On the Election: Four Things

The election is not yet. Much can still happen in this crazy year, and I am not in despair but (as a commentator) four things about the nation and election look true to me right now:

First, let me state the obvious: Senator Obama is winning.

As I have often repeated: this is a Democratic year. John McCain was always running up hill with a fifty pound pack on his back. He might make it, but the stock market crash and credit crash added another one hundred pounds each. Senator Obama ran an uneven campaign, was a tough sell to the American public (compared to other Democratic choices), but he is well on his way to the White House.

Second, the world will not come to an end if Senator Obama wins. My family will go on being my family, my students will continue to be wonderful, and this grand Republic will still be a great place to live. Some of my correspondents are in a panic about President Obama, but they should not be. Some men grow in office. Some presidents, see Lincoln, surprise voters by revealing hidden depths. As John McCain pointed out recently, Senator Obama is a good man, a patriot, and very smart.

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Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Politics Style

I love to play this silly game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: where you name an actor and then, in six movies or less, you have to connect them to a movie that Kevin Bacon was in. It's silly and trivial but, well, so am I.

I've been noticing this game being played out in politics all month. It's a fun little guilty-by-association game. Six Degrees of Desperation, if you will. And both sides are playing. Hard. Here are some of the gems I've heard online this week:

1. Obama is on the board of a charity for education
2. A University of Chicago professor is on the charity board

Yom Kippur? Not on Wall Street

Judaism’s holiest season of repentance coincided with comeuppance for corporate America.   Ten days of reflection follow Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Yet Yom Kippur, the annual day of atonement, was observed everywhere but Wall Street.

Ten days of fasting and prayer sound utterly appropriate after an era of unregulated excess. Surely, the fat cat C.E.O.s who have been gorging themselves at stockholders expense could tighten their belts for at least one day.   Yet, the reports flowing from Wall Street revealed ongoing gluttony in a week of economic collapse.   The day of judgement is uponus.  But where is the atonement?   Why no public confession of sins?   Whither repentance? 

When spendthrift corporations like AIG should have been redecorating in sack cloth and ashes, these ingrates celebrated their federal bailout with a blowout at the St.

The Beauty of Culture

In a country such as America, cultures seem to be continually evolving as quickly as New England weather changes in an afternoon. I thought it might be helpful to take a biblical approach to culture and to its implications into our lives. The words below are taken from a seminar on crossing-cultures well that I facilitated in 2005. 

Culture defined: It is learned, it is shared, it represents an integration of many smaller anchors of reality or paradigms, and it is constantly changing. 

We were created with culture. I think it's important to factor into our scripture reading, the culture of that time period. Afterall, the Bible was revealed to us in history. We should spend as much time studying the culture in the Bible as we do studying our own. The Bible and ourselves are situated in cultural context. For instance, Adam and Eve were placed in a particular culture they share. Simply said, culture is in God's plan.

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Tags | Global

How to figure out what's going on with our economy, and have a (little) fun along the way.

As the sky falls on Wall Street, are you confused about what happened? Not sure how this complicated chain events was started? Here's a few, interesting, and (dare I say?) entertaining resources that will help you become informed about what in the world is going on.

Written long before the crisis even began, Michael Lewis' book Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street is by far the most interesting explanation of how mortgage-backed securities were created on Wall Street in the 1980s. I read this book several years ago and it scared me - apparently, not without basis. (Lewis has a new book coming out in December, called Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity.)

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The World is Watching...(Get Ready to Vote)

It wasn’t until I moved to Kenya when I was 22 that I began to understand how truly global the audience is that watches what happens in U.S. politics. The event (indeed, the process itself) of the U.S. changing political parties, handing power from one to the other, or just replacing the incumbent president with a newly chosen one from within the standing party, is something that captures the imagination of people all over the world.

This fascination with what is happening in Washington is not necessarily due to the popularity of the U.S. Yes, her ability to hold free elections that are not marked by massive campaigns of intimidation and violence is greatly admired and envied by many. (I remember local elections in Kenya not so many years ago when voters had to line up behind the designated spot for their candidate. That wasn’t exactly what the people were hoping for in a “free and fair” election.) But that's not the entirety of it.

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Obama Pulling Away?

If the election were held today, Senator Obama would win easily.

The election will not be held today and there are still two major events to come.

However, the melt down on Wall Street and the unpopular bail out plan upset the best laid plans of the McCain campaign. McCain could only have caught up immediately by opposing the unpopular plan . . . but he thinks it in the nation’s best interest. You know what he will do in that case!*

The debate, where McCain did very well, was swallowed up in the overall reaction to Wall Street. Senator Obama was solid in that part of the debate, which was good news for him, because the foreign policy segment went badly for him.

That Senator Obama has not broken the fifty percent mark . . . he is stuck with the Kerry 49/50% is the only good news for McCain from last week.
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What is ConversantLife All About? - Video #2

...here's the second video segment. The Conservative VS. The Liberal. An age old fight between Republicans and Democrats; between the elephant and the donkey; the blue and the red; between dogs and cats...OK, we just threw that one in for fun. ENJOY!!!

Tags | Politics

A Brief Biblical Synopsis of God's Redemptive Plan

I recently came across an old short essay I wrote for a class I took in graduate school. I was encouraged by reading the essay because it serves as a great reminder of the immeasurable and incomprehendable love the Father has for his creation. I hope you are experiencing that perfect love in your life today. 

From the course The Gospel, the World and Cities: 

We can be assured that God loves all people. Gen. 1:26 tells us that man was created in God’s image. The simple truth that God created man at all, reveals his love for us all. The Bible tells a love story that begins in the garden, climaxes at the cross, and continues to pierce hearts across the globe today. God desired relationship with man in the garden. After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree, Gen. 3:8 tells us that God was walking in the garden. This tells me that he had a close relationship with Adam and Eve. Then, in Gen. 3:9, God is calling out to them; seeking them out after they had sinned against him. He personally approaches them. In Gen. 3:15, God reveals his plan for redemption.

God took the initiative to go after his creation in order to reconcile the gap that had been created as a result of disobedience. Here we see the first time that God begins his mission to reconcile his creation back to himself. In Gen. 4 God took the initiative with Cain and sought him out as well. God’s mission to reconcile his relationship with man has been coined the mission dei. This means that mission originates with God.

God called Abram in Gen. 12:1. Verses 2-3 reveal a promise.The end of the promise says that, ‘all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.’ This passage has been referred to as the most universal passage in scripture. Then, in Ex. 19:3-6, we see the charter of the Nation of Israel. We have a reference to ‘all nations’, ‘the whole earth is mine’, and ‘you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Therefore, the promise of God’s plan was directed to the nation of Israel, yet Israel was to act as the mediator to bring all nations to God. It was not to isolate Israel from other people groups. In fact, we know that those who lived outside the nation of Israel did come to a faith in God. Josh. 2:8-11 tells us the story of Rehab and her incredible faith as well as the following individuals recorded in 2 Kings5:11ff, Jer. 38:7-13 and 2 Chron. 30:25. Solomon had a firm grasp on this when he prayed his universal prayer in 2 Chron. 6:32-33.

The Psalms are also filled with evidence that salvation and God’s redemptive plan is for all nations. Beginning in Ps. 2 and throughout thePsalms, salvation to all the nations is proclaimed. Psalm 67 perhaps is one ofthe most well known for its missions concept. Not only does it reveal God’splan to bless all nations, it reveals the purpose behind this blessings; ‘that your ways may be known on earth.’

Therefore, there is clear evidence that God was and is very concerned for all his creation. I began this essay by declaring the Bible to be a love story. God revealing himself to man is the most beautiful act of love and missions does in fact begin in the Old Testament and it does begin with God.

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Tags | Global

Politics: Looking Ahead

The news on Wall Street has been bad, but should start getting better.

Christians face death in India.

Some very good students are exploring Phaedo at my house on Wednesday nights.

That is all news.

Polls are not news . . . and remember I am not saying this because they now show an Obama-Biden uptick. They do, but while better for Team Obama than the reverse it is not fundamentally altering the contest.

As I have said since early summer, this election comes in phases. Over excitement in any direction is unwise during a phase. Everything waits for the debates . . . and the first debate will count the most. Somehow the McCain camp managed to get the first debate switched to foreign policy. This is a masterful move as it plays to Senator McCain’s strength. I have noticed that the McCain camp, usually so quick to react, has not made much of Senator Obama’s “negotiations” with Iraq.
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Tags | Politics
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