For Christians, Mitt's Mormonism Shouldn't Matter

In case you're clueless, you probably already know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. In other breaking news, the sky is blue and cake is delicious.

Since this is Biblical Conservatism, I feel it's worth taking time to discuss the Christian reaction to Mitt's Mormonism.  I know that some Christians, especially my fellow Pentecostals, might be inclined to be concerned about Romney's beliefs and how it might effect his decision making as President. This is especially true of those of us who know the roots of Mormonism and some of their crazier doctrines. (For a comical but accurate explanation of the founding of Mormonism, click here.)

However, despite such interesting doctrines that the Mormon church teaches and the contradictions between Mormonism and Christianity, Christians should not be concerned that Romney's Mormonism will somehow go against our faith. The fact is that while Mormonism does not agree with Christianity on the many major political issues with faith based implications, it does concur with Christianity. (In this case, to concur is to agree in practice but not in doctrine. For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that means to act the same way for a different reason.)

To give a few examples:

- Mormonism teaches that abortion is wrong, but makes allowances for situations where the mother's life is in danger and does also make the allowance for rape cases (which, I continue to question because my focus is the baby's life, but I would also be fine with that compromise).

- Mormonism teaches the same principle of tithing that Christianity teaches.

- Mormonism, like Christianity, believes it is important to care for the poor, and like the Biblical Conservatism which I teach, does not say "have the government do it" but rather says "YOU take care of the poor.

There are more topics I can touch upon, but ultimately, friends, Romney's faith is going to concur with Christianity's teachings. While he may not have arrived at those conclusions by the same path, ultimately, if Romney governs according to his faith, there will be no battle with Christians. (The same would be true if we had a devoutly Jewish President.)  So, if you have concerns about Mitt's Mormonism, let me assure you: Mormonism may contradict Christianity in orthodoxy (correct doctrine), but, from a governing perspective, will not contradict Christianity in orthopraxy (correct action).

writing a manifesto

i basically have a manifesto due in a few days.

it's the very last thing that's due for this Spring semester... my 1st semester back in Grad school.
it's this mammoth manifesto of leadership due on Monday. & yep... you guessed it... i still haven't started.

& that's why i haven't written a blog post in the last couple days.
well, that's been my excuse anyway. stuff like "i've gotta write 20 pages today - for this paper... not on my blog." & so i don't write a blog post.

but i also don't work on my paper. i'm too busy doing all the other millions of things i've gotta do. meetings, work, life...

doesn't look like i'm gonna start on my paper today either. i guess it will have to wait until tomorrow.

i am kind of looking forward to it... forcing me to write my manifesto of leadership. my philosophy of leadership. my biblical theology of leadership.

i already wrote a research paper earlier this semester on Jesus' theology of leadership... i should probably just copy His. you know, adopt His as mine.
that's not plagiarism is it?

April 24th Primary Roundup

Format note: Previous to this last round of primaries, Biblical Conservatism has given "Reactions to (Insert Primary or Primaries here)." Since Mitt Romney has, for all intents and purposes, locked up the GOP Nomination, there's not much to react to moving forward. However, there are still nuggets to glean from the results.

This past Tuesday, five more states (Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New York) held their Republican primary contests. It was a clean sweep for Romney, as expected. With Rick Santorum out of the race, Newt Gingrich soon to be out, and Ron Paul never really having a chance, if Mitt didn't sweep the votes it would have been as shocking as, well, ever seeing President Ron Paul. (Sorry, J.D.)

However, there is something notable to see about Romney's vote tallies, or rather the tallies of the rest of the field. We're going to take a bit of time to look at that now. Remember that, even though Rick Santorum had left the campaign, he was still on the ballot in all five states. All numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Connecticut:  Mitt won the state with 64% of the vote, with Ron Paul getting 14% of the vote, Newt Gingrich with 10% and Rick Santorum winning 7%. It's a New England state, where many of the Republicans are farther to the left than some Southern Democrats. However, the vote means about 31% of Connecticut Republicans preferred a candidate more conservative than Mitt Romney.

Delaware: Mitt won the state with about 57% of the vote, with Newt Gingrich garnering about 27% of the vote, Ron Paul gaining about 11% of the vote and Rick Santorum garnering about 6% of the vote. What does that mean? It means approximately 43% of voting Delaware Republicans preferred a candidate more conservative than Mitt Romney.

Rhode Island: Mitt won the state with about 63% of the vote. Ron Paul garnered about 24% of the vote, Newt and Santorum each got about 6% of the vote. Again, it's a New England state, where many of the Republicans are farther to the left than some Southern Democrats. Still, approximately 36% of Republican voters in Rhode Island preferred a candidate more conservative than Mitt Romney.

Pennsylvania: Mitt won the state with about 58% of the vote. Rick Santorum won 18% of the vote, Ron Paul won about 13% of the vote, and Newt won 11% of the vote.  That means 42% of Republican voters in Pennsylvania preferred a candidate more conservative than Mitt Romney.

New York: Mitt won the state with 62% of the vote. Ron Paul won 16% of the vote with Newt Gingrich garnering 13% and Rick Santorum winning 9%. (As some of you know, I live in New York State.  Even though I know it was merely a vote for the record, I did cast my ballot for Newt Gingrich.  So you DelusiNewts out there...don't give me grief.)  That means 38% of New York Republicans preferred a candidate more conservative than Mitt Romney

On average from those five states (and this is not a weighted average, friends) 38% of Republicans who voted on Tuesday preferred a candidate more conservative than Mitt Romney.   Realizing that none of these states are red state (Obama won them all in 2008), this should tell Romney something important.  Mitt needs to worry about his base, not moderating.

Remember, friends, based on Gallup's 2012 ideology poll, a conservative only needs to win 33% of the self-identified moderates (plus all the conservatives) to win the popular vote in 2012. A liberal (which Obama most definitely is, friends) needs to win 86% of the self-identified moderates to win the popular vote in 2012 (plus all the liberals).

Mitt needs to have the strong support of conservatives to win.  Not just their votes...he needs us to fight for him to support him to persuade people. He needs us to be excitied, to donate, to volunteer.

Mitt, let this set of primaries be a lesson to you: You need conservatives. Don't hide from us. We're the majority!

Romney Attack Ads Need to Continue Past the Primary

One of Mitt Romney's top strategies in the Republican Primary has been to run attack ads against his opponents.  The No More Mr. Nice Guy routine worked well in the primaries. Now that the General Election is underway, it's time to reload those ads and start reminding Americans the truth about Barack Obama as a President.

We know the President is going to run attack ads against Mitt. Obama will almost certainly play the class warfare angle against Romney...after all, Mitt has had the audacity to be successful in business and become wealthy, how dare he.  Some have suggested that the Occupy Wall Street movement, funded largely by Leftists like George Soros and others, may have been generated to raise up anti-wealth sentiment against Mitt. Even if this conjecture is innacurate, it is easy to see Obama's "fair share" and "millionaires and billionaires" rhetoric as laying the foundation for his campaign against Romney.

Romney has had a moment or two where he's presented the President as a well meaning fool, a nice guy over his head...and friends, despite the way people clamor for "civility," civility only truly works if that attitidue is a two way street.  When it's not, the same "moderates" who claim to desire civility are quickly convinced by the slander from the Left directed towards conservatives.

So Mitt, I'm asking you, I'm begging you, I'm telling you: Fight fire with fire. The nice guy routine will not work. The Drive-By Media is going to carry the Obama campaign's water, and it won't matter how sweet you are to the President. It won't be an election of two competing sets of ideas discussing the ideas.  The Left CAN'T WIN using their issues...too few Americans agree with them!  But you need to bring up why Obama is and has been bad for America. Do that, Governor Romney, and you'll be President.

what kind of world are you voting for?

let me write that again and let's just let it sink in a little bit:

"every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want."

that is an insanely powerful statement.

but maybe that's a little too idealistic or "neat" for you or you don't quite believe it or you can come up with all kinds of examples of how that's not true, etc...

but let's just try to put all that aside for 1 second and assume that at some level, this statement really is true.

that the way we spend our money is voting for the way we want the world to be...

then there's some major implications. let's unpack this real quick:

if you spend money on YOU... you're voting for a world that's more about YOU. 

if you spend all your money on you... you're voting for a world that's ALL about you.

if you buy stuff for others... then you're voting for a world that's more about others.

if you spend money on God's mission in the world... you're voting for a world that's more about God's mission & His glory.

if you spend your money on the poor... you're voting for a rebellion. a revolution that says "i'm crazy blessed... and the whole point of me being blessed is to use my blessing to bless others." you're voting for a world that's BETTER.

so... what kind of world are you voting for?

Stop Railing on Fox News if you get your news from...

Stop Railing on Fox News if you get your news from:

- NBC                               - ABC                               - CBS
- CNN                              - MS-NBC                        - NPR
- The Huffington Post        - The New York Times      - The Washington Post   
- The Associated Press     - Media Matters

I can continue but I think I've made my point with the list I've made. What brings this on, you say?  In general, listening to people who get their news from sources that are just as biased as the same people accuse Fox News of being (and in many cases their sources are even more biased).

Am I arguing that Fox News doesn't lean to the right? No, I am not. I am saying Fox does indeed provide balance. They do it by balancing out the aforementioned sources, along with other sources like the Heritage Foundation, the Weekly Standard, the New York Post, the Washington Times, radio shows like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and others.  Here's the reality of life, my friends: NOBODY IS UNBIASED. The people who claim to be pure "moderates" are either a) lying b) don't want to do the homework to have an informed opinion but want you to think they're smart.  Otherwise, absolutely everybody is biased.

If you know history, you know that the original free press that was protected by our Founding Fathers didn't claim to be as clean and unbiased as the modern very biased media claims. Balance was defined then (and, if we're honest, still ought to be defined) by having one biased news source that was balanced out by an equally and oppositely biased news source. That's the best way to have a legitimately balanced media, rather than having news sources that pretend that they're unbiased.

I've often said that Dan Rather and Rush Limbaugh are equally biased. Do you know the difference? Rush is completely honest that he is biased. Dan Rather did not.  Bias is not the problem, friends. Hidden bias is the problem.

Personally, I think the single most balanced news show in the last 20 years or so was Fox News' Hannity and Colmes.  For those who don't remember the show, it featured the very liberal Alan Colmes and the very conservative Sean Hannity, debating each other and having equal time to question guests from both sides of the aisle. THAT was a balanced show, because you saw both sides of the aisle in their pure form next to each other and individuals could decide.

So, my friends, if your news comes from a bias sourced, fine. I don't object to that. But for heaven's sake stop being high and mighty about Fox News. Your network is likely just as biased (if not more).

a friend of a friend (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown on May 19, 2010.)

Have you ever thought about all the stories you hear that start with "a friend of a friend" or "my friend's friend"?
(i'm not just talking about the fact that the stories that follow are probably urban legends either...)

**But seriously, have you ever noticed that our friends' friends have way more crazy, fun, and interesting lives than our friends themselves? and certainly much more interesting lives than we do.

maybe the further we move out in the 6 degrees of separation the more crazy these people get?!  So, if we ever hear stories about "a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend" - then that is going to be one freaking crazy story!

Let the Liberal Poll Cooking Begin!

It's election season, and the more trustworthy polling organizations are beginning to show a tough year for Democrats. So what is the official Drive-By Media response? Cooked polls!  Today we've found a fine example of this precise practice in the form of an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll that was published this past Friday. 

The outcome of this poll tries to say that President Obama has a fair lead over Mitt Romney if the election was held today, with Obama leading Governor Romney 49% to 43%.  This stands in stark contrast to the historically far more reliable Gallup tracking poll (that takes data daily and offers a 3 day rolling average) which shows Governor Romney leading the President 48% to 43%. 

So how in heaven's name does NBC come up with this data?  The devil is, as always, in the details. For starters, this poll's sample includes 9% more Democrats than Republicans (43% Democrat or Democrat leaning and 34% Republican or Republican leaning). Considering the question asked was not "what party if any are you registered with" but rather "which party do you most identify with" this is a clear skew that helps Obama look better. (It resulted in a +5% skew for Obama and a -6% skew against Romney...changing the predicted result.)

It is reasonable to assume that there are about the same number of Republican and Democrat leaning individuals in America as a base with maybe 10-15% true middle ground believers. Actually, as I've highlighted before, there are consistently more conservatives than moderates and consistently more moderates than liberals when it comes to a person's self-identity.

At the end of last year, 40% of Americans considered themselves conservative, 35% considered themselves moderate and 21% considered themselves liberal, according to last fall's Gallup Survey. Given a reasonable assumption that the vast majority of conservatives are Republicans and the vast majority of liberals are Democrats and splitting the moderates right down the middle, you get 48.5% Republican leaners, 38.5% Democrat leaners. So to take a poll that is 43% Democrat is highly dishonest.

There is, of course, corroborating evidence against this poll. For example, the poll asked about the preferred Congressional election outcome for each voter. The result was 46% preferring a Democrat Congress and 44% preferring a Republican Congress. This stands in stark contrast to Rasmussen's Generic Congressional Ballot poll which showed that 46% of likely voters prefer a generic Republican against 36% who preferred a generic Democrat. So this poll's skew resulted in a +12% net gain for the Democrats and a -2% net loss for the Republican. (Even in a cooked liberal poll, Republicans are close to beating Democrats!)

My friends, this is only the beginning. The Drive-By Media is not concerned with reporting the truth. They are concerned with skewing results to make Obama look better and to dishearted conservatives and Republicans so that we don't fight hard to defeat Democrats. We will not let them.

Fact is this election year is looking very bad for liberals and Democrats. Game on.

Death of a Mailman (as a Career)

Recently, the United States Postal Service has begun to air commercials calling for us (and by us I mean government) to save the Postal Service!  We have to save the jobs! We have to save this company because it's useful and all that!

Actually, friends, there are lots of industries that have gone the wayside in history.  The classic example is the buggy whip industry. In the early 1900s when Henry Ford began to mass produce the Model T and that vehicle became widely used and owned, hundreds of thousands of Americans if not millions of Americans stopped using the horse and buggy as their means of transportation.  The buggy whip was the preffered way to let one's horse(s) know it was time to go.  It was essentially the gas pedal equivalent of the horse and buggy. 

When the Model T became prevalent, the buggy whip industry eventually died, simply because it was an obsolete industry. Other industries have also died or become much, much smaller. For example, the candle making industry exists, but it is a fraction of it's size prior to the widespread availability of electricity.  This is the way of the Free Market and of progress.

The United States Postal Service (henceforth noted as USPS) is quickly becoming similarly obsolete. There are better choices for shipping packages (namely the United Parcel Service aka UPS and Federal Express aka FedEx). As far as bills, the majority of bills can be paid online. (I personally have to mail only one bill each month of all my bills.  The rest have automated bill pay setup or I can pay them online.) Sending letters as a means of communication is essentially dead with the advent of email, not to mention the fact that telephones of both the cellular and traditional land line variety offer long distance calling at a very reasonable rate so it is easy to call your friends and loved ones rather than writing a letter.

All that is really required is for FedEx and/or UPS to step up and offer letter delivery for the USPS to die quietly as the Buggy Whip industry did. At the very least, the USPS is about to drop off, similarly to the candle making industry as primarily a letter delivering service.

Yes, this does mean the USPS will move slower, but honestly, that just means I need to remember to mail birthday cards a little bit earlier to family and friends out of town. This is not a crisis. This is not the end of the world. Many of those who work in the USPS are going to have to find new employment (may I suggest applying to UPS or FedEx?) but my friends, this is the way of the world! Products and services become obsolete regularly throughout history!

The fact is no amount of government subsidy is going to keep the USPS in demand. It is simply has become barely needed in our modern world. Eventually it won't be needed at all. Actually, if the ability to teleport objects ever becomes possible, FedEx and UPS will become obsolete. If the ability to teleport living beings becomes possible, the auto industry will also be obsolete.  That's what ALWAYS happens.

This is called progress, friends. Free Market progress to be exact. Time to live in the real world. The U.S. Postal Service going the way of the buggy whip industry isn't the end of the world. It's simply a continuation of industrial progress.

crystal quotes of the day #3

you can read the 1st "Crystal quotes of the day (pregnancy edition)" HERE.

today's "Crystal quote of the day" is a little bit more of a conversation that went like this:

Crystal:  "Can I have an advance on the baby clothes budget?"

Me:         "What do you mean? like you want next month's money this month?"

Crystal:  "Yes."

Me:         "OK, but you realize if you spend all of next month's money this month there will be none for this month."

Crystal:  "What? No, I want an advance so that I can spend the money for next month AND have that amount for next month too."

Me:         "That's not an advance... that's just extra money."

Crystal:  "Well, whatever you want to call it then. You say tomato, i say tomahto."

Foghorn Leghorn & A Radish Would Beat Obama...So Will Romney

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I had endorsed Newt Gingrich for President back when Newt had a snowball's chance in July of winning the nomination.  Today, so many Newt fans are still clamoring for Newt to somehow deafeat Romney for the nomination (because they're apparently really bad at math). These same individuals are loudly proclaiming that Mitt can't beat Obama.

They are, of course, wrong. The reality of the situation is that a Radish could beat Obama, as could Foghorn Leghorn. You know who else can and will beat Obama?  Mitt Romney.

Need proof? Over the past week the first reliable head to head polls have come out. (I say reliable because head to head polls are not necessarily trustworthy while the primaries continue, as often people are bad at mentally suspending their own ideal situation to consider the reality of another choice they may have to make. For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that means when asked "Who would you vote for in a hypothetical matchup between Romeny and Obama" they choose "other" because they preferred Santorum or Gingrich or whoever.) Gallup and Rasmussen have given their first week of rolling polling data, and (surprise surprise), Romney is beating Obama by 4 points (which is outside the margin for error).

According to Rasmussen, if the election was held today, Romney would defeat Obama 48% to 44%.  According to Gallup, if the election was held today, Romney would defeat Obama by 48% to 44% as well.  Considering the documented history of certain Drive-By Media sources to used cooked polls and poor samples of the population or just polls of "adults" to make their candidate look stronger, Rasmussen and Gallup will remain our standard bearers here for the 2012 Election.

Friends, stop buying the false narrative. Believe me, Romney will beat Obama. So let's focus on supporting him and pushing him to the right instead of panicking.  Remember, friends, the Democrats are running Obama!

you really should SMILE more

smiling is awesome. everybody likes a smile :)
actually, smiling makes us FEEL GREAT! seriously.

research proves that 1 smile can generate the same brain stimulation of eating up to 2,000 bars of chocolate. (but you don't get nearly as fat)
& a smile can stimulate the same good feelings as receiving $25,000 in cash!

did you catch that? has anyone ever walked up to you and handed you $25k in cash? well, the same kind of positive experience happens in your brain when you simply smile!

not only is it good for you, but smiles are CONTAGIOUS! 
have you ever tried to frown while someone was smiling at you? it's almost impossible!
i tried it on my daughter when she was barely even old enough to smile. all i'm doing in this short video is smiling at her & it causes her to smile back.
check how contagious it can be...

me smiling at her causes her to smile back.

i don't really know what bad can come from a smile? ever thought about that? like i've never heard a sad story or a tragedy or something bad resulting from a smile.

but for some reason in our culture we're a little stingy with a smile. that's dumb.
i say, give that stuff away man! it's free. it makes YOU feel better. it's contagious and will make someone else's day better.

maybe we'll even make a little bit better world, 1 smile at a time.

"I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish." 
- Mother Teresa

Why I Can Live With Romney

Now that Mitt Romney has locked up the Republican nomination, it’s time to explain why I can live with Mitt Romney.  I’ve been saying through this entire campaign that I can live with Romney. Here’s why:
-          In 2008, Mitt Romney was the “Conservative Alternative” to John McCain. As a matter of fact, in 2008, I voted for Mitt Romney in the New York State Primary.  (At the time my choices were John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul.)  I cast that vote because I believed Romney was the most conservative candidate available.  This time, there were even more conservative candidates, so I supported one of those. That doesn’t make Mitt a liberal. It just makes him less conservative. 

Do not confuse “less conservative” for liberal, my friends. Romney is by a large margin more conservative than John McCain in 2008, Bob Dole in 1996, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1992, and Gerald Ford in 1976, and quite possibly George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.  That my friends is a dramatic shift to the right by the GOP to have Mitt Romney as the “Establishment Candidate.”

-          Mitt Romney is a businessman.  He has run multiple businesses including pulling many proverbial cars out of ditches.  This nation needs a Mr. Fix-It for this economy.  A man who is a business turn-around specialist is a good choice. Romney has the business sense to turn this nation around.

-          Romney has a perception problem. I addressed it above.  People think he’s a “moderate.” People think he’s not as conservative. Most Tea Partiers I speak to in person and online think Mitt is another John McCain.  There is a concern that Mitt won’t be able to ignite the necessary passion under conservatives to get them to fight for him.  Not to get Tea Partiers and other conservatives to VOTE for him…the Republican nominee WILL get the conservative vote…but to get Tea Partiers and conservatives to FIGHT for him.  He needs us to get deeply in his corner to volunteer, to knock on doors, to persuade our friends and neighbors to back him.  I hear you all asking yourselves “OK Chris, what the heck is the point?”

Here it is, friends: Mitt is going to have to choose a very conservative running mate. A Bobby Jindall, a Rand Paul, a Paul Ryan, a Nikki Haley, or a (genuine shivers of excitement) Marco Rubio.  That running mate is going to be the heir apparent in 2020.  Quite possibly the incumbent Vice President and the mighty conservative voice we’ve all been hoping for. Yes, a little bit later, but still that conservative we want and need.  Even if Mitt is a stopgap for a period of time, it’ll be a stopgap with a defined conclusion.

-          Mitt Romney will cut taxes.  Governor Romney has promised a 10% tax cut for absolutely all tax brackets across the board.  Not just certain groups of taxpayers, but every single one of us.  Not a piddling little 2% cut in payroll taxes.  10% of our income taxes.  If you’re in the 35% bracket, you’ll pay 25%.  If you’re in the 25% bracket, you’ll be at 15%. If you’re in the 15% bracket, you’re down to 5%. If you’re in the 10% bracket, you’re no longer required to pay taxes.

To an American family with an income of $50,000, that means you’re now going to have an extra $100 plus in your pocket every month.  Not the $10 or so you’re getting from a payroll tax holiday. Another $100 in an American family’s pocket is a big deal.  It means the ability to go out to dinner or buy more new clothes. It means the ability to buy more wants.  That means a lot. 

To a small business owner who makes $250,000 per year and is a sole proprietorship filing their business taxes personally it means a whole lot more.  A 10% cut in taxes means $62,500.  Do you know what that is?  A manager and one full-time employee and one part-time employee.  Or two full time employees if that owner chooses to continue to run the business themselves. What if ten thousand small businesses in America have that?  That means twenty thousand jobs.  And you know what? It means more than that, because there are more than ten thousand small businesses in America.  There are nearly 25 million of them, most of whom are sole proprietorships.  That will make a huge difference in hiring.

-          Mitt Romney is not Barack Obama. Ultimately, we need Somebody Else in 2012.  I, and so many other conservatives, believe a second Obama term would be disastrous for this country.  Without the check of another election, President Obama will brazenly ignore the Constitution and the best interests of this nation even more than he has already.  He’s already promised Russia to compromise our security once he’s re-elected. He also would likely get one to three Supreme Court appointees and dozens of other lower court justices.  He would be able to put a hugely liberal judiciary in place to legislate from the bench.
I can live with Romney, my friends.  I think you will find you can too. It’s time we get behind Romney, because ultimately we must defeat Obama.

my Mom is out of the hospital & in rehab at Duke

just another quick update on my Mom...

in case you haven't heard she is OUT of the hospital! it's crazy!

i posted that last week, but actually set it to post before she was actually out & while i was on vacation & unplugged from the internet.
but yes, she is OUT & at my parents' home they are renting in Durham near Duke hospital.

my Mom goes to pretty intense rehab every day pretty much all day at Duke. she'll have to do that for about 6 weeks and then if all goes well and she makes some more big improvements - she could possibly come home to Charlotte at that point!

She got her new lungs on January 27th and got out of the hospital on April 9th. she was in just a little over 10 weeks.
not bad at all considering they told us in the ICU that she would be in the ICU for months & months... back when things weren't looking all that great.

she made some pretty massive improvements.

hoping for more where that came from.

so excited for my Mom. can't wait for the days ahead...

i LOVE the smell of a book

i know, i know, i'm probably really weird, but...

i LOVE the smell of a book.

i'm not talking about scratch & sniff books either.

it could be a brand new book with fancy gloss pages that has that new car smell...

or a regular average book with that regular page smell...

or even a really old old book with that kind of musty smell... like you just stumbled onto something mysterious in an old chest in an attic somewhere...

don't matter what kind of book. i love the smell.

it's ok if that makes me weird.
i love books and i even love the smell of a book as i sit down to read it. hard to explain, but i love it.

Letter Bag: A Time for Realism

It's that time again, friends, to open up the Biblical Conservatism Letter Bag (Yay! Letter bag!)  Today we have a drive-by post from someone who apparently created a Blogger account just to comment!

To set the stage, the post in question was last week's Santorum's Out, Now What?.  One of the very type of people I called out in that post (in this case, a DelusiNewt) left this comment:

YOU ARE AS DELUSIONAL AS YOU CLAIM OTHERS (DelusiNewts) TO BE. Yet,...ONLY the time will help me to help you understand what I mean by that...

I'm sure you're thinking what I was thinking: There must be another comment, some kind of point...some kind of well worded argument...something. Two days later, nothing.  Of course, you need a name before I write your response, so I'm going to call you Balrog.

Dear Balrog:

Yes...I'm the one who is delusional. The definition of delusional is a person who DOESN'T believe that Newt can somehow win 90% of the remaining primary delegates to miraculously defeat Romney.  Delusional also apparently means not believing the irrational, viceral trouncing of Romney as just as liberal as Obama.  I especially really appreciated your thorough and well thought out arguments to prove your point.

In opposite land.

Look, Balrog, I know we've all been kicked a few times by the GOP when it comes to "establishment candidates."  I too lived through Bob Dole and John McCain. Here's the thing, Balrog: I actually look at each candidate and don't presume they're absolutely McCain or Dole because the Establishment backs them.

The reality which our friend Balrog ignores is that the Tea Party already has begun to push the Republican Party to the right. The simple fact that Mittens was the Establishment Candidate this time proves it.

Balrog may have forgotten, but I haven't: in 2008 Romney was the Conservative Alternative candidate.  Because he was significantly more conservative than John McCain. In 2012, we had people that were even more conservative than Mitt, but that doesn't change the fact that THIS establishment candidate is farther to the right that at least three of the last four (if not all four) "establishment candidates."

So no, Balrog, I'm not being delusional. I would've preferred Newt too. I endorsed him, remember? But I also recognize that Priority One is defeating Obama. If that means settling for less conservative (but not socialist) then so be it. That's being realistic.  Still dogmatically insisting Newt can win is the delusional position.

Say hi to E. Honda for me!


isn't she lovely?

i wish i had thought of this song 1st and written it for Keira.

it's what my heart sings every time i look at her beautiful, lovely face.

& then i sign it out loud to her. (i also wish i could sing like Stevie...
so does Keira, probably.)

"rev" (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown April 7, 2010.)

A couple Sunday nights ago was a really special night. It was powerful. It was extremely meaningful. And I felt the presence of God big time!

My church ordained me and recognized God's call on my life. It was really really cool.
I'm still humbled by the whole process. Humbled that God would use me. Humbled that my church would recognize the Holy Spirit working in me and God calling me to something special. Humbled that I am nothing and can do nothing good on my own, but somehow God wants to use me for His glory.

I wrote some thoughts the night before my ordination HERE.
I've never really been to an ordination service, but I hear that this one was unlike any other.
It was also really cool to be ordained along with my boy Spanky, who is an awesome guy I have tons of respect for.

It was really cool to have a lot of special people there to be a part of the day with me!
Of course having my wife by my side was the best! She's been amazing in our journey together and I know the next 50 (or so) years together are going to be awesome. She's my greatest friend and the love of my life!

It was really special to have my parents there beside me too. I know God used them more than anyone or anything else to point me toward Him. They have loved and supported me know matter what my whole life. And they did their best to set me up so I could hear God's call when it came. I'm so thankful for their influence and the privilege of being raised by the greatest parents in the world!

My dad was a part of my ordination along with 2 other guys. My dad has been one of my #1 counselors, sounding boards, and spiritual advisors my whole life.  The 3 of them spoke some words of encouragement and counsel over me during my ordination.
The other 2 guys were:
my homeboy Ethan - we've journeyed together for almost 9 years now... figuring everything out together. Our hears are knit together with the same passions. He's one of my best friends in the world and like a brother to me. He works at Summit Church now.
& also my former pastor & boss, Dan Burrell. He has been awesome to me ever since I worked for him at Northside.

It was really special to have my wife's parents (my in-laws) there too. I lucked out in the in-law department because they are awesome. They spoke some awesome words over me that night. + my wife's grandparents and other family were there too.

I was honored to have a lot of peeps from Ridge there to support me + several peeps from Northside from my days there. It was almost like a reunion of many of the people who have played significant roles in my ministry life.

Then they all gathered around me and prayed over and for me. They prayed for Crystal and I. They prayed for our future. They prayed that God would use us for His glory. It was pretty hard core and I was loving it.

My pastor, Chris, also spoke to Spanky and I and challenged us. It was awesome. Nobody has influenced me these last 3 years like Chris has and I was honored that he sees something of the work of God in me.
He talked to us a lot about how vital it is to finish well. He said we've started great, but it's all about how we finish.
He spoke a lot to me about being a good husband to Crystal + he talked to Crystal a lot about the crazy life ahead of us. I'm so thankful for a pastor who sees the importance of us fighting for our healthy marriage.
*because of all this it was a really awesome night for Crystal and I just as a couple and in our marriage.

Ridge Church gave us some really awesome gifts that I really wasn't expecting and definitely wasn't necessary. Some other peeps did the same. Didn't know any of that was coming. Definitely a blessing.

The song that was kind of sung over me at the end is one of my all time favs. It's a prayer from David Livingstone from way back in the day, but it resounds with my heart as if I prayed it myself. I wrote about it a little the day after my ordination HERE. It was a POWERFUL moment of worship and surrender to God for me... asking Him to TAKE MY LIFE... it's all for Him... ALL of me.

we finished out the night with a freaking awesome "night of worship" for the whole church. It was intense and powerful.
can't wait to see what God does in this next chapter of my life and the next chapter of Ridge Church!

True Math on "Buffett Rule"

It's back, friends. President Candidate H. Obama has brought back his class warfare (and ultimately foolhardy) "Buffett Rule."  It's a surtax to be levied on any American whose income is over $1 Million per year.

Aside from the humorous fact that the proposal's namesake, Warren Buffett, wouldn't actually fall under the rule (his annual salary is only $100,000 per year), there is a serious mathematical and logical hole in Obama's premise: IT WON'T HELP THE PROBLEM ONE IOTA!

The problem to solve is the Federal deficit, right? Our federal deficit in 2012 is projected to be over $1.3 Trillion. The Buffett Rule would raise only $47 Billion...not a year (which would only close a measly 3.6% of the deficit if that was the case)....but over TEN YEARS!  Translation? This is 1/600 OF 1% of the deficits over the next ten years if the President has it's way! That's 0.001666667% of the deficit. To put that in real terms, that's like telling a person earning $50,000 per year that they will receive a raise of $84.00 a year.  That translates to roughly $1.60 more per week before taxes. (Congratulations. Your hard work has earned you the ability to purchase an extra 3 Musketeers each week...don't skimp, get the king size've earned it.)

That was the point of the Buffett Rule, at first, was to close the deficit?  Ooops, that won't work.  Perhaps this is why the Left has changed their entire argument to "fairness." It's not fair! (Waaa!  Waaa! Waaa!)  Yet isn't it funny that these same people who are obsessed with fairness are the same people who throw a fit when the fairest possible tax option, a flat rate tax (whether on income or consumption) is proposed.  Because it the goal is parity, and parity is apparently paying the same rate, why isn't it parity when the Middle Class has their rate reduced?

There is also another huge fallacy in this point:  Income and Capital Gains are taxed differently FOR EVERYONE. Middle Class individuals who buy stock and make investments pay the same Capital Gains rate as a millionaire. Ooops...are my facts getting in the way of talking points AGAIN? 

The bottom line on the Buffett Rule is this: 1 - It won't impact the deficit in any real way. It's the equivalent of pennies.  2 - Despite Obama claiming the Buffett Rule "is not class warfare," OF COURSE IT'S CLASS WARFARE! If it isn't about reducing the deficit, what else can you call it?

This is just another page out of the pamphlet that is the Liberal Playbook. Since Obama can't defend his own policies as intelligent and useful, he has to bring up class and "fairness" (and for some reason names it after a man who is fighting the IRS over paying over $1 Billion in back taxes he owes...I guess that's not part of Buffett's "fair share").  And THIS is supposed to be hard to defeat in November? I think not.

"how far we are from where you are"

(This was originally written and posted to renown March 31, 2010.)

I think this is really fascinating and relevant for what I get to be a part of (Ridge Church).

A while back I read my 1st Henri Nouwen book = Life of the Beloved
The book was written to Nouwen's friends who were - "secular", nonreligious, unchurched, postmodern, and did not see the relevance of Jesus in their lives. He wrote it to try to help them see how awesome God is and to try to show them the relevance of Jesus to their lives.

So, he intentionally wrote the book with these unbelievers in mind = trying to speak on their terms, etc...

After writing it and giving it to them he followed up with his friends. This was their response and I think it is SO HUGE for any church concerned with reaching the people in our culture who don't follow Jesus and aren't really interested... 
although you express to us what is most precious to you, you do not realize how far we are from where you are. You speak from a context and tradition that is alien to us, and your words are based on many presuppositions that we don’t share with you. You are not aware of how truly secular we are.”

Wow. I wish all church leaders could hear that. That's what we don't realize so much of the time! we have no idea how far we are from where they are and we are speaking a foreign language that is alien to them!

Here were Nouwen's thoughts on that response from his "secular" friends:
"My attempt had been to be a witness of God’s love to a secular world, but I had sounded like someone who is so excited about the art of sailing that he forgets that his listeners have never seen lakes or the sea, not to mention sailboats!” 

I think that is such a great analogy and I think that's what we too often do in church world.
I'm stoked to be a part of figuring out how to contextualize a relevant message and package and present it in a way that anyone and everyone GETS.
*I'm stoked to be a part of a church that is trying to bridge that gap that separates "how far we are from where you are..."

Santorum's Out, Now What?

Tuesday, Senator Rick Santorum "suspended his Presidential campaign." (Real world translation: Ended campaign in all but name so he can raise money still to pay off debt.) Two questions come from his news.  One, why did Santorum withdrawal? Two, more importantly, now what?

Let's try to conject about the reasons for Senator Santorum's withdrawal first, shall we?  There are two likely reasons for this drop out, and I do not see any other real potentials. One, and this is most likely, the Santorum Campaign has run out of money. This is pretty much the only reason why candidates drop out of races. It likely explains why Newt Gingrich has outlasted Santorum...he's still got cash in the coffers.   The second potential is the one that I hope is NOT the case: little Bella Santorum's health is worse than publicly known.  If this is the case, I shan't dwell on it save to say I hope that's not the issue.

Either way, the Senator's Presidential campaign is over. Conservative reactions can be broken into three camps: The Bridge Jumpers, the DelusiNewts, and the Live Withs.

For the record, I'm a Live With.  I can live with Mitt Romney as our nominee, as I've said so many times. I can live with Mittens with more ease than I put up with John McCain four years ago, because Romney is certainly more conservative than John McCain. McCain is a genuine fence sitter RINO.  Romney is definitely about 15 degrees right of center. (I would say that Santorum is about 50 degrees right of center, Newt is about 65 degrees right of center, and Ron Paul is about 85 degrees above the clouds in Happy Imagination Land.)

The Bridge Jumpers are the polar opposite of the Live Withs. They believe that Santorum was Reagan Part II, that Romney is Gerald Ford Part II, who believe deep down in the depths of their hearts that a Romney nomination will equal an Obama re-election. (As if Obama was somehow a strong candidate if we run only a modestly conservative candiate?)  These people are lining up at the Brooklyn Bridge to jump off it.  (They're intermingling with my fellow Mets fans, by the way).

Then there are the DelusiNewts. These are the people who have spent the past few months calling for Santorum to get out of the race to pave the way for Newt. (Ignoring the silliness of saying "Hey guy in close second place, get out of the distant third place guy's way!)  The DelusiNewts are now throwing a party, believing that Santorum's exit will pave the way for Gingrich's big second coming to ultimately win the 90% of the remaining votes to beat Mittens. (I think you have a better chance of seeing my aforementioned New York Mets shocking the world and winning the World Series.)

I know, some of you are waiting for an answer to the "now what?" question.  Here it is, friends: Be rational, and join us me as a Live With.

I'll be taking time in the coming days to explain in greater detail why I can live with Mitt, and why, above all else, we must defeat Barack Obama. The thing that would be the biggest travesty to hit America in 2012 would not be a Romney Administration.  It would be a second Obama Administration.  Maybe Romney would just be a stop gap, but you know what? I'll take a stop gap! (Especially knowing that Mitt will absolutely have to choose a Vice President like Paul Ryan or...genuine shivers of excitement...Marco Rubio; because that VP will likely be the next Republican nominee after Romney.)

Either way, friends, I am confident that, in the likely event we nominate Romney, we will be looking at President Romney. And I can live with that.

"like a blind man follows a seeing eye dog" (principles make life easy)

(This was originally posted to renown March 28, 2010. Of course there are many exceptions to this idea & we can't follow everything blindly... it's just an illustration of something that is truly a PRINCIPLE = the way the world works.)

I'm thankful for principles. I'm reminded today that I'm thankful for some financial principles. Because I am CONFIDENT that I am NOT smart enough to make good financial decisions on my own!

But, by God's grace & by following some principles of one of my heroes, I'm on a good financial track.

And I love Dave's principles. They're not boring. that I quote along with him every single day. My wife and dog (Jack Bauer) even quote them...

"debt is dumb."
"cash is king."

So, when I reread this today I was reminded of how thankful I am that God led me to these financial principles and somehow gave me the discipline to follow them like a blind man follows his seeing eye dog:

“I have heard every excuse, every whining reason, and every rationalization as to why you are different and you have a better way, but trust me, you don’t. The good thing about principles is that they make life easy. I have heard it said that when someone bases his life on principle, 99% of his decisions are already made.”
Thanks for all the decisions I don't have to make, Dave!

Obama Attempting to Run A Challenger Campaign as an Incumbent

The political season is in full swing, and President Obama is trying very hard to recapture the energy and lack of substance of his 2008 campaign. He has to, of course, because "Four More Years" just doesn't work given his failure to fulfill pretty much any promise he gave in 2008.

Think about it, friends.  President Obama has enacted two major legislative goals since he took office in 2009: The Stimulus and Obamacare. We were told that if we passed the Stimulus, unemployment wouldn't go above 8%. (For those of you who don't know history - unemployment proceeded to go above 8% and hasn't gone below 8% since the stimulus).  Obamacare was incredibly unpopular when it was proposed, incredibly unpopular when it passed, had to be rammed through using the budget reconciliation process since the President couldn't overcome a philibuster, and is still incredibly unpopular now two years later (54% of Americans want it repealed).

Obama can't say "let me do more of what I've done so far." So what is he doing? Why pretending the last 3+ years didn't happen! Didn't you know? Obama's been in the Senate since 2004, and he's just now running for President for the first time!  At least that's what an alien visitor would think, given the President's campaign thus far.

It's a combination of demonization and some cliche, surface level statements like "pay their fair share" which are intended to say, essentially "vote for me, I suck less than I'm trying to convince you the other person is ::cough::Hitler::cough:: because they're really really bad ::cough::Satan::cough:: and they'd probably hurt a lot of people ::cough::PolPot::cough."

That's really all he's got.  He's got no track record of success, friends. He can't say "I'll do more of the same, just re-elect me." There's no "Morning in America" ad for Obama.  The best he could (honestly) do would be this:

"It's night in America. Today, a very very very small number of Americans will go to work today that didn't last month...but still far less than when we were elected...but it'll be even darker if you elect the other guy...seriously I swear."

So instead, he's ignoring his record. He's trying to banter about cute catch phrases, hoping your memory is really, really short, and that you don't remember his record.

We're not going to let him.

my Mom is out of the hospital!

she should be by today, anyway!

when we left for vacation on Sunday, the Doctor told her she should be able to come home on Monday! so, surely by the time this posts she'll be home.
"home" in Durham, of course. then she'll do a few months of rehab there at Duke, but at least not in the hospital anymore.

so awesome. we're all so excited.

it's been a long journey, but God has been amazing.

so have many of you - thanks for your support and love & for praying for my Mom!

Obama's Supreme Court Faux Pas Shows his Narcissism.

Last week I, and so many other individuals who understand the Constitution, took the President to the political woodshed on his attacks on the Supreme Court, essentially saying if they declare Obamacare Unconstitutional (which I believe the Left is telegraphing that they expect it to happen) it would be "judicial activism."  Last Tuesday I explained actually, no, that's the Supreme Court DOING IT'S JOB.

Now the President is backpeddling after realizing how much of a fool he made out of himself. Aside from that, however, the President has once again shown his most prominent character flaw: The man is a narcissist.  He believes the rules don't apply because he's so special. He believes himself to be some sort of political messiah. (For the record, I've got a Messiah already...the REAL Messiah...His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and my Savior and Lord). He believes his own PR.

This is honestly the best explanation for why a Constitutional Law professor would think it's perfectly fine to enact a law forcing people to purchase ANY product/service as a condition of living. It's the best explanation why a Constitutional Law professor would think it was "Judicial Activism" for the court to overturn a law as Unconstitutional when it was "passed by a democratically elected Congress."

This President has an attitude that "nobody would DARE overturn MY law, I'm Obama!" Now that reality is setting in, the President has thrown a tantrum. He's kicking and screaming and using terms that don't apply even a little bit like "Judicial Activism."

This isn't the first time the President has thrown a tantrum against the Supreme Court. Who can forget this moment in his 2010 State of the Union Address:


This is who we elected President.  (Actually, not we...personally in 2008 I voted for the Sarah Palin/Her Boss ticket because I saw through Obama even then.)  In 2012, we must not make the same mistake. I firmly believe Obamacare is going to end in the hands of the Supreme Court this summer. The Obama Administration must similarly be ended at the ballot box in November

grace (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown on March 27, 2010.)

“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between grace and karma. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I have received much more than I deserve.” 
– Bono 

*Right on, Bono. He's my favorite rock star, but sometimes (like when he says stuff like this) he's my fav person to sum up BIG, incomprehensible things... like grace for instance.
I'm right with ya too, Bono. Grace DOES defy reason and logic.  
That's why it's so beautiful and so breathtaking!
And I think he speaks for all of us when he says "I have received much more than I deserve." we all have.

I am beginning to learn (and Chris Seay has done a great deal to teach me much more recently) that we can see grace and beautiful pictures of the Gospel weaved through things in our culture... even pop culture... even things like the TV show LOST. So in Seay's book, The Gospel According to Lost, after he quotes Bono he goes on to write...

⇒ “The moment we shift our focus from entitlement (getting what we deserve) to grace (celebrating the reality that we have received forgiveness and love that we could never earn and do not deserve), we become less like the older brother [in Luke 15] and are welcomed to a great feast at the Father’s table.”

God, let me grasp GRACE as much as my finite mind is able to. And let me simply celebrate in it... even though I don't deserve it and could do nothing to earn it. 


it's so good.  

Sports and Political Correctness

Those of you who know me, follow me on Twitter, or read this blog regularly know I am passionate about three things:  Jesus Christ, conservatism, and baseball.  (Someday when I marry Ms. Right I'll be passionate about four.)  I'm also a fan of sports in general.  So recently, after listening to a conversation on a local radio station, a topic that I've debated for years came up:  Cheerleading.  Is Cheerleading, and similar activities like Colorguard, Dance Team, etc, a "sport."

It's a debate that I think begins with political correctness and making sure we don't hurt anyone's feelings.  Along with it is an attitude that, at least at the academic level, if we don't call an activity a "sport" it's somehow invalid.  It's a debate I had in my own house growing sister participated in Winterguard/Colorguard for seven years through junior high and high school. She said it was a sport.  I said it wasn't.

Before I proceed, I should explain my reasoning.  Several years ago, my close friend and fellow blogger the JC_Freak and I sat down and developed what we felt were two iron-clad criteria for what makes something a sport.  They are:

1 - The Human Body is the engine that drives the competition: Specifically this means that there can be an aparatus used along with the human body, ie a bicycle, however, the bicycle does not go on it's own, it requires the human body to make it go.  An automobile, however, has it's own internal combustion engine, and even if a human is required to steer the car, it is that internal combustion engine that makes the car go. Hence, our conclusion was that a bicycle race was indeed a sport, while NASCAR was not.

2 - Objective ScoringSpecifically, this means that you put the ball in the hoop from inside the line you earn two points.  Put the ball in the hoop from outside the line, you earn three points.  You cross home plate before you are tagged out, you earn one run (point).  Score a touchdown, you earn 6 points.  Period.  It doesn't matter how nicely you perform the activity, you get X points for X activity. 

Inherent to this is that the referee/umpire's job is to enforce rules, but not choose the winner.  That is the difference between a referee (rule enforcer) and a judge (decider of winner). A referee decides IF something happened, a judge decides HOW WELL something happened.  For this reason, we excluded judged competitions from the definition.

Now I know there are many of you out there who are already upset at me, because you were a cheerleader, or in Winterguard (if my sister is reading this, sorry) or gymnastics, etc, that thing you did is really hard and requires a lot of athletic ability...please note I'm not trying to diminish your activity! 

First off, to respond to the "it requires a lot of atheletic ability" question:  Yes, I know that activities like bowling, which you can do well while weighing 500 lbs. and eating nachos while playing fit my definition and such highly atheletic activities as gymnastics don't fit the same definition.  I get that.  Under this definition, athletics are not the same thing as sports.  Sports are a type of athletics.  Otherwise if we just qualified everything that requires atheletic ability as a sport, we'd have to consider ballet, roofing, being a lumberjack and climbing a tree to be sports. 

Each of these activities requires atheleticism.  They aren't sports.  We don't go see a ballet's a performance!  To me, an activity like gymnastics falls into that is a performance.  Are there performance competitions?  Absolutely! Choirs have competed for decades, so have rock bands in various Battles of the Bands, etc. 

Which brings me to my second point: Since when does something need to be categorized as a "sport" to matter? That's the attitude behind this mentality.  When I was in school I did both sports and performance arts.  I studied karate and participated in several tournaments (for the record, the scoring was "strike your opponent cleanly, 1 point.  First to 3 points wins the match).  I also was on the wrestling team.  I also played the guitar in two bands, sang in the choir on several different levels, and acted in a few plays and musicals.  I was in a Battle of the Bands with one band, sang in choral competitions, and yes, the dancing in the musicals often required athleticism.  They weren't a sport...and that was just fine by me.

So why do you think your activity needs to be a sport to matter? Calling your activity a sport doesn't affect your activity's funding...the reason activities like football and basketball get more funding is largely because people actually pay to see a high school football or basketball game so there is a measure of self-funding.  THAT is why they get more funding...they actually fund themselves in many levels.  Yet I think we've made the heading of "sport" so inherent to the value of an activity, and that is wrong.

This is another fine example of political correctness pervading our society, so much so that we have to call a visual performance a sport just so we don't hurt people's feelings.  It's silly.  If you're a cheerleader, or on the dance team, or do Winter Guard, that's awesome...I'm glad you've found an activity that brings you joy.  But it's not a sport...and that's not a bad thing.  Just be proud of what you do...don't feel the need to cram your square peg into the round hole that is the heading of sports.

unplugging for a week

Crystal and i are leaving right now for a week...

a little impromptu vacation gifted to us. extremely thankful.

& we're going to completely unplug. no email, no internet, no computer, no social networks, no iPad, no iPhone, no nothing like that.

just me & her in the mountains. 

just chillin'. enjoying all the amazing beauty all around us.

i can't wait. it's gonna be awesome.

but don't worry - i've got something set to post to renown each day we are gone... so you'll at least have something to read :)
(i'm sure when i get back i'll have a million new & fresh things to write about... things bouncing around in my mind & my soul.)

but i won't be writing or working or doing any thing like that all week.

my philosophy of vacation =
i work hard.
& then i rest hard.

furious rest.

gonna be so refreshing!

Letter Bag: Debate is Good for Democracy!

Recently, I received this comment on the post The Real History of Democrats and Republicans. Faced with a slow news day leading up to a long weekend, I figured this was an excellent time to post another edition of Biblical Conservatism's Letter Bag!  Here's the comment:

Obviously, you're a question is: why do we need to have these two different office? Why not have one group? Why do we always need to compete as opposed to working in unity?

An Independent
First of all, Anindy, thank you for the hearty laugh your attempt to sound wise while exhibiting zero signs of actual wisdom gave me.  I really appreciate you breaking up my day with some humor.  Sadly, friends, I'm fairly certain our friend Anindy is serious.  So I'll take some time to explain to our well meaning friend how America works.

Regardless of which side of the aisle you fall, there are primarily two very different mentalities for how to govern this nation. Conservatism believes in as much freedom and as little government as possible.  We believe that life is never going to be fair, but the best chance anyone has to succeed is to make their own choices and have the chance to earn their own way.  In short, we believe in equality of opportunity. Liberalism believes that government can create a social utopia where people somehow have equality of result by socially engineering and government legislating everything in our lives.

Both sides firmly believe in their positions, Anindy.  (Conservatism also has a history of results.)  It would be intellectually dishonest for either side to just say "You know what? Even though I firmly believe in my ideas, I'm going to throw them out and just get along because that'll be nicer!" Yes, I know, political "moderates" like yourself who can't stand disagreement will be happy, but it doesn't mean it's the best thing for the nation.

Both sides are going to instead compete with their ideas. That's how America works. You see, the two sets of ideas compete for votes and the opportunity to enact those ideas.  When a set of ideas wins, they get the opportunity to enact said ideas.  In the last 50 years, both conservatism and liberalism have had their chances to enact their ideas.  (The conservative ecnomies are, by the way, the 50s, the early 60s, the 80s, and yes the 90s...sorry Democrats, Clinton's boom hoappened after he signed conservative reforms.  The liberal economies include the late 60s, the early 70s and the current economy under Barack Obama.) 

Both sides are very different, Anindy, but they are also intellectually honest. They believe what they believe and they fight for it.  Then there's a third group.  This group wants to be thought of as intelligent and wise, but doesn't want to go through the effort of actually BELIEVING in something. So instead they say things like "let's all work together." Translation:  "Let's all ignore our deeply held beliefs so we don't have to have mean old arguments. If we all just put aside our beliefs and pretend not to care things would be more pleasant."

Newsflash, Anindy: THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. It also SHOULDN'T happen.  You see, America works BECAUSE we discuss our differences and let our ideas compete in the arena of ideas.  When ideas can't compete, new ideas don't get brought up, old ideas that worked are ignored, and we pretty much stay on whatever trajectory we're on now.  You get consistency, sure, but you also get mediocrity. 

America is advanced citizenship.  You have to participate.  You have to listen to the two sides and make an intelligent conclusion. You have to see if your current beliefs hold up to scrutiny. You have to be willing to change your mind in the face of evidence. This last part is the real problem, not that icky debate stuff you dislike so much.

Now I realize there is one problem with this for people like our friend Anindy: You have to pay attention to come across as politically intelligent. You can't just say canned lines like "we should work together" to try to sound smart without having to pay attention or hold a position.

Now I know some people aren't politically active. That's fine.  It's ok to not be politically active.  Just as long as you don't try to tell those of us who do pay attention how you're so much smarter than us and then say "we should just get along and quit fighting." Those of us who are fighting for our respective sides, both liberal and conservative, we are the ones who make America work.  We are the competitors in the Arena of Ideas. 

People like Anindy aren't even the spectators.  They're the people who drive by the stadium and mumble "baseball is boring" without understanding the game at all...they just heard that line from their friend Lenny who is a football nut and doesn't like baseball because it isn't football, and wanted people to say "right on!" to them like Lenny's buddies said to him at the time.

I close with this, Anindy: Please, I'm begging you, either get on the field and play or get out of the stadium. Quit trying to put on a striped shirt and then run on the field and pretend you're the referee.

mentored by dead guys

(This was originally posted to renown on March 15, 2010.)

A few years ago I heard a pastor say "I need to be mentored by more dead guys." I've remembered that and tried to implement it into my reading/learning habits and read several books from dead guys each year. That's definitely the case this year as "Dead guys" was a whole category on my 2010 reading list which you can see HERE.

Right now I'm reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. He was born in the 1300s and wrote this masterpiece in the 1400s. He was a medieval mystic - I have read those guys before and am always rejuvenated in my devotion to Jesus when I read what they have to say!

One of the greatest things I am reminded of is how crazy busy my life is and how much better I can connect to God if I simply slow down a little, take a deep breath, and create a little space for Him to invade my soul.

I completely understand where (Steven James) the writer of the intro to this translation of Imitation is coming from when he wrote: "I've been to monasteries several times on four-day silent retreats. After about twenty minutes I've had all the deep spiritual insights I can take. I start frantically looking around for a computer to check my email. I wouldn't make a very good monk."
Haha, that's totally me!

Thomas a Kempis says "he who does not try to become the least, the servant of all, cannot be at peace for very long."
I definitely need to hear stuff like that. Most of us know that climbing the corporate ladder and pushing our way to be on top doesn't really satisfy or make us happy... but we still do it anyway. We know it doesn't bring peace... just more stress. But, for some reason it's what we pursue. Those CEOs are the ones we imitate instead of Christ.

And I really love hearing a Kempis talk about "living it" over "learning it" = "What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity?... I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without the grace of God?"

I think my heart is already beating at a slower, healthier pace and I am satisfied resting in God. I'm stoked about being mentored by this really old mystic monk! (He would currently be 630 years old!)

Reactions to MD, WI and DC Primaries

Tuesday Mittens became a little more inevitable.  I hate to say it, because I've been quite the optimist on this, but when he soundly wins two of the three contests, it's hard to say otherwise.

Winning DC was a layup for Mittens, who took 70% of the vote.  Which says an awful lot, because all of the three dozen Republicans there (that are residents and not members of Congress) are about as conservative as Republicans in Massachusetts.

Maryland has a lot of DC residents, pundits, etc, so again, makes sense for Mittens to win there.  Despite it's position at the immediate south of the Mason-Dixon line, Maryland hasn't been a Southern State for a while. It's kind of like Florida in that regard. I expected Mitt to win, and he did.

Wisconsin is a completely different matter. Wisconsin has been a conservative battleground for two years now after Scott Walker was elected governor and has pushed for common sense reforms to close a budget gap.  Yet Mittens won Wisconsin.

But wait...what about the presence of Newt Gingrich splitting the vote!  Senator Santorum would've won AT LEAST one of those states with Newt's voters, right?  Nope.  The closest was Wisconsin, where Mittens beat the Santorum/Gingrich aggregate by 44% to 43%.  In Maryland, Romney beat the Santorum/Gingrich aggregate by a score of 49% to 40%.  In Washington DC it wasn't even close, where the conservative tangent only netted 6% of the vote (since Senator Santorum wasn't on the ballot).

Now I KNOW I'm going to get a whole lot of grief for this from fellow conservatives who are high on passion and low on logic here, but friends, the chances of us getting someone other than Romney just sank to about 10% (and that 10% is named Brokered Convention).   I know the same aforementioned people have a similar proclivity to Happy Imagination Hats as some Activist Liberals do. So I'm here to be your voice of reason AGAIN.

One, as imperfect and not Reagan as Mitt Romney is, he is, most definitely, better than Obama. (The same could be said of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Foghorn Leghorn, and a Radish.)  Let's not be so ridiculous as to believe that we can't win with a more moderate candidate.  The Democrats are running Obama!  Despite the Drive-By Media's recent desire to present Obama as somehow a stronger candidate, he's been a huge, embarrassing failure as President!

Friends, if Mitt Romney is our nominee, be prepared for President Romney. Which will also not be as intolerable as some of you seem to believe.  While he's not the conservative powerhouse that someone like Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich (or future fantasy candidates like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Bobby Jindall) he's also a whole lot more conservative than John McCain was, or Bob Dole, and honestly even George W. Bush. So for crying out loud, please breathe.

If Mitt's our nominee, I can live with it. I'll continue to hope for better and vote for someone else when my chance comes, mind you, but I can indeed live with Romney.