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Archive for May, 2009

A quest for understanding

Posted by Chance on May 28, 2009

Different Christians have different political opinions.  I have come to expect and respect that.  Some viewpoints are easier to understand than others.  For instance, I’m a strong believer in the free market.  I recognize man’s fallen nature, and so I want to give them less power over other people’s economic decisions.  There are fewer power dynamics in a mutual transaction.  However, I think I can understand why other Christians feel differently.  The free market can seem, at first, counterintuitive to Christianity.  So, I feel that I can somewhat understand the other side’s view, and that the people are generally well-meaning.

Part of this blog is simply saying how I feel, being honest.  So the purpose of this post is not to offend anyone, just to relay how I feel.  I don’t mean to attack anyone.  The stuff I said in the above paragraph, I feel less so when it comes to pro-choice Christians.  To me, I feel that allowing abortion is anathema to Christian values.

Here are a couple of reasons.  I don’t believe Jesus believes in technicalities or loopholes.  He believes in fulfilling the letter AND the spirit of the law as indicated in his Sermon on the Mount. Ending a human life is ending a human life.  The fact that a human being is in the womb one second and is out the other does not provide a sufficient technicality to the ending of human life.  Even if one has some doubts concerning the humanity of the unborn, does it really sound like something Jesus would be okay with?

Secondly, the Bible continually talks about speaking up for the voiceless.  Proverbs 31 says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Who is more voiceless than an unborn baby?  Granted, the women in these situations are usually voiceless, oppressed, and destitute as well.  Christians should lead the charge in taking care of them.  But just because someone has little voice gives them no right to oppress someone with no voice at all.

Thirdly, the Bible, at several points talks about God’s hand in our life even in the womb.

Granted, concerning the first point, here in a somewhat liberal democracy we let things happen all the time that we don’t approve of.  However, I see this issue as a human rights and life or death issue.  I believe the government should ensure that no one deprives another of life, and that all humans are treated equally under the law.

I just don’t understand how some people can continually talk about standing for the “least of these” if they are not going to be consistent and not apply the philosophy in the most difficult cases.  If you want to stand for terrorists not being waterboarded, go ahead.  If you want to oppose the death penalty, go ahead.  If you want socialism, I will disagree, but at least I feel that I understand your viewpoint.  But why is it, when you support these things, by default you are automatically pro-choice?  Oh, you don’t eat meat, you must be pro-choice?  You want to free Tibet, you must be pro-choice?  The very fact that they seem to go hand-in-hand with being pro-choice, in my view, undermines the rest of it. It seems that the same philosophical foundations that result in some of these viewpoints also result, strangely enough, in a pro-choice position.  Therefore, it’s a philosophical foundation I want no part of.

Sure, I know that I have some viewpoints that seem to contradict my pro-life position.  And if you want to try to convince me to change those viewpoints, go ahead.  But at most, you’ll just convince me to be a pro-life socialist, or a pro-lifer who opposes the death penalty.  I believe that people not harming others is the very foundation of morality and what government is supposed to do.

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Posted in Christianity, Politics | 7 Comments »

Empathy makes you a good person, but not necessarily a good (fill in the blank)

Posted by Chance on May 28, 2009

I have to agree with Neil, empathy should not be the major qualifying factor for becoming a  Supreme Court judge.  Empathy may make you wonderful person, but it should not affect how somebody interprets the Constitution.  Empathy doesn’t make one a good Supreme Court judge anymore than it makes someone a good software engineer or brain surgeon.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

What does government and an amateur car mechanic have in common?

Posted by Chance on May 22, 2009

When I was in high school, a customer at the restaurant where I worked offered to do a tune up on my car for a low price.  I trusted this guy, because I knew that he wouldn’t try to pull one over on me.  I trusted him not to charge me an exhorbant price, and that he would actually put effort into fixing my car.

However, I made a big miscalculation.  He was willing to help out, but he wasn’t able to do so very well.  I trusted his intentions, but I never thought about whether or not I should trust his ability.

With government, politicians tell us that they are working for our own interest.  And sometimes, they are actually trying to do so.  But the question we often do not ask ourselves is, are they even competent in doing so?  We trust that the government knows exactly what kind of cars we need to drive, what price of gas we should be paying, what type of food we should put in our bodies, how many electrical outlets we should have in our home, how to run our schools, the list goes on.  We trust the government because they are “here to help”.  Their intentions alone make them worthy of our trust.

The reality is, we need not only fear the corrupt politicians, I think we need to fear the “benevolent” ones just as much. The bad guy is not always some power hungry dictator who enslaves the masses or commits mass genocide.  Don’t get me wrong, those are bad guys, and they are the worst ones to fear.  But do we need fear only the people who directly enslaves us and ends life, or do we need to also fear the ones who take our freedom little by little and prevents us from truly living?  The latter is dangerous in their own way because no one even realizes they are dangerous.

Is taking freedom away from the people only wrong when it is for the benefit of the ruler, or can it also be wrong when it is supposedly for “the common good”?

There is a ruler who is completely good and completely competent.  His name is God almighty.  Shouldn’t the very fact that He does not take away our freedom and lets us make our own choices count for something?

Posted in Christianity, Politics | 8 Comments »

Civility

Posted by Chance on May 20, 2009

I know I’m posting about this about 3 days too late, but it concerns Obama speaking at Notre Dame and the protestors.  I know when Bush was president many people protested his commencement speeches, as well as other Republicans.

I think when it comes to protests they should be done so in a civil manner.  If someone is arrested for trespassing they may not be doing so in the right way.  If someone tries to physically prevent someone from reaching their destination, i.e. a politician from getting to their speaking appointment, I believe that is wrong.  And, most definitely, if someone prevents another person from speaking, I believe that is, in most cases, wrong.  It’s simply a matter of not being rude.  You don’t interrupt somebody when their talking, you learn that when you are 2 or 3, and the principle still applies.  I tried to google the Notre Dame event to see if that happened or not.  I know it has happened plenty of times before with certain politicians and speakers.

The thing is, people think that the veracity of their beliefs give them the right to disrespect other people.  Whether you are protesting waterboarding or abortion, even if you believe you have the moral high ground, even if you do have the moral high ground, our governmental leaders demand a certain amount of respect, based on biblical teachings on government in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.  That doesn’t mean we can’t challenge our leaders or question them, but we should do so respectfully.

Concerning protests at graduation ceremonies or other events, I think wearing a cross with infant footprints on your cap is okay (barring some restrictions that the university may have on say, commencement attire).  Standing up during a commencement speech, well, that’s a gray area in my opinion.

People have a right to protest, but they shouldn’t ignore rules of civility they learned as a toddler.

Posted in Christianity, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft Fail

Posted by Chance on May 14, 2009

Microsoft Vista is considered the biggest tech failure of the past decade according to some guy.

I don’t have Windows Vista myself, I still run XP at work and home.  However, a shared computer at work and my mom’s laptop both run Vista.  When I first played with it, I thought “Vista isn’t as bad as I thought!”  However, that was first glance.  After a short amount of time, I have noticed that Vista on both those machines are ridiculously slow.  It would often lockup, forcing me to try a reboot or logon/logoff.  Simple tasks like opening a new folder on the machine would take a ridiculous amount of time.

These are also fairly new machines with a decent amount of RAM.  And even if they were not top of the line, they shouldn’t have to be.  I disagree with Microsoft’s philosophy that an OS should tax a machine with current specs as much as possible.

However, I changed my Mom’s theme from the whiz-bang curvy translucent windows to the Windows Classic, which looks pretty much like Windows pre-XP.  I haven’t found out yet if it has helped significantly.

Posted in Computers, Technology | 2 Comments »

I miss my blogging buddy

Posted by Chance on May 14, 2009

My friend Josh, who I have known since kindergarten, got me seriously into blogging about 3 and a half years ago.  Josh ran the now defunct Gabbatha University.  It was nice having a blogging buddy, someone I knew in real life (although lived in different states at this point).  It was a nice way to stay connected with a friend.  For some reason though, he deleted his blog and I haven’t heard from him in some time.  I suppose I should give him a call sometime.  I still enjoy blogging, but no one else I know in person does it, so sometimes I feel alone in the blogosphere.  Blogging provides the dimension of me pouring out my thoughts and it is really one of the few outlets of creativity for someone not very creative.  It no longer has the social dimension it used to.  I suppose that is why social networking sites are popular.  People can stay connected with friends through photos and more trivial type blogs, as opposed to reading each others’ long political ramblings.

Anyway Josh, if you happen to read this, you are missed.  And I’m sorry my Nuggets beat your Mavs.  Well, not really.

Posted in Blogs | Leave a Comment »

Sometimes Christian songs don’t have a happy ending

Posted by Chance on May 13, 2009

Apparently there was a big to do about the Fray’s (somewhat) new song “You Found Me.”  It’s basically about a person talking to God wondering where he’s been, and where God was all this time before He “found” him.  I wasn’t sure what I thought of the song at first, because the song sounded somewhat bitter.  But Wally, a DJ on the national Christian Rock radio show Total Axxess, mentioned that this song is in the same vein as many of the Psalms.  He brought up Psalm 88, which closes with v. 18

“You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
the darkness is my closest friend.”

Wow, how’s that for inspirational verse of the day?

As we see in the Psalms, I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning God sometimes.  Isaac Slade of The Fray is doing the same thing here, I think.  The song title is “You Found Me”, it’s not, “You Never Found Me.”  I think as long as questioning God doesn’t turn into bitterness, I think it’s okay.

Posted in Christianity, Music | 1 Comment »

Top 10 Most Played in my iTunes library

Posted by Chance on May 6, 2009

Song  –           Artist

That’s What You Get – Paramore  (nice catchy rock song)

If Looks Could Kill  – Camera Obscura  (flashback to the 60s, reminds me of the Tempations in a way)

Magnificent – U2  (from their newest album and their next single)

Lovers in Japan – Coldplay  (Coldplay at their finest)

Let’s Go Back – Everyday Sunday (nice little Christian rock group)

Lost!  – Coldplay

Tell Me You’ll Be There – Everyday Sunday

Moment of Surrender – U2 (also from the newest album)

Vertigo – U2  ( I didn’t realize how often I listened to this song)

Wake Up! Wake Up!  – Everyday Sunday

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Why the two-party system?

Posted by Chance on May 6, 2009

Sometimes I’m puzzled by the two-party system that we have, especially in light of the two dimensional model of politics.  The two dimensional model has an axis for economic freedom and an axis for personal freedom.

I’m going to share two theories on why we have a two party system.  These are not completely exclusive to each other.

#1 It truly reflects our cultural values

As you can see on the left, liberals favor personal freedom but less so economic freedom, and conservatives vice versa.

However, I think where some people who espouse this model get this wrong is the whole freedom vs. government control.  I believe that most people don’t vote the way they do because they way the costs and benefits of government control vs. individual freedom, it’s that they have a certain viewpoint of how the world should be, and their political viewpoint is shaped by this.

In other words, I think political philosophy is not shaped by how they perceive the role of government, but on cultural issues.  Government is a big part of life, and these cultural issues turn into political issues.

For example, some people are free market because they don’t believe in a managed economy.  Many people, however, believe in a free market because of deeply ingrained conservative values, like the Protestant work ethic – people get what they work for, etc.  (I could be off on this one as people are learning from failed experiences of communist countries).  Concerning the issue of gay marriage, it is really split along the lines of what people personally believe.  People who disagree with homosexuality for the most part will oppose gay marriage.  People supporting gay marriage are composed largely of people who really see no problem with homosexuality whatsoever.

I think when someone is more into limited government, they may tend toward the top of this diamond.  For instance, people who may have far different believes concerning religion and social mores may nonetheless share common political beliefs due to belief in limited government.

I’m not saying cultural values don’t have any place in our voting, but that we should also question whether or not government has business getting involved in this or that issue.  If that happens, maybe the two party mold will break. Maybe that will happen as government increasingly gets more and more involved in people’s lives that will happen.

#2 It has to do more with power and not people’s values

Perhaps many people do not fit the two-party mold, but for some reason or another, the two-party system has a stranglehold on America politics.  They got into power at one point in time, and once they are there, it is hard to move them.

This leaves a few questions.  How do we break this stronghold?  Also, if the two-party system does not reflect our values, what would it look like.  In general, are people big government (at the bottom of the diamond) or are we all really libertarians at heart (at the top)?

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

I want to explain an earlier post: on civil liberties, taxes, etc.

Posted by Chance on May 2, 2009

Concerning this post, I want to clarify myself.  I thought about editing it later, but I didn’t want to ruin the effect I was going for.

As I said earlier in the post, I don’t know exactly where I stand concerning the drug policy of the U.S., but as one reads further, it may seem like I stand firm with the “pot smokers.”  I actually do think legalizing pot may be a reasonable step, but that’s not the point I was making.

Read the rest of this entry »

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