.

Christians are stupid.

Muslims want to kill everyone.

Keanu Reeves is a good actor.

Social justice is important.

Catholic priests molest boys.

Abortion is about choice.

Abortion is murder.

Gay marriage is an abomination.

Gay marriage is none of your business.

Our minds are pelted over and over and over and over again and again and again every single day with ideas that often challenge our core beliefs, and leave us confused and aggravated.  What is right?  What path do I take?  How will I define myself in a world where everyone and no one is correct?

I don’t want to be a soldier in this fight.  I don’t want to try and capture your mind to my side.  You get enough of that from everywhere else.  Besides, it’s your mind and I have no right to reside there.  All I want to do is make you aware of the forces that seek to influence you.  I want to encourage you to think for yourself and really ask some hard questions about your purpose in this life.  Know where you stand, and what you stand for.  It’s hard to stay true to yourself even when you have a firm hold on your identity, but it’s impossible to be your own person when you don’t know who you are.

The world is all too eager to define you with its own ideas.

Know thyself.

The battle rages.

Two Thoughts: How We Should Pick the President & Smoker Discrimination

It seems like every time we are voting for the president it comes down to the lesser of two evils.  Sometimes we get excited about a candidate, like many did for Obama, but too often we are simply voting against the other guy with the wrong letter after his or her name.  How can we fix this broken system?  I have an idea.

Have you ever noticed that many candidates, after losing their shot at the presidency then become cool and more likeable?  Perhaps the best example in our time is Bob Dole.  I was young when he ran, but I still recall his transformation from an uptight borefest to the leading spokesperson for Viagra.  Suddenly he was funny and transparent.  We learned that he had a personality.  Where was this guy during the campaign?   Another example is Al Gore.  During his run he appeared to be an upper-class stiff with zero charisma.  But after he lost in that devastating election, he grew a beard and dropped off the radar.  (Any  man who suffers such a loss should grow a beard.  And if you have a beard already, shave it.  Just trust me)  Then he came back with a vengeance as a leader in climate change awareness.  Sure, he was still an upper-class stiff with zero charisma, but he had a cause, and it made him look a little cooler to stand for something.

What’s my point?

Candidates get better when they lose.  So I think we should have two elections.  The first is a fake, and whoever wins that is tossed out.  Then we get the losers back together, you know once they’ve gotten cooler, and we have a real election.  It’s an airtight plan.  Let’s see it done.

My boss smokes.  Once he asked me to buy him a pack of cigarettes.   I was shocked that a little pack cost almost ten dollars.  Even though I don’t smoke, and I think it’s pretty disgusting and deadly, I can’t believe how badly smokers are being discriminated against.

Cigarettes are taxed to hell.  I’m sure there are many reasons for this.  But really, it must boil down to the government deciding that they are bad for us.  Since they decided that we shouldn’t be smoking anyway, it makes sense to penalize those who continue to do so.  We hear the same type of thinking when it comes to soft drinks and fast food.  If we shouldn’t be consuming something, the government should make it harder to purchase that item.  But is that right?  In a country where we pride ourselves on our freedom, is it right for the government to make those kinds of decisions?  Or should adults have the freedom to choose what they consume?  Am I opening the door to legalized drug use with these kinds of questions?  Is anything not a slippery slope?

Another area of discrimination is in the banishment of smokers from public buildings.  I can understand having places where smoking isn’t permitted, especially when non-smokers are present.  But to completely abolish smoking from all public places is insane.  We force them to go outside.  And if that’s not embarrassing enough, they have to stand a certain distance from the building.

Don’t get me wrong.  Smoking is extremely damaging to your health.  But what if I wanted to smoke anyway?  What if I said, “I’m an American, and I choose to smoke this cigarette!”?  Shouldn’t I have the freedom to make that choice without being discriminated against?

Pray For Our President

I didn’t vote for President Obama.  I almost did, but in the end I voted for the candidate that better reflected my position on the issues.  When Obama became President Obama, I wasn’t thrilled.  I didn’t celebrate.  And, honestly, I resigned myself to disliking and disrespecting him.  Here and there I would feed the flames of opposition with some conservative talk radio or something on Fox News, and when I got a chance, made sure to tear him down.   This was how I planned to get through his term in office.   But, I’m growing weary of this same old song and dance, and I’m seeing that as a follower of Jesus and as a citizen of this country I am falling short of my calling.

I have witnessed a phenomenon in which President Obama cannot do anything right in the eyes of many who stand on the right.   I have heard the same people who commended Bush for sticking to his guns when much of the country opposed him, turn around and criticize Obama for not listening to the people while he worked to enact unpopular policies.  I have heard otherwise reasonable people argue that Obama is really a Muslim even though he is a confessed Christian and has spoken about his faith in Christ openly.  I have watched (a few) conservative Christians give reasons as to why Obama may be the Anti-Christ.  Then we have the birth certificate thing, which is a joke.  Thankfully, that was put to rest when the birth certificate was revealed.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Obama hates America.”    The bottom line is that many people have chosen to hate this man, and unfortunately, many of them are Christians.

Does it have to take a terrible tragedy like 9/11, or the killing of a common enemy like Osama Bin Laden to bring the people of this country together?  Is that really what it takes to get those who disagree with the President to look up to him with respect, and support him?  Is that really where we’re at?  While the country is divided on issues of policy and morality, where are the Christians to lead by example?  Instead of hating the President as our enemy, shouldn’t we instead be loving him and offering our prayers for him and our other leaders?

Which is a greater witness to the person of Jesus Christ, joining in on the day to day Obama bashing, or offering our genuine prayers and support to him even when we disagree with his policies?

I think it’s time for Christians, namely conservative Christians, to acknowledge our deeply ingrained pride and hatred directed at liberals, and above all, President Obama.  I’m not saying our positions on the issues are wrong,  that’s not at all what I’m saying.  All I’m saying is, we’re not serving anyone but ourselves when we engage in this bitter banter.  It’s time we felt uncomfortable in the service of those we oppose.

    “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6: 27-36)

Reacting to Reactions: The Death of Osama Bin Laden

Last night I turned on the television to see in big bold letters, Osama is Dead.  That declaration served as the banner to live footage of people celebrating in the streets by waving flags and marching victoriously.  As I watched this, I thought about the next day.  Would everyone in America join in this celebration of his death, or would there be people condemning the celebration as inappropriate?

At first, all I heard on television and the radio were positive proclamations: we finally got the bastard, and justice is finally served.  Facebook was also brimming over with status updates from overjoyed friends, who expressed themselves without reservation.  For a second I thought, maybe this is one of those things that everyone agrees on.  Maybe it’s like Hitler and the Nazis being evil.  But as the day wore on, I started to see a different reaction.

In the span of an hour I came across the same Martin Luther King Jr. quote three times from three different people,

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.

A few others echoed this sentiment, and expressed that they didn’t think it was right for people to be celebrating the death of another human being, even if he was Osama Bin Laden; the same Osama Bin Laden who took credit for the murder of thousands of our fellow citizens.

I want to let you into my mind, and more specifically, my thought process as this has unfolded.  At first I thought, this is a good thing.  A sworn enemy of my country, who made it his mission to terrorize and murder, has been taken out of this world.  When I saw the people in the cities marching, I thought that it was an appropriate response.  One reason is that Bin Laden was the face of our enemy.  In a time where things seem to always be gray and there is great disunity, we had at least one common enemy.  Who was about to defend this man?  Someone who makes it his mission to murder you and the people you care about can’t be anything but an enemy.  To see this person killed removes a threat to innocent life.  It is a good thing that this man is dead.

But honestly, I also had thoughts about relativism.  I thought about how many people in this country don’t hold to any solid truths and what’s true for me may not be true to you, and who am I for telling you otherwise?  This led me to consider that Bin Laden and his followers likely believed in what they were doing, just like Hitler and many of the Nazis believed in theirs.  To pass judgment on them requires a greater truth.  If all we have is our own individual truths, what makes that any better than the one the enemy holds?  This concept of truth is very much tied to ideas of Good and Evil.  To live by a certain understanding of what’s true about the world will paint your picture of what is good and what is evil.  Is it good to give women the right to abort their babies, or is that evil?  Is it good to oppose gay marriage, or is that evil for letting your personal morals restrict another human’s freedom?  You see, if this is how you see the world(where no one truth is more true than another), how can you be happy that Osama Bin Laden is dead?  If you’re happy, that must be because you believe that he was evil and you (we) are good.  But he and his followers thought we were evil and they were good.  Clearly, we believe that our truth is greater.  Killing innocent people is wrong, and justice must be served. 

But what about the Martin Luther King Jr. quote?  Are people actually using it to say that we shouldn’t have killed Bin Laden, or are they just saying that we shouldn’t rejoice when our enemy is killed?  I can see a line of reasoning that would lead to the belief that no one should be celebrating this.

If we rejoice when our enemy is killed, it is a declaration that their life is less valuable than our own, and that we are better (more righteous) than them.  The problem with this is that it conflicts with the belief that all human life is of equal value (that whole equality and made in the image of God thing) and it also challenges the call to love our enemies.  How many times have you heard someone in real life or in fiction say, “If we do this, we will be no better than the enemy!”   I have heard some compare the street celebrations over here to the street celebrations that our enemies conduct when we are hurt.  Maybe we should quietly mourn the loss of a human life, while recognizing that this death was for our good?  Is that what we should do?   Or, are we right to cheer when a mass murderer is killed?

I think the problem with getting all philosophical and deep with this is that it misses the simple truths of this whole matter.  There was a man who believed very much that all of us deserved to die.  He believed it so much that he intentionally enacted a plan to murder us.  Thousands of us were killed.  We recognized and agreed that this was evil, and needed to be confronted.  So for ten years we hunted him, and when we found him we killed him.  We didn’t take him in for a fair trial, or attempt to love him so that he would adopt our beliefs about life.  We killed him because he was ready and willing to help kill the innocent people we love.

So was it right to kill him?  Yes.

Should we be celebrating the death of a mass murderer who killed our people?  That’s for you to decide.  But I wouldn’t stop anyone from cheering.

Thinking Like a Feminist: Yes, You Read That Correctly

Certain words are inflammatory.  I seem to remember writing a post about this a few months back.   Words like abortion, liberal, conservative, gay, lesbian, Christian, Muslim, etc have the potential to really get the blood going.  Another example would be the word, feminist.  Some people hear this and they get excited about female empowerment and gender based justice, and others become irritated at the thought of Joy Behar and Rachel Maddow going off on a sarcastic tangent.  Certainly, we all have a gut reaction to the word.

I have used the title, Thinking Like a Feminist, but I’m sure I’m not using the word exactly as it is meant to be used. (Notice that I used the word used three times in that sentence.  This breaks one of my “unwritten” rules on sentence structure.)  For my purposes today I am using it with the meaning, women’s advocate.  So, my title is really, Thinking Like a Women’s Advocate.  Very good.

I recently saw the film, Limitless, with Bradley Cooper.  The premise is that he’s a struggling loser of a writer who gets access to a drug that makes him a zillion times smarter.  In a few short days he finishes an incredible book and finds that he can convince any woman to have sex with him.  Then he… oh, wait a second.  What did I just type?  Let’s see here, “he can convince any woman to have sex with him.”  Hmm, what’s that about?

This character learns that with all of his new-found confidence and smarts he can charm women into sleeping with him.  It’s actually a little like what Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day when he learned all about Nancy in order to eventually sleep with her.  But Groundhog Day revolves around a solid love for the female lead, so I don’t think it can be condemned on this front.

In one scene Cooper’s character seduces his angry landlord’s wife.  She goes from hating him to lusting after him in about five minutes.  I found this, and similar occurrences in the film to be troubling.  What does this say about men and women?  What does this say about women?  I don’t think it’s good.

Showing a male lead easily seducing women by charming them is not new to Hollywood.  Just about every Bond film has him charming the pants off of women in order to engage in shallow sex.  How many times have you seen a male character use manipulation in order to sleep with a female character?  Too many, I assure you.  When someone is “The Man” they can disarm any woman.  Women are helpless to resist.  What’s wrong with this?

Do you remember the Garden of Eden?  Remember when the serpent manipulated the woman (some would say charmed) into disobeying God by eating the fruit?  How is this any different?  You have the strong, charming, confident character exercising his dominance over a “weaker” creature.  Just as Eve appeared helpless to resist the clever devil, women on screen cannot seem to resist confident clever men.  This exercise in dominance should infuriate anyone who claims to love women.  It implies that women are the objects of male pleasure, and also that they lack moral fortitude and value as individuals.

I want to see women respected and valued in art and in life.  When a man dominates a woman by cleverness and superior will,  true lovers of women should be stirred to anger and action.  If this makes me a feminist, well, I guess it is so.  I’m just as surprised as you.

Trans Fats: An Uncharacteristic Assault on Corporations

I’m sitting in Wendy’s the other day, and I notice that the fries are different.  This disturbs me, and perhaps I will write about it in the future, but today I want to tell you about what I saw below the fries.  On the place mat they wrote this little ditty about how the new fries come from Russet potatoes and they are sprinkled with sea salt.  Also on the mat is a section boasting about how the fries contain no trans fats.  Clearly, I thought, Wendy’s is trying to appear healthier.

But wait, Wendy’s isn’t healthy.  What’s going on here?

I’ve noticed that trans fats have taken center stage in our nation’s health debate this past year.  There was talk about banning salt in restaurants, but once people remembered that salt is an essential part of good tasting food they let it go.  At least for now.  San Francisco also passed legislation to ban the Happy Meal.  You’ll remember a few years back McDonald’s was under pressure when a few fat people tried to sue them.  So they added nutrition facts and got rid of the Super Size.  Wendy’s also got rid of the Biggie Size.  But once again, trans fats are on the chopping block today, and I have a hunch that the big food corporations are eating it up.

Here’s my theory.  Trans fats have been identified as extremely unhealthy and unnatural.  They offer no benefits to our bodies, and exist only to make food taste better.  This makes trans fats the enemy.  Very good.  Once this enemy was identified by the public and the media it had to be addressed by the big food providers.  Now, during all of this there was an ever growing awareness of the obesity epidemic in America.  About 1 in 3 children are obese, and adults are even worse.  So, food corporations had no choice but to respond to America’s increased demand for healthier fare.  Some offered a baked alternative.  Some offered a low calorie alternative.  Some offered a low sugar alternative.  And Some offered a low carb alternative.  They made these small steps, but they continued to push the foods that made them wealthy.  In order to continue the pressure to consume the same unhealthy foods, these corporations needed a distraction.  They needed a way to convince the public that the old standbys were still good to eat.  Trans fats provided the perfect scapegoat.

If the food never had trans fats, you can now boast Zero Grams Trans Fat!!!

If the food used to have some trans fats, you can boast Now with Zero Grams Trans Fat!!!

Do you see what I’m saying?  This is a distraction.  You read that something has no trans fat and you think, this is healthier.  It still has 50 grams of fat and 1500 calories, but there are no trans fats.  That means there is less fat.  That means it is healthier, or at least relatively healthy.  And that is my main point.  By demonizing trans fats, corporations can make themselves and their food look better without having to sacrifice anything.

(I’m not trying to say that big corporations are pure evil.  All I’m saying is that they work really hard to turn a profit, and they’ll use whatever they can to achieve that end.  Certainly, trickery is one of their tools.  So, if you’re going to eat this food, make sure you’re eating it for the right reason; it tastes incredible.)