Friday, April 30, 2010

Let's call it...Faithful Friday

This is a re-post from October 2008. I don't normally post today, but I'm feeling lead to put it up again. Have a terrific weekend!

Over the 18 months of managing the website (sorry, no longer up), I received a number of interesting emails from both atheist and agnostics. For me, it's easier to relate and respond to the agnostics, because I've been where they are spiritually at a point in my own life. The arrogance of atheists, however, really bothers me (I know, that's not very Christ like…I'm working on it). I had a conversation of the atheist variety this past weekend.

Atheists always want to bring up Pascal's Wager in discussions. Of course, the lack of scientific evidence is also a popular point for atheists, but responding to the point that there is no proof God exists is too easy…"Prove He doesn't exist." I think Thomas Aquinas covered this best almost 800 years ago in Summa Theologica.

So what is Pascal's Wager? Here's a quick refresher for you:

Blaise Pascal was a famous French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher in the mid-1660's. People my age probably remember the computer programming language named after him in the late 70's and early 80's (and the only subject in college I made a D, thanks Blaise). Needless to say, he was a pretty smart fellow. His philosophy, however, took on a very rigid, structured matrix that didn't allow for more pliable principles and concepts.

In his Wager, Pascal attempts to provide an analytical process for a person to evaluate options in regarding belief in God. This is often misinterpreted as simply believing in God or not. As Pascal sets it out, the options are two: live as if God exists, or live as if God does not exist. There is no third possibility.

Therefore, we are faced with the following possibilities:

You live as though God exists (in obedience to His Word).
*If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite (best case).
*If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

You live as though God does not exist.
*If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite (ouch, not good).
*If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing (no time to gloat either).

With these possibilities, and the principles of statistics, Pascal attempted to demonstrate that the only prudent course of action is to live as if God exists. Now that's a nutshell version of the Pascal's Wager, but if you want more detailed information, click on the link above. For those mathematically challenged, like me, best leave it here...just trust me.

Atheist, for some reason, rally around the Wager as the only possible explanation a rational person could believe in a 'fantasy' like God. When backed into a corner during a heated debate on God, it will come flying from an atheist out of no where…"You're just hedging Pascal's Wager on heaven and hell!" Then you'll get a 'top-that' look in their mind that surely closes the deal…well, not quite.

You see, my belief in God has little, if anything, to do with the fear of going to hell. Besides, you can't base your commitment to God on just logic. He wants your love willingly and true. God knows your heart, so you can't bluff or hedge your way into heaven.

I love God because He is gracious enough, merciful enough to love me…yes me. That still blows my mind! The Creator of all that is, all that was, and all that ever will be cares about the most insignificant creation He made…me. Wow!

And how do I know? Because I talk to Him every day. I feel His presence in my life every day. I have His word that has stood the test of thousands of years to read from daily. I don't need the logic of Mr. Pascal and his mathematical equation to tell me to put my faith in God. Jesus took care of that long before Blaise…Hey, maybe we need a programming language based on His teachings.

It would at least be crash-proof.

May God bless you today in your walk with Him.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dick Clark should be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice...

Since I've been on the 'Know Your Civics' soapbox of late, here's an interesting tidbit about our Supreme Court and the soon to be replaced Justice John Paul Stevens:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

At some point...all this talk needs to go somewhere.

A good friend (Finding Michelle) turned me onto the below Born Again American video this week. I've watched it a dozen times at speaks to me in a big way. So, I checked out the Born Again American website and movement. Turns out this is exactly the soapbox I've been on the past few weeks!

I hope you will not only watch the video, which features real people the recent economic downturn has touched, but you will also check out the Born Again American website. All you have to do then is get involved.

This is our country, built by our ancestors. How could we every forget that and grow apathetic...

Born Again American from Born Again American on Vimeo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

President Obama cancels National Day of Prayer...I don't think so.

I'm not a fan of President Obama. I'm not a fan because I disagree with most of his political views...but not all. Having said that, I believe he is sincere in his view on how to make our country better. Wrong...but sincere.

That doesn't make me personally dislike him, or worse, want to see him destroyed. Democracy only works when the minority respect the opinions of the majority. Now I didn't say agree...I said respect. But for some reason (ahem, say talk radio and other demagogues), we've become a polarized society of the we vs. them. A stance that totally negates the possible positions of how about them or maybe those. We've allowed the spectrum to be limited to two sides on most all political's become the Hatfield v McCoy, the Montague v Capulet, or Marcia Brady v Jan Brady. With that comes a great deal of resentment, even anger and rage.

The same happened with George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush. President Reagan enjoyed a fairly healthy period of detente with the American other side while he crushed the Evil Empire of the Soviets. An age old tactic of if your enemy is my enemy then we must be friends played to perfection. I sure miss Ronnie.

Back to the matter at hand.

If you're not a fan of President Obama, his politics, the fact he's from Chicago, the fact he may not be from Hawaii, his wife's inaugural dress, or his disproportionate ear size...just please stop circulate the story he is cancelling the National Day of Prayer. It's just not true!

When you succumb to spreading these vicious lies based on your personal feelings and not objective political/moral reasons, you completely undermine the people who disagree with the President's politics and policies. I, for one, hate having the wind taken out of my sails, and my points of contention are with our President's spend and tax policies, not made up stories about his religious beliefs or birthplace. Stick to the facts please. know better! Bending the truth or just flat out lying is not the example our Savior set for us. When we participate in spreading false stories to damage some one's credibility or reputation for personal gain or just being mean spirited...we aren't being a light for Christ.

A federal judge ruled last week the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. President Obama has declared he will honor it anyway. That's one for him in my book...although he's got a long way to go politically to break even.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wonder if Hallmark has a card for that?'s Tax Day. The annual apex of revenue information collecting that exemplifies all that is wrong with government today. Aren't we so lucky it falls right in the middle of the 2010 Census too!

Our government at work...busy little bureaucratic bees buzzing around being...well...busy. Busy, busy, busy. The hive got a lot bigger over the reign of Queen Bee George W, and Queen Bee Barack's time looks to be one of the biggest hive expansions yet. More and more bees...buzzing around being busy. So many new bees, it will be hard to find things for every bee to do in order to stay busy.

Expansion is good! The busy bees will be able to do so much more for everyone. Making the economy, health care, education, and our infrastructure all much keeping everyone safe from the Taliban bees and other nasty hives...that takes a lot of bees. And bees need money....I mean ...honey. They're going to need a lot of honey! Not everyone will have to give up more honey this year, regardless of what the Republican bees are buzzing about...but next year...oh momma! The hive will need a lot of honey. A whole lot of honey!

But look at all the great things the hive gives back with all that honey! Banks and car manufacturers are safe and sound. The stock market is soaring again and now the federal hive won't just guarantee your student loans...they'll be the ones giving you the money...honey! That's some pretty smart thinking I tell you. Cut out the middle man and make it cheap for poor kids trying to go to college. Hey! Maybe the hive should just run the colleges and universities too. Now that's a brilliant idea! Cars, health care, banks, defense...why not education?

This is looking up to be a swell season. Oops. Probably shouldn't use a descriptive word that's also associated with allergies and all the negative stuff about pollen and honey making. No...change swell to neat...that works much better. Neat season...neat hive...neat busy little bees. Honey...honey...honey.

Times are good in the hive. As long as we never have another bad winter...ahhhh...let's not think about that! We have plenty of honey to go around forever and ever. Just like a great big bee hive making more and more honey, big government is such a great service to everyone too. So organized and efficient. How would we ever survive without it?! So you might get stung a few problem!

That is unless you're allergic of course...then you've got really big problems! But we won't talk about that negative stuff. We'll worry about that a maybe a lot...later. There will be new bees in the hive by then anyway.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Revisionist only succeed if the majority remain silent...

After receiving a couple of emails and comments from folks in person, I believe I left a point unclear in my Knowledge is Important series (previous three post). My point of contention wasn't that Christianity didn't play a big part in the founding of our Nation...facts are just the opposite. Christians and Christian principles were a dominant underlying force in the shaping and developing of a governing framework. Revisionist would be hard pressed to rewrite that fact out of our history.

The problem is trying to fit those prominent square pegs into round holes. Some of the more famous characters in our illustrious history were not Christian men, and we do a great disservice not only to our history but to our claim that this Nation was founded on principles of Christ if we argue from the position that they were. I have great respect for Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams, but they were not Christian men (although all three believed in a Supreme Being).

Most scholars agree on a list of 204 unique individuals that make up the group we refer to as our 'Founding Fathers'. These are men who did one or more of the following:
  • Signed the Declaration of Independence
  • Signed the Articles of Confederation
  • Attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787
  • Signed the Constitution of the United States of America
  • Served as Senators or U.S. Representatives in the First Federal Congress
The breakdown of the religious affiliation for the 204 Founding Fathers falling within the above criteria is:
  • 88 Episcopalian/Anglican
  • 30 Presbyterian
  • 27 Congregationalist
  • 7 Quaker
  • 6 Dutch Reformed/German Reformed
  • 5 Lutheran
  • 3 Catholic
  • 3 Huguenot
  • 3 Unitarian
  • 2 Methodist
  • 1 Calvinist
  • 29 unknown (does not necessarily mean no religious affiliation)
Jefferson and Franklin fall under Episcopalian...but as Deist. John Adams and Robert Paine are two of the three Unitarians. What this list doesn't account for, however, is the fact numerous members of this list changed affiliation during the course of their lifetimes. But, it is still plainly apparent that the vast majority of our Founding Fathers were influenced by the Christian faith.

One side note (for my historically-challenged faithful): The early Episcopal Church was formed during the American Revolution after the church was forced to break ties with the Church of England because clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch and faced the penalty of treason.

Of course...breaking from England was the point of the entire American Revolution...but we all know church people have their own way of doing things.

"For my own part, I sincerely esteem [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests."
Alexander Hamilton -1787 after the Constitutional Convention

I would love to hear more of your thoughts. Do you feel there is a concerted effort to rewrite our Nation's history and downplay the role of the Christian faith in the forming of our Nation and subsequent Constitution?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I don't care what you think...just please do it for yourself.

So, where am I going with my rants on our responsibility to know our national history and also know our Constitution? Quite simply...I just want people to think for themselves!

We don't for a single second have to all agree on any particular issue to be good Americans. What we do need is for everyone to be able to develop and express an opinion based on the most accurate information available. As I stated at the end of the first post in this series... an intelligent, rational debate requires the element of intelligence.

Please don't misinterpret that statement. I'm not saying that only highly intelligent people are capable of rational debate. Actually, I feel that each and every citizen has a civic obligation to participate in matters of government...whether that means being loquaciously verbal or just by casting a vote alone in a booth on election day. However you chose to participate in our democratic process, please do so from a position that is informed.

Knowledge. That's what motivated me to write this series because without a basic understanding of our shared history and without a working knowledge of the Constitution that is the foundation of what makes the United States so unique, we are left to rely on the untrustworthy sources of a profit driven media, self-promoting pundits/talking heads, or worst yet...politicians themselves...for information.

I'm not real comfortable with that prospect...are you?

Let me provide two recent examples. I was watching a clip of interviews with people right after Glenn Beck's American Revival in Orlando. It does my heart good to see people passionate about our federal government on either side of the argument, and everyone seemed charged as they left the rally (I personally know someone who was there and said it was very challenging and uplifting). The person conducting the interviews stopped one particular, enthusiastic lady and ask if she had come away better informed. Her response without hesitation was she better understood about our Founding Fathers, God's role in the development of our country, and how we were going down the wrong path with Obama, bailouts, and health care reform. I'm shaking my head in agreement and anxious to see what she says next...

The reporter ask the women if she opposed the recently past Health Care Reform bill, and again she immediately responded with emphasis, 'I absolutely do!' When ask why, 'Because it's socialized medicine, and I don't believe in socialism!' Then came the question if she was happy with her current health insurance and feared it might be changed, 'Well I'm on Medicare, and I'm sure my benefits will change because of Obamacare.'

So much for the infusion of entertainment and enlightenment on her part...

Next we have U.S. Congressman Phil Hare from Illinois who was busted cold stating when it came to Americans receiving health care, he doesn't care about the Constitution. After being pressed by several media in attendance on the statement, he then quotes the Declaration of Independence thinking he's quoting the U.S. Constitution (see YouTube clip here).

Did I mention this was a United States Congressman?

His YouTube rebuttal is weak and pathetic as he tries to explain he was quoted out of context. Apparently he's ignoring the fact the words are coming directly from his own mouth and not paraphrased by a jaded journalist. He also references his military service and commitment to 'this constitution' several times. You just can't make stuff like this up...that's what's scary.

My point truly isn't to degrade Glenn Beck, his fans, or even Congressman Hare. I just want people to realize how foolish it is to let someone else do your thinking for you. Politicians and media types, especially talk show types, are demagogues that thrive most in hostile environments. That's how they make money...and lots of it. You will never, and I mean never, get objectively presented facts from either source. Right, left, red, blue, up or down doesn't matter...each side needs the dichotomy in order to thrive.

Do your homework. Brush up a little on our Nation's history. Know at a minimum the framework of our Constitution. Get involved in the democratic process, but do so armed with knowledge. Our federal government is completely out of control, and we have nobody to blame but us...and our own apathy and ignorance.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Remember why we never 'assume'...for both our sakes.

Often during a discussion concerning the safeguards of keeping church and state separate or a rant over the intrusiveness of the ACLU, I throw out the question in which article or amendment is the separation of church and state mentioned by our Constitution. Most people, especially younger ones, struggle to recall exactly where the constitutional right is located...

They struggle because it's not there.

If you're surprised by that statement and are now frantically web searching to prove me wrong...sorry. My intent isn't to make anyone feel foolish. Not by a long shot. The principle of separation of church and state is a classic example of two problems that I see have developed in our country.

First, we just don't know our own Constitution. What most people know about the very principles that are the foundation of our Nation they learned in a civics class in middle school. I refer back to my last post about our nation's history, and again I'm amazed at the level of apathy when it comes to people actually knowing the Constitution. If you were to limit yourself to knowing one critical item about the United States...shouldn't it go a little further than rote memorization of the Preamble?

Second, we again take what other pundits or talking heads say about the Constitution as fact without any effort on our part to check those facts. It is far too easy to pull up an actual copy of the U.S. Constitution online for more people not to be doing it. Let's go back to my example of separation of church and state. The Founding Fathers only saw a need to establish in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The phrase separation of church and state is derived from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Dansbury Baptist in 1802 and was made public. In the letter, Jefferson contends:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

The concept has been expanded to what we have today through interpretation of the Constitution by our court include the Supreme Court. That's why our children no longer pray in public schools. Don't blame it on our Founding Fathers...well, not all of them.

Just a quick sidebar. Thomas Jefferson was not a man of Christian faith as many people presume. Please check that fact out for yourself. The Jefferson Bible was his attempt to take all the teaching of Jesus he liked while eliminating the 'supernatural events' surrounding Christ (i.e. healing, miracles, Son of God, and oh yeah...the Resurrection).

This is just one example of how the principles of our Constitution (and National history) are being distorted and misrepresented, but only because We the People allow it to be. My post today is a plea that you not be complacent or apathetic about your Constitutional knowledge. I think it is crucial in today's political climate that we each know the scope of the Constitution and Amendments as they were written, ratified and adopted.

It's not nearly as complex as our ridiculous tax code...but a little more in depth than the Schoolhouse Rock lessons.

To be continued...(no, I'm not done yet)