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Archive for June, 2007

Thoughts on the Democratic Debate

Posted by Chance on June 29, 2007

This is the first debate I caught on TV, because my wife was flipping through the channels and wanted to watch. I only saw part of the debate, but here are my random thoughts.

1) I really like this Gravel guy. I like how he went against the grain and called for a replacement of the income tax with a larger sales tax. Even if you don’t agree, it’s always nice to hear something different.

2) As expected, every other candidate talked about the rich paying their fair share of taxes. I can see their point about capital gains tax being lower than the income tax, and how that doesn’t seem right. My response would be lower the income tax, but I have a feeling they have the opposite solution.

However, I would like both sides to quit talking about what is “fair” and using their subjective opinions to when it comes to arguing for lower/higher taxes. Both sides will just talk past each other. Conservatives do contend that lower taxes produce higher revenues. I would like to see Democrats respond to that.

3) I think every candidate harped on the failure of Katrina. It will be a helpful issue to the Democratic nominee, as they will suggest more spending and programs, but it won’t exactly hurt the Republican nominee, as it will not be Bush running again.

4) Obama may have responded well to the questions, but I think he was upstaged by the more fiery candidates, such as Kucinich and Clinton. Obama is more of a calm, collected sort of guy, which isn’t a good/bad thing necessarily. I just know that he didn’t stick out the most in my mind after the debate was over.

5) Republicans need to come up with a good plan to fix healthcare that will resonate with voters. The universal healthcare approach will have massive appeal to voters, so they need to come up with an alternative quickly.

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Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »

Thoughts on the Democratic Debate

Posted by Chance on June 29, 2007

This is the first debate I caught on TV, because my wife was flipping through the channels and wanted to watch. I only saw part of the debate, but here are my random thoughts.

1) I really like this Gravel guy. I like how he went against the grain and called for a replacement of the income tax with a larger sales tax. Even if you don’t agree, it’s always nice to hear something different.

2) As expected, every other candidate talked about the rich paying their fair share of taxes. I can see their point about capital gains tax being lower than the income tax, and how that doesn’t seem right. My response would be lower the income tax, but I have a feeling they have the opposite solution.

However, I would like both sides to quit talking about what is “fair” and using their subjective opinions to when it comes to arguing for lower/higher taxes. Both sides will just talk past each other. Conservatives do contend that lower taxes produce higher revenues. I would like to see Democrats respond to that.

3) I think every candidate harped on the failure of Katrina. It will be a helpful issue to the Democratic nominee, as they will suggest more spending and programs, but it won’t exactly hurt the Republican nominee, as it will not be Bush running again.

4) Obama may have responded well to the questions, but I think he was upstaged by the more fiery candidates, such as Kucinich and Clinton. Obama is more of a calm, collected sort of guy, which isn’t a good/bad thing necessarily. I just know that he didn’t stick out the most in my mind after the debate was over.

5) Republicans need to come up with a good plan to fix healthcare that will resonate with voters. The universal healthcare approach will have massive appeal to voters, so they need to come up with an alternative quickly.

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Another advantage of school choice

Posted by Chance on June 29, 2007

The Cato Blog makes a good point. There are other ways to achieve racial integration rather than the direct methods struck down by the Supreme Court yesterday. One way is school choice. Imagine a system where poor minority children wouldn’t be stuck with their inner-city schools. Such a system would require less government involvement, something many aren’t ready for.

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The separation of the sacred and secular

Posted by Chance on June 28, 2007

I have noticed that in art, particularly in music, there is a strong separation between CCM (Christian Contemporary Music) and secular music. This line is being blurred somewhat, with some crossover artists, but it seems that someone is a “Christian” artist, or they are not.

My question is this, is this a good thing?

The reason I ask is that I am not sure this separation always existed. Da Vinci painted religious themed portraits like The Last Supper, but he wasn’t known as a “Christian” artist, and he painted non-religious things as well. People didn’t ask “Oh, he painted The Last Supper, is he a Christian artist now?” Classic composers (of whom I know little about) would compose works inspired by their faith, but sometimes they would not be. It seems that there were many classic poets and authors (correct me if I am wrong, as I left all my poetry books at home) would speak on spiritual themes, sometimes they would not. There was not a question of whether they belonged to the Christian genre or not.

This may be a good thing, because much of secular culture is quite distant from Christian values, based on the things they glorify. Maybe as the secular becomes more profane, this distancing is inevitable.

Why would it be a bad thing?

Perhaps it has to do with the overall quality of art. I will be honest, there is much CCM I don’t care for right now; much of it seems second-rate. Maybe it’s just an issue with me though. But I notice that many great artists are those that are Christian, but not in the “Christian” genre. U2 is the most glaring example. Three of the four members are Christian, and many songs are very spiritual. Another lesser known band is the Innocence Mission that has many spiritual songs as well, and even has an album of hymns. Some of the highest quality CCM bands are now crossing over, or at least have a foot in the mainstream, such as Switchfoot or Skillet.

So, I don’t know if my concerns have any foundation. Basically, I have noticed that much great art of the past was influenced by Christianity but was not in a genre separate from everything else. Today, I notice a distinct separation in many cases, and it seems that many times the “Christian” side is inferior, whereas those artists that may have some mainstream involvement are the superior bands. (To be fair though, it is understandable that the creme of the Christian crop would get mainstream attention). At the same time, I know we, as Christians, are called to stand out and not blend in.

As a final note, there seems to be a distinct exception in the genre of country music. Carrie Underwood has a hit called “Jesus, Take the Wheel” but there is not a debate on whether she is a Christian artist. Garth Brooks will have overtly religious songs on his album, but at the same time sing about a woman killing her unfaithful husband (I don’t say that to be critical, as I don’t think he is glorifying or justifying murder, I am just illustrating the main point of my post). There does not seem to be a big “Christian country” genre. What is so different about country?

Posted in Music | 2 Comments »

Off for about a week

Posted by Chance on June 19, 2007

I’ll be gone for about a week visiting family, so no posts for a while, which may not be unusual as I sometimes go a week without blogging. Have a good weekend.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Conservatism, liberalism, and the Gray-Haired Old White Man

Posted by Chance on June 19, 2007

The concept of a modern day Noah’s Ark story found in Evan Almighty had fascinated me. After all, the original account deals with God wiping out the earth because of our sin. The idea of a story about God punishing sinful man, well, it just seems out of place in Hollywood.

Of course, it depends what the sin is. Now, I have not seen the movie, but I’ve read a brief synopsis in the Washington Post review. This is not an in depth analysis, otherwise I would wait till I saw the movie. But the sin that the movie focuses on is not surprising. The post says…

the movie has a modern theme about saving the environment from corrupt politicians and businessman looking to profit by diminishing green meadows and animal habitats.

Now, of course many people can get on board with this idea. I don’t like corrupt politicians and businessmen either.

But corrupt politicians are not the only thing wrong with the world either. For instance, there is the dissolution of families, promiscuous sex, and the marketing of sex on TV. However, I don’t think a movie about the bad guys being people who sleep around a lot would catch on as one in which the bad guys are evil businessmen destroying the environment.

This is not to downplay the latter, but the concept of the movie does point out a divide between what bothers liberals and conservatives. Now, this post is not an attempt to invalidate or discredit the beliefs of either side, it is only an attempt at an analysis of what each side values. I would welcome any input from anyone regarding these views.

Liberalism, it seems, has the spark of youthful rebellion. Liberalism is all about challenging the establishment. It is rebelling against the Gray-Haired Old White Man. (I don’t say “White” to give this any racial overtones, I am just mentioning it because if you look at most people in power, well, that’s what they look like.) Liberals like to leave people alone in their personal lives (again, in theory, I think the DP has done the opposite many times) but focus more on regulating economic activity. Regulating economic activity is essentially telling the Gray-Haired Old White Man what to do.

Also, part of liberalism is the avoidance of being the Gray-Haired Old White Man. Let’s take abortion for instance. Saying “No” to some poor woman, maybe a minority, just doesn’t have the same zing as saying “No” to the rich and powerful. Telling someone who isn’t in power “you can’t do that” is so Gray-Haired Old White Man, it’s so…conservative.

Conservatives, on the other hand, well, most often they are the Gray-Haired Old White Man, or at least the favored son of the Gray-Haired Old White Man. Perhaps the conservative is the good son who went to college and has a nice job in a skyscraper, and the liberal is the 2nd-born son who dropped out of college and builds houses in Ecuador.

Jesus Himself could be seen as a liberal, in the sense that He also challenged the rich and powerful. He purposely upset the religious establishment, the Pharisees, and he had no qualms about upsetting the governmental authorities, although he had no political ambitions. But Jesus was also set on challenging us as the individual. He not only challenged the Pharisees taking God’s name in vain, but he also challenged the woman at the well who had five previous husbands and was living with a guy. He did so out of love, and not a condemning tone, but he still made her feel uncomfortable.

In the political sense, both appeal to government power more than I would like. But I think in a cultural sense, in the sense of what is right and wrong, I think both groups have their strengths. Many conservatives can learn from liberals in regarding those who are oppressed and corruption among the rich and powerful. At the same time, I think liberals need to look more at “conservative” type issues and realize that maybe the fracture of the family structure may be leading to things like poverty and inner-city crime.

Also, sometimes Christianity and our current modern American philosophy may agree. Both scorn the abuse of power by the Gray-Haired Old White Man. But Christianity goes further. It is not just telling Gray-Haired Old White Man, “Hey, quit destroying our earth” or “Hey, quit oppressing the poor!” but it is telling the suave 20-something year old man “Hey, keep it in your pants!” or telling the 30-something housewife “Hey, stick with your husband and work it out, even if you think the guy in the next office truly ‘gets you’!” Christianity is not only about exterminating the evil found in the ranks of the rich and powerful, it is looking at ourselves and finding the evil within us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Our perception of God, or, a Father’s Day post a little early

Posted by Chance on June 13, 2007

Last Father’s Day, the pastor at my church talked about how our perception of God depended heavily upon our relationship with our earthly father. (Disclaimer: I wasn’t at church then, I can’t remember why, but my wife relayed the central themes).

It’s an interesting idea. What is our perception of God? Do we think of Him as some angry deity ready to smite us whenever we mess up? Or do we think of God as absent? Someone who cares not for the petty details of our life and leaves us to our own devices.

I think many of us Christians know in our head what God is like. A loving God slow to anger, forgiving yet just, and all that stuff. But I think sometimes in our hearts we picture Him much differently. Related to that picture is a desire that He be more this or that.

So what is our perception of God? It may illuminate our relationship with our father. Look at the relationship with our father, it may illuminate our perception of God.

I’ve got a big responsibility to ensure that my son will have a balanced and accurate view of God, not just in his head but in his heart.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

My idea for a reality show

Posted by Chance on June 11, 2007

I was watching a Simpsons episode called “Mr. Lisa goes to Washington“, in which Lisa wins an essay contest about the greatness of America, but quickly becomes disillusioned when she sees the corruption in Washington.

The show made me think about politicians in general, and it seems that even the honest ones have probably made some moral compromises along the way. Not that I would consider going into politics, but even if I wanted to, I am afraid my Christianity would be compromised. But somebody’s gotta do the job.

A common theme in various Christian men’s ministries is that of accountability in many areas of life, including sexual purity. The idea is to have men keep each other accountable, where they can talk about their daily struggles and their progress in their spiritual life. Intertwined with accountability is the whole idea of openness, keeping one’s daily activities and interactions in the light. The biggest thing tripping up many Christian men is the internet. I use a program called Covenant Eyes that keeps my surfing activities in the open.

I think Christian men should have at least one person keeping them accountable, and their are many verses supporting this idea. (As well as women, I am just speaking from a man’s point of view).

So if accountability and openness is required to be a good Christian person, what about our elected representatives?

So this idea came to me. What if some, or every representative had their own reality show? The gist of most reality shows is that the camera follows a celebrity around and captures the inane details of their life. What if they did the same for politicians? The cameras would follow every lunch with a lobbyist, every interaction with their secretary, their involvement in each legislative session. Not everything would make the show, of course, but the juiciest details would.

I’m sure the idea would never go over. But if I ever wanted to be involved in politics, I would want all my interactions to be out in the open for everyone to see. I’m just not that virtuous.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »

Difference between big and small government folks

Posted by Chance on June 11, 2007

Big government folks, whether they be conservative or liberal, are optimistic. They put their faith in politicians, that they will always do the right thing. Limited government folk are different in that they prepare for the worst-case scenario, that the worst sort of people will be in charge.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »

Understanding the scientific origins of the universe is way overrated. Or is it? Let the parents decide.

Posted by Chance on June 8, 2007

There is an interesting discussion over at Glen Dean‘s blog about school choice. One of his money quotes is

Christians who believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and want their children to be taught that, are not necessarily the enemies of science. All they really ask is that they have a little say in what their children are taught. After all, the children do belong to them, not the state.

. Another commenter made a reasonable point in the second paragraph

I disagree that the topic is freedom. I really am frightened by the prospect of millions of ignorant kids growing into adulthood completely lacking some basic knowledge about how the world works. Furthermore, the South and pockets of the midwest, seem to be havens for this sort of thinking. Left unchecked, the day will come when we’ll have pockets of ignorance–sorta like how things were in the last century.

Parents can teach their kids whatever they want, but there should still be certain standards of education. Kids need to at least be exposed to real science. What they choose to do with that knowledge is their own business.

I wanted to raise a couple of points.

I agree with Glen in that parents should have the primary role in what their children are taught. If a central federal office or court has the power to enforce teaching with which we agree, it has the same power to do so when we don’t disagree. Liberals may think they have more to gain with a centralized school system, but there could still be governors or courts that think creationism is the way to go.

Additionally, let’s say evolution does provide a sufficient framework for explaining the universe. Okay, fine, but is someone really going to miss out and not be able to function in society if they don’t learn about it? From a scientific perspective, people give the origins of the universe too much credit. I went through a whole set of college coursework without touching a biology class, as it was not necessary or related to my major. But even in high school, when I did take a biology class, we didn’t really touch on evolution too much, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn (and quickly forgot) the processes of mitosis, meiosis, photosynthesis, and all that other stuff. Not only is an understanding of evolution unnecessary to basic functioning in society, but someone can still have a good grasp of the sciences without going into the subject. In the case that someone wanted to go into academia in the life sciences,the desired college program can determine if evolutionary understanding is necessary. Already, college programs decide on entry requirements typically beyond high school graduation requirements anyway.

But I’m only looking at it from a purely utilitarian point of view. After all, reading classic works or learning the finer details of our American government are not things I apply everyday in my particular line of work, but I am still glad I learned those things, and I hope my children do as well.

The point is, I, as a parent, should determine if learning the scientific origins of the universe is even that important in the first place. The same should go for other areas of education as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »