Monday, August 30, 2010

Finger of God

I was just watching this movie on YouTube. It is called "Finger of God". It is amazing! I am on part 6/10 right now, about an hour in. It is all about 'crazy' miracles God has been doing around the globe.

A quote from a Monk who was dead for three days, and then sat up in his casket, at his own funeral- "It's all a lie!!! I saw our ancestors burning and being tortured in some kind of fire! I also saw Buddha and many other Buddhist holy men. They were all in a sea of fire. We must listen to the Christians! They're the only ones who know the truth!"

Now, this may seem obvious to most Christians, as it is a widely held belief that you must believe in Jesus to get into heaven... but there was always that part of me that likes to believe that as long as one holds loyally to their idea of their God that it might be enough. I know that this sounds stupid, given the entire Old Testament, where idolatry is explicitly damned. For some reason I never quite make the correlation between 'all other religions' being the same as idolatry! Our God and Bible is definitely not pleased with individuals worshiping any God to the best of their ability, as I was tempted to believe. I think our culture encourages this type of theology, for the sake of religious tolerance, religious respect and for the sake of discouraging public evangelism. I was a sucker!

This is a huge wake up call for me. There goes my theology!!

Finger of God part one

Finger of God part two
Finger of God part three
Finger of God part four
Finger of God part five
Finger of God part six
Finger of God part seven
Finger of God part eight
Finger of God part nine
Finger of God part ten

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Commerce clause vs. the freedom to grow your own food

Are we free to grow a home veggie garden? Is this an area of our lives that is safe? I would think so... but in Wickard vs. Filburn, 1942- the Supreme Court ruled that a farmer does not have the freedom to grow and consume his own crops because of its effects on "commerce"... in other words, if everyone grew their own food, the food industry would suffer. Where in the Constitution does it allow the federal government to regulate backyard gardens? The Commerce Clause, of course!!!

As seen today, the Commerce Clause is used to allow the government to regulate just about anything. Are there any limits on the federal government? Does such an interpretation of the Commerce Clause completely nullify the 9th and 10th amendments in our Bill of rights?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I saw Tony Judt on PBS last night...

Last night I watched an interview with Tony Judt on PBS. A few things peaked my interest so I looked him up this morning. He is "a universalist social democrat", former Marxist. He acknowledges the atrocities that have resulted throughout history when socialism is instituted, and does not admire the results... only the policies. He wants to untangle the perception of “over-powerful states” or "economic dictatorship" and the policies of social democrats. He is interesting and seems to be a smart guy, but fails to point out just how you institute these policies without “over-powerful states” or "economic dictatorship".

Interesting summary of his most recent book: Ill Fares the Land

He desires the European socialism over Nazi/Soviet/ Venezuelan/ Cuban socialism. To that I agree, but that does not mean that I like it... much to the contrary. So the question is, what separates the two results, if anything? Well, one major factor is money.

In the PBS interview Judt acknowledges that Europe has had to pay for very little of their own defense, due to the "nuclear umbrella" of the USA. He also notes,"I have never met a European, or indeed anyone else in the world, who says, "We don't want America in the United Nations. We don't want America contributing to the World Health Organization. We don't want America paying for, helping to pay for, the cost of refugees, for AIDS victims."

As opposed as the USA is to socialism, it has been subsidizing it for years... Do you like European health care systems? you subsidize it. Do you like European mass transport? You paid for it.

If Europe had to pay for their own defense and the USA did not shoulder the majority of the UN/ WHO burden, their social utopia would not have lasted for so long... because, as Margaret Thatcher so ingeniously noted, " The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money"... and as seen in Greece and the national debts in Europe... they are running out of other people's money. As we pursue more and more of these policies.. so are we... and that is when socialism turns ugly (AKA.. Soviet/ Cuba/ China/ Venezuela/ Nazi -kinda-ugly) The world needs the economic engine of our free market economy (all though it has not been truly free for years) to feed their social program machinery.

Luckily, some in Europe are showing a different path. The UK is acknowledging they are out of other people's money, and instead of turning ugly, they are decentralizing and reforming!!! They are even decentralizing their health care, as we are centralizing our own!! Greece is also trying to institute reforms, but are meeting with much opposition to those reforms from socialists and unions within their own ranks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brad is a sucker...

(' re welcome!!)


Article: Brad Pitt is 'willing to look at the death penalty' in bizarre rant against BP

Brad Pitt has been a sucker of unfortunate propaganda. He has allowed his love for the poor to be translated into hatred of the rich. His love of the environment to be perverted into the killing of another human being as a sacrificial atonement for environmental sin.This is just a symptom of a much larger problem.

The only way I could sympathize with Brad in this case is if BP purposefully plotted spilling millions of gallons of oil for the sake of mass death and the collapse of the US economy (neither of which happened), which I do not believe is the case.
As for BP, there is a legitimate argument that this whole thing could have been prevented if they had not cut corners to save a few bucks... and against the government watchdogs that allowed them to, but Pitt's reaction is almost as if he expects them of plotting this whole thing on purpose, and would only be appropriate if this actually were the case. If this were the case, he would (more appropriately) be calling for the death penalty in response to the intended taking of human life, or mass treason due to plotting the destruction of the economy, but he is not.
This was also an unfortunate event for BP.. but I am not losing any sleep for them. It happened on their watch and it was their responsibility to step up to the plate and handle it like grown ups.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Housing Crisis... interesting article on the housing/mortgage crisis

When Economic Policy Became Social Policy

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ayn Rand in hurting my brain..

I am about 950 pages into Atlas Shrugged, little over 100 pages to go. The book has a strong tie into this weeks topic I had been dealing with about how best to serve the poor, and translating that into personal and political philosophies.

Ayn Rand is a picture of pure logic and would probably agree with her if I was an atheist, as she was.... but I am not. She comes off as viewing the poor as worthless, even though her frustration is rooted in a society that does not educate people to think and value achievement for themselves, and legislated hatred of the rich.
When a desire to help the poor is instituted legislatively, it is often misdirected towards policies that punish the rich in the name of helping the poor.

You cannot put chains around the engine of society and then still expect it to run your economy and have enough left over for the care of poverty in your nation. What we are seeing today is the ugliest of socialistic practices... the crippling of our economy through poorly conceived regulations, coupled with the bankrupting of our economy through welfare programs. You cannot do both. I would argue that the former concept is the larger problem than the latter, but my brain is too overworked to think properly at this point.

We need an economically free country in order to create a nation with the lowest levels of poverty possible and the highest levels of prosperity in order to fund the needy in our nation, if we choose that to be a national [preferably state ;)] priority. I still have questions about the wisdom of charity through government and what its influences are as it regards the corruption of the human soul, but have no questions in my own mind about the necessity of a free economy.

I still prefer cheerful willing generosity to government handouts, but there is a legitimate argument whether there should be some sort of safety net to fill the gap. I definitely would like limits placed on such programs, for those other than widows, orphans and disabled... those legitimately unable to provide for themselves. As Milton Friedman points out in the video of the previous post, one of the largest problems that fuels the generational poverty in our nation has its root in the education of our youth. We need to put a higher value on the desire to think and question for ourselves. The best thing an education can do is create in a child the desire to learn and to strive.

All right, Ayn Rand... even though I already have way much food for thought to deal with this week.... I HAVE to know the ending!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Responsibility to the Poor

I have been having a great conversation this week with my pastor on how best to create a society that best alleviates poverty.

This video I found to be a beautiful thing, coupled with the video in the top right, I find it to be inspirational...

"Approximately 75% of all monies allocated to fight poverty ends up feeding the huge bureaucracy set up to fight poverty. It isn't that the U.S. government hasn't spent enough money; it's that the money has been spent counter productively. Ronald Nash and Thomas Sowell insist that we could raise every poor person in the U.S. out of poverty in one week and reduce the budget for the programs by 75 percent simply by eliminating the huge bureaucracy that stands between the poor and the federal treasury."

So, how do we lessen the bureaucratic overhead and deliver more bang for the buck to help alleviate poverty in this society? I would argue, more reliance on tax credits and vouchers. It works wonderfully in school voucher programs in the areas where it is tried, but is not more broadly applied due to special interests, pressure from teachers unions. Similar programs could be used to encourage more generosity in society in other areas.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I think we might be confused....

Soviet Constitution: ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens. (notice: no freedom of pro religious propaganda)


US Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Somewhere along the way I think we may have gotten confused...... our current understanding of US religious freedom and separation of church and state seems to be much closer to that of the Soviet Constitution than that of our own. We have been taught that our freedom of religion stops when we exit the church and our freedom to pray stops at our front doors. It does not. We have been taught that separation of church and state is in our Constitution, it is not. It originated (in this nation) from a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson, where he was actually trying to reassure a citizen that the government would not interfere in her religious practices, not the other way around.
It was actually the congress that had the first English bibles printed in these United States for the use in schools!!! That does not sound like separation of church and state to me. Politicians still swear into office on a Bible! ...I am surprised that has not been attacked more strongly, given the current understanding of things. It is now being said that any prayer in public building is prohibited, even voluntary prayer, even though Sunday services used to be held IN the US Capitol buildings. People have been stopped from praying on the steps of the Supreme Court, children stopped from singing the National Anthem at the Lincoln Memorial!! Things are so twisted these days. Where has the freedom of religion gone?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I got it!!! .. oh wait, it's gone.

Did you ever have a great idea, and then just when you want to verbalize it, it disappears? I do that all the time!
I am in the middle of reading Atlas Shrugged and found the perfect paragraph to express it, which I just had to share.

Page 351, Hank Rearden...
"Somewhere within him, he knew the thought she would not name, but he only knew it in that prenatal shape which has to find its words in the future. "
...that prenatal shape which has to find its word in the future.

Appropriately this is one of the truths in life that I had not yet found the right words for. In the last year or so, I have made a conscious effort to stop and try to mentally verbalize thoughts before trying to speak them, for the sake of having lost too many. Maybe I am a wierdo (maybe?!).