Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama is Running for President, Not Pastor

This is just one more reason politics is such a nasty, nasty sport. It makes some folks justify any means to accomplish the political task.

Cal Thomas has written a piece at Baptist Press blasting Obama for not being Christian. Here's a quote:

Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn't meet that requirement. One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian. Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called "false prophets"

Oh, get real, Cal!

If you want to discredit a guy based on his politics, do so. Blast away. Discredit him all you want. But to criticize a candidate because he is not Christian  enough for you is to be un-American. Obama is running for President, not Pastor in Chief. There is a reason why the Constitution has a "no religious test" provision --- to make sure Pharisees don't select our political leaders.

Examining someone's qualifications for pastor or church membership is entirely your right, but that standard should not be applied to our politicians. We want the best qualified & best leader, which may or may not be a Christian. Do we ask the cashiers at the grocery store if they are Christian--- or brand of Christian? If not, it is hypocrisy to apply that standard to Obama. What about the teachers in our schools? If not, it is hypocrisy to apply that standard to Obama. Do we ask about the faith of the people that assembled our Bibles? If not, it is hypocrisy to apply that standard to Obama. What of the policemen or firemen that protect the public safety? If not, it is hypocrisy to apply that standard to Obama.

No, fact is that too many people are using faith as a tool in political manipulation. Which is another thing that should cause us all to pause . . . why is Baptist Press even publishing such an article anyway? Could it be that Baptist Press is using this article to subtly take a swipe at a candidate & manipulate the readers to not vote for the non-Christian? Congregationalists did that in Colonial America, & Baptists were excluded from owning property, voting, employment, etc. Baptists were not allowed to hold public office because their profession wasn't good enough. And now Baptist Press is saying the very same thing about Obama.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Imagine how it would be if the majority were some other faith --- wonder how my Pharisaical brothers & sisters would like that standard then?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Spain vs Germany --- Euro 2008

Tomorrow is gonna be a great match. The whole family is waiting on this one. Can't wait.

Germany is weak this year, but it's been wild this go round. I thought the Netherlands had it in the bag --- that's why we actually play the games.

Here's the lowdown link if you're into the World's Most Beautiful Game.

Another 2 years & World Cup is back. (Love this 2006 video --- Toni Braxton is gorgeous. And I wished I looked half as good in an Armani suit as Il Divo.)



Ethicists, Religious, Political & Military Leaders Say NO to Torture

David Gushee is the distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University & is part of a large movement of our nation's moral center calling for an end to to unethical gov't actions regarding torture.

Here's the Associated Baptist Press article:

The signatories include former secretaries of state George Shultz, Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, former defense secretaries Harold Brown, William Perry, and William Cohen, four former members of the Defense Department’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and dozens of other flag officers of the U.S. armed forces, along with former senators Sam Nunn, John Glenn, and others. Religious leaders include top Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical leaders. . . .

Our “Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty” affirms six key principles that we believe must govern U.S. policy on prisoner treatment, and asks President Bush to issue an executive order based on them. The principles are the Golden Rule, a single national standard, the rule of law, the duty to protect, checks and balances, and clarity and accountability.

-- The Golden Rule principle affirms that our nation will not use any methods of interrogation that we would not find acceptable if used against Americans.

-- The one national standard principle means that all U.S. personnel and agencies will apply the same standards for interrogation, with no exceptions for the CIA or any other agency. Currently, the best expression of a reasonably humane standard is found in the U.S. Army Field Manual, which explicitly bans a number of cruel interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.

-- Adherence to the rule of law requires that the United States will acknowledge all prisoners to our courts and the Red Cross, rejects any use of secret prisons or the mysterious disappearance of prisoners, and requires fully adequate judicial processes for detainees to prove their innocence.

-- The duty to protect means a reaffirmation not just of our own rejection of torture, but of our responsibility to protect people in our custody from being tortured by other countries after transfer from our government.

-- The principle of checks and balances reaffirms the legitimate role of the legislative and judicial branches of the federal government in understanding, reviewing, and -- in some cases -- setting detention policies.

-- Finally, the emphasis on clarity and accountability means that all U.S. personnel involved in relating to prisoners must operate with total clarity as to the legal rules under which they do so and with full understanding that all who violate those rules will be held accountable, regardless of rank or position.

The over 50 evangelical leaders who signed this declaration of principles along with 150 other national leaders represent many of our country’s leading Christian institutions. They are academics, denominational leaders, pastors, writers, activists, evangelists and missionaries. In obedience to Christ, they give each day to the work of loving God and loving neighbor as they have been commanded in Scripture. They are theologically orthodox and most are not particularly politically inclined, though undoubtedly they represent Republicans and Democrats and independents.

None of us who have become involved in this fight expected or wanted to have to engage the issue of prisoner treatment and torture in the war on terror.

But when we discovered to our horror that our nation had slipped into policies permitting torture and cruelty in our name, and related policies that involved the systematic mistreatment of prisoners and denial of their basic human rights, we had to respond. My own group, Evangelicals for Human Rights, began offering such a response in the summer of 2006 and we have been working to help evangelicals bear a clear Christian witness on this issue since that time. Participation in the development of this declaration of principles represents a high-water mark for our efforts, which will continue until policies that reflect the six principles of this document have become the policies of the United States. . . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hucksters of the Word

I'm completely bewildered how anyone could fall for this. Frankly, a bit upset. Hucksters of the Word.

There is new product out there called  "A Soaking Kit."   It is not a kids water toy. It is not a portable car wash. It's not even a water hose.

But it sells for $60 & is described as "Miracle Grow for the Soul.

Horse feathers.

This Tetzel Trinket is sold by the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. You may remember them from back in the 90s as the beginning of the "Toronto Blessing."  After attending the church, people claimed that their enamel dental fillings had turned to gold.  Honest to Pete: that's what they claimed.  Here's the BBC article.

This is the group that practices the "Holy Laughter."  You can watch the video below. There is nothing "holy" about this at all. It is not Scriptural. It is mass manipulation & pure emotionalism. It is Corinth revisited.




Sunday, June 15, 2008

Illinois Artist Changes Name to "In God We Trust"

Steve Kreuscher wanted to make a statement & set himself apart from other artists. He dang sure has done that.

Last week, a Lake County, Illinois judge approved Kreuscher's request to change his name to "In God We Trust".

This was not an easy decision, evidently. Divine guidance was needed & much prayer was offered up to about this name change. He had praying for a confirmation --- a sign --- to say the name change was what God wanted. So when God miraculously worked out the tax refund to almost what it was gonna cost to legally change his name, Kreuscher knew God was in it.


Of course, the guy is also an artist & has begun signing his paintings with his new name. He said: "There are billions of artists out there. If you don't do something to stand out in the crowd the world won't recognize you."

Double sigh.

Here's the Chicago Sun-Times article.

Really, this bothers me. I don't care about the name change --- whatever. It is the "confirmation" part. What sort of willy-nilly theology is this? A coincidence with income tax is a prayer confirmation to change a name to something silly like this? What a lack of Biblical teaching we have in our nation.

The Kids, Me, & Madden 2005

Yes, I know the title of the post is not grammatically correct but --- hey --- it communicates.

So my oldest, Jeremy, is home from Berry College for the summer. Sure, he's been home for a month now but I've been busy (don't ask; details to follow) & haven't had time to blog about anything. Great to have him home. He is nearly 20 now & has greatly matured. He's always been more mature than other kid his age, but now I can really see it. More mature than I was at 20. Good head on his shoulders. He will be a junior at Berry next year. Even though he is going to the cross town, arch rival of my alma mater, (Shorter College - GO HAWKS!), I believe he made the right decision for him. I'm super proud of him.

My youngest is now 10. Still sweet. Very tender hearted & the kid every teacher wants in their class. Never in trouble. Jameson is the unexpected blessing my wife & I prayed for, though we really weren't expecting a blessing to be a 3rd child. Then again, God has a way of blessing us with things we never imagined.

Jamie is my daughter. Fifteen going on twenty-five. She is Daddy's Little Princess. I call her "Peaches." Always have. She has me wrapped around her little finger & she knows it. All girl. The apple of my eye.

But Peaches doesn't like Madden 2005. Jeremy, Jameson & I do. Almost an obsession. We created our own Franchise, in fact: drafting players; naming our team; creating our stadiums; developing our strategy; etc. Madden 2005 may be 3 years old but it is new & fresh everyday in the TBAR house.

Right now, I'm winning. I wish I could say it is because I am such a good manager of the Flames franchise, but it ain't that. (Hales' Flames --- get it?) It is not my coaching skills either. I drafted well, but that is not the reason I'm on top. Fact is, I got lucky in the game I was playing against my oldest. One of his screen pixels fumbled the ball in the Red Zone, allowing one of my screen pixels to pick up the ball. Yep. My guy just happened to be closer to the ball than any of his players. So with 39 seconds in the game & down by three points, I ran a play that just happened to get a fast receiver open. The Mighty Flames QB (Ben Roethlisberger) threw a strike that went for 83 yard TD reception. I am up by 4 points to win the game & be #1 in the standings.

I feel like a million bucks; $750,000 considering inflation & gas/food prices.

Now for the serious reflection. Madden 2005 is a game. Nothing more. For some folks, technology can be an obsession of itself. It can be dysfunctional. It can be disastrous. But for my two boys & me, it is a fun way to kick back, let off some steam, laugh & just be guys.

We've had some neat conversations in front of the TV screen, holding those controllers. Politics. Faith. Ethics. Guy stuff. Family. More politics. Dreams. Disappointments. Life. Hope. Blessings.

Don't sell technology short. For whatever its problems, it is given the guys in my family a chance to have some fun.

What will they remember about the summer of 2008? That we had a blast playing some silly, antique football game. In 50 years, I hope they tell their grand kids about me & the good times we had --- & how I spanked them with my superior skills, of course --- while making memories with the folks that mean the most to me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

MN Pastor Challenges IRS Guidelines

I guess we'll see if the IRS is serious about its rules or not.

Gus Booth is the pastor of Warroad Community Church in Warroad, MN. Not much happens there but what Pastor Booth has started will be heard nation wide.

As a delegate to the Republican National Convention, Pastor Booth takes his politics seriously. So much so, in fact, that he has decided the IRS rules that prohibit church endorsement of political candidates are invalid & should be challenged.

So he did.

In May, Booth delivered a sermon telling his congregation not to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama because of their positions on aboortzion. Two weeks later Booth e-mailed Americans United for Separation of Church and State, advising them of his violation of Federal Law & asking for scrutiny, saying:

I am writing you to let you know that I preached a sermon in my church on Sunday, May 18, 2008, that specifically addressed the current candidates for President in the light of the Bible. As you can see from the attached newspaper article, I specifically made recommendations as to who a Christian should vote for.

I have read in the past about how you have a campaign to intimidate churches into silence when it comes to speaking about candidates for office. I am letting you know that I will not be intimidated into silence when I believe that God wants me to address the great moral issues of the day, including who will be our next national leader.

An Americans United press release & an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune have the details. The AU complied & sent a letter to the IRS asking for an investigation, just as they did when churches have endorsed Obama or Clinton. (Click here for text of AU letter to the IRS.)