Liberal Rhetoric in Action: Appeal to Ridicule

Earlier this week, I wrote an article in Biblical Conservatism's series Liberal Rhetoric 101.  Specifically, I spoke about how liberals use ridicule rather than facts to shut down debates. As I wrote in the article:

You'd think if liberals were as intellectual as they'd have us believe, they would consider this tactic and perhaps stop their ridicule. Granted, some liberals may have read this post and actually adjusted their rhetorical habits. This I do not know. Two, however, I know did not. In fact, these two individuals actually PROVED MY POINT better than I ever could!

Names and images have been removed from these tweets/FB updates, save for my own Twitter handle, which is @UpstateMetFan. (All Tweets were screen-shots taken from Tweetdeck.)

By my count, this individual directly insulted me five times, ridiculed me six times for daring to even question Darwinian Evolution (even though this wasn't even the topic of the post but was simply an example of where liberals use Appeal to Ridicule), and rebuked me for daring to question the exulted scientific community five times. Also, and this will appear in a future installment of Liberal Rhetoric 101, there were four instances of the Fallacy of Consensus (essentially stating "everybody believes X so you should believe it too.")

Was this person the only one who chose to ridicule rather than debate? Why not it wasn't! We have another example, this time from my personal Facebook page (and not the Biblical Conservatism Page, which you should go like by the way because there's lots of fun information and other goodies available).

You might be tempted to think this was a clear setup. You might think this must be a joke, since this person used PRECISELY my words "LOL that's dumb because...(reasons)."  I assure you it isn't, because I know this individual personally...have for nearly twenty years. He'll probably even read this post. (Sorry man, you can't sent me up like this and expect no response.)

Once again, there is a lack of actual evidence or argumentation. Rather, there is a clear and obvious demonstration of the very principle I have mentioned. The argument begins with announcing how dumb I am, and then proceeds to give no actual argument except for "scientists agree so don't argue with the mighty men in lab coats" and "that point you referenced isn't real because reasons."

Honestly, it seems like many liberals still believe they are using a logical and legitimate form of argumentation. Thankfully, these two individuals have taken it upon themselves to prove my point in a far better way than I ever could on my own. Perhaps I should that them.

Best of Biblical Conservatism - Dissecting the Liberal Talking Points: Raising Corporate Taxes Costs CONSUMERS

Today, we bring you a new feature on Biblical Conservatism that we'll be test driving throughout the next couple months: a mid-week Best of Biblical Conservatism Post, to compliment new posts on Monday and Thursday.

Today's post comes from July 13, 2011. At that time, we were in the heat of the last Debt Limit Battle.

This week, as the Debt Limit battle continues, we've been explaining the truth behind the liberal talking points that the Drive-By Media won't tell you. Today, we're going to dive into the truth behind the liberal idea that raising taxes on big businesses won't effect us, the middle class taxpayer.

As usual, liberal are applying an expectation of static consequences to a new tax. liberals always assume businesses don't change their behaviors or, in this case, their prices, when taxes are increased. There's an unfortunate truth behind it: Corporate taxes are ultimately passed along to the consumers. That means YOU are paying for it. Liberals would have you believe that if government imposes a tax on Proctor and Gable, for example, that means Proctor and Gamble just pays the extra tax out of their profits. In reality, the cost of that tax is rolled into the cost of that bottle of Tide you're buying. Either that or they step back production to continue to maintain the same profit margins. (1) Lower production means fewer employees, by the way.

That's the problem with liberal economic assumptions; they always assume the rosiest of scenarios. Unfortunately, raising those corporate taxes hurts you. It means either the company cuts production and people lose jobs or the price goes up. Either way, it hurts the middle class. That's the problem liberal don't tell you: you pay for that tax increase.

Don't believe me? Did you know that the United States Fuel Tax and state fuel taxes were hypothetically supposed to be levied on the gas station? Guess what, it isn't. You pay it. It's included in the prices. (Somewhere in the history of the gas tax the gas stations and the government dropped all pretenses and just advertised the price as "all taxes included). Before you lambaste the "evil gas station owners," the current Federal gas tax is at $0.18 per gallon and the average gas station's profit on a gallon of gas is $0.07-$0.10 per gallon. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that means the tax is somewhere between $0.08 to $0.11 per gallon OVER their profits.)

For the most part, gas stations make their money selling you a Mountain Dew, a pack of Twinkies and a tin of Altoids, not on gas. Even on a full tank they're only making a buck or two profit. If I fill my car's 13 gallon tank (I drive a Chevy Malibu for those who care), that means a gas station on the high end of the profit range is making $0.91 - $1.30 of profit on me, once a week. Meanwhile, the government is making nearly twice that amount taxing you. So who's the one who is gouging you again?

No, there's no legal way to force the corporations to not roll those taxes into their prices. By the way, they aren't doing anything wrong. They are simply maintaining a net profit margin that makes their investment (aka risk) worthwhile. It's either going to lead to cutting production (which means cutting workers) or raising prices.
Don't believe the liberal lie: Raising taxes on corporations isn't raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires. It's raising taxes on you.

(1) Reality Check: Liberal Tax Policy Has Not and Will Not Succeed

do you hate your job? what about the people who work for you?

this is basically part 3 of me writing about our JOBS and how most people hate theirs, or at least don't love them. you can read parts 1 & 2 HERE & HERE.

but this post is more focused on leaders. maybe as a leader you love your job, but what about the people you lead? 
because as a leader you have a HUGE impact on whether or not the peeps you lead LOVE or HATE their job.

in fact, based on the 3 factors i talked about in Part 2 -- it pretty much all rises & falls on the leader. (as most things do) 

back when i originally wrote this (5 years ago, remember) Crystal was a nurse (& still is), but she hated it. she liked being a nurse, but she hated her job.
[just for clarity, she LOVES her current position - which allows her to be a stay at home mom & deliver babies every once in a while :) ]

the reason she used to hate her job was ALL ABOUT bad leadership. i started to listen to her frustrations about work and ask Questions... and it didn't take me long to realize that Crystal had an incredibly bad leader/manager in place.  
& i was also convinced that, UNFORTUNATELY, her job couldn't really get much better until her leader got better (or stopped being the leader).

to my knowledge, her leader never once praised or celebrated the employees/nurses!
i even asked her to think back in all her years to remember even 1 time where that happened - and she couldn't.
also, no "wins" were ever celebrated. i.e. - the leader never took time to celebrate things like "hey, we saved a baby's life today!" or "good job - without you guys doing an awesome job, this wouldn't have happened."

WHAT!? - i'm sitting there thinking that nursing has got to be one of the easiest professions in the world to do that with. i mean, you're basically in the life saving business! & this was in the NICU (neo-natal ICU)... so if there was a success it was usually a baby's life saved... or giving parents a few more days to spend with their newborn.
that is worth celebrating.
actually, i would say that is too important to NOT celebrate.

but never 1 time did the leader pull the nurses aside and say:
"great job, we saved a life today. there is a baby who is going to grow up into an adult because of YOU and the great job you did. These parents are going to watch their son grow up and graduate because of you. This dad will get to walk his daughter down the aisle one day because of what you did."

who doesn't need to hear that? who wouldn't be MOTIVATED by that. i mean, i'll put up with A LOT of crap at my job as long as i could hear that every once in a while. you know what i'm sayin?

but never once. are you kidding me?
people need to feel like what they're doing is RELEVANT. like it MATTERS. that what they're busting their butt to do for a paycheck is also MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

i remember feeling CONFIDENT that i could walk in day 1 and be a better leader than that manager at the hospital. that's not me being cocky. it's just basic leadership 101 stuff she was doing the opposite of. i don't know the 1st thing about nursing, but i felt like i could at least help those nurses be BETTER nurses and LOVE their jobs.
seriously, there's no reason a freaking nurse shouldn't love her job.

i can't explain how bummed i was for my wife. i felt trapped for her.
thankfully, Crystal moved to a slightly different unit and had a different leader that was a lot better. the years before Keira was born she LOVED her job (you know, most days). she enjoys it now when she gets to go back.
believe it or not, that crappy leader was PROMOTED. go figure.

*if you're a leader - do the people working for you love their job or is it just a paycheck?
as a leader, there is no feeling more sickening to my stomach than to imagine that people i lead don't love what they do. i want to work hard to keep the job misery triangle far away.

leaders, it may be as simple as ensuring your peeps experience the opposites of anonymity, irrelevance, & immeasurement.

Anonymity - do the people you lead feel KNOWN by you? most people working jobs they don't love feel like the boss has no idea who they actually are. sure the boss knows their name, but that's about it. how about as leaders we care about the peeps we lead. if i don't care about the people i lead, i shouldn't be a leader.

Irrelevance - MAKE SURE people don't feel what they're doing is irrelevant. & not relevance related to the bottom line for the company either... if people don't feel like they matter, of course they're going to hate working for you.
so, what MATTERS to them? i guess you have to KNOW them before you can know that. & again, if you don't... maybe you shouldn't (spelled "c-a-n-n-o-t") be their leader.

Immeasurement - ever told them they're doing a good job or bad job? how would they know? have you told them how they can know?

leadership is not really rocket science.

i feel like there are no such thing as good jobs and bad jobs. that's a myth. there are fulfilling jobs & there are miserable jobs.
choose wisely.
& if you're a leader, LEAD BETTER!

Liberal Rhetoric 101: Appeal to Ridicule

I can't tell you how many times I've entered into a debate with multiple liberals over the years where they start their response to my argument by saying "LOL that's dumb because reason."

This tool of the Left is used pretty well constantly. It stops people from investigating the realities of liberal claims (see Global Warming). It causes people to refuse to consider legitimate alternative theories to Darwinian Evolution. (As I've said countless times, Darwinian Evolution specifically means macroevolution, that is, change from one species to another over time. This is opposed to microevolution, which is genetic adaptation within the same species i.e. over time dogs develop strong senses of smell and hearing which helps them survive; however these dogs stay dogs.) It causes people to call themselves "moderates" when, in their heart of hearts, they are indeed conservatives but they won't use the appropriate label in order to avoid ridicule.

It's purely a psychological form of debate. The goal is to make one's opponent feel stupid for believing what they believe, thus they back down. This tactic, when used in a public forum, also leads to piling on. If you've ever had a debate on Facebook, this has probably happened to you. Usually one liberal starts in with the ridiculing of the person who disagrees. Then another comes in to join in, making the opposition feel stupid for believing what they believe.

The goal specifically to make you stop debating. What's important to know is that if these liberals had a good argument, they'd probably use that instead. Chances are they don't have a point. They don't have an argument. Facts are the enemy, so these liberals have to circumvent the issue.

Don't surrender to an enemy with wooden guns, my friends. Just be prepared to demand the liberals make an actual argument and back it up with facts. Period.

up in the air - to kenya (repost)

This is a repost from September 16, 2010. as i wrote HERE, i'll be looking back at some of the posts i wrote while Crystal and i were in Kenya during that time...

yep, we're flying to Kenya right now. who knows exactly where we are as you read this?
we're probably sleeping after popping an ambien.

Crystal and i are so stoked. welcome to day 1 of this online journal of our trip. hope you enjoy and i hope it doesn't bore you.

Crystal and i prayed together last night. it was beautiful, just sitting on our bed for the last time for a month. we cried a little together (we're so emotional). i told her how proud i was of her to have so much courage to go on this journey & to trust God in this huge way.

just for a short moment, here is a transparent and raw peek into my soul -> later last night i went upstairs and prayed this:

God, Crystal and i have been asking you to keep us safe... but we know safety is just a myth. help us make wise decisions in a foreign place, but we know that ultimately our safety is up to You.
USE US however You can to bless people, love people, help people, change people, and open their eyes to Your glory.
& God, change us. change our hearts and make them beat just like Yours! no matter what it costs us. even our lives. when i sit at this desk a month from now don't let me be the same person. when i kiss my wife in this house 1 month from now, don't let us be the same. Make our hearts just like Yours. Show us how we fit in Your amazing Mission to show the world Your love and renown. 

unexpected christmas store

at Ridge Church we chose to partner with a Title 1 school in our "neighborhood." our goal is to make a profound difference and to be a blessing to the teachers, staff, children, and families of the school.
we've been blessed like crazy, so we want to take those blessings and be a blessing to the people at Piney Grove Elementary School. 81% of the children live below poverty level.

one of the coolest/funnest things we do is this "unexpected Christmas store" where we specifically heap the blessings onto about 10 or so of the families at Piney Grove. crazy awesome.
maybe at some point i'll share a personal story of the family Crystal and i were able to bless and hang out with that day.

for now i'll leave you with some thoughts from my friend Spanky's blog. he's the organizer of the whole "store" anyway and after his words is a pretty cool video that i think will be worth your time!

from spanky:
One of the highlights for us throughout the year is an event we do for multiple needy families at Piney Grove Elementary called the Christmas Store. It is our version of blessing families with the necessities and wants during the Christmas holiday with the purpose of bringing hope into their hearts and homes. This year we were able to help some struggling families and single moms in bigger ways than we would have even planned: power bills were taken care of, a single mom's gas was turned back on so so her 4 children could take showers and have heat, cars that were not running are now working well, and eviction notices have been stopped. A pinnacle for me was when I recieved a call from a struggling single mom that attended our Christmas store. She shared how she wants to teach her children more about Jesus and what we believe because they have never known church people that cared so much like we did. She said that her children are asking questions about us and Ridge Church because, "there is something special about those people that helped us out. Why would they do this for us when we don't even go to their church?"

For Lara and I we found ourselves most proud when we heard a mom talk about how amazing all of this is and that this is just what people at Piney Grove have come to expect from us and Ridge Church.  All of the time, energy, effort, planning, prayer, and sacrifice we have put into this project is starting to show some lasting fruit, and it is good fruit! Take moment to watch for yourselves what a few families said in their own words. Christmas Store 2012

Unexpected Christmas Store from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

"our direction is more important than our pace"

i originally wrote and posted this on September 4, 2010.

i accidentally came across that quote just now where i had written it years ago.

"Our direction is more important than our pace."
Chris Brown, my pastor, said that almost 3 years ago in a staff meeting and i remember it affecting me so i stopped and wrote it down (on my computer. if i don't write stuff on my computer, or now my iPhone, i may as well not even write it down). [Chris says a lot of smart stuff like that, btw.)
i remember that statement was very freeing for me at that time. i'm sure i was running at a very unsustainable pace, and that breathed life into me. Chris said it about us as an organization - Ridge Church - but i think it can apply to all of us in so many ways.
i think at that time it encouraged me to just slow down a little bit, but make sure i kept focusing on moving in the right direction.
Now, i'm wondering if i really even believe that statement any more.
sure, i believe it's true like all of us believe ("mentally assent") to a lot of things. but if i REALLY believed it, i would live it.
See, i stumbled on this quote after i spent several hours knocking stuff out for my job at Ridge Church & then ran out the door to be able to mow the grass at the perfect time (when the temperature is just right) WHILE learning Swahili on my iPhone.
Then i came inside and was rushing to get some more work done when i saw that quote. (& even as i'm taking a minute to write this blog i'm listening to a podcast, texting 2 people, talking to my wife on the phone and sending emails! ridiculous.)
my problem is that i don't know if i truly believe that anymore. again, i believe it in a "it's better for me if i don't eat this greasy bacon cheeseburger" kind of way... but i don't live it which means i don't really believe it. (like i wrote about HERE.)
i think the problem is i'm just not satisfied with moving slow anymore. the most important thing is still moving in the right direction, but my patience might be up. i need to be "there" by now. it feels like i'm no longer satisfied to just be taking steps in the right direction. i need the steps to be bigger and faster.
that's just what i'm thinking on tonight. 
what do you think about all that? do you think our direction is more important than our pace. of course you do... but do you ever struggle with that?

do you hate your job? (part 2)

i started this conversation in yesterday's post which you can read HERE.

and i kind of hinted then that i think work is WAY UNDER FOCUSED on in our culture. let me explain (because in some ways it's OVER focused on in that many people find their identity and worth in what they "do for a living." i mean something very different.)

work is under focused on in the sense that people don't talk a lot about finding a job you love/doing work you LOVE and that satisfies. in relation to how much time in our lives we actually spend at work, it is under focused on.
it seems to me that people think like this:
life is all about having fun & enjoying it.
in order to do that i need to make some money.
so i need a job to make a lot of money.
so that i can enjoy life.

BUT the 2 don't mix. it's like 2 separate worlds for most people. i.e. most people seem to RESIGN themselves to the idea that 40-50 hours of their week is going to SUCK. it's gonna be boring and awful and they're simply ENDURING that job in order to enjoy life the other 72 waking hours of the weeks of our lives.

that seems like a HORRIBLE deal to me.

half of our lives almost spent at a job we hate?
OR at a job that is just paying the bills. at a job we don't LOVE.

no way. life is TOO SHORT for that garbage.

Patrick Lencioni says there are 3 signs of a miserable job. i think he even wrote a book (one of his leadership fables) with that very title.
he says the 3 signs of a miserable job are:

and so i think we can flip his little triangle and the OPPOSITES make for a satisfying and fulfilling job. because i believe people deserve to love their jobs. and it seems that these 3 things are what it takes to make that happen.

1  Relevance - if what you do feels RELEVANT... like it actually matters. if it's making a difference then we obviously like that. we'll keep pushing hard at a job that is relevant and making a difference. if you don't know that you're making a difference at your job then your job probably sucks.

2  Measurable - if i can't measure for myself when i'm doing a good job i'll get really frustrated. if no one tells me what measures i'm aiming for and whether or not i'm measuring up then i'll be really frustrated. someone just needs to "clarify the win" and that solves a LOT of job misery issues.

3  Community/Known - all people have a need to be known. in all areas of life. you can't do 40 hours a week at a job without community. lots of peoples' bosses don't even know who they are or anything about them. or the relationship is all work & a dichotomy that doesn't touch the rest of life.

this is getting long again so i'll finish it all out in tomorrow's post with the crux of all this. a real example and calling out some leaders who probably shouldn't be leaders because they are creating miserable jobs for people instead of fulfilling ones!

Mr. President, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Seriously, Mr. President, what part of this do you not understand?

Why do I say this? Oh, I don't know, probably because the President and large quantities of American liberals, of both the Neighborhood and Activist variety, seem to think the 2nd Amendment says, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless the President and Congress deem this less necessary because reasons."

Except it doesn't say that. It says "The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED." (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that would be the end of this Amendment. That other stuff above isn't in there.)

So perhaps it's time once again to give a Constitutional History lesson to our President, the Constitutional Law professor.


(That was the sound of me banging my head against my desk in frustration that such an explanation is necessary.)

Some of you, including our President, have been laboring under the assumption that the Second Amendment was in place to ensure that Americans had the ability to protect their homesteads against wolves, or thieves, or for use in hunting, or some other such thing in the early days of our nation before widespread police protection.  It also wasn't just about the ability of the people to have a "Well-regulated Militia," which is now unnecessary because we have a standing military.

It wasn't.

Actually, if you look back on the founding of our nation, you will find that our nation was founded because the Founders overthrew a tyrannical government that was taking away our rights. While we hope the ballot box and a free press (however biased and clearly stilted to the side of liberalism) should make this need unnecessary, the moment a free people find themselves being oppressed by a tyrannical government, we have the God-given right to overthrow that government.  

(I am not advocating such a revolution at this time, by the way, I am simply teaching a history lesson on the reason for the Second Amendment.)

If history has shown us anything it is this: An armed government with an unarmed populace leads to tyranny. When the National Socialist Party (aka Nazi Party) took over Germany, one of the first things Adolf Hitler did was take away all guns (save for the Gestapo and the Military, of course). He wasn't the only one. Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao Tse Tung in Communist China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Saddam Hussein in Iraq...I can continue for pages...all removed guns from their citizens hands, while keeping them for themselves.

There was a reason why our Founding Fathers put the Right to Bear Arms in the Constitution. It wasn't to protect hunters rights and it wasn't just to protect citizens against invaders of their homes. It was to protect us from a tyrannical government. 

Any government that wants to limit that right makes me very scared. I'm especially scared when a President wants to do that, because unlike the Supreme Court and Congress, the Executive Branch's power is largely centered on one person.

To answer the question that is repeatedly asked, Why do we need "assault rifles" or "high capacity magazines?" Because the government has them. If we ever need to overthrow that government (and I am not suggesting we need to at this time) we need to be able to defend ourselves on equal footing.

So perhaps, Mr. President, former Constitutional Law professor, that might just be the reason the Founding Fathers said, and I again quote,

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Period. End of discussion.

do you hate your job?

i actually began writing this post 5 years ago!
crazy, eh?

i have a few hundred half written blogs from the past 5 years just waiting to be tweaked, finished, and posted. i figured i better get at it before they're all completely irrelevant.

basically i started writing this post 5 years ago for the same reason i decided to finish and post it today. a lot of people i know HATE their job.
or, maybe they wouldn't say they hate it, but they say stuff like:

"it pays the bills."

"at least i have a job."

"once you get in to this industry it's tough to do anything else."

and on & on & stuff like that.
sounds pretty miserable to me.

life is too short for that mess.

we spend an incredible amount of time at our jobs. what a waste if we don't love that portion.

now i know there are seasons where we simply need to be thankful to have ANY job - for sake of an income. i get it. i've been there. i've had multiples of those all at once :)

but it's no good to be in that season for long.

i LOVE my job @ ridge. back when i wrote this 5 years ago i talked about how fun my job is because our staff team had just gone to Dave & Busters and acted like little kids for a day. in our old office we had some wii & xbox tourneys & then there were the infamous and spontaneous Foosball games that would break out pretty much every day.
(that is 1 thing i miss about our office - the Foosball every day.)

without an office for the past couple years some of those kind of things disappeared but i actually love my job even more.
and i think i love my job for the same reasons as everyone else who love their jobs = what you're doing & who you're doing it with.
and one or the other can make or break it.

i've got a lot more to dive into on that note, BUT i can see my post is already getting pretty long. (just like they used to always do 5 years ago.)
so, let me take a break and post the rest tomorrow.

for now, if you hate your job... maybe consider how long you're going to stick with that job?
& i hope, for your sake, it's not too long.

we'll never have all the answers

just venting a little...

i guess it bothers me when people think, act, and talk like they have all the answers. i'm thinking specifically in the realm of faith, church, Christianity, religion, etc...

i think these kinds of people and institutions -- who claim to have the whole truth figured out -- are doing a lot more damage than they realize.
because it makes people feel like if their church doesn't satisfactorily provide all the answers to all the questions of life, then it's all a hoax.

i know some Christians who would say that the questions i have about God and spirituality are blasphemous.

but i believe that to say we have God & faith all figured out is blasphemous.

that's why it's called faith. you just can't have answers to all your questions.
it's all bigger than our piddly little minds can handle.

if we think we can summarize God in our neat little systematic theologies then we're fooling ourselves -- because we've made God into something He's not.

The moment we "figure God out" with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.  We are dealing with somebody we made up.

hey Christians -- let's stop making stuff up.
just be honest & say we don't have a definitive answer for this or that. we never will.
it's ok. the whole thing won't topple.

we'll just be finally being honest.

i think i heard somewhere that God actually digs that.

Best of Biblical Conservatism Failing Dr. King: How the Left Ignores the Dream

Two years ago on Biblical Conservatism, I took time to reflect on how the Left in America fails to live up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous dream.  Today, on the day after Martin Luther King Day, I felt it was a good time to once again repost that reflection. 

In 2011, America celebrated the 25th Martin Luther King Day. As it has in the past, this day brought to mind a panel discussion I was priveleged to join back in 2001 (my senior year of high school) sponsored by Umoja (student lead-group at my school). I was known in my high school as one of the best Conservatives (a small pool of talent in a New York state high school I must admit). A Liberal friend, with whom I had enjoyed many great debates with through our honors History and English classes over the past years, was a member of the group Umoja’s branch at my school. The goal of this panel was to discuss race relations 33 years after Dr. King was assassinated. I will never forget this event. It was the day I truly understood how the American Left has failed Dr. King's dream.

The panel consisted of some black students and some white students. I recall most vividly the stories of "racism" that some of these students claimed to have experienced at our school. Included among the most prominent "offenses" as being asked questions about their hair and how difficult it was to manage! I have always believed that the greatest problem that caused racism in America was ignorance. If this is the case, how is it racist to ask questions in an effort to understand? Further, aren't questions like this a demonstration that our generation does in fact recognize that race differences are purely skin deep...that black people are simply PEOPLE...people who have different physical traits but otherwise 100% the same!

If I may step away from the point of this article for one moment, I'd like to take time to explain the real purpose of race. The physical traits of different races on Earth were caused due to the process of physical adaptation as people moved into different parts of the World. For example, the physical traits of people from eastern African descent. People in Africa generally have long and lanky frames. Their skin has a high amount of melanin in their bodies because melanin is essentially sun block built in to the human body. The more melanin a person has in their skin, the more they can be in the sun without the sun's rays damaging their body. The lanky frame and high amount of melanin in black person's body is the ideal combination of traits to dissipate heat and to withstand the longest possible time in the sun.

People of northern Asian decent are generally shorter and squatter. They have thicker, darker hair and almond shaped eyes which reduce the glare of snow and ice. They tend to have flatter noses because that shape nose is less exposed to cold. People of Asian descent often have minimal facial hair because a man's breath often condensates on the beard, making the face colder. These traits make a person of northern Asian decent best able to withstand the cold temperatures of northern Asia. Both these examples show that the human body adapted to its surroundings!

Back to the original story. The one question that I recall as if it was yesterday from that panel discussion from ten years ago was "How do you see yourself as a minority or majority in America today?" I remember I was quite bothered by this question because it ignored the point of Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Dr. King said famously:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."(1)

Yet these students wanted to talk about people in categories based upon the color of their skin! I spoke about my personal beliefs on race: That skin color is exactly the same as eye color...a physical trait. I do not consider people to be different than me if they have blue or brown eyes (I have green eyes, for the record). I do not consider a person different from me if they have blonde hair or black hair or red hair (I have brown hair, for the record). I also do not consider people to be different because they are of Asian descent or African decent or American Indian decent (I am of European Decent, for the record). These are only physical traits. They DO NOT MATTER to me!

Another statement made was "Everyone is at least a little racist." I stand living proof that this is not true! My response to this was: "I look at you and I see a person. You look at me and you see a white person. Who do you think is REALLY racist here?" I said then, and I still say now, that the person who sees a fellow human being through the lens of their race is the racist, regardless of what that racist person's skin color happens to be!

The truth is the Left has failed Dr. King's dream. They have spent a generation telling minorities that they can't succeed on their own. They have spent a generation telling minorities they need the Democrat party to fight for them because they can't fight for themselves. The Left has spent a generation crying racism every time someone argues against a policy of a minority. Look at Barrack Obama. The Left should be thrilled that the Right debates President Obama's policies on merit alone if they were living up to Dr. King's beliefs. But the Left instead cries racism because we criticism Obama. The reality is we ARE judging Obama by the content of his character...and we don't like that content! I despise President Obama's policies with my eyes closed...his race does not matter. I am the same person who liked the idea of Condoleezza Rice running for President at one point because I liked the content of her character. I oppose Obama's policies because he is a Socialist, not because he is black! Something tells me that you, my readers, oppose Obama's policies for the same reason.

The Left has failed Dr. King's Dream, and done so intentionally. They fail the Dream because it means they can't use race to convince minorities to vote for them. The Right, on the other hand, has succeeded. We as Conservatives do judge people by the content of their character. We happily support Conservative minorities like Condoleezza Rice, Judge Clarence Thomas, Governor Bobby Jindall of Louisiana, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and others. Because it's about the ideas, not the skin tone. We argue against minorities who are on the Left, like President Barrack Obama, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton. It is for their policies we oppose these men. If they were white, we'd fight them just the same.

So I ask you what I asked ten years ago: If the Left looks at a man and sees a white man or a black man or an Asian man and the Right looks at a man and sees a man, who is the racist? It is the side that sees simply a man that has fulfilled the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King.

it doesn't hurt to ask

when i was a little kid i think i had this attitude instilled in me by my Dad = this attitude of "it doesn't hurt to ask."
i can remember being really young and maybe afraid to ask about something and my Dad encouraging me by saying - "What's the worst that could happen? they might say 'NO' ?"

with as much logic as my brain could muster, i would way that risk/reward scenario.
worst case = they say no.
best case = well, i get whatever i was asking for - usually something awesome.

so since those early days i've just never really been afraid to ask for anything. maybe a thousand other people walk by and don't bother to ask because they assume the answer is "NO." i just figure it doesn't hurt to ask because many times the answer is "yes."

like - "can you give me 20% off of that?" = "Sure"
or - "instead of buying 1, why don't you buy 20?" = "ok"
in high school & college my friends thought i was some sort of wizard because i was able to "get" all this stuff somehow... but there was no magic, i was just asking.

it's more that everyone else seems to think there are certain things you can't ask about - as if the way it is currently is the way it must be. as if the people on the other end of the ask set what is and is not socially acceptable.
it will always be socially acceptable to ask though.

i realize i'm not the only one like this. lots of people are.

if you only drink water like me you are appalled at the size of cups for water restaurants give these day. about 2 sips worth. so i always ask for a bigger cup & they give me the cup they normally charge $3 for. i'm sure everyone else could do it too if they felt like asking.
every once in a while a restaurant will say "no." (remember, that's the "worst" thing that could happen.) which is crazy to me, because i just paid them $9 for that sandwich that's worth about $1.25 and they don't want to give me a human-sized cup of water. but it's all good. i just don't go back there. i'm thinking that didn't work out so good for them.

there's a book on my "preliminary 2013 read list" but it retails for about $20. the book just came out 6 months ago so they're not really floating around used yet or at the library. recently, i was listening to an OLD Catalyst podcast and they were giving away the book free to the 1st 20 people who emailed asking for it. that was back in JULY... and i was listening in JANUARY!
in my mind, i thought - "there is NO WAY that 20 people haven't already received their free books. i'm sure 20 people emailed within the 1st few hours and this is 6 months later!
BUT, what's the worst thing that could happen if i ask? it doesn't hurt to ask."
besides, what if everyone else figured 20 people had already emailed and they had only given away 19 copies? :)

i emailed & asked. the lady emailed me back promptly saying i was way late, but they would send me one anyway just for asking.
they overnight-ed it & it was on my doorstep the next day.

it doesn't hurt to ask.

NOT OK (africa)

i originally wrote and posted this to renown on September 15, 2010. This is the 1st of my Kenya revisited posts that i explained HERE.

i haven't been to Africa since 2003. when i left these kids at the orphanage in Botswana in 2003 i thought i would be back to Africa in no time. i never dreamed I wouldn't be back for 7 years.

But here i go... this time with my beautiful and amazing wife! so so thankful for that.

why am i all about getting back to Africa?
because of this burning passion in my soul that won't die. This passionate vision God birthed in me. The dream of what could be and an intense belief that it should be.

That a kid in Africa dies every 15 seconds because they don't have clean water IS NOT OK.
& i want to do something to change that.

The fact that so many babies aren't even born because of preventable stuff IS NOT OK.
& i want to do something to change that.

The fact that there are still so many people groups in Africa who don't even know about Jesus IS NOT OK.
& i want to do something to change that.

The fact that there are so many millions of orphans with no place to live and no one to love them IS NOT OK.
& i want to do something to change that.

The fact that i have so much and so many people in Africa have so little IS NOT OK.
& i want to do something to change that.

The fact that there are people in Africa who don't worship God and Jesus is not famous in their lives IS NOT OK.
& i want to do something to change that.

so, my wife and i are taking a little step in that direction - doing something to change all that... a small step that hopefully leads to bigger and bigger steps until hopefully one day...
God has used us to change some of that.
it's a renown thing. every one of those things that's not OK, but changes -> it points to God's renown. His unending fame. the fact that He is more glorious and awesome than anything we've ever imagined.
so, we're boarding a plane in just a few hours to take a step in this direction. if we can open just a few eyes to the big RENOWN that is already there staring them in the face, then we won't have wasted our time, money, or effort. 
we're ready for the adventure. 
taking a step toward a life worth telling stories about.
stories that don't point to us, but stories that point to the only famous One.

Kenya revisited

2 years ago Crystal and i were able to go serve for a month in a couple parts of Kenya in East Africa. it was an amazing time for us and it's been cool to look back on that adventure from time to time via pictures, memories, journals, & my blog.

i actually blogged every single day we were in Kenya about what we were doing, experiencing, and thinking.

i was doing that so that our friends and family who were here in America could journey with us via the blog. but since we've been back home from Kenya it's been awesome to read those blogs as sort of another way of remembering our adventures there.

so, as i look back on those posts this year, i'm planning to "re-post" those blogs here on renown throughout the year. my goal in 2013 is to post a blog every single day. i would love for it all to be fresh content but that's not completely realistic. so, some days i may post something from our time in Kenya... which are really some of my favorite blogs.

i hope you enjoy re-living the experiences with me.

Why I'm not as dumb as I should be

because i believe i can & do learn from anyone!
“Every man is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” 
– Emerson

questions aren't a problem

in a lot of circles, asking questions is a bad thing.

i'm sure some teachers get really tired of all the Questions certain students may ask.

in some areas asking Questions can get you killed, i'm sure.

i'm sure children are annoying to parents or siblings with the sheer amount of questions they ask.

unfortunately, in most Christian circles and churches, they don't like people asking a lot of questions. sure, they might say they do, but they don't. they hate it.

i can't remember, did the Pope like it when Galileo was poking around asking questions about the galaxy with his telescope? 

Christianity and religion seem to suppress the innocent question asker. Like "how dare you ask such a question!"

because for them, asking a Question shows doubt. and in these Christians' minds there is no room for doubt in the life of faith.

but i believe God has plenty of room for doubt. i think God is always comfortable with our questions. in fact, He welcomes them... just waiting for us to ask.

and a Christian shouldn't avoid the questions, they should embrace them.
if someone is REALLY pursuing the way of Jesus then you better believe they will have some questions. we should see a need for questions.

Questions aren't scary.  What is scary is when people don’t have any.   

i happen to think that a faith with no room for questions is probably not a legitimate faith at all.

a middle school student i've been privileged to hang out with recently asked a great question = "Is God a boy or a girl?" i love it. that's a great question. this student had no church or religious background at all. i love that kind of innocent/raw question.

These kinds of Questions, no matter how shocking or seemingly blasphemous or arrogant or ignorant or raw, are rooted in humility.  A humility that understands that I am not God & i certainly don't have Him figured out. there is more to know.

but there are many Christian institutions and churches and circles that assume we do have it all figured out. that to ask questions is to challenge God Himself.

i've been in many "Christian" places and churches where i wouldn't dare ask questions i had or mention that i may be questioning a certain dogma. that's the quickest ticket to "excommunication".

in fact i had a good friend who was literally kicked out of a seminary for asking questions. the same questions that probably every single one of us have asked in our lifetime. but i guess you just don't ask those questions at that seminary.

in the moment, i can't think of many things more oppressive than having a burning question and not being able to ask it.

ask your questions. it is freeing.
if people look at you funny or ostracize you for asking... find some different people.

the questions are good.
God will never be bothered by our questions.

Current Gun Control Laws Didn't Stop Newtown Shooting

The President and the Democratic Party are trying very hard to create new gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings last month. Because Adam Lanza used a legally obtained gun, right?

Oh wait, he didn't. He used stolen guns that were obtained illegally.

Actually, Lanza was stopped from purchasing guns legally by in-place gun control laws. He committed multiple gun crimes before , stealing his mother's guns (4 counts), unlawful carrying of a pistol without a permit, carrying those guns into a gun-free zone, carrying them without a carry permit, I can go on and on. In total he broke 41 laws in perpetrating his crime. That includes 27 counts of First Degree Murder. Of the remaining fourteen laws he broke, thirteen were gun-control laws.

There were thirteen gun control laws that were ALREADY IN PLACE that Adam Lanza broke in perpetrating his horrible crime. Please, do tell me how a fourteenth law would've helped? More importantly, please tell me all about how criminals follow laws.

Yet the President wants to ram through more gun control legislation in the wake of this horrific event. Will it stop criminals like Adam Lanza? I mean, he didn't mind breaking the existing thirteen gun control laws that were in place before his crime.

The only people who will be stopped from carrying weapons with new Gun Control laws are the law abiding citizens. In other words, the innocent victims will now be at a disadvantage. The criminals will still get illegal weapons. It's been said that as little as 5% of gun crimes are committed using legally obtained guns. If this is true, (or even if the 5% number isn't perfect, it is indeed a fact that the majority of gun crimes use illegal guns) then the only answer is for the law abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves.

Remember, both Adam Lanza in Newtown, CT and James Eagan Holmes, the alleged perpetrator of the Aurora, CO shootings this past summer, were breaking existing gun control laws in perpetrating or allegedly perpetrating, respectively, their crimes. If the current laws aren't working, why would new ones work?

So what is the solution?

The question we should be asking after this year's recent rash of shootings is, in my opinion, how can we ensure that law abiding citizens are able to protect themselves and others when a crazed gunman comes in to perpetrate such a crime. In Aurora, CO, why wasn't there a law abiding citizen able to stop James Eagan Holmes (allegedly)?  When the shooting occurred, I had discussed seeing Dark Knight Rises with a good friend who has a concealed carry permit the day after the Aurora Shooting.  Let's call him Joe (because that's his name).  I remember thinking, while everyone was worried about copycats at future showings of Dark Knight Rises, "If that happens at my showing, I'll be with a law-abiding, trained citizen who can DO SOMETHING about the crime in progress."

The bottom line is this: Gun Control laws only keep the law abiding citizens from protecting themselves. It doesn't stop the criminals.  They sure didn't stop Adam Lanza. 

i need words

how i feel & these are the words i sing many days.
i know it's way old school, but i dig it.

thanks mr. crowder for hooking us up with these words to express the fact that we don't even have words big enough.

I need words
As wide as sky
I need language large as
This longing inside
And I need a voice
Bigger than mine
And I need a song to sing You
That I've yet to find
I need You,
Oh, I need You
I need You,
Oh, I need You
To be here now
To be here now
To hear me now
To hear me now

happy birthday, Dr. King

happy birthday, Dr. King.

you are a hero.

thank you for all of your sacrifices and for many like you who stood against injustice.

those sacrifices allow us to live in a radically different country from the country you lived in.

i wish you could see it & experience America now. it's not perfect. there is still a lot of racism and prejudice and it makes a lot of us sick... but it's getting better. and it is WAY better than the awful America you had to endure.

thank you for all you did to heal the ugliness and infection among us.

and thanks for setting an example and paving a way for how to do this through LOVE and nonviolence.

we won't forget what you did, or where we have come from. we won't let your sacrifice be in vain.
we wont forget that...

love wins.

in memoriam

Crystal quotes of the day #6 (Pregnancy Edition)

Yep, time for some CRYSTAL QUOTES OF THE DAY again. You can read all about it HERE. and you can read the last few "Pregnancy Editions" specifically HERE & HERE.

hope they make you laugh... they make me laugh at least :)

Crystal was complaining 1 day about how this pregnancy was making her butt bigger, fat, whatever... & my default positivity kicked in. i can't help it. the optimism took over and i said:
Me: "it's ok, just be thankful u have a butt."
Crystal: (giving me the look like I just said the craziest thing in the world & like i'm an idiot) "who doesn't have a butt?!?!?"
touche. good point.

*During pregnancy Crystal was realizing she was going to be the one to be up in the middle of the night all the time... not me. i think i must have offered to trade off nights with her or something...
Crystal: "what are YOU gonna do in middle of the night? do YOU have breast milk the baby can eat?"  
Me: "I've got nipples Focker, can u milk me?"
ok, that one is probably not even funny, but it was in the moment. :)

*i was talking about how much i was looking forward to playing catch with this kid whenever it arrives and grows up a little bit. we were debating at what age you can play catch & i said i would start early. Crystal, pondering, said...
Crystal: "it's just annoying when they can't catch & stuff."
*about 1 month before Keira was born we were at a Piggly Wiggly at the beach & i think Crystal was eying one of those awful Piggly Wiggly t-shirts that say "i'm big on the pig."
Crystal: “I guess it’s not really appropriate for me to wear the PIG shirt now?"
Me: "I don’t know if it’s EVER appropriate for ANYONE to wear that stupid shirt."

hopefully somebody found these funny.
if not, at least we make each other laugh & that's all i care about.

i have some really funny ones to post soon :)  even a "Jesus" edition!

Liberal Rhetoric 101: Fallacy of the Single Cause

One of the things Biblical Conservatism has focused on as a running theme is liberal rhetoric and talking points. Today, we're going to begin a series talking about the actual rhetorical tactics used by liberals to formulate their arguments.

Our first issue is the Fallacy of the Single Cause. Specifically, a Single Cause fallacy is one where the argument is that "We did X (small thing) and thus Y (huge, overreaching thing) occurred!"

Let me give you some examples. A classic one is the Clinton Argument. We're seeing this argument brought up frequently now. The claim is that "Clinton raised taxes, and we had a booming economy and a budget surplus."  The use of this fallacy is simple: We are to assume BECAUSE taxes went up the booming economy and budget surplus happened. Economic history proves otherwise. There were a host of other issues, including the end of the Cold War, the internet boom, cuts in spending forced on Clinton by Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress, and tax cuts that happened later (also forced on Clinton by Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress) that deserve the credit long before an increase in taxes deserves it. (Especially because actual tax revenue went down after Clinton raised taxes.) 

Yet we are pitched the lie that "taxes went up, so did revenue, which lead to a balanced budget and a booming economy."

Another example of this fallacy is one that a friend likes to present: "There are more people who live below the poverty line in red states than blue states, therefore conservative government doesn't lead to prosperity as conservatives claim."

So much is wrong with this argument. First and foremost, the poverty line is a poor statistic. It's based on a national average median income of $50,054 per year for a family of four (we'll round that to $50,000 per year for simplicity's sake). The poverty line for the same family of four is $23,021 per year (again for simplicity's sake we'll call that $23,000).

There are so very many questions that aren't asked or even considered in this false claim. For one, the poverty line and median income are not adjusted for Cost of Living. Blue states, as a whole, have much higher cost of living than red states. Of the top ten most expensive states to live in, nine are blue states. The tenth is Alaska (which is a very unique state in terms of cost of living, as is Hawaii). All ten of the top ten least expensive states to live in are red states.

A family of four making $22,000 per year in a state like Tennessee has the same buying power as a family of four living on nearly $38,000 per year in Rochester, NY (where I live.) A family of four can certainly live on that income. That family is not below the poverty line in blue New York. Let's call the family in Tennessee the Fletchers and the family in New York the Flynns. The Flynns and the Fletchers can buy the exact same things with their respective incomes. Yet the red-state dwelling Fletchers are considered "below the poverty line." The blue-state dwelling Flynns are considered "above the poverty line."

This is just one factor that points out the false logic in this argument. There are many others. Liberals don't point it out. They simply repeat their argument. Ditto for the Clinton Argument.

As always, the solution is simple. We must break down these factors and force the liberal with whom you are debating to present a Prima Facie case (that is, present that their claim is true at first blush). Until they do that, it's nothing more than a false debate.

top 10 books i read in 2012

i've been writing some of my takeaways and learnings from the 50 books i read in 2012. i set all that up HERE. below i'll actually unveil my top 10 reads of 2012. i won't bother saying anything about them because i already did that.
if you're interested in a little more about each book, you can look back on parts 1-5 of my takeaways from all the books i read in 2012 HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE.

& now for the top 10 list. in ascending order so we can all anticipate the #1 book of the year. drum roll please...

#10 - The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
Patrick Lencioni

#9 - Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ
Pete Scazzero

#8 - The Third Conversion
R. Scott Rodin

#7 - Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World
Dennis Hollinger

#6 - Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to his World, Letters, and Theology
David Capes, Rodney Reeves, E. Randolph Richards

#5 - Organizational Culture and Leadership
Edgar Schein

#4 - The Future of Management
Gary Hamel

#3 - Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
Chip and Dan Heath

#2 - The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz
     *this book would normally be a #1 read of the year, but...

#1 - Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words
Brian McLaren
     *probably the best book i've ever read, not just in 2012.

final book learnings from 2012 (part 5)

this is my final post of quick takeaways and learnings from all the books i read in 2012. below are the books i read in November & December of last year & a few thoughts about them along with my star rating (1-5*s). i explained all that HERE. and then you can look back on parts 1-4 of my takeaways from all the books i read HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE.

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance - Jim Loehr & Tony Schwarz     5*s
definitely worthy of 5 stars. life-changing book. so thankful i read it. basically a book about how a holistically life should look. a strategic plan for refueling energy physically, emotionally, mentally, & spiritually.
absolutely brilliant. has no doubt changed my life for the better already. big time.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality - Pete Scazzero     4*s
the bottom line is that you can't be spiritually healthy without being emotionally healthy. it was a great follow up read to the above book. some good practical ideas & suggestions toward the end of the book for sabbaths, etc... thankful to have read it & implement a lot of it into the plan from the book above.

The Peacemaker - Ken Sande     3*s
basically the biblical encyclopedia of conflict resolution/peacemaking. good read. pretty much everything the Bible has to say about conflict & resolving it in a healthy way. i dig it. pretty long book though, actually.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - Marc Weissbluth     4*s
not 4*s because i enjoyed reading it, but 4*s because my wife read it when Keira was born, then we implemented this philosophy and Keira has slept like an angel! seriously, 12 hours a night since she was a few weeks old. difficult to follow through with this method at first but soooo worth it.

Serving Those in Need - Edward L. Queen (editor)     2*s
required reading for my non-profit class. just ok for me. a lot of boring stuff. written for NGOs & any agencies serving the poor. may look back on it for some practical tips, but really not that helpful.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - Chip & Dan Heath     5*s
always fun to read the Heath brothers. this is their follow up to Made to Stick. loved it so much. basically i'll use it as another helpful manual to change the world (and to change anything, really). a must read for any leader of anything. it's all about leading the elephant AND the rider :)  [the emotion & the rational parts of peeps]

Shepherds After My Own Heart - Tim Laniak     3*s
this was actually required reading for a Spring class. i had a chapter or 2 to finish though last month. the author was my professor & it is a brilliant look at a biblical theology of leadership based on an overarching/undergirding metaphor that penetrates through the whole of Scripture. pretty amazing actually. not necessarily a fun read by any means. crazy technical & reads just like you'd expect a Harvard PhD to read. but the payoff is worth it at the end.

A Work of Heart - Reggie McNeal     3*s
pretty cool concept - a look at how God shaped the hearts of 4 different major leaders = Moses, David, Jesus, & Paul. not all that interesting once you get into it but some very valid, practical outcomes - how God uses & shapes us as leaders by our context, community, etc... the best part of the book is the end with some GREAT questions for reflection in a lot of areas. definitely will be using those Qs.

Leading the Team Based Church - George Cladis     3*s
an early leadership network book. takes an interesting approach to team leadership based on the trinity. the whole book is written with the goal of showing why team leadership is better in our postmodern context. some cool insights. not overwhelmingly many though.

and that's it. the 50 books i read in 2012. onto 2013.
(tomorrow i'll actually post my top 10 list of all these i read in 2012.)