Monday, November 1, 2010

Civil Obedience, Part 2

Back in March, I posted an opinion about civil obedience and the Christian. It was an opinion that runs somewhat contrary to what is currently the accepted view - particularly with respect to Romans 13:1-7.

About three weeks ago I ran across a sermon given by Jonathan Mayhew in 1750 - a full quarter-century before the American Revolution. Mayhew was a clergyman who served at Boston’s Old West Church for 29 years before he died. In this sermon, he says things that sound very familiar to what I said. I took a bit more of a general stand regarding authority where he takes a somewhat specific stand against a particular ruler, but the argument he uses is almost exactly the same (perhaps better worded). I won’t reprint the whole sermon, but what follows below is a relevant portion:


Render therefore to all their dues; tribute, to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honor, to whom honor. Here the apostle sums up what he had been saying concerning the duty of subjects to rulers. And his argument stands thus - “Since magistrates who execute their office well, are common benefactors to society; and may, in that respect, be properly stiled (sic) the ministers and ordinance of God; and since they are constantly employed in the service of the public; it becomes you to pay them tribute and custom; and to reverence, honor, and submit to, them in the execution of their respective offices.” This is apparently good reasoning. But does this argument conclude for the duty of paying tribute, custom, reverence, honor and obedience, to such persons as (although they bear the title of rulers) use all their powers to hurt and injure the public: such as are not God’s ministers, but Satan’s? such as do not take care of, and attend upon, the public interest, but their own, to the ruin of the public? that is, in short, to such as have no natural and just claim at all to tribute, custom, reverence, honor, and obedience?

It is to be hoped that those who have any regard to the apostle’s character as an inspired writer, or even as a man of common understanding, will not represent him as reasoning in such a loose incoherent manner; and drawing conclusions which have not the least relation to his premises.

For what can be more absurd than an argument thus framed? “Rulers are, by their office, bound to consult the public welfare and the good of society: therefore you are bound to pay them tribute, to honor, and to submit to them, even when they destroy the public welfare, and are a common pest to society, by acting in direct contradiction to the nature and end of their office.”

Thus, upon a careful review of the apostle’s reasoning in this passage, it appears that his arguments to enforce submission, are of such a nature, as to conclude only in favour of submission to such rulers as he himself describes; i.e. such as rule for the good of society, which is the only end of their institution. Common tyrants, and public oppressors, are not intitled (sic) to obedience from their subjects, by virtue of any thing here laid down by the inspired apostle.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dinosaurs Always Give Me Trouble

It seems like a recurring issue of faith/logic/science in my life has been the trouble that dinosaurs create within my belief system and how I respond to people who question me about it.

It’s simply not logical to deny their existence. They definitely existed - the evidence is overwhelming.

The first obstacle I encounter is WHEN did they exist. The fact is that there is absolutely and unequivocally FAR more evidence for a young Earth than there is for the more commonly held belief in an old Earth.

See what I mean - I’ve already lost the majority of my readers. People have been so conditioned to believe that the Earth is millions (or billions) of years old, that they look with suspicion and derision upon anybody that says otherwise. The problem is the evidence for it is not there - or perhaps I should say that the evidence for it has been manipulated to fit prevalent theories. The arguments used are usually circular, or they use pseudo-science (all theories, by the way) to come up with explanations and tie together facts that should not be tied together.

Anyway, moving on. It’s pretty obvious that I believe in the biblical account of creation over the spurious theory of evolution, although, I admit that for quite a while I had trouble taking the account of the Garden of Eden literally. I thought that it was basically a story - accurate regarding how God created, but one example among many such gardens spread throughout the Earth. So the question remains - if I accept that dinosaurs lived, when did they live, because the Bible makes no specific mention of them.

The Bible DOES mention a couple the occasional creatures that MIGHT be a dinosaur or dragon, but not many. But, then again, neither does it mention very many other animals specifically.

What if the Bible story of the Garden of Eden is literally correct? Then dinosaurs could have co-existed time-wise with man, but not geographically. Man would be in the middle east while dinosaurs were everywhere else. That would explain everything. That’s why dinosaur remains are found everywhere EXCEPT, to the best of my knowledge, the middle east. There are remains found in North America, Africa, Asia, South America - but not the middle east.

Oh, there is one possible exception to the above. Although the theory (there’s that word again) has been pretty much dismissed and, as usual the scientists are revamping their theories, they once said that oil is the result of millions of years of dinosaur decomposition.

So, I’m back to where I started: dinosaurs are again giving me trouble. In places like Montana the remains are at or near the surface. You can hardly roam around without tripping over a bone, it seems. But in the middle east, dinosaur remains are thousands of feet (or more) below the surface and became oil. I don’t get it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Technology of Big Brother

People who know me, know that I love the show King of the Hill. It’s a great show on a number of levels, but I especially love the main character, Hank Hill. I can relate to his simple, moderately conservative American-ness. Naturally he has his own foibles, but that just makes him more real and more lovable.

I relate to Hank so much that, for a while, I had his picture as my avatar on my social networking web page - thinking my friends would get a kick out of it.

But there’s another, arguably less lovable side to my personality - and this aspect would be better represented by Dale Gribble, Hank’s friend on the show.You see, Dale is best known as being a conspiracy theorist of the highest order and, while I’m not quite as extreme, my own outlook with regards to the government is very similar.

The other day I went to the web site for my state because I wanted to know what information was optional on a driver’s license. I don’t want any more private information than is absolutely necessary on my license - I mean, come on, they have bar codes on licenses and scanners in patrol cars now! Remember the movie Alien Nation? In that movie, the license plates on the cars were bar codes and there was a scanner on the front end of the cruisers. Instant info without getting out of the squad car (or even while traveling at speed). How far into the future is this, I wonder?

The problem with technology is that it can be corrupted and used for purposes other than intended. For example, the E-Z Pass system of paying tolls electronically on turnpikes can (and I think has) be used to issue speeding tickets - by recording the time from one toll to another and computing how fast someone was driving. There isn’t even someone who pulls you over - you just receive a ticket in the mail. How wrong is that?! That would really stink if someone was borrowing your car and YOU got the ticket! On top of this, there’s a camera peering into your car as you go through. Of the thousands or tens of thousands of drivers that go through that toll every day, only a few will do anything wrong (and really, how wrong? Beating the state out of a buck?), but they’re taking everybody’s mug shot as they go through, just in case. This is an invasion of privacy for the sake of the government having more control over your life.

The On-Star product that’s available on some cars can be used to locate your car (and presumably you) no matter where you are. A new feature of this is that the police can now shut down your car - cut all power to it - using On-Star. It’s touted as being able to stop a car thief, but when our culture becomes a police state - which is exactly the direction we’re headed - won’t that be a handy-dandy tool for the oppressors?

Do you have a newer generation cell phone that has GPS capabilities? Probably a bad plan if you value privacy and individual liberty. Just food for thought.

I’ve been saying for years that if they can hard-wire a broadcast into your home (cable TV), then they can also use that same cable to broadcast from your home. All they need is a camera and microphone surreptitiously hidden within the TV. Do you know for a fact that these things are not already there? The government could easily mandate manufacturers to install them and further mandate not telling anyone. Why would they want to do that, you ask? I don’t care why. I don’t want them to be able to do it.

Right about now some of you are thinking that I’m a paranoid delusional. The government wouldn’t do that - not in this country. We’re a nation of freedom. Really? The FBI can (and has), on their own, write out a search warrant and invade your privacy without court knowledge. And if you tell anyone - ANYONE, even your lawyer - they will arrest you. This has already happened! In case you didn’t know, a search warrant is supposed to be a court-issued document. The police or FBI is not supposed to be able to do this. But they have done it, nonetheless. And neither political party is better or worse than the other. This problem is a result of the Patriot Act - which came during an administration who’s party prides itself on less government.

Oh, and by the way, the cable TV scenario has already been played out in a more creative way using newer technology. You’ve probably heard about the public school (one of the more liberal wings of our government) that issued lap top computers to students and then using the integral web cam on the lap top to spy on the students’ homes. So be careful before judging me as unreasonably paranoid.

Just today there was an article about how the current administration might very soon have the power to shut down portions of the internet that it deems as potentially harmful (using ONLY the discretion of the President). The government wants to control EVERY aspect of our lives!

When these new policies are put into place, they are usually presented as being for the general safety (and my personal favorite, national security), or for being easier for law enforcement to catch criminals, or simply as a matter of convenience.

In the case of convenience - like E-Z Pass, or On-Star, or cell phones - we have ourselves to blame, except to the extent to which the technology is being misused (data mining, etc., or used in ways otherwise contrary or beyond the stated reason for it).
If you want GPS capabilities, for example, you’d be better served owning a GPS unit than having it tied in to another device.

Regarding making it easier for law enforcement, I say that, in an allegedly free society, the exercise of power by the police is SUPPOSED TO BE difficult and challenging - that precisely what keeps the society free. Just look at the examples of places and times when it was EASY for law enforcement to do what they wanted. I don’t have to point them out - everybody knows what I’m talking about.

When it’s presented as a case for safety is when it’s at its most insidious, because they use scare tactics in order to get you to “buy in” to their power grab scheme. It brings instantly to mind the quote from Ben Franklin in 1775 - “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

And this brings me back to the state web site and driver’s licenses. This is what it says - cut and pasted directly from the state web site:

Bureau of Driver Licensing
Image Waiver

NH law allows you to request the DMV to remove your digitized photo image from its system. Your image is your own personal information and the DMV understands that citizens want to manage and safeguard their personal information. To that end, we will honor your wishes for an image waiver, consistent with NH law. In helping you make that decision, this page is dedicated to explaining the results of the removal of your image from the DMV’s computer system and raising your awareness of a new variety of theft referred to as "Identity Theft". Identity theft is the taking of a victim’s identity in order to obtain credit, services, or enter into transactions under the victim’s name.
An impostor can steal your identity by obtaining personal information about you, such as your social security number, date of birth, address or telephone number. With this information, and a false driver license with his/her own picture, the impostor can apply in person for credit, services, a job, or any other transaction, posing as you. If you have removed your digitized image from the DMV’s system, your image can never be recovered. If an impostor has your personal information and applies for a driver license in your name, without your digitized image to visually prove identity, a driver license may be issued to the impostor with your personal information! In order to reduce such a risk, if your image has been deleted and you have a lost or stolen driver license, the DMV will require two (2) forms of identification to receive a duplicate driver license. Additionally, if you are out of state, you will be unable to receive a duplicate driver license through the mail.

There’s so much flawed logic there, that I hardly know where to begin. Okay, so a person can steal my identity and get a driver’s license in my name with his picture? Firstly, HOW? Isn’t there something in place to prevent this? Secondly, how do we know someone hasn’t already done this? Thirdly, If I already have a driver’s license issued to me, how would the “perp” effect this bit of magic? Fourthly, if I show up and can prove who I am - and I CAN - just reverse the process, find the culprit and bring him to justice. Fifthly, if I choose to have my digitized image removed, it can never be recovered? Really - you want me to buy that? You can capture someone’s computer that they’ve deleted everything from and you can still get evidence from it, but you can’t do that with your own system? Do I still have the smell of pumpkin on me from falling off the truck? And sixthly, am I right in inferring from that, that if I choose to keep the digitized image on the system that it can never be deleted? Seventhly, if someone has been issued a license in my name, with his picture, and his digitized image, haven’t I already lost? I mean, he’s got the digitized image on his side and there’s nothing you can do, right? IF ANYTHING, it makes the process of undoing even more difficult. It’s a self-defeating argument.

The REAL basis for them wanting your digitized image is so that they can input it into every facial recognition software application they can get their hands on and you become even more at the mercy of the state - every state on the planet. Do you travel by air? Guess what’s at a lot of major airports. Cameras tied into facial recognition software. As soon as you pass by, they know everything there is to know about you. Not only that, but in many places in Europe, you can’t walk down the street without being photographed a dozen times from government cameras on the street. And we’re not far behind Europe. That’s the direction our government wants us to go. All in the name of national security. Are YOU feeling more secure?

Friday, March 26, 2010

On the other hand...

I’ve talked about a belief I have regarding Christians abstaining from voting, or otherwise contributing to the “system” of the world.

Disregarding to some degree the religious aspect of it, my basic premise, from a practical standpoint, is that you don’t change a system from within. The saying, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” comes to mind. How can you change the system if you’re part of the system? The system must be changed from without.

Easing a little religion back in, that’s what I was advocating as the proper response from Christians - to try to positively influence the system from without - as representatives of Christ to the world at large.

I recently conceded to a friend that this point of view is, in fact, a conflict within myself. Most obviously, if Christians refuse to take part in the voting process, then only non-Christians will be in office running the world - presumably with non-Christian ideals and agendas.

This morning I was listening to Dr. Tony Evans. He was giving a sermon on service, and he got me thinking. God calls us to service. Just put that on hold for a minute while I make a brief detour. Hopefully it’ll all tie in at the end.

A number of years ago, before I was a Christian, I was looking to join a fraternal organization. I felt that I’d been very fortunate and wanted to find a way to give back. Most of these organizations work with charities and/or their local community.

After some investigation, I found that one of them had some amount of controversy associated with them; another was basically a businessman’s networking club; another could perhaps be considered a Catholic mission - which is fine, but I’m not Catholic. I finally found one that seemed a good fit (and it was), so I joined.

Anyway, the point is, my reason for joining was my desire to serve - and it was a wonderful experience. With that in mind, I still have a desire to serve. I still feel very fortunate (although, these days, I think of it as blessed), and I still want to give back.

It’s not a huge leap to say that part of the blessing in my life is the fact that I was born American. The system I moan about has given me many opportunities, and whether I like it or not, if I feel obligated to give back, it’s the American system to which I should be giving.

I do, in fact, believe that this is one of the more critical eras for the American voter to make himself heard. As this is the most obvious way for the average citizen to be of service, I really need to rethink my position on that.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I wrote this recently and showed it to my pastor for feedback. I'll keep you posted on the generalities of our dialogue.

Civil Obedience and the Christian’s Responsibility

This is an examination into the degree to which a Christian is responsible to be obedient to civil authority.

I preface by admitting that I have issues with authority, and so in the interest of truth, I need to be very careful about how fervently I adhere to my opinion. Keeping in mind Jesus’ instructive parable: “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” (Mt. 13:19), I welcome and encourage well thought-out contrary opinions.

In my experience, it’s the opinion of most Christians that it is their duty to be absolutely obedient UNLESS such obedience goes against obedience to God. There certainly are passages in the Bible that seem to back up that viewpoint, but taken all together, I can not arrive at the same conclusion and, in fact, completely disagree.

The primary argument is Ro. 13:1-10. There are a couple of things that come up immediately - one with the passage itself, and the other with the premise put forth above.

First the premise. Be obedient unless it goes against God. Well, what that’s really saying is: unless it goes against the individual’s understanding of God’s will, since the individual is not actually God. That’s pretty convenient for the professing Christian. As the human mind is capable of justifying just about anything, we can say, “I won’t do that because it goes against God.”, while simultaneously telling someone else that he must submit to authority. I don’t like that kind of selective convenience.

Next we have the passage (as it’s tied in to the premise). In the passage, it identifies those in authority as God’s ministers. Why would God’s ministers go against God’s law? It’s a self-defeating argument - but more on this later.

The author, Paul, was himself on the run from authorities who were trying to arrest him. To escape from Damascus, he snuck out a window and was lowered to the ground in a basket. This is certainly not submitting to authority. Yes, he was doing God’s work, I know. I suspect that Paul was much more skilled, and perhaps even more objective, in discerning God’s will than I or the average modern Christian.

The passage also says: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.” Does that mean that Paul’s actions were not good works? Was Paul evil? Because these rulers were certainly a terror to Paul.

What about “...the powers that be are ordained of God.”? Most Christians, as far as I can tell, read this to mean that they should submit to “the powers that be”. When I read it in context, I walk away with the exact opposite meaning.

It says: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”.

To me, that says to be subject to God (the higher powers), NOT civil authorities. It goes on to reinforce this by saying to do this BECAUSE the only reason civil authorities have any power in the first place is that God ordained it so. Therefore our subjection is not to civil authorities - which would be a lower power, but to the higher powers. God!

Also, I have to point out that some translations read “...appointed by God.”, but “appointed”, the way we understand the word’s meaning today, is not the meaning of the word “ordained” (in the KJV). Instead, “ordained” means arranged, or placed in a certain order or position.

I know that, at first glance, “placed in a certain position” and “appointed” sound pretty much the same - but there’s a minor distinction. Suppose I own a company that has ten employees and I have to choose a manager. I can appoint someone - which means anyone of my choosing, even if I hire someone from outside to fill the position - or I can choose to arrange or place in order from my existing employee pool. That’s the connotation of the word “ordained”. It’s another way of saying that God uses all things for good.

Consider, for example, Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar. These men weren’t good. They didn’t care about God. But God used them for His own purposes. These men TOOK power by force of human free will and God ordained things that were already there (and evil) to be used for good.

It’s the same today. People TAKE power and God (sometimes - and according to His perfect purpose) ordains these already-existing powers into new, ordered circumstances. That does not mean, strictly speaking, that God placed these people in power. He just used their power for His own ultimate purpose.

Throughout the Bible there are examples of evil leaders who performed unbelievable acts of cruelty that God eventually used for His ultimate purpose. But there are plenty of evil leaders that are seemingly disregarded by God - there’s no evidence that God has used them. Should we obey such an evil authority that, perhaps, God is not using, but disregarding? Who decides when to disobey?

Christians frequently hold that America’s founding fathers were Christian men and that America was, from the beginning, a Christian nation. I find it difficult in the extreme to reconcile these two disparate ideas (Christian founders and disobedience to their ruler).

The case of America’s founding fathers is one of the most famous in all of history of disobedience to authority. And it had very little to do with God or spirituality. Yes, they wanted to worship as they saw fit, but this was hugely overshadowed by other, more material, more financial, more...human motives. These men decided to disobey.

It’s my contention that human government is Satan’s government. It stemmed from a rejection of and disobedience to God, and grew from there.

Deuteronomy tells us in chapter 14 that Israel was meant to be “ holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth”. But Israel rejected God - God himself said as much in 1Sam. 8:7. They didn’t want to live under God’s law. They wanted a king to rule over them “ all the other nations”. So God wanted them to be above all the other nations - with Him as their King, but they wanted to be like all the other nations. It’s difficult to imagine a more blatant rejection.

From this point on we see a succession of human rulers - some good, some bad - and never again a permanent return to God.

In 1Jn. chapter 2, John warns us not to love the world or anything in the world because everything that is in the world “ not of the father, but is of the world”. It seems to me that government would be a perfect example of what John was talking about.

Likewise, James, in chapter 4, warns that “...friendship of the world is enmity with God”. This theme arises again and again in the New Testament. Rejecting the world and the things of the world while embracing the idea of human authority as legitimate are completely incompatible at best, and at worst could lead to tragedy for God’s people.

Human rulers are, in fact, frequently used by God - almost always in the role of punisher. Pharaoh, the Assyrian king(s), Nebuchadnezzar, etc. were all used this way - and they themselves were all punished later. God always punishes. If we are a part of the world (or worldly government), or support it, or submit to it, I believe we run the risk of sharing it’s punishment when God inevitably decides it’s time.

Consider the following passages:
In the book of Job, God asked Satan, “Whence comest thou?” Satan responded, “From going to and fro in the earth and from walking up and down in it.” (Jb. 1:7 and again in 2:2).

Peter, in his first epistle, warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Pe. 5:8)

Paul writes: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world.” (Ep. 6:12)

In Ephesians 2:2, Paul calls Satan the Prince of the Power of the Air.

In three different verses, John calls Satan the Prince of this world. (Jn. 12:31/14:30/16:11)

In 2Corinthians, Paul calls Satan the god of this world. (2Co. 4:4)

This all sort of culminates in Luke 4:6, where Satan, in no uncertain terms, claims authority over the world. Now, every time in the Gospels, when Jesus encounters hypocrites and liars, he calls them what they are. Here Satan says, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Jesus does, of course, rebuke him - but He does not call him a liar.

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus “...was in all points tempted,,,”, and the 4th chapter of Luke records Jesus’ temptation directly by Satan himself. Jesus doesn’t call Satan a liar because, in this instance, he wasn’t lying. If he was, Jesus could not have been tempted.

Finally, and again, in the book of James, the author points out that, “...friendship of the world is enmity with God(.) whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” The author then reinforces and elaborates on that for a couple of verses, then says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Read that again. He says do NOT submit to the world (or, by extension, the world’s government), but rather, submit to God. Further, resist the devil - being equated here with the world.

At this point, I would go even further and say that Christians should neither run for office, nor even vote. To do either is participating in Satan’s government.

The 17th chapter of John implies that we are to be in the world, but not of the world (verses 14-16 especially). Kind of like ambassadors. In fact, Paul calls us “ambassadors for Christ” (2Co. 5:20), and states that “...our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven” (Ph. 3:20).

Ambassadors do not take part in the government that they are temporarily placed under.

I believe Jesus’ instruction to: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” is as much saying don’t get involved with the politics of the world as anything else. I’m somewhat more resolved in my viewpoint when I remember that, despite what the Jews were hoping for, Jesus was a spiritual messiah, not a political one. His disciples did not get involved with politics and neither should we.

Friday, January 29, 2010

How did they know to do that?

Well, as some of you know, my wife and I home school my son, who is now 14 and in 8th grade. We've been studying the US Constitution and I've been reading some of what these founding fathers - these absolute geniuses - have written, and asking myself, "How did they know to do that?"

It's astounding to me that they thought through SO many things in SO much detail, and I thought I'd take a few minutes to enumerate just a few of the things I'm talking about.

The first thing that struck me was right at the beginning of the document - Article 1, Section 3. They set up the Senate so that every two years one-third of the Senate would be up for re-election. They did this on purpose so that there would always be experienced people in the Senate. In my opinion, this is evidence that the intent was that it was not meant to be a career, but a service to your country. Having experience meant having been in the Senate for a few years (3, or 4, or 5, etc.), not 30! They INTENDED there to be frequent turn-over in that chamber, but they also didn't want a bunch of rookies all learning the ropes at the same time. THAT'S thinking ahead!

The next thing was, a Senator or Representative can not be arrested if they are going to the House or Senate, nor can they be arrested for what they say on the floor of the House or Senate (Article 1, Section 6). This way, they can speak their mind and conscience without fear. When you think about it, it just makes sense - if you just arrest the person you disagree with, they can't vote. My point here is, who would have thought ahead enough to think that through? Maybe they'd run across similar things in other governments they were familiar with, but still...genius.

Next, we have Article 1, Section 8, (sub-section 12). Congress may create and support (read: finance) an army, BUT it can not appropriate money to that use more than two years in advance. At first glance, this may seem just a budgeting necessity. But actually, the limit of two years helps to prevent the military from taking over.

Now I'll skip ahead to the Bill of Rights. Right away, the First Amendment guarantees five specific rights. The one I'm most interested in for this post is the right of assembly. We take this right for granted, but there was a certain amount of foresight that went into this. Without this right, we would not be able to assemble for any reason unless permitted by the government. That means no churches (except a state-run church), no clubs, or any kind of private organization. It also means no assembling to protest the government. The lack of this right often leads to dictatorships. Again, it seems pretty obvious, but they somehow knew that this right MUST be SPECIFICALLY listed so that there could be no misunderstanding or manipulation of law by those in power.

Amendment 5 addresses the rights of the accused. No citizen can be forced to give evidence against himself. Therefore, there's no advantage in torturing someone to force information from them (in theory, at least). I think this was a remarkable idea and well thought out.

Amendment 5 also allows, unfortunately, for the government to take away a person's property - but at least they stipulated that the person from whom it's taken MUST be JUSTLY compensated. THAT'S a far cry removed from most other places in the world!

The last thing I'll talk about here is Amendments 9 and 10. The Unlisted Rights. The fact that the Constitution does not list a specific right does not mean that the right does not exist. And the states or the people have any rights not forbidden by the constitution. The federal government can not take away these rights. This shows that our founding fathers realized that they were human and could not foresee every eventuality. These men were AMAZING!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Defining moments

I awoke to this thought this morning. I don't even know where it came from - probably the remnants of a dream that I don't remember.

Perhaps the two most defining moments in a child's life are when he realizes he's a part of a family and, later, when he realizes he's apart from his family. And maybe there's a third moment - when he realizes he's both simultaneously. At once, a small but integral part of a larger whole, and an individual - a whole unto himself.

Of course, this dual aspect of personhood extends into the rest of one's life, for the entirety of one's life. You're a part of a community, a culture, the world, and yet always remaining an individual. The trick, I think, is finding the right balance. In many parts of Asia, the community is stressed - sometimes to the exclusion of the individual. In America, we have the opposite problem. Here, we exalt individuality. Individual rights are rigorously defended. Our individual desires become so important to us that we are frequently selfish and apathetic toward others. Either of these extremes are not healthy, in my opinion.

So, we must find balance - and we must teach this to our children. I'm going to try to do that. Join me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Evolution? Really? That’s the best you could come up with?

Last night I was watching one of those shows - I think it’s called Scientific Frontiers - with Alan Alda. All through the show, they were saying stuff about the age of certain things, or how long ago such and such version of man was alive. 600,000 years ago, 1.8 or 1.9 million years ago, etc. All kinds of numbers were being thrown around.

At one point, some so-called scientist said that there’s no evidence that one form of man and the next form (such as Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, but I really didn’t catch which exact versions they mentioned) - had gotten together and reproduced.

Wow! So, I’m supposed to believe that it takes millions of years for evolution to occur, while simultaneously believing that two different, fully formed versions of man existed at the same time. Furthermore, I’m supposed to buy into the idea that while two types of man existed - at the same time, and at the same place - that they never intermingled. And they must have been at the same time and place, or the question of whether they ever got together procreationally would never even have come up.

At another point in the program - and I think “program” is an entirely appropriate word, given what this crew is trying to accomplish - Alan Alda brought up the question of why the human spark is absent from the rest of creation - er, I mean evolution. That’s what this particular show was about, by the way, the uniqueness of humans.

The question was worded something along the lines of, “In all the millions of years of evolution, why is it that only humans have this spark?” I’m not kidding - that was the gist of the question. I guess it never occurred to anybody that they just mounted evidence against their own theory. If organisms evolve for the sake of improvement to the species - in other words, if the strong and smart and more suvivability-related metamorphoses carry on, and those which aren’t for that purpose die off - then why are humans the only ones to have this so-called spark? The very nature of the question runs completely counter to the entire theory. {By the way, the answer to the question is because it’s not evolution. It was a divine spark given to us by God!}

Then, of course, we have my own personal favorite question. If we evolved from apes, why do apes still exist? Some people poo-poo this question, saying perhaps that humans and apes both evolved from the same root ancestor. Whatever. I would refer such nonsense back to the last paragraph regarding the whole purpose of evolution in the first place, and with that in mind, try reconciling the fact that there are numerous different kinds of apes but only one kind of human. If man truly evolved - and if it takes millions of years to evolve (with different levels of evolution presumably co-existing), then why are we the only ones here? Doesn’t make sense.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Good ol' Captain America

"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

"This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences.

"When the mobs and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world ... 'No. You move.'"

-Captain America

And that's why he's been an American hero for 70 years!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Men and emotions...

I was talking with a lady at work recently, and somehow the subject of emotions came up. At one point she said, "It's probably just a girlie thing. You probably don't know what I'm talking about."

I told her that it was a "human thing", and that men frequently feel the same way - they just either hide it or try to control it. When I thought about it later, I found myself wondering why men do that.

I think it's out of necessity. I used to think it was cultural or societal conditioning - and I still think that's part of it - but there's also a pretty practical reason for it.

Consider the fact that for most of human history (and even today, to a large degree), most societies have been paternal in nature - the men have been in charge. With this in mind, all you have to do is look around - today, in history, whenever, it doesn't matter - and you see many, many instances where men have given free rein to their passions with disastrous results.

Occasionally an artist, or a builder, or someone else with constructive passions will demonstrate how great man's potential is, but more frequently you run across the destructive personalities who consider their personal passions to be more important than anything else - That's when you get Napoleon, Hitler, Alexander, Stalin, Mao - the list goes on almost endlessly.

So, I think it's a very good thing that men - the more aggressive of the genders - try to control their emotions. It may be that we are aware of our destructive and selfish desires and passions and choose to suppress them.

Either that, or we're just afraid of emotion. You decide.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Can we use a better word than "disability"?

Normally I don't care much for so-called political correctness. I think that, generally, we should call something what it is and not dance around it with euphemisms.

I recently ran across the word "disability" and, although I've heard this word thousands of times and didn't really have a problem with it, it just bothered me this time.

The reason it bothers me now is because it's too negative and vague. I think of it more in terms of limitations than disabilities, and where do we draw the line that a certain limitation is debilitating? We've all seen or heard stories about people who overcame huge challenges and went on to succeed beyond all expectation. When that happens, does that person's condition cease to be a disability? Ironically, they're still labeled a disabled person even though they may have achieved more success than the average non-disabled person. So, how can we call it a disability?

We ALL have limitations. Some people can see very well, and some require glasses (and some people are blind). Some people can hear the tiniest sounds and the highest pitches, and some require hearing aids (and some people are deaf). Much of what I could physically do at 17 years of age, I have a very hard time doing (or can't do) now, at 47. These limitations are just the way life is - it's just a matter of degree.

This isn't meant to be a political post, or have anything to do with the rights of the "disabled". I'm not trying to change anything - indeed, I don't necessarily disagree with the way things are regarding certain protections. I'm just airing some of my thoughts about the semantics revolving around this subject. I guess that's what a blog is for.


Hello all,

Well, I've finally succumbed to the blogging craze (lucky you). I have a few things on my mind that I want to write about - I just have to decide what to post first. Please bear with me. I'll post something soon.