Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chick-Fil-A: Anti-Gay?

Students are boycotting Chick-Fil-A this week for its supposed anti-LGBT stance. The popular, closed-on-Sundays chicken fast food chain has come under fire recently for donating to what the USF Oracle calls "several anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) organizations."

Specifically, Chick-Fil-A donated chicken sandwiches in January to a conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute that "promoted traditional marriage between a man and a woman."

According to the Oracle, the business "has donated more than $1.1 million to various organizations with similar agendas."

Here is the first part of the article:

Kindell Workman liked eating at Chick-fil-A because she found its fast food products superior to others and thought it was one of the better options available in the Marshall Student Center (MSC).
But she said her opinion changed once she learned that the company had donated food to several anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) organizations.
As a result, Workman, president of USF's largest LGBT student organization, P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, and several other students will boycott the on-campus Chick-fil-A franchise this week.
The privately owned Chick-fil-A chain caught media attention in early January when a franchise in Pennsylvania donated chicken sandwiches to a conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute that promoted traditional marriages between a man and a woman.
According to, Chick-fil-A has donated more than $1.1 million to various organizations with similar agendas.
Though Workman said the company's donations should not go ignored, the bigger issue the boycotters, who organized through a Facebook page, want to address is USF's support of the company.
"It's contradicting USF's policy (of non-discrimination)," she said. "USF is pro-equality (and) pro-student rights. USF is one of the most phenomenal universities when it comes to the LGBT community, but then how are you going to say that it's OK to support Chick-fil-A? The University is contributing to the funding of this type of organization. I'll honestly say I like Chick-fil-A, but have I been eating at Chick-fil-A? No."
Notice how they lead you to think that Chick-Fil-A is anti-gay before they tell you that they donated to a conference that supported traditional marriages between a man and a woman. Which leads me to ask, is that the same thing?

According to the Oracle, "Don Perry, vice president of corporate relations for Chick-fil-A, said many of the accusations from LGBT boycotters are 'a bit unfair.'"
According to the company's website, its corporate purpose is "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us." Perry said this doesn't mean the company is anti-LGBT.
"We're not anti-anything," he said. "We're just doing what we've always done. We're not taking up a political agenda or coming from an advocacy kind of position. Some have taken that out of context and said that if we've supported family causes, that translates to being anti-gay. That's a bit unfair to say that by supporting traditional family values we're anti-gay. We respect all people."
Kathryn Milavsky, a Christian who is part of the Christians in Action (CIA) campus ministry at USF, says that Chick-Fil-A's pro-family stance does not translate into being anti-gay. "I don't think that they're the same thing at all. You can be anti-gay and support a traditional marriage, but just because you support a traditional marriage doesn't mean that you're anti-gay."

Because I didn't support the boycott, I decided to buy from Chick-Fil-A yesterday. Specifically, I bought 10 chicken sandwiches and 10 orders of waffle fries for my Wednesday night Bible study group.

The employees at the on-campus location looked visibly annoyed that I was ordering for a group, as I didn't realize that they closed two hours before the rest of the food court. I asked them if they had heard about the boycott. They hadn't, but they commented on the fact that it had been a slow day. I apologized that I had come in a half hour before closing and proceeded to show one middle-aged female employee the article.

She said she couldn't believe that people were calling Chick-Fil-A anti-gay. "See, now I can't believe that," she said. "'Cause I'm looking around and she's gay, she's bisexual, he's gay..." She commented that having worked at another Chick-Fil-A location, they hired gay people all the time. "And they're saying that Chick-Fil-A is anti-gay?" She scoffed lightly. "Makes no sense to me."

After finding out why I was ordering, the employees were much more congenial with me, and gave me the order with a smile. But the woman reminded me of something that I had forgotten about: Business at the USF food court is conducted through Aramark. Proceeds don't directly profit Chick-Fil-A, nor do they directly harm it.

So why were people boycotting the on-campus location?

According to the Oracle, Indiana University's South Bend campus has gotten Chick-Fil-A removed from their food court, and Kindell Workman, president of USF's P.R.I.D.E. chapter, hopes to get it removed from USF and other campuses too.

I feel that if you were to ask most Christians about homosexuality, they would say that they are accepting of all people. Personally, I have gay friends. I think they can do what they want. I don't judge. If they want Jesus, he's available. Most Christians I've met take the same view. But of course that doesn't stop me from caring about families and marriages—I mean, I'm in one. Apparently to some people, it's not enough for Chick-Fil-A to love families and be silent on the gay "issue." They also have to:

  1. Become more political
  2. Turn people into "issues" (which Christians don't really believe in doing)
  3. Take a certain view that they might not hold

This kinda reminds me of the story about the British couple who couldn't continue fostering 5-8 year-olds, not because they were anti-gay, but because they simply hadn't thought about talking to a young child about sexuality or telling them that homosexuality was "a good thing." Apparently to Britain's lawmakers, their neutral position is radical in light of new anti-discrimination laws.

As an end note, my dear husband brings up the point that Microsoft donates to countless organizations that students may or may not agree with, yet all universities use their products. But barring a food chain from using a retail location on campus because it supports family values would be truly discriminatory.

Watch out, because even if you take a neutral position on something, you can be accused of being intolerant in this crazy world.

Welcome My Friend Hannah to the Blogosphere!

Hey, guys! My friend Hannah just started a blog, and if you like reading thoughts on Christianity, culture, and life in general, you should totally follow it. She's a sister in Christ who thinks deeply about everything despite her young age. Clearly, she enjoys going counter-culture in that regard.

Hannah's blog: Come Wind, Come Weather

Also, my friend Kathryn, another sister in Christ, loves to write about literature, writing, and the stylings of Middle Earth.

Kathryn's blog: .Penned Perfection.

And, just to put in a plug, if you're a Christian, you SHOULD follow Wes Woodell's blog. Wes is a campus minister and preacher in San Francisco, California, and he posts all kinds of thought-provoking material.

Wes's blog: West Coast Witness

Hope all is well. Does anyone have any blog suggestions for me?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Donald Trump: The Birther Candidate?

Donald Trump seems to be emerging as the potential pick for Birthers. He won't announce whether he's running until June, but this seems to be the audience he is targeting in the meantime.

Potential 2012 GOP presidential contender Donald Trump is doubling down on his call for President Barack Obama to produce a birth certificate, saying “facts are emerging” that have raised a “real question” as to whether Obama is constitutionally eligible to serve as president.

Trump said the president has spent “millions of dollars” in legal fees to “trying to get away from this issue.”

The billionaire’s remarks came Monday morning in an exclusive interview with Fox & Friends co-hosts on Fox News.

Trump said when he initially raised the issue last week on ABC’s The View, he believed President Obama was born in the United States and should simply produce the birth certificate to clear up any questions.

As recently as Thursday, Trump told Newsmax in an exclusive interview: “I assume that Obama was born in the United States. I assume he was probably born in Hawaii.”

But following his controversial remarks on The View, Trump said Monday, new information has emerged to give him serious doubts where Obama was born.

Asked point blank by Fox News host Gretchen Carlson whether he believes Obama was born in the United States, Trump replied: “I am really concerned. And I will tell you, when this all started a week ago, I assumed . . . Hey look, you have no doctors that remember, you have no nurses — this is the president of the United States — that remember.

Read more on Trump: New Facts Emerging on Obama Birth Certificate 
This is an issue that I will continue to keep my mouth very shut on. The very fact that a news host had to ask him if he "believed" that President Obama had a valid birth certificate on file just means that nobody is being intellectually honest about this, and whatever information I can potentially gather for either side will be equally unpersuasive. You're probably judging me right now, aren't you? If there's any truth to it at all, I feel that it's something that has to come out long after Obama is off the scene, where people say, "Well, who'da thunk. The Birthers were right after all." It's just way too hot to explore right now.

To his credit, Trump seems to be an intellectually honest guy. However, he truly does fit every bad stereotype of Republicans. In my opinion, he doesn't have much of a chance at getting past the primaries. But I do respect the fact that all he is doing is asking questions, not trying to promote a theory. He isn't afraid to be seen as un-credible for questioning what others only have faith in. Which begs the question: Good or bad? Is his personality really right for the Presidency, or will we hear people shrieking that there's another Bush in office (who doesn't really know how to cover his bases)?

And will he become a full-blown Birther conspiracy theorist as a tool to get elected?

Obama Addresses the Nation on Libya (VIDEO/TRANSCRIPT)

THE PRESIDENT: Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya – what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.

Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt -– two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant -– Muammar Qaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world –- including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

Last month, Qaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”

Faced with this opposition, Qaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. Then we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Qaddafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of Qaddafi’s regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Qaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.

In the face of the world’s condemnation, Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misurata was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.

Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the Arab League appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.

Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.

At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted -- if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.

It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.

In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.

To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days. 
Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.

Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi’s remaining forces.

In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role -- including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation -- to our military and to American taxpayers -- will be reduced significantly.
So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.

That’s not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Qaddafi regime so that it’s available to rebuild Libya. After all, the money doesn’t belong to Qaddafi or to us -- it belongs to the Libyan people. And we’ll make sure they receive it.

Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Qaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve -- because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.

Now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Qaddafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community and –- more importantly –- a task for the Libyan people themselves.

In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all -– even in limited ways –- in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.

It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country -– Libya -- at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful –- yet fragile -– transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America. 
Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Qaddafi and usher in a new government. 
Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces -– to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do -- and will do -- is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Qaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Qaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Qaddafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Qaddafi’s side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.

Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That's why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security -– responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us. They’re problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.

That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States –- in a region that has such a difficult history with our country –- this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”

This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer.

Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed. 
The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference.

I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed at one’s own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.

Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith -- those ideals -- that are the true measure of American leadership.

My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas -- when the news is filled with conflict and change -- it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star -- the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.

But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.

Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world. 
Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you.

Transcript Source: Fox News

Monday, March 28, 2011

Radiation, Radiation, Go Away

First, I arrive at class like this:

Slosh, slosh, slosh as I walk in late. I take my seat in the back and get on my iPhone, because I hate the class and that day it happened to be the evolutionary psychology lecture. And then I see this:

Rainwater and air across U.S. contaminated with nuclear radiation is linked to Japan

Low levels of radioactive iodine believed to be from Japan's disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected in the atmosphere in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida, environmental officials said today.
Source: The Daily Mail

And I was just so glad that journalists had decided to release that story on the rainiest day ever. Really, it was one of those "you cannot avoid the floodgates of heaven" kind of days. People on campus were simply giving up on their umbrellas and frolicking through the rivers in the sidewalks. Resistance was futile. So I'm sure it got a whole lot more clicks!

But according to my husband and Wikipedia—both superlatively credible sources—iodine-131 has a half-life of only 8.02 days, so we should be fine relatively soon. Also, bananas have radiation, but using the banana unit as a measurement has serious scientific flaws. And I just ate a banana. Yum, banana radiation!

In all seriousness, when science becomes partisan, it makes me question how much we really know.

In case I do end up with thyroid cancer in a few years, I'll let you know then. In the meantime, I propose a "wall of separation" between science and journalism.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Federalist No. 69: Is the War in Libya Unconstitutional?

Today, conservatives are (quite hypocritically) questioning the constitutionality of the war in Libya, since President Obama did not first ask the approval of Congress before declaring war. It deserves noting that no war since WWII had Congressional approval. Therefore, the reason I am bringing up the subject has less to do with who is getting involved in enforcing UN resolutions and more to do with the fact that I am now old enough to know what is going on. Have we since abandoned the concept? What was its purpose?

Alexander Hamilton answers this in his argument in The Federalist Papers, No. 69. As you may know, the Federalist Papers were publications in the 1780s in favor of a federal Constitution. Federalists like Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison believed that the new nation would only survive if it was unified, whereas the Anti-Federalists supported individual state constitutions, fearful that a federal government would take too much power. As we well know from being on the other side of history, a compromise was made between Federalists and Anti-Federalists to include both a federal Constitution and several more powerful state governments, wherein each checks the other's power.

Some questions I have about all of the Presidents who, since WWII, have declared war without Congressional approval, are 1. Why exactly? and 2. Is it different now that the United Nations exists? The UN has certainly changed the way we do war, mostly for the better (but not when it's being a bully). I wonder if this change is permanent, and if so, does it mean that according to Federalist No. 69, our presidents since 1950 have resembled the King of England? Or is it ok enough that we can change it formally?

It seems to me that the problem isn't necessarily that the President is declaring war based on violations of UN sanctions, but that Congress is simply too busy writing so many new laws that it doesn't have time to worry about declaring war. But don't take my word for it...let Alexander Hamilton help you make up your mind.

The Real Character of the Executive

New York Packet
Friday, March 14, 1788
[Alexander Hamilton] 

To the People of the State of New York:

I PROCEED now to trace the real characters of the proposed Executive, as they are marked out in the plan of the convention. This will serve to place in a strong light the unfairness of the representations which have been made in regard to it. 
The first thing which strikes our attention is, that the executive authority, with few exceptions, is to be vested in a single magistrate. This will scarcely, however, be considered as a point upon which any comparison can be grounded; for if, in this particular, there be a resemblance to the king of Great Britain, there is not less a resemblance to the Grand Seignior, to the khan of Tartary, to the Man of the Seven Mountains, or to the governor of New York. 
That magistrate is to be elected for four years; and is to be re-eligible as often as the people of the United States shall think him worthy of their confidence. In these circumstances there is a total dissimilitude between him and a king of Great Britain, who is an hereditary monarch, possessing the crown as a patrimony descendible to his heirs forever; but there is a close analogy between him and a governor of New York, who is elected for three years, and is re-eligible without limitation or intermission. If we consider how much less time would be requisite for establishing a dangerous influence in a single State, than for establishing a like influence throughout the United States, we must conclude that a duration of four years for the Chief Magistrate of the Union is a degree of permanency far less to be dreaded in that office, than a duration of three years for a corresponding office in a single State. 
The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the President of Confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a governor of New York, and upon worse ground than the governors of Maryland and Delaware. 
The President of the United States is to have power to return a bill, which shall have passed the two branches of the legislature, for reconsideration; and the bill so returned is to become a law, if, upon that reconsideration, it be approved by two thirds of both houses. The king of Great Britain, on his part, has an absolute negative upon the acts of the two houses of Parliament. The disuse of that power for a considerable time past does not affect the reality of its existence; and is to be ascribed wholly to the crown's having found the means of substituting influence to authority, or the art of gaining a majority in one or the other of the two houses, to the necessity of exerting a prerogative which could seldom be exerted without hazarding some degree of national agitation. The qualified negative of the President differs widely from this absolute negative of the British sovereign; and tallies exactly with the revisionary authority of the council of revision of this State, of which the governor is a constituent part. In this respect the power of the President would exceed that of the governor of New York, because the former would possess, singly, what the latter shares with the chancellor and judges; but it would be precisely the same with that of the governor of Massachusetts, whose constitution, as to this article, seems to have been the original from which the convention have copied. 
The President is to be the "commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States. He is to have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment; to recommend to the consideration of Congress such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; to convene, on extraordinary occasions, both houses of the legislature, or either of them, and, in case of disagreement between them with respect to the time of adjournment, to adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; to take care that the laws be faithfully executed; and to commission all officers of the United States." In most of these particulars, the power of the President will resemble equally that of the king of Great Britain and of the governor of New York. The most material points of difference are these: -- First. The President will have only the occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as by legislative provision may be called into the actual service of the Union. The king of Great Britain and the governor of New York have at all times the entire command of all the militia within their several jurisdictions. In this article, therefore, the power of the President would be inferior to that of either the monarch or the governor. Second. The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies -- all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.1 The governor of New York, on the other hand, is by the constitution of the State vested only with the command of its militia and navy. But the constitutions of several of the States expressly declare their governors to be commanders-in-chief, as well of the army as navy; and it may well be a question, whether those of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in particular, do not, in this instance, confer larger powers upon their respective governors, than could be claimed by a President of the United States. Third. The power of the President, in respect to pardons, would extend to all cases, except those of impeachment. The governor of New York may pardon in all cases, even in those of impeachment, except for treason and murder. Is not the power of the governor, in this article, on a calculation of political consequences, greater than that of the President? All conspiracies and plots against the government, which have not been matured into actual treason, may be screened from punishment of every kind, by the interposition of the prerogative of pardoning. If a governor of New York, therefore, should be at the head of any such conspiracy, until the design had been ripened into actual hostility he could insure his accomplices and adherents an entire impunity. A President of the Union, on the other hand, though he may even pardon treason, when prosecuted in the ordinary course of law, could shelter no offender, in any degree, from the effects of impeachment and conviction. Would not the prospect of a total indemnity for all the preliminary steps be a greater temptation to undertake and persevere in an enterprise against the public liberty, than the mere prospect of an exemption from death and confiscation, if the final execution of the design, upon an actual appeal to arms, should miscarry? Would this last expectation have any influence at all, when the probability was computed, that the person who was to afford that exemption might himself be involved in the consequences of the measure, and might be incapacitated by his agency in it from affording the desired impunity? The better to judge of this matter, it will be necessary to recollect, that, by the proposed Constitution, the offense of treason is limited "to levying war upon the United States, and adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort"; and that by the laws of New York it is confined within similar bounds. Fourth. The President can only adjourn the national legislature in the single case of disagreement about the time of adjournment. The British monarch may prorogue or even dissolve the Parliament. The governor of New York may also prorogue the legislature of this State for a limited time; a power which, in certain situations, may be employed to very important purposes.
The President is to have power, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators present concur. The king of Great Britain is the sole and absolute representative of the nation in all foreign transactions. He can of his own accord make treaties of peace, commerce, alliance, and of every other description. It has been insinuated, that his authority in this respect is not conclusive, and that his conventions with foreign powers are subject to the revision, and stand in need of the ratification, of Parliament. But I believe this doctrine was never heard of, until it was broached upon the present occasion. Every jurist2 of that kingdom, and every other man acquainted with its Constitution, knows, as an established fact, that the prerogative of making treaties exists in the crown in its utomst plentitude; and that the compacts entered into by the royal authority have the most complete legal validity and perfection, independent of any other sanction. The Parliament, it is true, is sometimes seen employing itself in altering the existing laws to conform them to the stipulations in a new treaty; and this may have possibly given birth to the imagination, that its co-operation was necessary to the obligatory efficacy of the treaty. But this parliamentary interposition proceeds from a different cause: from the necessity of adjusting a most artificial and intricate system of revenue and commercial laws, to the changes made in them by the operation of the treaty; and of adapting new provisions and precautions to the new state of things, to keep the machine from running into disorder. In this respect, therefore, there is no comparison between the intended power of the President and the actual power of the British sovereign. The one can perform alone what the other can do only with the concurrence of a branch of the legislature. It must be admitted, that, in this instance, the power of the federal Executive would exceed that of any State Executive. But this arises naturally from the sovereign power which relates to treaties. If the Confederacy were to be dissolved, it would become a question, whether the Executives of the several States were not solely invested with that delicate and important prerogative. 
The President is also to be authorized to receive ambassadors and other public ministers. This, though it has been a rich theme of declamation, is more a matter of dignity than of authority. It is a circumstance which will be without consequence in the administration of the government; and it was far more convenient that it should be arranged in this manner, than that there should be a necessity of convening the legislature, or one of its branches, upon every arrival of a foreign minister, though it were merely to take the place of a departed predecessor. 
The President is to nominate, and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint ambassadors and other public ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, and in general all officers of the United States established by law, and whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by the Constitution. The king of Great Britain is emphatically and truly styled the fountain of honor. He not only appoints to all offices, but can create offices. He can confer titles of nobility at pleasure; and has the disposal of an immense number of church preferments. There is evidently a great inferiority in the power of the President, in this particular, to that of the British king; nor is it equal to that of the governor of New York, if we are to interpret the meaning of the constitution of the State by the practice which has obtained under it. The power of appointment is with us lodged in a council, composed of the governor and four members of the Senate, chosen by the Assembly. The governor claims, and has frequently exercised, the right of nomination, and is entitled to a casting vote in the appointment. If he really has the right of nominating, his authority is in this respect equal to that of the President, and exceeds it in the article of the casting vote. In the national government, if the Senate should be divided, no appointment could be made; in the government of New York, if the council should be divided, the governor can turn the scale, and confirm his own nomination.3 If we compare the publicity which must necessarily attend the mode of appointment by the President and an entire branch of the national legislature, with the privacy in the mode of appointment by the governor of New York, closeted in a secret apartment with at most four, and frequently with only two persons; and if we at the same time consider how much more easy it must be to influence the small number of which a council of appointment consists, than the considerable number of which the national Senate would consist, we cannot hesitate to pronounce that the power of the chief magistrate of this State, in the disposition of offices, must, in practice, be greatly superior to that of the Chief Magistrate of the Union. 
Hence it appears that, except as to the concurrent authority of the President in the article of treaties, it would be difficult to determine whether that magistrate would, in the aggregate, possess more or less power than the Governor of New York. And it appears yet more unequivocally, that there is no pretense for the parallel which has been attempted between him and the king of Great Britain. But to render the contrast in this respect still more striking, it may be of use to throw the principal circumstances of dissimilitude into a closer group. 
The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for four years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and hereditary prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a qualified negative upon the acts of the legislative body; the other has an absolute negative. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of declaring war, and of raising and regulating fleets and armies by his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other is the sole possessor of the power of making treaties. The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all appointments. The one can confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies. The one can prescribe no rules concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism. 

Source: The Constitution Society

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earthquake Hits Myanmar

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Myanmar (formerly, Burma) near the northern border of Thailand today. Tremors and aftershocks are said to have affected regions as far north as central Myanmar, as far south as the city of Bangkok, Thailand and as far east as Hanoi, Vietnam.

A resident of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand was apparently killed when one of the walls of her house fell on her. There have been no other reports of death as of yet.

The earthquake was centered 69 miles north of Chaing Rai, part of the "Golden Triangle" where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet—known for its growth of illicit opium.

Residents have said that they have never felt an earthquake as strong as this one, although there have been strong earthquakes that have hit sparsely populated areas in the past 15 years.

Wirachai Chaisakaew, head of maintenance at the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, said the region's hydropower dams, which include the country's largest, remained intact and preliminary searches of facilities revealed no damage.
Witnesses in Chiang Mai, the country's second-largest city, reported no immediate damage to buildings. A resident of the Myanmar town of Tachilek, which borders Chiang Rai, said parked motorcycles fell to the ground and cracks opened in the road.
Somchai Baimuang, deputy director of the Thai meteorological department, said new aftershocks were possible in the next two days, but no tsunami warning had been issued.
"It was not a small quake, but we urge the public to not panic," he told Reuters.
Seems like a wave of Pacific rim earthquakes: Christchurch, New Zealand; Japan; I forgetting any? Birds are falling from the sky, fish are dying by the millions, temperatures this winter have been wacky, and the Middle East is changing rapidly. I'm sure it'd be exciting to be a journalist right now.

UPDATE: Video via The Daily Caller.

The Rob Bell Controversy and My Thoughts on Publicity

In this interview by Relevant Magazine, Rob Bell offers more insight into his beliefs than most other interviews I've seen put together. It's excellent. Here is a portion:

One of the main points of controversy is that people feel you’ve embraced universalism. Most evangelicals believe once you die, there are no more decisions to make. Do you think your position is controversial?
It fits squarely within the orthodox, historic, Christian tradition. Lots and lots of people have raised these sort of questions from across the spectrum. It’s not outside the tradition. In the book, what I’m mostly interested in is just showing people, people answered these questions. Serious, faithful, devout followers of Jesus have wrestled with these questions and have entered into the speculation and have all sorts of ways they thought about this and talked about this. I’m not interested in dying on any one of those hills, I’m interested in dying on the hill that says, “There’s lots of hills, and there’s lots of space here.” That’s what interesting to me.
Based on your understanding of universalism, do you consider yourself a universalist?
No, I don’t.
And you see the difference being what?
My observation would be that people mean lots of different things with that word. I think for some people, apparently the word means nothing matters. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it doesn’t matter how you live—nothing matters. And I simply don’t believe that. Certain paths are destructive. Certain paths are wrong. Certain paths cause all kinds of toxic harm to other people and it’s not loving your neighbor. So if by “universalism,” people mean it doesn’t matter—it doesn’t matter what you believe, it doesn’t matter what you do—that’s just complete rubbish. So, no.

Secondly, sometimes when people say the word “universalism,” I think they mean that at some point God just swoops everybody up into heaven. Like, “Come on, everybody—everybody is in.” And the problem with that is, I believe love wins, and the very nature of love is freedom. So if at any point God co-opts your ability to choose, we no longer are dealing with a loving God. And if there are people who are in heaven who don’t want to be there, then it’s not heaven. Like God is saying, “It’s a party—and you’re going to like it!”

The question that I do think is terribly interesting, and which as a Christian we must wrestle with, it is written in a letter to Timothy, “God wants everybody to be saved.” Now this is fascinating. God wants everybody to be saved, so perhaps the important question is, is God a universalist? And I do think as a Christian it is our duty to long for the things that God longs for, and to want the things that God wants.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Rob Bell has certainly gotten a lot of publicity lately. This publicity was created by his releasing of a preview video that was bound to get people arguing about the subject matter of the book; bound to get them talking; bound to make everyone who quickly judged suddenly be attacked by his non-judgmental supporters, put their foot in their mouth and say, "I guess I should read the book first." Is he a universalist? Nobody knew. Rob Bell's publicity stunt was genius. It was bound to create a divide between the judgmental and the non-judgmental among us, and make both sides say, "This is a book I need to read." Bravo, really. Even CNN reported on it. I guess the mantra is true: Any publicity is good publicity when you're trying to sell a book.

Others have taken advantage of publicity leverage recently as well, even despite major events taking place in the world. Charlie Sheen, for over a week, was front page news despite dramatic changes taking place in multiple Middle Eastern countries. Anyone trying to look up news on the uprising in Egypt had to get past Charlie Sheen's face first; there was absolutely no way you could avoid him. People gossiped about him like they gossiped about Tiger Woods, and Christians implored us to stop gossipping and pray for him instead. In another genius stunt, a Charlie Sheen Twitter account was created—probably not even run by him—and within a just few days it had 3 million followers. To every non-Charlie Sheen fan's amazement, he could say anything—anything—and it would get retweeted. You bet your baked beans there was a psychologist behind the #winning hashtag. Bravo again...sort of.

And then there's Rebecca Black. Kill me now, but she's still one of the top trending topics on Twitter. Yeah, she got her bad publicity, except because of the blunders of the people behind it, they didn't stop to make sure it wouldn't backfire and just stay bad publicity. Sorry, Rebecca.

Now, we're at war with Lybia. Yet Lybia has not trended once on Twitter. It is possible to avoid if you wanted to. But isn't that how misinformation spreads? Looking back on the war in Iraq, I remember not even being able to find complete information even on what the war was about. I was in the dark. Granted, I was in middle school when it started, but as news channels and schools created a "Bush = bad" mentality, it seemed that if you tried to ask what the war was about, you just had "It's EVIL and so are you for asking questions!" thrown at you with no explanation. It wasn't until we saw Saddam Hussein toppled from power and the Iraqi people celebrating in the streets that we realized that that was presumably the goal all along. Yet isn't that also what we're doing in Lybia?

Correct me if I'm wrong. But the last month has taught me more about how much power the media has over the sentiments of the people who subscribe to them than anything else has. I wonder what will happen with the war in Lybia, and I wonder if people will actively seek information about what is going on in the world. It seems that they and the media both have disappointed me in that regard. I wish that news outlets that consider themselves serious didn't report on celebrity gossip because they think it'll be popular, because all it is doing is manufacturing that popularity and taking time away from things that are important. Leave it to the people who do that. I also with they didn't preach the messages that are popular, because all it does it perpetuate that as well. It's the chicken-and-egg thing.

Back to Rob Bell. I have to give it to him; I am impressed with the way he is handling everything and I think that whoever is handling his publicity is a genius. But what I have learned about journalism is basically this: There are good interviews, there are bad interviews, and then there are cowards who would rather make fun of little kids rather than interviewing them.

Further Reading:
Bible Prophecy Blog: We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology
Tim Spivey: Love Wins: Rob Bell, John Piper, and Upset Christian People
Justin Taylor: Rob Bell: Universalist? (This is the blog post that started it all. Most of it is still there.)
The Blaze: Pastor Fired After Backing New Rob Bell Book Questioning Hell

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cerebral Palsy 5th Grader's Parents Sue Los Angeles School District for Not Letting Him Dance to Christian Song for Talent Show

Via The Blaze

The Los Angeles Unified School District has changed a controversial policy after it tried to prevent a disabled boy from dancing to a Christian song at a school talent show.
In early February, Superior Street Elementary School principal Jerilyn Shubert told one fifth grader and his parents that the boy’s planned performance was too “offensive” because of its Christian elements. The principal said the boy’s dance performance to the song “We Shine” was violation of the “separation of church and state” and asked why he couldn’t “pick a song that does not say Jesus so many times.”

Since I don't know much about the concept of separation of church and state, I would like to explore it here. It originates in a short letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. It consists of a brief introduction, a similarly brief conclusion, and a one-paragraph body. The letter in its entirety appears below.

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
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. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.

According to the Library of Congress, the letter was in response to one he had received from the Danbury Baptists congratulating him on winning the Presidency. But,
"Airing the Republican position on church-state relations was not, however, Jefferson's principal reason for writing the Danbury Baptist letter. He was looking, he told Lincoln, for an opportunity for 'saying why I do not proclaim fastings & thanksgivings, as my predecessors did' and latched onto the Danbury address as the best way to broadcast his views on the subject. Although using the Danbury address was 'awkward' -- it did not mention fasts and thanksgivings -- Jefferson pressed it into service to counter what he saw as an emerging Federalist plan to exploit the thanksgiving day issue to smear him, once again, as an infidel."
To me, this would seem to relate more to the issue of a President, say, participating in the National Day of Prayer, the origin of which was not annual, but rather isolated calls to devotion by presidents John Adams and Abraham Lincoln in response to wartime. It wasn't until 1952 that President Harry Truman signed a bill into law requiring each successive president to call a National Day of Prayer once a year, and 1988 that President Ronald Reagan amended the law for the National Day of Prayer to fall on the first Thursday in May, at the idea of Billy Graham. President Barack Obama, in 2009, made a statement by choosing to opt out of the National Day of Prayer, not only exercising his own freedoms but also proving himself to be a Jeffersonian president.

This has historically been a matter of philosophy, not law, until two still hotly debated Supreme Court cases have since made it law. But in this case, it was the PTA that blew the whistles, citing the "separation of church and state" for the reason the boy couldn't dance to a Christian song at a school. I have a sincere question here: Where is the "state" involved? Is it because it's a school? Even though schools are government-run, it still seems like a stretch. "State" seems to refer more to the legislative branch or to any other potentially lawmaking branch, like the Presidency. And the PTA aren't even government employees, let alone the government, so where is this "state"?

Furthermore, if you take the "church" to mean "all people who are Christians"—as Christians believe that it is—that leaves much more room for discrimination in any setting. I can understand not teaching Christian propaganda from the classroom, as the teacher is a state employee and that is unfair to the rest of the children. But the boy isn't a teacher; he was asked to freely express himself in a talent show outside of school hours. If you look at it this way, this is more like "separation of the church from the church," leaving one morally at odds. Or, the California school system is arrogant, equaling themselves with the legislature or the Presidency. Either way, this doesn't seem to be exactly what Thomas Jefferson meant, and the boy's parents rightfully won the lawsuit in the end.

A few end notes. There are two things that I find ironic about this case. One is less important. If I were a Christian mother attending an elementary school talent show and I heard someone sing a sexually charged pop song, I would be offended, but I wouldn't ever think of telling anyone that a child discriminated against me. In fact, Christians run into things that offend them every day. But one offensive song to someone else and they flip a lid. Perhaps there is some goodness in those terrible ideas of grace and mercy that we espouse. Two is the more important one, which is that if church and state were meant to be kept separate, then we shouldn't even allow Sharia into the court system. If two religious people want to arbitrate amongst themselves, then they should do it as long as they don't break other laws. Florida apparently disagrees with this philosophical interpretation of the wall of separation between church and state.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Renewal of Purpose

Hi, everyone. I started this blog in December of 2008 to write about what I was interested in: Politics and the Middle East. But I ran into a ginormous, morally challenging obstacle. Of course, anyone who has a blog knows that their first readers were their friends. Unfortunately, the political culture surrounding University students and people my age are 1. Very emotional, 2. Almost unanimously in disagreement with me, and 3. Centered around Middle East politics as the most intense issue. It wouldn't be a problem, except...I'm a Christian and am called to live at peace with everyone so long as it depends on me (Romans 12:18). We are also taught not to use our freedoms to harm others or to place a stumbling block in our brother or sister's way (Romans 14). In addition, the Bible commands me to "be all things to all people," and sometimes I just feel like I'm too different and there's nowhere for me to express myself. I've almost lost friends over perfectly rational, informative political posts. Thus, I have compromised by writing about other things: crocheting, sewing, and other randomness, under the guise that it's what I want to do. It's not.

I have to come out of the closet, guys. I'm interested in politics. I wanted to start a political blog, and it's still what I want to do. I wanted to hone my journalism, writing, and analytical skills by exploring issues in American foreign policy. Due to Blogspot's stupid "follow" thing, I know that we feel obligated to follow our friends' blogs. But I have to ask that if anyone doesn't like that I post that they simply save themselves a headache and not read it. From here on out, I would like this blog to be dedicated solely to politics and world issues from a Christian perspective. It needs focus.

My Facebook wall, for the benefit of those who would only like to get to know me personally, is virtually politics-free. My Twitter, on the other hand, is almost completely dedicated to my political passions, and it offers me a place to express myself. I rarely interact with people I know in person on Twitter for a reason. So if you would like to keep up with my personal life but some opinions upset you, my Facebook page would be the perfect place to do that. I may even write some more notes. I dunno.

I also want to say that I hope I'm not irrational. I will never post anything hateful or devoid of a good amount of research. But part of having a blog is sharing your opinion, too. If you have a dissenting view, you are more than welcome to comment. In fact, please do. But please, say something—don't just flame me. Nobody likes that. I respect anyone who has a well-thought out opinion, no matter what it is, but closed-mindedness and highly emotional reactiveness is just annoying. Actually, for me it's worse than annoying—it makes me feel like a terrible representative of a very apolitical Christ.

Yes, there are college students out there who are conservatives. We're few, but we've thought about it enough to go counter-culture with it, so we're not dumb. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking through a minefield, like if I say something that someone was taught by the University not to like, it forever smears the reputation of Christians and God himself. And it shouldn't. Jesus didn't bar Simon the Zealot from being a disciple; he simply allowed him to see for himself what God had in mind. Politics isn't nearly as big a deal as people make it out to be, and I hope that people can see that.

I would like to offer this as a concluding statement: Just because I am a conservative does not mean that I am bad. Or hateful. Or even wrong. I have never told a liberal that they were wrong because of their opinion. Everyone bases their opinions on unique experiences; only facts can be incorrect. That, and I happen to think that I'm an all-around nice girl, however opinionated. If you can accept the above statements, stick around and have fun. If they make you too angry to type, it might be best to for you to just talk to me on Facebook.

UPDATE: I went through and deleted most of my off-topic posts, and I am making a commitment to keep this blog on topic from here on out. I may even change the name. Any suggestions?

As for other comments, what do you think about this whole balance between loving those around you and still being able to express your opinion—not in person, but on the Internet?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Thinking Housewife: Is Domesticity Dull?

The Thinking Housewife writes:

Is Domesticity Dull?
People say the domestic life is narrow and stultifying, a prison for the intellect. Feminists have long made this claim.
I guess you could say that’s true, but only if you think human history is boring, the laws of nature are boring, love is boring, birth is boring, children are boring, personality is boring, the mind is boring, morality is boring, death is boring, male and female are boring, sex is boring, illness is boring, kisses are boring, prayers are boring, literature is boring, philosophy is boring, poetry is boring, God is boring, the seasons are boring, music is boring, trees are boring, sunlight is boring, the stars are boring, snow is boring, dew is boring. If all this is true, the home is not what it appears: a fount of ideas and truths, a university and a museum, a laboratory for the curious, a gallery of all that is human. If the home is boring, life itself is a desert.

Follow her blog! She has some amazing thoughts about art, literature, and culture—pointing out the judgmental and scary holes in our own. Plus, she is an excellent writer.

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell

Just finished reading Animal Farm, and I loved it. I couldn't say that I love it more than I love Fahrenheit 451, but I have a feeling that I will be referring to it in my mind almost as often, if not more so, as time goes on.

Animal Farm is a political allegory of the Russian Revolution. The basic gist of the story is that the animals revolt against the farm owner and create their own government, which in the end turns out to be just as tyrannical, if not worse. It's a very short book that you could read in one sitting if you tried and two if you didn't.

It is not really about the story or the characters. However, that is as much of a plot spoiler as I am willing to give away; the Introduction—which was really more of an analysis—gave away much more than I wanted to know, namely that one of the main characters dies near the end. The event is both the crux and the climax of the book. I feel that the author's intention was to attach the reader to the character and then jolt them. And I didn't get jolted, because I saw it coming.

I feel a little silly being upset over it, since it's a political allegory, not a full-blown novel. There is one more jolt scene, and it about scared me heartless. The author has a skill for getting the reader emotionally invested in suspense before revealing what it was that actually happened. That was why I was so upset about the aforementioned scene. I must admit, I really still am!

One point that the Introduction did make, however, was that the book is really so vague that it could apply to tyranny anywhere, not just Soviet Russia. I can see how that would be true.

I haven't read anything else by Orwell, but I intend to. The books I was assigned in my high school days—with the exception of Fahrenheit 451 and The Great Gatsby—all had to do with American slavery, and you would have thought that we covered it enough to move on to other things. Thankfully, Greg also owns 1984 and a few other politically-geared and philosophical books I want to read, so I will be sifting through what is now *my* new stash. ;)