Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Abstinence Education

This morning when I woke up, the morning talk show was throwing around a study that was just released, measuring the success of abstinence-based sex education. The study was apparently measuring sexual activity between two groups of teens: those who had pledged to remain abstinent and those who had not. Numbers seemed to show that in both groups, roughly the same number of teens became sexually active. The reporters stated that the main difference is that the teens who had intended to remain abstinent were far more likely to not use birth control. I say 'apparently' and focus on the reporting merely because a good portion of the time, the interpreted results of a study on a morning news show (or any news show or mainstream article) are not the real results of the study.

What really struck me as odd was the interpretation of the journalist who was reporting on it -- "It's great if you can do it, but most of us can't, so be prepared just in case."

Now, if someone is trying to lose weight, no one is going to tell you to carry a cheesecake around, just in case you can't do it. They tell you instead to make it hard. Get offending food out of your house, so that you have to go out and get something andhave more time to think. They advise you to have strategies -- know where you can go to get food that you CAN eat. Have food around that is good for you (I knew a guy who ate 8 apples before going to a Christmas party. He lost 150 lbs.). Have other options that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Find something on the menu of places that you like to go that will help you. When you think you are hungry, have water first...go for a walk...do something else, go to bed.

They also tell you to change your attitude...have a goal. Put up a picture of a skinny you on the fridge. Make a list of why you want to lose weight and post it on the bathroom mirror.

Also...be around people who will support you and give you good messages.

In short, change your environment, change your behaviors, change your attitude, and change your culture. These are probably very key to any behavior or value that one wants to support.

With teens -- and it wasn't SO long ago that I was in the dating realm, we don't do any of this with them or for them. Instead, the mantra that I heard from most parents is "I don't want them to think that I don't trust them" and this is used as an excuse to not give them the tools to succeed. And this journalist, as well as others, are maintaining that these kids should give it the old college try, but still have that condom in the wallet or go on The Pill, just in case.

Lauren Winner, the author of Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity, and keynote speaker at the Cranach Institute's conference "In the Image of God: A Christian View of Love and Marriage" talked about this in her presentation. When she and her husband were dating while in masters' programs, her campus pastor had advised them to keep away from behavior in private that they wouldn't do under the gazebo in the center of their college campus. What would they feel safe doing? Basically just kissing. Why? Because it was a public place. So then they changed where they met and what they did. They went to places where they could be alone but in public. They didn't go to each other's houses where they were really alone and tempted, and as always...this became harder the more in love they became, because romantic love causes two people to become completely absorbed in each other and to crave each other. Other than that, they went out with friends, participated in the college singles group, and kept friends around them that shared their values. (one of the intriguing things about her book is that she started writing it in order to prove that it wasn't important that Christians abstain. She found the typical arguments against having sex to be superficial and meaningless...yet her conclusions were that abstinence is very important. It wasn't the conclusion that her heart WANTED to find).

If the only reasons kids are given are only the should nots, they are almost doomed for failure. Messages like it's naughty, you can get pregnant, you can get STDs, don't hold up in the heat of passion or against the desires to be loved, wanted, and valued in the moment.

What they need to be told about are the beauties of God's promises. Why He created marriage. Why sex is beautiful and only truly wonderful between a husband and a wife - where they can truly be one and show real love and commitment to each other. My husband recalls how his pastor told him in confirmation how he shares a bond with his wife that he has never had with any other woman, and she has never had with any other man. That made my husband yearn for that, and gave him strength in truly tempting times.

When my husband and I were dating, there was also another realization there..that as wonderful as it would be to just forget it all and turn off our brains for a few hours, we were truly aware that if we did, we truly WERE sinning against each other, and were hurting each other. We'd had some small tastes of that hurt in our dating relations, enough to drive home that really letting go would be truly painful to each other, and our relationship might not survive it -- something else that pointed out that the true commitment wasn't there until the rings were exchanged.

Culture is a important also. We're in a culture that glorifies sex. Not only that, but glorifies SINGLE sex. We are bombarded with messages about how exciting and wonderful that surrendering, rebelling, and partaking of the forbidden fruit is. Married sex is supposedly tame, boring, and needs excitement. Our kids see this all over the place. They need messages from us that let them know that this is a BIG HUGE lie. Marriages don't need spiced up through fantasy, toys, and new positions. They are fed through love, respect, and honor. That wonderful comfort and familiarity is marriage's strength. We are taught to despise this very strength in the grocery market aisles, on t.v. shows, and in our self-help books.

Kids also need our support through setting limits...curfews, restrictions on where they can go, who they can be with, what activities they can do. These are loving. Our homes (our living rooms, anyway)need to be open to them, so they have a place where they can be alone, yet very much not alone..and they need to be taught to think and date in a manner that allows them to protect themselves. They need to be encouraged to possibly stay home through college, or their college environments need to be scoped out for more than simply the comfort of the dorms. I know many Lutheran parents who make it a point to check out the congregations that are supporting their kids'campuses to make sure they are preaching and teaching Word and Sacrament, and provide support for their teens. We need to help shape our kids' subculture to support them in their chastity, especially since our general culture tells them that sex before marriage is good and desirable. As my OB/GYN told me before I got married "you need to make sure you are sexually compatible before you get married."

Many cultures use arranged marriage to protect their children, others use chaperones, others use shotgun weddings and the threat of shame. A modern type of courtship is popular among some Christians right now. While some of these means are better than others, probably what keeps teens chaste is the combination of knowing what is right, feeling what is right, and fear of repercussions.

The Mormon "Church" sets up seminary buildings across from campuses where they have classes on all sorts of things including "creative dating," set up their own fraternity and sorority, hold all sorts of social activities, and even have specifically college-aged congregations (wards, they call them). In many ways, it is highly successful in creating a subculture within the college culture that supports their values, as one example.

To a great extent, I doubt whether or not abstinence based education can truly be successful if it is divorced from the Author and Creator of marriage, because it really can be no more than a program that emphasizes how sex has risks and tells teens they aren't ready for those risks yet. But knowing that there is an accountability before God, and that He made us, loves us, and knows beyond all doubt what is right for us is a completely different approach. All Christians have an accountability before God to support individuals in their quest to reach marriage as virgins in our friendships, our support, our prayers and in the structures we set up to support them in that.

But the idea that teens need to be prepared "just in case" is ridiculous. They need to be strengthened and supported in their resolve, forgiven and supported in doing what is right when they sin. And we probably need to take a good long look at our attitudes toward marriage. In general, American Christians have pretty much fully embraced the worldly idea that you go to college, get a job, and then when you are ready, you get married. If I learned anything in Utah, it was that it CAN be done differently. Most of my friends were married before they were done with college. Many had kids. As Christians, we need to seriously look at whether or not we are taking marriage -- something God pleasing and that He promises will bless us, and subjugating it to the gods of knowledge, money, career, and vast life experience.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Knitting Again

My hubby got me a set of beautiful interchangable needles from Knitpicks this year (my kids got me the organizer to put them in...very cool). So, in celebration, I picked up the scarf that I'd been working on a year or so ago, and started knitting again.

I don't think I am completely into the knitting groove yet, though, because when I was knitting on this before, I was completely fascinated with the way the pattern was going. Now I just keep thinking that the person who decided it would be cool to continually knit along the hypotenuses (?) of various triangles must truly be a sadist, and the interesting pattern is just the mind game to keep you coming back....

:)

But the needles are a joy, and the color pattern in the wood is just beautiful (though it might be doing the same thing as the knitting itself).

Anywho.....
Merry fifth day of Christmas
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Memories

Our family doesn't "do" Santa Claus. We don't condemn it, either, and don't worry, we've made it a point to teach our children not to spoil the fun for your children.

My husband decided that he didn't want to add Santa Claus to the mix because his family didn't have Santa Claus, either, and he still felt like Christmas was the most joyous holiday ever. Later, I found out that his parents' did have Santa, but Jeff was the youngest, and so everyone else pretty much knew that there was no Santa by the time he was old enough to remember everything. At any rate, not much energy had really been put into it (but his mother was surprised by his revelation that they didn't have Santa). Either way, it doesn't make a difference. He always remembered having Christmas focused on Christ.

And we've pretty much found the same thing. My kids have problems sleeping Christmas Eve because they are so excited, they enjoy getting and receiving presents, but they also remember what it is about. (and as the good rule goes...we replace the tradition of Santa Claus with an excited energy about Advent).

We handled the Santa thing very simply by using pretty much these exact words. "Santa Claus was a man who lived a very long time ago, and he gave gifts to children. Some people choose to remember him on Christmas, too. We like to focus on the birth of Jesus."

Not that it doesn't have its repercussions though. One of my favorite memories was when Chris was around four (now remember, we were very careful how we phrased that). We were in an outlet mall in Barstow, CA, just before Christmas. A very nice, elderly saleswoman was talking with Chris, and was very charmed by him. Then she asked him "Is Santa bringing you lots of presents this year?" Chris very emphatically replied "Mommy and Daddy told me Santa Claus is DEAD!!!"

She was horrified. After my original feeling of wanting to hide inside a clothing rack (I was sure she felt like we should be reported), we laughed hysterically all the way back home.

But another thought occurred to me, too. It really amazed me at that time that she would be horrified by that. There are plenty of people who don't observe Christmas. There are Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, agnostics, atheists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. In California, this is a very strong reality. There are plenty of families who don't observe Christmas at all for one reason or another. And honestly, I am happier about the fact that people who don't believe in Christ choose not to observe it at all rather than observing it brainlessly, or choosing to make it something completely different than Christ's birth.

I know that these past few years, people have been very upset about stores saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." But the reality is there are lots of holidays being observed at this point of the year, and to be perfectly frank, the observation of Christ's birth is not about buying presents, going shopping, and sending cards. These things are nice, but as far as a Christmas tradition, it is relatively new. Christmas is about Christ's Mass -- a Holy Communion service that is focused on remembering when and how our Savior was born. God took on flesh in order to be a sacrifice for our sins. The presents are about us sharing that joy...but that joy can be shared without the presents. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true....the things that I MUST do to get Christmas "done" often take away from that joy by the sheer length of that to-do list (buy this, decorate this tree, bake these cookies, etc.)

So really, I don't care what the stores do. As long as they are not telling me that I can't respond back with a "Merry Christmas," since that is the holiday I am observing. I don't mind them showing respect for the fact that the person who is walking through the door to make a purchase might not be Christian. In fact, the way things are going, even here in the Midwest, there is a good chance that they are not.

Maybe I'm a little odd, but sometimes I think that it would be much better for Christmas to be a holiday that "those nutty Christians observe because they believe something 'crazy' about God being born as a man in a stable" rather than it being about supporting our economy, trampling people to get the lastest Wii, or about some fat man in a red suit that was invented by Coca Cola -- because he bears little resemblance to the real Saint Nicholas -- and I doubt Saint Nicholas would've been flattered with what we've made him into. One gives us an opportunity to tell people what Christmas is really about. The latter doesn't allow room for Christ in his own birthday.

So I know the world sees me as a Grinch...and maybe I am. But in my old age, I am becoming more and more sensitive to the things that take glory away from God, and realizing in a world where Truth matters less and less, that this might matter more and more.

Merry Christmas everyone...Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Basic instructions - bold what you've done (HT La Paz Home Learning)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (I played flute in elementary school)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" I was ten and it was our school talent show)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (No, but I've been to Perris, CA)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (actually, I was on Lake Mead)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child (been through the homestudy process, but then I got pregnant with Maggie, and so when we had a match, the county wouldn't place them)
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (sun and moon!)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I live in the town my grandma was born in)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (trying)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (at Caesar's Palace)
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (my first date with my honey was on the beach)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (snorkeling)
52. Kissed in the rain (oh yeah)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memoria
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (it was too busy, so we went to the Meteor Crater instead)
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (but probably won't again)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (nope..it was Summer, and it stinks in the Summer)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (easily...as long as it is under 350 pages)

Don't Know Much

I haven't blogged much lately, if you haven't noticed. Winter is really kicking me in the gut this year. I actually started feeling it by September. Work has been some of my sanity because it gets me out driving in the sunlight for a couple of hours at a time, but that has slowed down. I have lots of opinions about things, but don't seem to be able to put them in to words. I have been skipping out on things that I normally do because I can't seem to deal with people (I mean, worse than I normally deal with them) or I don't feel good, but I can't tell if I am fighting a cold, or if I have a stuffy nose AND am just emotionally worn down.


Yep....my friend is back. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I had it when I lived in Utah, but it was pretty much absent in California and Arizona, and it has gotten worse each year here, probably just because I know it is coming and I dread it.


When I went to Hawaii last December, the change that I felt in just a couple of days was amazing. I felt more myself than I had in months, I all of a sudden felt like I could think, I felt happy. I haven't felt happy in December in five years, except for then. I really didn't realize how bad it was until then, and now I am really aware that I'm being pushed back into the cave every time the days start getting shorter.


I went to the doctor a few years ago, after we moved here, but Maggie was still nursing and I don't do anything to keep from getting pregnant, so I really didn't want a chemical answer. Diet has helped -- staying away from sugars and starches, but the carb cravings that come along with this are really hard to fight. So, I'm getting a therapy light. Now that they don't cost thousands of dollars (though Concordia Plan still won't cover it), I'm going to manage it.


Maybe it will help my blogging...since I am going to have to sit for a couple of hours...I might actually knit, I might actually blog, I might actually read something besides Harry Potter or Pride and Prejudice -- both for the 20th time - because I've read them so many times I don't have to really think about them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Meetings

Further proof that baseball is a liturgical sport: Winter Meetings. They are the point when baseball fans everywhere stop analyzing, rejoicing in, or bemoaning last year, and start looking at the hope of the next season. New players are signed and hope springs anew and we start counting down the days until Spring Training, which is where players subject their bodies to the needed training and discipline in wait for the season to begin in April (around the time of Easter!).

Anyway....The Dodgers have made me happy. Nothing fabulous or mind blowing, but important all the same. We've signed a back up infielder - Mark Loretta - a good, steady guy who can play all positions and who did us enough damage as a Padre a couple of years ago. I've always liked him, and he's been great on my fantasy team.

But I am so happy we managed to sign Casey Blake to a 3 year contract. He is just wonderful. He is so clutch and he's a good support to the rest of the team. We managed to get him from the Indians last year (and I was roundly congratulated in that) and he is just great.

I don't know if we will re-sign Manny. I don't want him on his terms, or for more than a couple of years at a time, and we need pitching. But all in all, I'm looking to next year, and with our young'ns, I'm starting to get just a bit eager.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Bailout

I think Mark Cuban has an interesting alternative idea regarding handling the auto industry crisis. It doesn't help me much on my views on how the Constitution figures in, but it makes more sense than the bailouts do.

One point that he makes early on is a very valid one. I have never bought a foreign car...but have almost exclusively bought Toyota and Nissan when it has been my choice (my current car, a Mercury Villager is really a Nissan Quest). They have been made in Kentucky and Tennessee, and the majority of their parts were made in America as well. The profits stay in America for the most part as well. I have a friend who dogsat for the Vice President of Nissan America (remember a long time ago, they had a commercial that had "this space reserved for Bob" and a lot of other "Bob" stuff. He was Bob....had the sign in his garage. I was in Bob's house in Orange County, CA). We can't underestimate the role that these companies play in our economy, and the examples they play in how much better their business models are, top to bottom and bottom to top.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas meme

In an effort to counter the Grinch that I am, I swiped this from Cheryl's blog....Since winter blues have me in too much of a fog to write anything other than memes, might as well embrace 'em!! Blessed Advent everyone.

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate...though I am really more of a vanilla chai latte girl myself.

Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? We don't really do Santa. When I was growing up though, Santa's presents rarely were wrapped.

Colored lights on tree or white? Colored and sparkly.

When do you put your decorations up? We put up Advent decorations at the start of Advent...the Advent wreath, the manger scenes, various angels and such. Christmas decorations - tree, ornaments, stockings, etc. go up Christmas Eve between the services and then they stay up until Epiphany.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Cranberry sauce. I love my homemade cranberry sauce. I grew up thinking you could only get it in a can.

Favorite holiday memory as a child: My dad teaching me to ride a bike.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I think around 1st or 2nd grade, but in 4th grade I decided to prove it by asking Santa for a ten speed but just telling my parents I wanted a bike. I got the bike. But mom said if you stopped believing in Santa he stopped bringing gifts. :)

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We've done both, but my hubby is more of a traditionalist and prefers Christmas Day. However, it is really casual. We do it after church, eat lunch, and then open them. We actually do more of our immediate family presents on Epiphany, and that's when I make the big feast, too, so we can have Cynthia over and we also get the sale prices that way. :) After all, it is when the Wise Men brought Jesus His gifts. We started doing presents on Epiphany when we lived in California and our Christmas days were hectic. After church we would rush home and open presents, then pile into the car to get to Jeff's parents' house and open presents there with extended family, and then everyone would stress out to get the house recovered in time for the really extended family to come. So we started opening only one on Christmas and having Epiphany all to ourselves. There were plenty of other gifts...

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Lights and ornaments. On our first Christmas dating, I got us a couple of ornaments, then a friend made them for us for a couple of years as presents, so we developed a tradition of buying one or two ornaments each year that tell us something about the year...so when we hang them we can say "Oh, we got this one because Chris learned to read, or Maggie's first year playing tee ball." etc. Our newest one is to commemorate our trip to Hawaii for my parents' 50th.

Snow! Love it or dread it? For Christmas? Dread it. I know people are big on White Christmases, but I grew up in the desert. It often was in the 50's or 60's and the sun was shining beautifully....closer to the Mediterranean climate Jesus was born in.

Can you ice skate? Yes, but I don't like it. Kills my ankles.

What was your favorite gift? Hmmm. Jeff proposed 2 days before Christmas, so I'd have to say my engagement ring.

What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? The birth of my Lord and Savior. I also really like the family time.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Dutch apple pie

What is your favorite tradition? I really love cooking Christmas/Epiphany dinner, but I wouldn't mind making that Hawaiian cruise a tradition, either. :)

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving. I love picking out stuff for my kids.

What is your favorite secular Christmas song? They all pretty much drive me nuts. I'm such a Grinch.

What is your favorite Advent hymn? "Hark the Glad Sound," most definitely. I missed it on Wednesday because I was running late. I was so bummed. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is a close second.

"What is your favorite Christmas hymn? "Angels from the Realms of Glory." As a kid it was "Angels We have Heard on High" because the 6th graders always got to sing that in the program (they were the big kids) and it had Latin in it.

(I'm starting to hear Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition in this ---"WHAT is your favorite Advent hymn? WHAT is your favorite dessert?)

Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I like the rainbow colored cherry ones.

Ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, yes I have.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I AM Ingrid!!!

My sweet hubby always tells me that I remind him of Ingrid Bergman (which means something because "Casablanca" is his favorite movie), so I thought that getting this result on this quiz was great...and it pretty much has me pegged. ..well, except I don't have the really bad self-esteem issues, abandonment issues, and I don't know that my bouts with winter depression quite hit despair.

HT: Cheryl at A Round Unvarnished Tale

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are an Ingrid!

mm.ingrid_.jpg


You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"



Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.



How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.

  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.

  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.

  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.

  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!




What I Like About Being an Ingrid

  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level

  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people

  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life

  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor

  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others

  • * having aesthetic sensibilities

  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me




What's Hard About Being an Ingrid

  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair

  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved

  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people

  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me

  • * expecting too much from myself and life

  • * fearing being abandoned

  • * obsessing over resentments

  • * longing for what I don't have




Ingrids as Children Often

  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games

  • * are very sensitive

  • * feel that they don't fit in

  • * believe they are missing something that other people have

  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.

  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood

  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)




Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are

  • * support their children's creativity and originality

  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings

  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective

  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed




Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Seven Wierd Random Things

Cheryl tagged me for this. I am enjoying seeing this go around...

1. I met my husband at summer camp. While we had a few conversations in the first few days we knew each other, our first real interaction was that we were paired for the staff week "trust walk." He had to lead me through the forest up the hillside while I closed my eyes and followed his directions. When we got up to the end up of the path, and our boss was moving into an astronomy lesson, we didn't stop holding hands for probably another five or ten minutes.

2. Even though I am Lutheran, I'm really not that fond of beer.

3. I won't sleep with a top sheet unless it is flannel. I skip right to the blanket, otherwise.

4. Since the cruise ship charged an outrageous amount for soft drinks (a $60 drink card) when we went to Hawaii last year, I used it as an opportunity to finally get Diet Pepsi out of my daily regimen. I'm getting close to a year!! It tastes awful to me now. Just like a cup full of chemicals -- and I feel A LOT better.

5. I would really love to do the pilgimage of St. James of Compostela (Camino de Santiago de Compostela)...without the paying homage, of course.

6. I just ended up postponing our Thanksgiving feast to tomorrow because my turkey wasn't thawed enough to brine, and because I burned breakfast twice. I figured that wasn't a good sign. That way we get to have friends over who have family obligations today. :)

7. Speaking of that, we play fast and loose with holidays. We move their observances around like crazy (though this is the first year we did that since Thanksgiving). With my husband being busy on many holidays..especially those that are on Sundays, and my aversion to crowds, I'd rather have my Mother's Day dinner on Tuesday...we open some presents on Christmas, but celebrate most of the presents and feast on Epiphany. Same thing with birthdays. While Chris had a friend spend the night and we went bowling, we still haven't had the cake (and if I had thought of that a few days ago, I would've made it a point to do it on his baptismal birthday --interesting idea for a new tradition for procrastinating holiday observers ..hmmm

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Side Bar Change

I changed the link on the sidebar section that says "If You Are LCMS, Read This." Rev. Matt Harrison, who has agreed to run for the office of LCMS president next year, and the current head of LCMS World Relief/Human Care has written a beautiful, optimistic, honest piece called "It's Time" (speaking of, the link takes time as well). He has said so much, and much better than I can. I've only gotten through the first seven pages so far, but my Honey and I have been reading it after the kids have gone to bed.

I appreciate his actually putting some real financial figures in there as well. I knew that our debt situation was worse than I could ever imagine, but I was stunned at his number on the actual Net Worth of the Synod being at around $160,000 (p. 4) That means that a national denomination is SO IN DEBT that even though it owns a radio station worth millions of dollars, its property in St. Louis, and so many other assets around the world, plus investments, etc.-- that it is only worth about the value of a 3 bedroom ranch house on about 1/2 an acre anywhere in the Midwest (and worth about 1/7th of the same property in Southern California, before September).

It is incredibly eloquent and readable. But you REALLY need to read it. The LCMS is looking to rewrite its constitution next year, and Harrison does a wonderful job of addressing the real issues, the real concerns, and the real purposes of Synod. As Lutherans, we really do need to be clear so that we do not have the wool pulled over our eyes. And we also need to have a look at the man who is probably the one man who can unite most of the Synod with his orthodox theology and his heart for missions and mercy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

He's BACK!!!

I was in shock when my bloglines said there was a post at Luther at the Movies.

And there was much rejoicing!!!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why I Am Voting for McCain

Okay...probably the last political post for a while of this kind (barring absolute chaos after the election), but given the previous posts, I wanted to clarify, and hopefully, of course, present an argument that will convince you to do likewise, because I do not consider these issues to be trivial. After the bailout bill, I would LOVE to be able to give my vote to a 3rd party, but honestly there is too much at stake, especially when I live in a "battleground state." So, here are my reasons, and God bless you. Please go out and vote.

1. I cannot in any way vote for a man who thinks that it is okay, even desirable, to kill innocent children. God created them to live lives. When Obama has expressed his logic on his very extreme voting record regarding this - he has expressed a view that he has a responsibility to preserve Roe v. Wade and to not bring up any situation that might challenge it, as if it is sacred. I cannot vote for him because I do not trust his judgement if he cannot see that babies are human beings whether they are wanted or not (after all, he was abandoned by his father just hours after his birth)....and I hope and pray that this man is not the man who will appoint federal judges, even Supreme Court Justices.

I respect people's concern about the war and their hope that Obama would shorten the war and bring our soldiers home. But their is a key difference here. If we are looking at protecting the soldiers, these are men and women who have chosen to be soldiers. They have known that their choice to enter the military may (and sometimes definitely would) lead them into war zones. Before seven years ago, they might have nievely just figured the National Guard is a way to help pay for college and gain work skills, but even then, they knew there was a risk.

Our soldiers are there because they chose to be, God bless them. Even the ones that signed on before 9/11 have fulfilled their terms of service and have re-upped by choice. They are not there to kill civilians. It is regrettable when it has happened. They are there to provide protection to the Iraqi people while their government grows stronger and it is growing stronger. The people are taking on responsibility -- they are joining their military, they are joining the police, they are fighting Al Quaida in their villages, and they are putting their religious differences aside for the benefit of their nation. It is not perfect --this is an area that works and thinks differently than ours. There are 1500 years of solving religious differences using violence. Usually this is only stopped by being so afraid of their leader that they fear action. What is going on there is a new thing.

The ones killing the civilians are the terrorists. We've seen pictures of how life was in Afghanistan before we invaded. Killing wouldn't be any less if Al Quaida's strength were allowed to grow. Women would be in burkas, a vicious form of sharia law would be enforced, the resources of Iraq would be exploited. Right now if we left, we would be leaving Iraq weaker. We knew that the country would be weaker for a period of time before she would grow stronger. This is happening. Putting a time table on when we withdraw only spits in the face of the soldiers who have fought and sacrificed there. It makes the deaths and the sacrifices that these soldiers and their families have made worth absolutely nothing.

The babies deaths are worth absolutely nothing. The soldiers have sacrificed to protect the Iraqi people and to protect us. People die in civil war. This is very different than passing judgement on the life of an unborn child and deciding that it does not deserve the opportunity to ever draw breath, to ever be baptized, to ever hear the Word of God, or to smile, love, learn, or have their own children. In Iraq and Afghanistan, no one has been deprived of those basic things. And under Hussein and the Taliban, they were in fear of being unfairly tortured or killed at a moments notice for no reason at all.

Foreign Relations - Obama has said many things which cause concern for me.

1. He said that he would unilaterally restructure NAFTA. There are things that I don't agree with regarding NAFTA. But to say this on the campaign trail without thinking of the circumstances is something that is really unthinkable. Now, he comes into office and Canada and Mexico are already skeptical of his good will. Canada is already negotiating new trade agreements with Europe because of this.

2. When Obama went to Iraq, he committed a MAJOR gaff. When meeting with the president of Iraq, he suggested that the agreement for withdrawal that was being worked out for our country should be put off until after the election. One major rule of diplomacy among candidates is that you do not interfere with international relations. It is well-known. What Obama did was to discredit our nation before the world by insinuating or specifically saying that there was a risk that an agreement that was made between our countries would not be honored when there was a change in administration. This is not a regime change, this is an administration change. PRESIDENTS HAVE ALWAYS HONORED AGREEMENTS AND TREATIES BETWEEN NATIONS MADE BY THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT. or our standing in the world would be dubious. The Iraqi president did not consider this very honorable. This might make him less willing to work with us or trust us, should Obama become president.

3. Obama has already announced that he would have military action in Georgia or in other countries invaded by Russia. While he says he would meet without preconditions with one group of leaders, he would meet Russia with military force. So much for peace keeping. And Russia knows this now. They might be willing to call on it, and less likely to talk about it.

DOMESTIC -

1. Raising taxes during an economic crisis is not a good thing. Obama wants to give a credit to the middle class - and his critics are right. We don't make enough to pay taxes and we received a credit this year. We would be eligible for this refund. However, his argument is that we all pay taxes...FICA taxes. Under the Republican Congress, there was a HUGE issue regarding Congress using Social Security funds to finance other issues. This is supposed to be a trust fund - to pay for retirees incomes (who do not make enough as it is) so that others can pay for ours (if it lasts). Obama is suggesting that we use the income taxes (or loans from other countries, including China) to give this credit, on the basis that we all pay an entirely different kind of tax. This is not good for our economy.

He wants to raise capital gains. Despite what the government thinks, the only way that the markets can recover is if people want to invest. If an investor is going to get penalized even more for making money in the market, they will choose not to invest.

McCain's plan makes more sense. It really does. He wants to lower capital gains to encourage investing. He has a more moderate tax cut -- and wants to retain the ones we've received. And as many of us do pay into our insurance plans -- we get a tax credit for doing so, or for finding or own. Honestly, this makes more sense to me.

Obama's tax cut limit started at $250,000.00. We've seen it drop from that to $200,000, to $150,000, mentioned by Bill Richardson, campaigning for Obama. Maybe that isn't accurate, but I am concerned. If you penalize small businesses -- that is what will hurt jobs. I was listening to a radio show and in one hour, twelve people called saying that they could already see this threat hurt jobs. One woman said that her boss put a hold on hiring two people until after the election, because he didn't know if they could afford it. One business said that they would limit their work to make sure they didn't make $250,000, so that as few of their tax dollars could be used to kill babies as possible. A physical therapist called saying that he and his wife were going to open a private practice that would create at least ten jobs, when you look at office staff, PT assistants, etc....and PT services are in shortage. They've changed their mind. They won't take that risk.

Also, I do agree with all that already, the rich are paying a huge amount of taxes. They pay 70% of the taxes in our economy, where in reality, I pay almost nothing. I do not think they should be made to pay more. They should be rewarded for their success and allowed to reinvest that money into their companies, the stock market, and in other ways that will invigorate our economy.

2. Have you heard him express his his views on what kind of judges that he wants to appoint? Ones that have sympathies for the experiences of the poor and minorities, and who want to use their seats for activism. Justice SHOULD BE BLIND to the people who come before him. The decisions should be based on what is right...not whether someone is white or black, rich or poor, male or female. Can you imagine if you went before a judge after your roof fell in, looking for reparations...but the roofers had hired minority workers, so the judge was more sympathetic to their inadequacies and sided for them? Or the guy that robbed you grew up in a foster home, so the judge was so sympathetic that he is found not guilty? These are realities when a judge uses his seat for activism. This is what has happened when homeschooling was made illegal in California, when gay marriage was made legal despite the will of the voters, and so many other decisions that come out of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. This will be the case in so many other federal courts in our nation, and in our Supreme Court. This is what happened when Earl Warren was the Chief Justice.

I want to address the personal issues that I have a problem with as well...but I will leave it at this. I don't think a man will go to church for 20 years and not know about the politics that his pastor espouses from the pulpit, especially when their are CDs sold in the narthex with these views. If that is the case, he never goes to church. NEVER.

And today there was an interview released from January where Obama said that he would use the cap and carry system and carbon credit idea to destroy the coal industry. Look it up.

I would never consider moving into a neighborhood where Louis Farrakhan lives. (I am sorry, I do not have time to spell check that). But he moved into a neighborhood FULL of people who actively campaign against our country. Despite what evils that may have been done in our country, they have always been done with the (wrong) belief that some people aren't entitled to those rights (now the issue and atrocity commited is whether unborn babies are entitled to these rights). NOT that the rights were wrong. The people that Obama has chosen to work with, live with, and worship with have shown a hatred for the Constitution -- one of the greatest documents ever written...and this is a document that Obama has sworn to uphold, and will again. That is the main difference between being judged by history and the so called Social Justice movement. The average person says "the way Native Americans, African Americans, women, and other minorities have been treated (and maybe are treated) was wrong. But the principles expressed in our Constitution are good. We need to make sure they get those rights too. The Social Justice Movement wants to eliminate the Constitution or ignore it, and replace it with socialist ideals.

I am also concerned with how anyone who has disagreed with Obama has been treated. Police Departments have been ordered to level charges at radio or t.v. stations that air certain commercials. Joe the Plumber was vetted, investigated, attacked, and now has a bounty on his head by a liberal gay talk show host. Reporters of newspapers that have endorsed McCain have been kicked off his plane. He is talking about re-introducing the Fairness Doctrine, where radio stations that air conservative talk shows will be required to present the other side. Problem is, no liberal talk show host has ever been able to successfully maintain ratings. Even NPR would be off the air if they were in a commercial atmosphere.

I have to get my kids to their obligations, and then I will be running nonstop until after tomorrow, so I apologize if I can do much more than check in once in a while, because I know I will be spammed on this....probably visciously. But anyway, these are my reasons. I know you have yours. Go out and vote your conscience. and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Halloween edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up!! Go check it out!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Plus Side of Homeschool Socialization

This past week, I had a strong reminder of why I homeschool.

The socialization.

When I was considering homeschooling Chris, I went to the park with a friend of mine who homeschooled her kids. She had eight of them. I asked her why she did it. Lori pointed to her thirteen year old, who was busy scooting her toddler around on his skateboard.

“Look at Micah” she said. “How many thirteen year olds do you see playing with their baby brothers like that? And he’s not ashamed of it. He loves Ben so much. “

Then she went on. “He plays sports and goes to Scouts. The kids are pretty great, but they still do things that are wrong, and they cuss and such. “she said. “But Micah doesn’t feel like he has to go along with it, because he doesn’t spend eight hours each day with them. He spends most of his days with people who love him for who he is, so he doesn’t feel like his well being is dependent on making them happy.”

When I went to my first homeschool park day, I saw the same thing. Some parents were doing Scout activities, and other kids were running around. Some kids were playing strategy games at a picnic table…mostly older, but they didn’t disdain the younger kids, and they played fairly with them, pointing out better strategies…teaching them. Teenage boys casually scooted over so that 3 year olds could climb up on the bench to see what they were up to. It was beautiful to see.

I am blessed to be on a homeschool email list that I would say is truly unique. I’m on a few others, but they just aren’t like this. I have been on it for at least seven years now, and I count these women as my real friends, even the ones that I have never met. While we are truly diverse in our homeschooling approaches, we are all confessional Lutherans from all over the United States, and that has proven to be the stronger bond. We don’t just talk curriculum or field trips, we discuss a whole range of issues – from the best way to make vanilla to how to get that spot off the kitchen table….to how to teach the faith to our children and also to share requests for prayers in cases of pregnancy, a needed job, or family tragedy.

Occasionally, we manage to get together in real life. This past week, those of us in the Indiana/Ohio area (and one in Virginia) managed to get together here in Fort Wayne at a dorm (about ten or so moms, three husbands, and I’m guesstimating 20 kids). It is so amazing to see three days pass by with kids running, playing, worshiping, and enjoying games together like they do – with little regard to age or gender. Friday night, Barb, Sandy, and I watched as the kids (about twelve of them) spontaneously organized a game of charades…and the players ranged from as old as sixteen all the way down to age five (some of the other moms and older kids had gone to a Bach performance). No rolled eyes, no condescending attitudes from the older ones when the little ones tried to communicate their favorite animal or something of that nature. All had a great time. They hadn’t been socialized to believe that they needed to be with kids who were exactly the same age as they were. They just wanted to have fun.

In the mean time, Barb and Sandy handed their two-year-old granddaughter back and forth. A strong friendship between them had blossomed into their becoming family. Their kids were the first from this group to fall in love with and marry each other, and Barb mused with Sandy that they had already watched their own kids grow up playing like this. Now she was watching her own granddaughters playing in the midst of that crowd, the same way that her sons did ten years before…and Sandy’s youngest daughter was one of the oldest in this current group of kids.
And it strikes me that when you see the kids, you also see how it goes with the moms. This hasn’t been some closed off group of women who had families all the same ages and stages. They were always welcoming in new homeschoolers so that our group is constantly dynamic. It showed from the group. There are parents there whose kids are grown and they are watching their grandkids playing charades with my kids. Some can complain about missing an eldest in college while rubbing a slightly rounded belly, indicating the arrival of another to take that empty bedroom someday. Others who have kids are just starting the homeschool journey. While my oldest is twelve and youngest is six…some have their youngest as twelve or their oldest is six. Yet no one is looked down on for lack of experience or just being at a different stage in the whole process or life in general. The group hasn’t segregated into age groups or grades. All are welcomed in friendship and sisterhood in Christ. And, as long as there is chocolate (and maybe a glass of Baileys or a pumpkin latte)…life is good.

This is community—authentic community . Even though we don’t all live in the same neighborhood or town, there is real interaction, support, and love – and this applies regardless of age or life experience.

So, as a homeschooler, one of the first questions I always get is “what about the socialization?” I am always tempted to say “it is the most beautiful part of it all.” But I am not sure that I did it justice here- how could I explain it when I am on the spot?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Christianity and Soldiering

White Rabbit made some interesting points regarding these...

"i think this is why for the first 300 years of the Christianity the Church did not allow Christians to remain in the military. This is why many Christians from the Anabaptist background still refuse to be involved in the military. "

Actually, there are a couple of Christian soldiers in the Bible. First of all is the Centurion who asked Christ to heal his servant. The centurion did not consider himself worthy for Christ to come to his home, but referred to the fact that since he commanded many men, he knew from the lowly amount of authority he had, that Christ could simply say that the servant would be healed, and He would. Christ's response was not the response that He had with the woman at the well (Go and sin no more). Christ knew what the centurion did. He did not call him to repentance, instead, He proclaimed His faith as being the greatest He had ever seen. Not one word about how what he did was evil and displeasing to God.

Then in Acts 10, there is Cornelius, described as a centurion "a devout man and one who feared God with all his household and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually."

Cornelius was used by God to show Peter that it is okay to eat all things and to reside with Gentiles without being unclean, because the faith is the same. A powerful lesson. And Cornelius was never rebuked for being a soldier. He was a devout man of great faith.

Christians who were soldiers.

Also, when soldiers asked John the Baptist what they should do, he only replied that they should not steal, should not accuse anyone falsely, and should be content with their wages. He did not tell them to abandon their posts because it is evil. (Luke 3:14)

Now as the caesars grew more powerful, they proclaimed themselves to be gods. It would be a problem for a Christian to swear allegiance to a different god. The very uniform would be a confession of faith in a false god. And then when it became the duty of the Roman army to persecute Christians, their duty to God would most definitely be opposed to their duty to their caesar.

The Anabaptists, in their purest form, were very opposed to any interaction with the secular world. It was sinful to be a politician, it was a sin to be a law officer, it was a sin to be a soldier. Any kind of agent of the secular world was unbecoming for a Christian. Because government ruled, and not God, government was opposed to God. They sought to reproduce the society described in Acts 4. But they sought to make that a law, rather than something that was done out of the goodness of their hearts. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead (again, God killing for justice) not because they didn't share everything, but because they lied, and sought the admiration for sharing everything when they didn't. Peter affirms that their property was theirs to do with as they liked, and Acts and the Epistles give us pictures of other Christian groups that continued to have individual property rights. (Anabaptists are the ancestors of Mennonites and Amish and other such separatist groups. Nice people...strongly works-righteous theology)

Melancthon expounds on this in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession - Article XVI (The Augsburg Confession and The Apology (defense) of the Augsburg Confession were documents written and presented to the Holy Roman Emperor, defending Lutheran theological positions. "The adversaries" that Melancthon mentions are the Catholic theologians that responded to the original Augsburg Confession. The Apology responded to their response)

The adversaries accept Article XVI without exception. In it we have confessed that it is lawful for the Christian to hold public office, sit in judgment, determine matters by the imperial laws and other laws currently in force, set just punishments, engage in just wars, act as a soldier, make legal contracts, hold property, take an oath (when public officials require it), and contract marriage. Finally, we have confessed that legitimate public ordinances are good creations of God and divine ordinances, which a Christian can safely use.

He was elaborating on Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession, a document that was written in defense of Lutheran Doctrine. The Augsburg Confession was written just as much to show that Lutherans were not participating in the heresies and rebellion approved of by the Anabaptists as to show where we disapproved of the practices of the Papists.


1 Our churches teach that lawful civil regulations are good works of God. 2 They teach that it is right for Christians to hold political office, to serve as judges, to judge matters by imperial laws and other existing laws, to impose just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to take oaths when required by the magistrates, for a man to marry a wife, or a woman to be given in marriage [Romans 13; 1 Corinthians 7:2].

3 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these political offices to Christians. 4 They also condemn those who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in forsaking political offices. 5 For the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart (Romans 10:10). At the same time, it does not require the destruction of the civil state or the family. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances and that love be practiced in such ordinances. 6 Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to their rulers and laws. 7 The only exception is when they are commanded to sin. Then they ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 39

Luther also expounded Scripture on the matter of soldiering in a pamphlet called "Whether Soldiers, Too Can be Saved." Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it on the Internet.

In the end, God places governments as authorities over us, and we are bound to obey them, even if they are not necessarily a Christian government (which ours is not)...unless they place us in direct disobedience to God's laws. And God does give the right to nations to defend their interests and to wage just wars. Soldiers are citizens whose vocation is to do so. And God also gives the rights to governments to protect the lives of the innocent even through war, as happened in World War II, and in Iraq. We dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the only other option to achieve surrender was to form a blockade, and that would take many years, and many more deaths. The solution ther White Rabbit suggests would've placed all of Europe in jeopardy and at risk to the Russians even more than they already were, if the Nazis eventually fell through nonviolent protest. We needed the good Christians to be alive once their society needed to be rebuilt. Allowing the Nazis to kill all of them as well as the Jews would've resulted in many more deaths than had already happened, and who knows what else at the hands of the Russians. We needed to be there. We needed to be fighting. Nonviolent resistance has its place. But God uses war to bring about the destruction of evil empires as happened with the Nazis.

I have no problem with the interpretation of the word "Enemy" as a state enemy, either. I can turn my cheek and submit to a government that is my enemy if God has placed me as that government's subject. The Christians experienced that under the Romans. Unlike the Jews, they did not rebel. They sought to preserve their lives and the faith that they loved, but if they were called to punishment and martyrdom, they went to their deaths honorably. Paul is a good example of that. He submitted to Caesar to bring him justice, since he was a citizen of Rome. Yet Caesar brought him to his death, and Paul submitted to it. However, MY enemy is not another country. My country's enemy may be another country, and my nation has a right to protect me and to a great extent...its own interests, and to go to the defense of those who are being oppressed, because that is not in the good interest of the rest of the world.

With Saddam Hussein, it was not in our best interest that he torture his people with randomness and cruelty. It was not in our best interest that he continually refused to work with the United Nations until he was threatened with war, and very possibly would've continued. He didn't have WMDs, but he certainly acted like he did. Hussein gave money to the families of Palestinians who served as suicide bombers. He proclaimed the honor of their role. He destroyed tens of thousands of Kurds. He was an evil man, and as long as he was in power, his people would suffer terribly, and the rest of the Middle East would remain unstable. And we do need more stability in that area.

You may not agree with me. Certainly in this country at this time, there are many opposing views on the war, and we do have a hard time seeing, as basic citizens, how having our brothers, husbands, children in Iraq helps us directly. It was easy to understand why Hitler and the Japanese needed to be stopped. They were atacking us. But I personally believe we will see the good from this if we hold fast.

I honestly don't want this all to turn into a debate about Christian pacifism. Concern and searching about these issues is one thing, but propogating it as "the only way Christians can act" is false theology and I will not have my blog be used to damage consciences on matters that the Bible does not condemn, especially when our Lord had clear opportunities to do so and did not. This was the only reason that I even felt a responsibility to respond to White Rabbit's statements -- not because I really wanted to debate the issue with this person.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Make Love Not War

Okay, for some reason Blogger is giving me problems when I try to post a comment, so I am posting here. After 30 comments, it is about time anyway

Like I said before, this is the busiest week of my year, probably, and I should be somewhere else right how, but I am going to try to do this in ten minutes, which means that I am not going to dig out my Bible and cite verses but only reference teachings and situations in it.

A commenter named la maintains that she is concerned about voting for McCain because he seems much more eager for war, and as a Christian, she leans more toward Obama because he puts forward a platform that emphasizes diplomacy over might, and is willing to sit down with our enemies and try to bring forth peaceful resolutions.

She also maintains that war is also murder, and cites some very good verses in the comments section regarding Jesus's commands to love our enemies.

First of all:

1. No one, including McCain is saying that diplomacy is not a first priority. He is saying that the State Department is the one that sits down and works out a satisfactory situation for world leaders to meet. Some common level of agreement needs to be made before this happens.

This is a good idea for many reasons:
a. Those trained in diplomacy in the State Department are the first wave of trying to get to a solution. That is their job, it is what they studied, are trained in, etc. They understand cultural situations and differences that a President just can't get at, and can undermine in his ignorance.

b. If a common ground can't be found, diplomacy can merely be broken off without offending the leaders of either country irreparably....an issue that has led to war throughout history. Preliminary negotiations are not the leader's job, and haven't been since ancient times. Even chieftains of tribes send emissaries to get agreements worked out, and then they meet to finalize the process.

c. If the President agrees to meet with the Irani president, for instance, in such a circumstance, but decides that he doesn't have the time or desire to go to Ethiopia when they have a crisis, should a situation arise...he has just insulted Ethiopia, terribly by treating whatever crisis they may have as not as important as Iran . So now our President is doing the job that the State Department was set up to do in the first place -- in order to fulfill the role of serving the President. A leader of a country always is the one to complete a deal, not the one to start it or hammer out the details. And once Obama is in office, I really and truly believe that is the way he will do things as well, despite what he says now, because that is what his advisors will recommend. You don't break with a tradition that all countries have abided by really since ancient times.

Now theologically:

Jesus's command to love our enemies was not a new command. It is shown throughout all of the Old Testament. It was shown when Joseph did not kill his brothers, it was shown when God sent Jonah to Nineveh, it was shown when Amos married the prostitute who continued to shame him and didn't have him stoned, it was shown so many other times, and most of all, it was shown when God had mercy on the Israelites time and time and time again. And it was shown in the Garden of Eden when God promised a Savior. It was shown in how Joseph was going to put Mary away rather than bring her and her pregnancy before the elders of the community. All examples of how God loves us and forgives us, His enemies.

Yet God was also pretty harsh when it came to justice. He often has used war to administer this justice, both in favor of the Israelites and against the Israelites when they were disobedient. His laws have death as a punishment for so many crimes, for the sake of the well-being of the Children of Israel, yet there are so many times when we are shown examples of mercy rather than strict accordance to the Law.

When God gave the Promised Land to the Children of Israel, he told them to kill everyone living there, or they would struggle with the evils that were in the land for the rest of all time. There were wars against the Philistines, the Midianites, and many others and God showed His favor to the Hebrews time and time again, unless they were in rebellion. God said David was the Apple of His eye, even though David was a king of war. He was not the man to build God's temple because of it, but God blessed David through a period of war in Israel. God used the Assyrians and Babylonians to punish Israel, the prophets say it, again through war.

We don't have much of an example of that in the New Testament because The Judeans were already in subjection to the Romans -- it was in the midst of the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) . They were between wars when Christ lived. But Revelation certainly has images of wars that Christians fight.

Christ also said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Like I said, I don't have a lot of time to go into it. I don't know your background, la, but I am Lutheran, so I am going to explain it in Lutheran theological terms, and if any pastor or layman out there wishes to do a better job than I , I would appreciate it.

Most often, the fifth commandment is translated "Thou shalt not kill." But Greek is a very accurate language, and "murder" is actually a better word. Murder is when someone takes the life of another when they do not have a right to take that life. Abortion is a good example of that. God has bestowed life through the act of sex, and has promised that there would be blessings through that life. No one has a right to take that life. Nothing has been done to earn death (aside from being sinful from conception).

Lutherans describe the world in terms of Kingdom of the Right and Kingdom of the Left. The Kingdom of the Right is The Church - eternal, and under God's authority. The Kingdom of the Left is Government, put in place by God to act in the interest of His people. God uses the Government to do His will. There are good governments and bad governments though, just like there are good and bad in everything in this sinful world...to varying degrees.

The governments are given the right to keep order in society. We would not have a safe society if everyone who commited a crime was forgiven without repentance, without penalty. And some are just not safe to have in society, so they are kept in prison or put to death. This is an authority that God clearly gives to government. The government also has a right to take taxes (give unto Caesar) and wage just war -- which means recruit its citizens to serve the government in facing another government or situation that is threat to its well-being. There are just wars and unjust wars. I don't have the time right now to discuss whether or not Iraq is a just war, but despite the debaucle of the WMD intelligence, etc., I still believe that it is. This is not murder. The soldiers do not commit murder, the government does not commit murder in the act of war....it is terrible all the same, and I will not say that it is good. But just like God saw fit to kill animals to put clothes on Adam and Eve, in a sinful world, death has become a way to solve problems. Some things cannot be settled without war. Does it mean we leap to it with callous disregard for the lives we are sending to the battlefront and those left behind on either side? No, not at all. May it never be. That's what dictators do. That's what Hussein would do with his troops and with his people...torturing and killing them for his amusement, treating them and his neighboring countries like his pawns.

When a shepherd knows that there is a wolf about, they hunt down the wolf and kill it before it comes into the pen and kills the sheep. Christ does that for us, sometimes through governments...sometimes through wars. He has given a government the right to do that.

I don't believe that the Republican candidate is EAGER to go to war with anyone, he seems to understand the seriousness and evils of war from personal experience...but if it is necessary, he is willing. He also knows that you don't send troops into a war that can be won and pull out before it is. That dishonors their sacrifice even more.

However, one caution. I did not "hear" the tone that you attributed to Barb. I know Barb somewhat over the last few years, and I know her writing style, and she is a straightforward one, but not rude. Sometimes we all hear the tone that we think is there -- when I am nervous about an argument I make, those who respond in writing sound more critical than they often are to my ear. Remember, this is a written media, and you may be placing your own impression of her tone. I did not "hear" her being anything but respectful. I was also respectful but straightforward when I wrote of my own concerns and fears that I truly believe to be worthy of concern. Yet you cautioned me against causing offense. At times, offense cannot be prevented when one worldview goes against another. We just have to work within that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hypocrites of Epic Proportions

I haven't been blogging lately because I have been a bit overwhelmed by life. My parents have begun their snowbird migration; we've started actually doing lessons again -- well, some days; I began a new project with work;- which means I am on a computer often enough; and we can't forget that it is election season. And in election season, I jump right in. I've actually tried to resist blogging about some of this, because if I get started, I might just drive you completely nuts....but I can't help it.

Growing up, in my housethe news was on almost all the time. It was just slightly pre-CNN, but Good Morning America started us off, then at night, national news, then the three local news, and then at least one more at 11 p.m. Throw in the "Nightly Business Report," 60 Minutes, and 20/20; plus two newspapers. Yep. I came from an informed family.

We're much more laid back now....except during election time. I revert back to my pre-marital state...only with cable.

The hypocrisy has been astounding this year.

I can respect questioning whether a woman who has been governor for two years is qualified for the position of Vice President -- as voters, we should be doing that. But since when did the feminist movement decide that it only existed to protect the rights and dignity of women who agreed with them? When it becomes okay to take one woman and slam her so completely with some of the strongest sexist behavior and rhetoric that I have seen in my lifetime....simply because her intelligent female mind disagrees with their agenda, they have lost. Lost terribly.

She's not their type of feminist. She goes out of her way to make her job work with her children; she attends meetings with her baby in a sling and has a crib in her office. She hunts. She loves and respects her husband. She believes that being a successful woman is not tied to being able to the right to kill the life created in your womb. And also, that being a woman with a successful career doesn't mean that you stop being a woman -- biologically, emotionally, vocationally, or in any other -ally. I do not know if she is truly qualified YET to be President, should something happen to McCain, but she has fostered excitement from women who have been longing for someone like her for a LONG time. And those that have given their lives over to denying that connection between our physiology and who we are intrinsically -- they detest her. They detest her so badly that they are willing to embrace behavior that they have abhorred and fought against since the struggles for suffrage.

They are willing to objectify her; make her look small, weak, and dumb. It is disturbing to see. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are rolling over in their graves, I am sure.

And then there is the Joe the Plumber thing. If anything shows that they are not the party of the people, it is this. Joe asks a question of Obama, when Obama is standing in his yard, and Obama's answer shows how he truly is wanting to use taxes to redistribute wealth and penalize success. McCain uses Joe as an example...so now Joe is villified. Oh, how horrendous it is that he portrayed himself as a plumber when he doesn't have a plumber's license....does the man work with friggin' pipes???? Yep. He has a tax lien against him. That shows what a burden taxes can be for the working man. They disdain him. Yet the blue-collar worker is supposed to be the one that they are fighting for. The Democratic Party will fight for them...as long as they don't actually form an opinion...especially one that smacks of ingratitude for them and their great brains being benevolent for us.

I heard a list of the "dirty" political statements that have been stated by either campaign. Obama's were recited first, in list form, and then McCain's. I noticed a huge difference between the two campaigns. While McCain's ads call Obama's qualifications, characer, and positions into question (and yes, going so far as to say that "he (Obama) lied"), the Obama campaign launched far more personal insults, often not dwelling on issues, but upon McCain's mental faculties. Cruelties, t-shirts calling Palin a c**t, hate speech, is all tolerated. McCain is criticized for the smallest statements of some attendees to his rally...and then even that comment (the yelling of the phrase "kill him" is found to not have even occurred, according to many, many witnesses.

Their political campaign sicks the police after any organization or television station that airs ads that call into questions Obama's religion or his stance on guns, his tax plan, etc. When this becomes their tactic, what will happen to conservative radio and freedom of speech if we get a liberal democratic president (and he is VERY liberal) in the White House, and a Democratic Congress with Pelosi and Reid at the head?

I don't think anything was more alarming to me than to hear an educated black man express his support for abortion rights using the very same arguments--the very same words-- that were used 150 years ago by white men who were arguing that blacks were not quite human beings.

And I am still amazed at how I can get letters from my senators and congressmen explaining why they felt the need to vote for this bailout -- all the concerns that guided their decision -- without apparently one thought of whether or not the Constitution gives them the right or responsibility to take such actions....and thus take rights away from us, interfere in the economy, and increase the motivation for banks to be crooked and careless....because they cannot fail. They won't be allowed to fail. Their failing was our final protection against their greed and incompetence. A tough price to pay, yes. But in the end, a good one. We were deprived of that justice, and instead, one unelected official in the executive branch was just given an inordinate amount of power over our economy and to judge what is in the best interest of all of us.

God help us. It is possible we are about to see a very different United States of America emerge.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Big Changes...

The Fort Wayne Wizards, to go along with their move to the new stadium, has decided to change their name....


They are now the Fort Wayne Tin Caps.
Yep, that's right. The Tin Caps.


Now don't go rolling your eyes now. It is no more lame than naming your team after the color of your socks...and minor league teams should have kind of lame names...


Besides, it's historical....It is a reference to Johnny Appleseed, who traveled around the northern Midwest planting apple trees, only taking with him what he could carry, wearing his cooking pot on his head...




Besides, the Fort Wayne Potheads would be a completely different mascot.

Joys and Tribulations

Joy:

My beautiful, wonderful L A Dodgers are playing beautifully. I LOVE this team, especially the young guys -- Ethier, Kemp, Loney, and Martin. And while I do believe that Manny has contributed even more than his bat to this team (it is amazing the level of patience our younger players have developed), I really don't think we'd be here without Casey Blake and his amazing consistency (I hope we get to keep him!), and Greg Maddux. Maddux's pitching hasn't been as phenomenal as in ages past, but he's taken our younger pitchers like Chad Billingsley under his wing and has truly been a mentor to them -- especiallly thus far in the playoffs.

I live in the middle of Cubs territory, so 100 year anniversary or not -- a fact that would normallly have me "almost" rooting for them (at least I might give a nod and a smile in their direction), there is no way that I want our Dodgers to be the doormat on their way to the pennant. So, my boys are making me proud. Don't get me wrong...I adore Sweet Lou. But now that he's a Dodger, I love Torre more. And as a Dodger, he smiles. I never saw that when he managed the Hated Ones.

(picture courtesy of The Cubs Suck Club. I discovered them in my image search...its not like I'm a member or anything...but I had a lot of fun there. Looney for Loney Puffs...roflmbo)

And the more I see the Cubs play in the postseason, the more I believe in curses. The ONLY explanation for that cacophony of errors in the 2nd inning is that an invisible goat was running about the infield, playing soccer with the baseball.

Tribulation:

The U.S. Senate. Need I say more? Naah. I've already said it.


Joy:

My icemaker is working!!! I don't know why it started working...but it started working when I decided that its machinery was already taking up valuable space enough, so I wedged that frozen salmon package that wouldn't seem to fit into the narrow cranny above it...it probably got whacked a couple of times in the process, and the bar was accidentally knocked back into the "on" position...and an hour later, I heard ice drop!!!

And there was much rejoicing!

I love ice. No really, I LOVE ice.

Tribulation:

There is no way that it can keep up with my iced tea pot...but at least the bags can be devoted solely to filling the daily tea pitcher before the button is pushed, and the dispenser ice can be used to fill my glasses.

Joy:

Sarah Palin was not the shameful atrocity that everyone kept saying she was going to be . In fact, many were very impressed with her, in spite of themselves.

Tribulation:

I couldn't rejoice in the debate, because after the week of the Bailout Bill from Hell, I just wasn't in the mood to get excited about having more meaningless slogans and promises jammed down my throats from either party, not to mention jabs, half-truths, and schmarmy lies. I'd already reached my weekly quota.

I've been saying for the last twelve hours that someone in the McCain campaign really ought to look up the word "maverick" in a thesaurus and try a few. Well, I did, and I guess I can understand why they are not going with "bohemian, dissenter, loner, nonconformist, stray," or "unbranded." Not quite the same connotations. But it really IS time to move on from the convention victory speech and on to something else.

What I really want is someone daring enough and smart enough to really disssect these issues and make them clear...and to do it in a way that just makes Obama and Biden look like the fools and shallow flip-floppers that they are....with a smile. I want Reagan. I know, I know. I can't have Reagan. But I at least want something real...not plastic. Palin did a fair job, but she didn't escape plastic. Biden won, in my opinion...in a sophistic, Snidely Whiplash sort of way.

And the moderator was obviously biased in her mannerisms, the way she phrased the questions to Governor Palin, and in her favorable treatment of Senator Biden in the rebuttals (he got all six that he requested, and Sarah Palin only got two, and was cut off without any sense of manners. The level of courtesy was very different in deference to Senator Biden). To her credit, Palin countered that somewhat successfully by deciding that she was going to talk about what she was going to talk about...but there were too many polished lines that meant almost nothing.

NOTE: it is NOT simply a big deal that Gwen Ifell is an Obama supporter, and has demonstrated it in writing a book. She has a marked interest in the success of Obama's campaign. Her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama is being released on Inauguration Day, and it will hardly sell as much or win her nearly as much acclaim if it is McCain getting sworn in.


And I just have to say, if you haven't gathered it already.....I'm sick of the word "maverick." (I'm sick of "change" too...when we don't know what kind of change they are talking about...I have a feeling its more of what happened this week). After seeing that McCain's version of rushing to our rescue was to round up support for this bill that made absolutely no sense, "maverick" seems a bit hollow.
I know I am supposed to think of the studly Tom Cruise (before he seemed like a raving lunatic) zooming around to the rescue, flying on his own intuition--taking his own risks rather than blindly obeying orders.
Maybe unfortunately for me, it conjures up a different image. My first car was a twelve year old, baby blue, four-door Ford Maverick with a white vinyl top. It had some power, but it was hardly a risk taker (unless you count the way I took left-hand turns), and it also left me generally desiring something better (in the discontented way a spoiled sixteen year old with a passion for cars but left to drive a '74 Maverick would have -- actually, I'd be thrilled to have a car like that now -- straight six, comfy bench seats, no airbags).

Unfortunately, on a beautiful Spring day, I totalled that baby. And eventually, there was a hollow financial crisis with that as well (hmm, never thought of that before), when I found out my insurance company had seen fit not to do what it was supposed to do and pay the lady whose car I hit, so my family and hers had to undergo the lawsuit process to make sure she got paid.

No, the word Maverick does not in and of itself, inspire me with good feelings.

Joy:

It's Friday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Political Ideology

I haven't had a chance to figure out what happened with the bailout, other than the five seconds I got watching t.v. before my six year old claimed her "divinely-appointed" right to watch "Fetch withRuff Ruffman."

But I did get a glimmer of a Representative from the Democratic Black Caucus talking about how his caucus put aside their desires, emotions, etc. in order to vote for the bailout, but that 65% of the Republican Congress chose to put political ideology above the well-being of the nation.

The problem with that statement is that political ideology is not something that you put above or below the well-being of the nation. Political ideology is what shapes your view as to WHAT is good for the nation.

The Republican Party has a set of ideals that are, I would hope, what would make a politician choose to become Republican. If one agrees with the Democratic platform, then one would hopefully be a Democrat. These are not just excuses to get into a fight, these are firmly held beliefs as to how the government should work -- how it should serve the people who are its citizens.

I also want to make one thing clear: I keep hearing on the news that "people just think this is going to be a rescuing of the fat cats, not that this is going to effect them in getting car loans, personally, etc." I completely understand that the failure of this bailout bill will effect me personally, possibly terribly. But I would rather see that than see my government ignore our Constitution and socialize almost our entire banking industry. A good portion of this was caused by the government's meddling in the banking industry. This bailout means that the government would be telling the banking industry who they could and couldn't loan to now as well. I think that it is better to deal with an economic recession, panic, or depression than to throw our Constitutional Rights out the window. I do not want to see the beginning of another New Deal. I am not going to just change my mind once I realize I can't get my loans. I think the banking world and the government needs to sit down and re-evaluate who they should be loaning money to in the first place.

I wrote letters to my Representatives and my Senators this week. And the main thing I told them was that I hoped they would not vote for this bailout. While I didn't like that they were bailing out Big Business and weren't exactly looking to bail ME out of my debt, that wasn't my big issue. My big issue was that the Constitution does NOT give them the right to do this. By bailing out these banks in the ways that Bush and Paulson have suggested, and that the Democratic party has embraced (oh, isn't that an irony???), they are socializing the investment banking industry.

See, a political ideology means "these are the boundaries that we can, in good conscience, work within." And I really do want my representatives to work within their consciences. The Republican party has as a main tenet of their ideology that they must work within the bounds of the Constitution and preserve the individual rights of the citizenry. I know that at times, I haven't been too happy with how they have done that, and I have been praying that they remembered that during this time. If they hold to this ideology, NO ANSWER IS THE RIGHT ANSWER THAT STEPS OUTSIDE THE BOUNDS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

Congressman Sauder was the one Representative that emailed me back, and when he did so, he enclosed a letter from the Senate Minority Leader Boehner to Nancy Pelosi, and it first stated an objection that Pelosi, Reid, and Frank had been portraying that they were close to a deal when really, there hadn't been much interparty discussion regarding a solution, but that they were confident that a joint solution could be found, and that their work last year on an Economic Stimulus Package suggested that.

He also included a list of principles that were sent to Speaker Pelosi that had to be met in order to get the vote of House Republicans.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN WORKING GROUP
ECONOMIC RESCUE PRINCIPLES

I. Wall Street – Not Taxpayers – Should Fund the Recovery

The most troubling part of Sec. Paulson’s plan is that it relies wholly on taxpayer funds. House Republicans believe that rather than providing taxpayer funded purchases of frozen mortgage assets to solve this problem, any rescue package should adopt a plan to insure mortgage backed securities (MBS) through payment of insurance premiums.

Currently, the federal government insures approximately half of all MBS and can insure the rest of those still outstanding. However, rather than taxpayers funding the insurance, the holders of these assets should pay for it. The working group’s proposal would direct the Treasury Department to design a system to charge premiums to the holders of MBS to fully finance this insurance.

II. Private Capital – Not Tax Dollars – Should Be Injected Into Financial Markets

Instead of injecting taxpayer funds into the market to produce liquidity, private capital can be drawn into the market by removing burdensome regulatory and tax barriers that are currently blocking private capital formation. In short, too much private capital is sitting on the sidelines during this crisis, and it is well past time to unleash it.

Temporary tax relief provisions can help companies free up capital to maintain operations, create jobs, and lend to one another. In addition, the working group recommends a temporary suspension of dividend payments by financial institutions and other regulatory measures to address the problems surrounding private capital liquidity.

III. Immediate Transparency, Oversight, and Market Reform

Both Republicans and Democrats have made clear that they believe there is not a strong enough oversight component in Sec. Paulson’s plan. The House Republican working group’s proposal addresses this flaw. To begin, the plan would require participating firms to disclose to the Treasury Department the value of their mortgage assets on their books, the value of any private bids within the last year for such assets, and their last audit report. Additional safeguards include:

· To limit federal exposure for high risk loans, the working group’s recommendations mandate that Government Sponsored Entities no longer securitize any unsound mortgages.

· The plan would call on the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to audit reports of failed companies to ensure that the financial standing of these troubled companies was accurately portrayed.

· The blueprint would guarantee that Wall Street executives do not benefit from taxpayer funding.

· The proposal would call on the SEC to review the performance of the credit rating agencies and their ability to accurately reflect the risks of these failed investment securities.

· The working group recommends that Congress create a blue ribbon panel with representatives of Treasury, SEC, and the Federal Reserve Board to make recommendations to Congress for reforms of the financial sector by January 1, 2009.
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These seem reasonable to me. And if they have not been met, I am proud of my Representatives for voting against it and continuing to seek a solution that will protect us, under our Constitution.

But this definitely is a time that we need to be praying for them, for our nation, our neighbor, and our world.