Friday, January 30, 2009

Words Matter

Last Sunday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Speaking about the pending "economic stimulus" package championed by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and most other Democrat leaders, an exchange occurred which has since been spread all over the blogosphere...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

I am not the only person in America who has found the Speaker's words very disturbing. I am pleased that, with the support of the President, these provisions have been removed from the package.

The initial television exchange, however, remains very disturbing to me because it shows a radical difference in worldview from my own.

Speaker Pelosi is a strong, vocal supporter of legal abortion, sometimes misunderstanding the teachings of her denomination (the Roman Catholic Church). It would not be surprising to see her vote for any measure which would support legal abortion or speak in support of such a measure.

What dismays me is that in the exchange with George Stephanopoulos, Speaker Pelosi seems to reduce "family planning" to economics. We need to support such measures, she claimed, because they will "reduce costs" to the government, and that these are simply "the consequences of the downturn in our economy." There is no mention of human rights or what might be best for the baby, the parents, or the family. "Family planning" has been reduced to dollars and cents. One might ask, "What is a baby worth?"

To be fair, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats may not have been including abortion in the "family planning" section of the "stimulus" package; I have not read the proposed bills. She may only have been referring to condoms and birth control pills.

Even so, the Speaker's words tread on dangerous ground. I'm not ready to join those who have accused the Speaker of supporting eugenics, though her words may come close to doing so. I'm more willing to believe that she simply chose her words poorly...very poorly. But when we begin to think of babies and children in terms of economics and not in terms of their inherent worth as precious human souls for whom Jesus died, we take another step further on the road to dehumanization, and that can make eugenics and other atrocities possible.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Election of 2008 in Prophecy?

From the 1976 film Network...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prayer for President Obama

Gracious Heavenly Father, who has made a good world filled with beauty and the miraculous, be with President Barack Obama this day and in the difficult days ahead, that, protected by your hand and guided by your Spirit, he might lead this imperfect nation and this broken world into a time of peace and sharing, where conversation replaces violence, where celebration replaces poverty, and where love replaces hate; make him your man in this world; give him zeal to serve "the least of these"; protect his family from all harm; lead him always on your holy path; and through his work, prosper your people and your creation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Bush Legacy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


* By far, his most important achievement is that he kept the homeland safe after the tragic attacks of 9/11/01. No more attacks when everyone thought another one was inevitable...that's good stuff. It also looks like Al Qaeda has been pretty much neutered in their ability to hurt or kill others, and the Taliban is effectively no more; these are good things for America, the Middle East and the world.

* "He stood athwart mounting global warming hysteria and yelled, 'Stop!' He slowed the movement toward a policy blunder of worldwide impact, providing time for facts to catch up with the dubious claims of alarmists. Thanks in part to Bush, the supposed consensus of scientists on global warming has now collapsed. The skeptics, who point to global cooling over the past decade, are now heard loud and clear. And a rational approach to the theory of manmade global warming is possible." - Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard 1/19/09

* The No Child Left Behind Act...far from perfect, Bush nevertheless tried to do something about the educational problems in this nation, and tried to do what previous presidents were too frightened to attempt: hold teachers accountable for their teaching.

* John Roberts & Samuel Alito, two faithful Roman Catholic men of the highest integrity and deep faith, appointed to the highest court in the land.

* The Iraq surge. I am a pacifist and oppose all war, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, or Clinton's forays into Kosovo and Haiti, or Vietnam and Korea...wherever. But Bush disregarded the advice of many so-called "experts" and initiated "the surge", which has stabilized Iraq and given that nation the hope of a free, democratic future.

* Afghans - including long-persecuted Afghan women - participated in a free election for the first time in history. How could anyone fail to be moved?

* Cutting taxes is always a good thing, in my opinion.

* Bush delivered an astounding amount of aid to Africa, to fight poverty as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Based on financial aid, no other president comes close in their commitment to the people of Africa; no other president has done more to combat the global scourge of HIV/AIDS. One would think that the Left would celebrate this achievement, but hate seems to blind them - at least for now - to this reality.


* While the hurricane was in no way his fault, the federal government's slow response to Katrina was disappointing. Bush could have been a more visible, vocal cheerleader. True, the 2005 disaster revealed absolute incompetence from New Orleans and Louisiana officials, who were primarily responsible for the failures of the relief effort, but Bush shares at least part of the blame for the confusion of the initial relief effort. See my post from 8/29/06.

* The current economic crisis has nothing to do with President Bush; it's no more his fault than it is the fault of Steven Spielberg or Captain Kangaroo. But the gigantic recovery packages he has obtained are ghastly, and will likely do little to stave off recession. My advice: Let the economy take its those in imminent danger of death...and let the culture determine its own financial path.

* "Mission accomplished" was obviously premature. It was not the best idea the White House ever had.

* Osama Bin Laden may be still at large. My own opinion is that he is dead, killed in the caves of eastern Afghanistan / western Pakistan when American bombs made that region resemble the surface of the sun. But there's no evidence, so it's fair to hold Bush accountable.

* Abu Ghraib. Bush didn't cause this tragedy or condone it, but a few bad apples in the U.S. military did this under his watch.


* Allowing torture to become acceptable practice in the attempt to obtain information. Torturing another human being cannot bode well for America, and is never acceptable behavior for a Christian. See my post from 10/28/06.

* Gitmo. I understand that one can't simply let these killers go free, but something needs to be done. See my posts from 10/28/06 and 4/2/07.

* Bush's biggest failure in my opinion was a terrible practice of communication.

In 2001, the President declared what became known as "the Bush doctrine" as a new way of dealing with foreign policy and war. Whether one agrees with the doctrine or not (I don't), and whether one understands it fully or not (news anchor Charlie Gibson doesn't...but then strangely chastised Gov. Sarah Palin for not knowing it either, in one of the 2008 election's more bizarre moments), the doctrine was to be the rationale for any efforts in the War on Terror and beyond.

But Bush did a terrible job of communicating this rationale as the war continued. Iraq was initially to be one front of the wider war, Afghanistan another front; Bush failed to communicate these as such. Because he was unwilling or unable to communicate the "doctrine" as it pertains to Iraq, his political opponents in government and the media were able to establish the "two wars" motif. Imagine folks in the 1940s failing to connect the fronts in the Pacific, Africa, and Europe as part of one greater conflict; that is almost impossible to consider.

The communication failures of President Bush resulted in the compartmentalization of these efforts, so that the American people view Afghanistan as one war, Iraq as another. This has been disastrous for Bush's approval ratings as well as for the GOP in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

It has largely affected his ability to accomplish other things, internationally and domestically. Ineffective communication must stand, therefore, as his greatest failure. And it's a big one.


President Bush seems to be a good man of sincere Christian faith and upstanding personal character. He loves his wife, he loves his daughters, he has wanted to do what's right. He has experienced incredibly bad luck, with at least three events occurring during his tenure which could have destroyed any leader: 9/11/01, Hurricane Katrina, and the current economic crisis. He did some things well, others not so well. But I have never gotten the impression that he is mean or vindictive.

I believe that history will treat President Bush in a kind fashion, particularly if Iraqi democracy takes off. Those who claim he is the worst president in history know little about history. He is nowhere near the bottom of that list; neither was he able to reach the vaunted heights of Washington, Lincoln, or Reagan.

As Americans inaugurate a new President, let us pledge to pray for Barack Obama and continue to pray for George W. Bush, that both men will be safe and filled with the Spirit of wisdom and grace.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Super Bowl bound!

Pittsburgh Steelers 23,
Baltimore Ravens 14...

...and the greatest team in professional sports is headed to Tampa on February 1 to play for their unprecedented sixth Lombardi trophy!

Life is sweet; God is good!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Even More Wisdom from William Abraham

"God did not come into the world to hold an endless seminar on who He is."
- William Abraham

Thanks to Shane Raynor & Mark Tooley

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Wisdom from William Abraham

"Lacking a theological consensus,...the United Methodist Church has come to rely on the language of 'organizational structure' and the business world."
- William Abraham
as paraphrased by Mark Tooley

Thanks to Shane Raynor & Mark Tooley

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wisdom from William Abraham

"The Incarnation and Resurrection involve divine intervention. Suck it up or get over it!"
- William Abraham

Thanks to Shane Raynor & Mark Tooley

Truth: Baltimore Ravens

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Epiphany 2009

"...we are like the three wise men who journeyed to Jesus. Now, like those Wise Men, we return to the world from which we came, to the everyday life where we will witness to what we have seen...

"...indeed it compels us to start out afresh on a new stage of the journey on which we become proclaimers and heralds. The Wise Men were in a sense the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but made them set out anew on the paths of the world.

"We need to 'set out anew from Christ', with the zeal of Pentecost, with renewed enthusiasm. To set out from him above all in a daily commitment to holiness, with an attitude of prayer and of listening to his word. To set out from him in order to testify to his love by living a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness before the world."
- Pope John Paul II, Epiphany 2001

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Prayer for Gaza & Israel

Almighty Father, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in calm your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; especially grant peace to Jerusalem and all who live in Israel and the Gaza Strip, that violent thoughts would disappear, weapons of destruction would vanish, and all hate would be conquered by your perfect compassion, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- adapted from the Book of Common Prayer