Truly Christian, part 3

Slavery. What an incredibly inhumane concept. What kind of pride does it take to believe that you can own another human being? Of all the awful sins of humanity, this should rank near the top of the list.

The Bible, however, with all of its condemnation of sin and prohibition of inhumane activities, seems to say little against the practice of slavery. Actually, I am no longer convinced that that is true. Especially after studying Philemon, I am now persuaded that the Bible says plenty to condemn slavery, just not in ways we expect. Continue reading

Balance

There is a man in Pennsylvania who built a lighted, 24-foot cross on his front lawn as a public display of his belief in Jesus Christ.  And, not surprisingly, some of the neighbors want him to take it down.

This same man in Pennsylvania was also told by the local borough council that he was lacking the proper building permit to raise the structure.

He is apparently now seeking that permit.

But, he has stated that he will not take down the cross, no matter what the outcome of his permit application. Continue reading

Reconsidering Holidays

Columbus PortraitToday is National Bank (and Government Offices) Sabbath Day. But, it is also Columbus Day.

I think a lot of people are disenfranchised with Columbus Day, or at least with the fact that we can’t withdraw any money. And, honestly, as long as I can remember having critical thinking skills (which, admittedly, is not all that long) I remember questioning why we have a “Columbus Day.” Didn’t he just “discover” some land that had already been discovered, and, in fact, inhabited, for quite some time?

But, there’s another aspect for us to consider from a Christian standpoint: should we celebrate what Columbus “accomplished?” Here’s a video offering an interesting perspective. Continue reading

That’s Just Silly…and Other Thoughts on Burning the Koran

Have you heard about the preacher in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11? His name is Terry Jones, and he is promoting International Burn a Koran Day. Seriously. Watch this CNN interview with Jones: Quran burning backlash.

Here’s what Terry Jones had to say about his efforts to promote International Burn a Koran Day: Continue reading

Concerning Republics and Democracies

This blog post is a response to a reader’s recent email.  In that email the reader sent an article (not authored by the reader) discussing the difference between a republic and a democracy.  The article was sent by the reader because I used the term democracy several times in a recent blog post (Advice to Christians Concerning Religious Freedom) in reference to some of the recent political issues of religious freedom. The reader’s point was to say that the US government is a republic rather than a democracy.

First of all, the US governmental framework is rightly termed a republic: “state in which supreme power rests in the people” (see this link for a definition and origin of the word). That is really as far as the definition of that term can take us: it simply says that the people rule rather than a monarch. Machiavelli was one of the first to recognize two types of government: a principality ruled by a “prince” or monarch, and a republic…which was basically anything else. By the way, according to the definition even an oligarchy (rule by an elite, wealthy, or royal class) is a republic, though certainly not the intended US form of government.

What the term “republic” does not describe is how the people rule in their sovereignty. Continue reading

The Cost of War

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report tracking spending in the Iraq War over the last eight years in comparison to the total national deficit. Fox News picked up the data in a recent article and compared the total cost of the war to the total cost of the recent Stimulus Bill. Here is what they said:

Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009…the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations. The projected cost of the stimulus…was $862 billion.

As a Christian, all I can say is that the premise of this perspective is horrible. Continue reading

Advice to Christians Concerning Religious Freedom

Obama re-centered himself in the conservative political cross-hairs recently when he seemed to make statements supporting the building of a mosque near Ground Zero (not at Ground Zero, as the media consistently implies). At the same time, New York (among other regions) also faces a debate over how public schools ought to handle religious holidays, especially Muslim holidays in increasingly Muslim communities.

I have no desire to get caught up in any of these debates. I certainly have some (often shaky and inconsistent) opinions, but they are opinions. Instead, I would like to offer some biblical advice for properly responding to these prickly issues.

1) DEMOCRACY IS AN IMPERFECT, HUMAN INSTITUTION
If nothing else, I hope these controversies highlight the weaknesses of democracy, an institution that has been deified all too often. Continue reading

The Real Problem in America

It’s Friday, and it seems like a good day to tackle some politics.

The polls over the last several years have consistently shown that a large majority of Americans believe this nation is on the wrong track. You’ve probably seen the numbers–it’s really the only thing the various news organizations with their various political inclinations can agree on. And, so, we have to ask two important questions:

1. Why do most Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track?
2. And, if it is true that the nation is on the wrong track, then what is the problem?

Well, I have found an excellent article that, I believe, offers the best answer to both of these questions:
We Will Never Be United As A Nation As Long As There Are Other People Besides Myself.

(Keep in mind that The Onion, for which the author of the above-linked article writes, is not technically a news organization–they are a company invested in sarcasm, parody, and made-up stories.  But, this article sill hits the nail on the head.)

Kingdom Hospitality

I suppose you have probably heard by now. Arizona has passed a very strict immigration law.  Here is a New York Times writer’s quick summary of the new legislation:

The bill makes it a state crime for immigrants not to carry authorization papers, requires the police “when practicable” to check the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally and allows people to sue cities and counties if the law is not being enforced.

Those for the bill are obviously concerned with drug and human-trafficking related crime that is associated with some illegal immigration. Recent drug wars in Mexico-side border towns, and the murder of an Arizona rancher that was believed to be killed by someone crossing the border illegally brought this issue to the forefront for Arizona government. It is understandable that the people of Arizona and their leaders would be concerned about this issue.

On the other hand, those against the bill oppose the extreme nature of the enforcement it authorizes (and even requires, under penalty of lawsuit). Continue reading

Real Health Care Reform, part 3

Haven’t read parts 1 or 2 yet? Here are the links: part 1 and part 2.

I wonder what it felt like to be a first century leper. I know it had to be painful and frustrating because of the nature of the disease. But, it also had to be lonely and depressing. To be unable to be a part of society, unwelcome in the marketplaces, and unwilling to spend time with friends and family for fear of passing the destructive skin disease on to them must have been horribly difficult. Continue reading