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Archive for August, 2011

Fretting

Gnawing worry. We all experience it. And there’s a particular type that God’s people are prone to.

“Do not fret because of evildoers,” says Psalm 37:1, “be not envious toward wrongdoers.” Now, this prohibition would not be here unless there was a very real tendency to do just that – look at the lives of those who do evil, see how they sometimes prosper, see how they often “get away with it,” and wonder if they’re not going to win in the end. Maybe it’s better to just give up and sink into the mire with those who despise God.

The next verse provides the antidote: “For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.” No, those committed to evil will not always flourish. They may seem to for a season, but they are destined to end up like the the temporary blooms in the desert – full of life for a few moments, than parched and withered. No need to envy the plant that is green today, and shriveled tomorrow.

So, what do we do instead? The psalm follows: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This is where the rubber of true faith meets the road of long-term vision. Being faithful and waiting upon God is not, at first, intuitive. It is not glamorous. And it feels very unpredictable – what if? Yet it is the most certain path of all: “Commit your way to the Lord, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.”

At times, I feel overwhelmed looking around at the evil in the world. And this generation is nothing unique – it has always been so. But the Lord Himself is the sure and unchanging oasis in this desert, and there, in Him, we sink our roots and flourish. The harsh desert cannot sustain us, nor will it ultimately sustain today’s little plants that spring up for a season. Fret not.

(Image credit)

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Generalizing and Hypocrisy

On rare occasions, I will put up a post that touches on politics – sometimes, directly regarding political issues; other times, what political situations can teach us about something even broader.

This post is one of the latter.

I saw on the Facebook wall of one of my friends (yes, I consider him a friend, though we are polar opposites in political leanings!) this statement, cheered on by various comments from others: Didn’t we already learn the Texas Republican Governor lesson? (referring to the imminent entry of Gov. Rick Perry into the presidential race).

I called him out by adding a comment (maybe with a bit of edge to it, I’ll admit!):

I was excoriated by someone else in the thread in the following fashion:

I thought the reply was pretty funny, actually, but it really missed the point I was trying to make – which is that generalizing is bigotry, and it doesn’t simply happen in one direction (and, by the way, I was not maintaining that “the left does all the demonizing” – it’s just that I think liberal acts of demonization are somehow viewed as acceptable among many media and political elitists. How else can we explain the NY Times getting away with repeatedly categorizing tea party folks as terrorists?)

Anyway, let’s use a little basic logic on the original Facebook post, and see where it takes us.

Assumption/opinion – Republican George W Bush, former TX governor and U.S. President, was a colossal disaster.

Fact – Rick Perry is a Republican, a TX governor, and now is running for U.S. President.

Implied conclusion – Perry as President must therefore be another disaster.

Now, many would take issue with the assumption/opinion, but even if one agrees with it – what right does anyone have to generalize that Rick Perry, who is a different individual, should therefore be dismissed out of hand and assumed to be a bad choice? Is it OK to demonize conservatives from middle America – especially Texas (or heaven forbid, Alaska!)?

Note that nothing is stated about Rick Perry’s qualifications, principles, stances, character, or track record, no logical rebuttal is made. He’s just another Republican Texas Governor. Guilt by association.

That’s what I consider a cheap shot. But there are principles much larger at stake, and let’s expand the discussion beyond what this particular person may or may not feel. Everything below is meant to ask questions, broadly, to any who would identify themselves as political “progressives.”

Now, why do I think it’s hypocrisy? Here’s why: what if the original poster had, instead, put this in his Facebook status: Didn’t we already learn the black Democratic Illinois politician lesson? Now what would be the reaction? Think about it. What does your gut tell you?

In a bigoted fashion, that would be dismissing someone via guilt by association. Just throw the race card in there and what happens? Now the knives come out about generalizing!

As for me, I’d vote for an African-American, or Indian, or Hispanic, or half-Chinese, or 3/4 Filipino, or Caucasian woman for president in a heartbeat, no matter what state they came from – as long as I agreed with their principles, witnessed their proven character, and saw a track record of competence that led me to believe they could govern successfully at that level. I would be an ardent Obama supporter if I believed all of that was in place (I never did believe it was).

So, let’s talk about character. Let’s talk about track record. Let’s talk about principles. But to casually flip off people via guilt-by-association cheap shots, or because of what part of the country they’re from? To oppose individuals because of, perhaps, a lingering case of Bush Derangement Syndrome? To regularly call mainstream, productive, patriotic Americans extreme? How is that commendable?

What’s next – demonizing experienced leaders because they’re attractive women, or religious, or from a blue-collar background? Why, that could construed as misogyny. And xenophobia. And bigotry…such behavior would certainly be more regressive than “progressive,” don’t you think?

It’s a free country. Believe what you want, say what you want. But if you think you’re justified calling huge swaths of American citizens bigots, nutcases, racists, and terrorists, because they differ politically from you – take a look in the mirror and see if you like what’s staring back.

Because ultimately, this is not at all about one person’s feelings toward or convictions about Rick Perry or George Bush. It’s about a toxic atmosphere of disrespect. And it doesn’t go in just one direction.

btw – I’m not from Texas or Alaska. I don’t know who I’m going to vote for in the upcoming election – but it will be based on the three main qualifiers mentioned. Any attempt to generalize me into a certain sub-group and thereby make numerous gratuitous assumptions will likely fail to be accurate. And if you choose to respond – reason, logic, and principle are appreciated. Stupid and abusive sound bytes are not.

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Boys to Men

I was at the lake yesterday, watching some young boys do what they do best – drive their parents crazy.

Bouncing, running, jumping, yelling, tripping – parents think in terms of vectors and tasks, while boys have limited interest in predictable patterns.

It can really mess with your head sometimes.

In the midst of those years, it can seem endless. You wonder if this whirling dervish that was once so cute in his crib will even survive into adulthood, let alone become stable and productive.

This week – this morning – one of my sons will be baptized. He’s a young man, he has made his own decisions regarding the footsteps of faith. He earned his biggest-ever paycheck this week and the pride in his face made my heart leap for joy as well. He is responsible, thoughtful, and observant toward others. He chooses friends wisely. He was the one that, as a toddler, I predicted would end up at some extreme end of the scale – he had a very high pain threshold and was not particularly fastidious about self-preservation.

He grew up. Your boy will, too.

Watching two young hellions driving their father nuts yesterday, I had to remind myself that they would be men too, in very short order. It happens. They’ll be trading little plastic army men for razors and lifeguard whistles.

And you’ll feel a pride swelling in your heart that you never anticipated. “That’s my boy!” the voice will echo in your mind. And he always will be your boy.

Even when he’s his own man.

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My grandparents are long gone. One grandmother we called “Nana,” and the other we called “Granny” – if you average the two out, you might come out with “Nanny.”

Well, Nanny is alive and well. Here in the Land of the Free, we’re increasingly being hectored by the nanny state. Let me illustrate…

Today, outside our front door, we are taking part in that good-old American tradition of a yard sale (along with 2 neighbors – hey, why not do a multi-family and make it more of an event?). Just put out your stuff, fill up a money box, set up some signs, and have at it – right?

Wrong. We live in a town in New Jersey.

Here’s the way it goes down here:

  1. You actually have go to the town hall and buy a permit – for $10.
  2. You must display said permit at your yard sale.
  3. You must place the permit number on all your yard sale signs scattered about to promote the event.
  4. Some town official actually goes around and checks the various yard sales to ensure “compliance” with whatever nanny says a legal yard sale is nowadays.

Now, if you’ve lived in certain blue states long enough, or if you’re a card-carrying “progressive,” this might seem like normal behavior. But for the rest of us, it’s an affront. The message is clear: the citizenry cannot be trusted. People must be supervised and monitored by the government. Right down to selling crap for quarters to neighbors.

We’re 3 hours into the sale as I type this, and so far OSHA and the state health inspector have not yet closed down my son’s lemonade stand. So if you’re thirsty, please come fast. We forgot to get a restaurant permit.

I’d like to think this is an exception. But when I see the TSA’s assaults on citizens, when I see my state and local tax bills, when I see government meddling and distortion in every corner of the marketplace, I fear that nanny state enslavement is simply the new normal.

No wonder blue states are collapsing and people are fleeing in droves.

Oh, and by the way – don’t let your kid play dodgeball. Or use a swingset. Or eat a french fry. They just might get…hurt. Nanny knows best – it’s safer to stay in the cage…

(of course, not all Nanny-state meddling is so minor. NJ’s DYFS is in the process of destroying the Jackson family – read the story here)

(this blog post was submitted to the State Board of Blog Post Approval for official review by Correctness Commissioners and may be revoked at any time based on the findings of the NJ State Truth-in-Blogging Deputy Adjunct Assistant to the Director of Approved Citizen Speech. If you see any blog posts that do not meet state standards, or that might be offensive to anyone currently favored by the political class, please call 1-800-Get-Nanny. Union-sponsored blog posts excepted. No barn swallows were harmed in the writing of this disclaimer. Blogging permit #679).

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