Americans, Rights, and Voting

“MY Right”

I like millions of others voted today, the painless process of excersizing “my right.” there was a sense of satisfaction every time i clicked that little “inkavote” pen. i did wonder who keeps thinking of these out-dated forms of voting. I was glad that it was in a retirement home also – the elderly seem to me to know much more about politics than anyone else i’ve ever met. they always appear to have such a nuanced position…hmmm…i guess after generations of time you would become nuanced.

anyways i found this and though i know it doesn’t make much difference on who to vote for, i thought this was incredibly well put.

these are seven things to think about when voting (or for that matter thinking about politics at all). these are from a pastor in Indiana named John Hay Jr.

1. I ask of any candidate’s or administration’s positions and proposals, “What does it do to the poor?”

2. I do not expect the American president to be a Christian or my brand of Christian.

3. I recognize that the priorities of the kingdom of God and the agendas of American presidents and governments are not the same.

4. I look for a candidate who I think will lead compassionately, not just talk about compassion.

5. I recognize that most “all-or-nothing” issues cast during election campaigns are NOT “all-or-nothing.”

6. I ask, “How has a candidate responded to violence or used violence? And how does he or she plan to respond to and use it in the future?”

7. I consider how candidates envision America’s place and role in the world.

Finder (Mon 10/25/04 8:26:02 AM)

I was editing a Fuller professor’s website today, for this short essay he just did on how Bush and the Republican Party isn’t really Pro-Life, if you look at how abortion has actually raised since he took office. I pasted the article below, it is short so you should check it out, especially if you are one of the one issue voters. If you want the rest of the story the website is posted below and under the Green Book in the middle of the page you will find “Data Sources and information Supporting Abortion’s Rise” but that material is somewhat more daunting to work through.

My Two sense (one motivation for why i am posting the article):
-The point I want to make is that abortion and other pop ethical issues should be more a concern of the church than of the country. The church has grown lax because we supposedly live in a Christian nation with a Christian President – we (the church) don’t have to deal pro-actively with these issues because we think somebody in some office is taking care of it for us. Christendom puts the church out of buisness and makes way for the kind of passive “spiritualized” Christianity we have these days.

THE ARTICLE

Pro-Life?  Look at the Fruits
By Dr. Glen Stassen

I am a Christian ethicist, and trained in statistical analysis.  I am consistently pro-life. My son David is one witness.  For my family, “pro-life??? is personal. My wife caught rubella in the eighth week of her pregnancy. We decided not to terminate, to love and raise our baby. David is legally blind and severely handicapped; he also is a blessing to us and to the world.

I look at the fruits of political policies more than words. I analyzed the data on abortion during the George W. Bush presidency. There is no single source for this information – federal reports go only to 2000, and many states do not report – but I found enough data to identify trends.  My findings are counterintuitive and disturbing.

Abortion was decreasing. When President George W. Bush took office, the nation’s abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4% decline during the 1990s. This was an average decrease of 1.7% per year, mostly during the latter part of the decade.  (The data come from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute’s studies.)

Enter George W. Bush in 2001.  One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge.  Instead, the opposite happened.

I found sixteen states that have posted statistics for 2001 and 2002. The number of abortions in those states increased in that one year by a total of 6,207. The ten states for which I have data for 2000 and 2001 had an increase of 4,067 in 2001, and the five states for which I have data in 2003 had an increase of 5,651 by comparison with 2000. Since these are actual reports and not merely polls of states with about thirty million women, The Z-test of statistical significance shows these increases were significant beyond 99.99% as representative of the U.S. It extrapolates to an increase of about 20,000 per year in the fifty states, instead of the expected decline of 28,000. That means 48,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.

How could this be?  I see three contributing factors:

First, two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life website). In the past three years, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current Administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed. 

Second, half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). Men who are jobless usually do not marry. Only three of the sixteen states had more marriages in 2002 than in 2001, and in those states abortion rates decreased. In the sixteen states overall, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 6,207 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.

Third, women worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency – with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million – abortion increases.

The U.S. Catholic bishops warned of this likely outcome if support for families with children was cut back. My wife and I know – as does my son David – that doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical insurance, special schooling, and parental employment are crucial for a special child. David attended the Kentucky School for the Blind, as well as several schools for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. He was mainstreamed in public schools as well. We have two other sons, and five grandchildren, and we know that every mother, every father, and every child needs public and family support.

What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without healthcare, health insurance, jobs, childcare, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs and health insurance and support for prospective mothers.

Glen Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and the co-author of Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Christianity Today’s Book of the Year in theology or ethics.

A short article concerning Christ-based beliefs in a time of war.

Confessing Christ in a World of Violence Our world is wracked with violence and war.
Dr. Glen Stassen

http://www.fuller.edu/sot/faculty/stassen

But Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, forthey shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus said: “Love your enemies, pray for thosewho persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all the more difficult today.

Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons onthese texts since the terrorist atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does Christian “realism” mean resigningourselves to an endless future of “pre-emptive wars”? Does it mean turning a blind eye to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment ratherthan intelligence and restraint?

Faithfully confessing Christ is the church’s task, and never more so than when its confession isco-opted by militarism and nationalism.

– A “theology of war” is emanating from the highest circles of American government.

– The language of “righteous empire” is employed with growing frequency.

– The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American “mission” and”divine appointment” to “rid the world of evil.”

The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on thetruth. But a policy that rejects the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear.

In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.

1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confesshis name are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.

We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, “the lightshines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness ofmodern warfare strengthens this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternativebefore a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legalnorms. Some things ought never be done—torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction—regardless of the consequences.

3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary’s eye, but also the beam inour own. Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed that the distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through everyhuman heart.

We reject the false teaching that America is a “Christian nation,” representing only virtue, whileits adversaries are nothing but vicious. We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most of the world’s evil. All have sinned and fallen short ofthe glory of God (Rom 3:23).

4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christdied for us (Rom. 5:8, 10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love does not mean capitulating to hostileagendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in God’s image.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law’s protection.We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all politicaldisagreements, and it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.

We reject the false teaching that those who are not for our nation politically are against it or thatthose who fundamentally question American policies must be with the “evil-doers.” Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians, are expressions of the Manichaean heresy, inwhich the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot beset aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.

We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urgethem to remember these principles in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord.

weeks end and the overload

I think that i have too much on my plate, as a matter of fact i am pretty sure i do.
with 5 classes, 12 hours of work a week in the computer lab, starting a young life club and most importantly being a husband (which unfortunately takes back seat more often than not) I am finding that it is fairly difficult to stay on top of everything.

My main interests at the moment are not being fulfilled, that is I would really like to be spending more time at the middle school where Emily and I (along with a team of great people) pioneering a ministry. Not only this but I wish I could be writing and playing music, I have gotten to the point where music is non-existent in my life. I am continually getting worse at writing songs and playing guitar. I haven’t played out in months. Not to mention I have had very little time to work on video projects.

Why is it that relationships, take a back seat in moment like these?

Oh the overload. Well we are in week three and time is ticking. Lord help us to survive this rush and find light at the end of the tunnel, if there is an end…

finding the deep longings

Another Treatise:
I was in class and thinking about other things, this is what happened…

I have not been able to shake the feeling of deep longing.
Where does this come from?
Most Christians including myself want to answer that the deep longing is for Christ.
I do think that this is true, but I think that there is more to the question than the answer
allows.

Why is it that though I have Christ, I long?
Why is it that though I am married to a wonderful woman, I still long for her touch?
Why is it that though I am educated, I desire to continue education?
Why is it that though I have all that I need and most of what I want, I still want more?
Why is it that though I really enjoy being in CA, I continue to miss home?
Why is it that though I am sitting in this class, I wish I was sitting somewhere else?

We have been told that we ascend to a belief in Christ through an act of faith.
This act of faith is a mental jump from not believing to believing.
This leaves God as having the hopes to satisfy us mentally, in the hope of our beliefs.
This also leaves us longing for deeper satisfaction.

God satisfies me conceptually. But not relationally, not materially, not sexually, not
in identity, not politically, not socially, not economically, etc.

Should God satisfy us in all the above?

No. and Yes.

No. because the way that we have theologically understood God in the wrong way,
He is not in the business of satisfying he is not in the business of making you new in
the way that we have traditionally thought. What I mean is that we have had the expectation that
God will fulfill all of my desires. Yes he will, but all of the desires that he in his infinite wisdom
understands us as needing and nothing more or less. Further, when we think of God ‘making new’
we seem to understand this as God taking James and at redemption James become John. James
is a new creation, he is John. But don’t we see that this is a fundamentally wrong way of understanding
satisfaction in becoming new. God will satisfy us, deeply, as we are re-worked by his Holy Spirit.
To continue the illustration, God takes James with all of his pains, mis-created parts, and filthy human
characteristics and he begins to shape and re-shape all of that into a new creation. See God does not create man and woman ex nihilo in this life, he only did this once. The way that God creates now is through coming into covenant with us.

Abraham was not a man of faith because he believed God only, but because God covenanted with him.
There are hundreds of thousands of people who have believed in God and have done great acts of faith.
But only one man in human history has made a covenant with God in the way Abraham did. That covenant
that he entered into with God, made abraham a new creation, because Abraham took a whole life paradigm shift.
Post-covenant Abe had a new view of the world, of life, death, love, hatred, justice, grace, family, etc.
Abraham did not just believe he was revolutionized. He became a man of faith. He began to see the world through
the covenant (which was the grace imparted to him), because it was the promise to him that brought to him the grace
and relationship with God. In this covenant, Abraham’s values are shifted, because it is God who invests in Abraham.

God says to Abe, “I know that you have lied and have dominated females around you for your purposes, I know that you are a fallen creation but I am going to invest in you, I am going to get emotionally involved with you and risk all that I have to love you and hope that you will respond to me. If you respond to me you will see the world in ways you could never imagine.”

Yes. God satisfies us when we realize that having faith means having our paradigms of reality revolutionized, once we step into covenant with God. We are satisfied in our deepest longings because I no longer live for self, but for Adonai. What this means is that I die to my own rights, I take the calls from God. I live to do what God has me do (this is upholding my side of the covenant). I no longer seek safety for myself, I look to the Lord to be my shelter. I no longer look for wealth, because I know that God answers the cry, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I no longer need to fight for myself, because I know that there is no cause worth fighting over because “this day is passing away,” I in covenant with God uphold the value of love over my own love of self and rights. I no longer feel the need to hate and take revenge because I know that my God who feels the pains and anger that I feel, will take revenge on his own time and in his own way. I am not worried about reasoning out why I can have rights to any of these areas that my “Americanism” tells me I ought to fight for, because I am covenanted with God. God has invested in me, he fights for me, struggles with me and is emotionally involved with me, therefore I know that he will help to re-create me as I live or die in this world – I know that he is faithful in death and in life. We have been taught that we are to be “spiritual,” but how this has been translated is that we are allowed to believe what we want as long as we assimilate to the accepted American christian norm.

This assimilation, is what keeps us from tasting the deep satisfaction that comes from God. We must reject the ideologies of American Christianity (which is based on enlightenment principles and a Constantinian church/state based ethic) and enter into covenant with God and allow him to change the way we see all of reality, the way we live, the way we love and the way we interact with all humanity. Something I haven’t stated, is that this covenant with Abraham was not for abraham alone, it is not an individualistic salvific message. Rather Abraham is the father, of an entire nation, an entire community was called to enter into this covenant – they became a covenant community.

We cannot imagine living in this covenant lifestyle in our individualism, because this view of redemption depends upon the life of those around us in order to maintain, because this is a call to live in an alternative lifestyle. One cannot live an alternative lifestyle alone, nor would one wish too. Rather we are called to become an alternative covenant community. A community that is the expression of the covenant we have with God, we are the expression of what it means to “have the mind of Christ.” I know that many of us would feel uncomfortable putting our actions and beliefs into the category of being “in the mind of Christ.” Instead of trying to explain that uncomfortability away why don’t we allow God to change us?

So when I find myself longing, I must revisit the covenant I have made with God, and stand to be re-shaped because I need it, I live in a culture and society that is fast, and powerful, deceptive and secretive. It seeks to form me into its own nationalistic, consumeristic form of humanity. I return to the creator and have me put back together. Longing is a sign that something is out of place, it is not a bad thing, just a signal, a back pain.

dates

I worked on my IDL today, Fuller’s “Individualized Distance Learning” basically school on tapes. I am going to try to get through the whole course by the time the fall quarter starts.
Here are the classes I am going to take this fall:

1. Contemporary Cultural and Missiological Perspectives.
2. Pentateuch
3. Urban Youth Ministry

I just learned that school starts on September 27 so now I realized that I have a week less to finish my IDL than I planned for earlier today. Shoot.

I also worked on my Script, “Who is Alan Warrington.” I think it is going well, i am just happy to have some time to work on it. it is interesting starting such a process, not really knowing the proper techniques and not being very seasoned in film, i realize that I am going to have to change a whole lot of it. But the biggest part is just getting the first draft done.

Oh and we are finally official, we got our License plate today.

God is not a Republican or a Democrat.

God is not a Republican…or a Democrat.

this is funny and also more true than we may want to admit.

at any rate my side of the story certainly isn’t hidden: I think we ought to be thinking hard about these issues and try and remove ourselves from previous ideologies, and even family and religious ties to political parties, and stop voting for people who they are Christians just because they say they are Christian (this is an advertising technique for politicians if you haven’t noticed) and vote for the person (man or woman, black, white, asian, hispanic, indian) who is least likely to blow up nations and try to make america the number one superpower in the world – or the number one Christian superpower in the world (which i think is worst – Constantinople anyone?). maybe we should try to be peacemakers and partners on earth, friends who care deeply about the problems that nations face and do real things to change their situations, as opposed to helping or hurting those who offer us something or pose threats to our numero uno status. All superpowers fall, that is a biblical fact and pretty obvious if you have read the OT. Let’s stop trying to be a superpower and start being peacemakers.

Help encourage a move from the falacy that all Christians must vote republican.
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