Obama's Conservative Speech

On Tuesday, President Obama—following the precedent of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—delivered a “Back to School” speech to American students, beamed live via the Internet and C-SPAN into thousands of classrooms across the country.

It was a fantastic speech. Read it here.

I always love a good Obama speech. He’s a great, inspiring orator, and in recent years he’s delivered some of the best American speeches of the 21st century (such as this race speech from the campaign trail).

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much ado about nothing

Obama delivered a completely non-controversial speech today, that was banned due to the controversy surrounding the lack of controversy that was his not-at-all controversial speech.  In the days prior, a good portion of the conservative contingency got their panties in a wad about the president giving a pep talk about hot-button issues like perseverance and staying in school and setting goals. Of course, it sounded a little more exciting when the extremists were using words like re-education and brainwashing. Comparisons to Hitler are always a little more provocative then the banal reality of irrational partisan squabbling.

My kids are not in school yet, so I didn't have to worry about their pretty little minds getting brainwashed by our president and his cult of personality. But I did Tivo it and let my kids listen. I watched them very, very closely for signs that the socialism might be catching on, but they mostly looked pretty bored. That is, until Jafta started quoting Charles Fourier and India put a beret on her head and planned a cooperative communal uprising with her Groovy Girls dolls.

I kid, I kid.

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"I'm just a bill - I'm only a bill"

Invisible Children never started as a political movement. It started as a simple story - told by the characters themselves and amplified by a few young boys from Southern California with a couple cameras bought on eBay.  And 6 years later, we are on the verge of something truly historical, especially  from a political perspective.

So if you've ever needed to know anything about this movement, know this:

A brand new BILL has been introduced on behalf of the abducted children in northern Uganda called the LRA DISARMAMENT AND NORTHERN UGANDA RECOVERY ACT, or Senate Bill 1067. Here are the main highlights of the bill:

•First, to stop Joseph Kony: Develop a comprehensive strategy for working with international partners to ensure LRA captives are rescued and rebel leaders are prevented from committing further atrocities.
•Help the people he’s terrorized: Increase financial assistance to address the urgent needs of families forced to flee their homes by LRA attacks.
•Commit to lasting peace: Make long-term recovery for communities affected by the violence a priority in the region.

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The Image of God in Ted...

I remember, about a decade ago, interviewing for a ministry position and getting into a doctrinal discussion about the image of God in man, particularly debating the question of what extent the image of God resides in fallen humans.  "None" was the right answer, according to the team across the table from me, steeped as they were in a strong reformed theology and doctrine of depravity.  "Humanity lost any capacity at all to display the character of God when Adam aligned with Satan." 

There it is.  Simple.  "Cut and dried" as they  say.  They quote some passages from Romans 3 that talk about none who do good, and how our righteousness is as filthy rags.  Yes.  I understand.  I went to seminary. 

The problem with this, it seems to me, is that it fails to take into account the profound respect that God has for all humanity in Genesis 9 where God says that human life is valuable precisely because we are made "in His image" - all of us.   Fallen?  Yes, tragically so, as each of our lives testifies in various ways.  Yet, it's so often the case that, right there in the midst of our fallenness, we rise up for moments and align ourselves with God.  Isn't Mozart's Requiem something that displays God's image, in spite of the drinking, gambling, and womenizing that characterized the composer?  To declare that no unregenerate person displays the image of God in the face of evidence to the contrary seems tantamount to offering a mathematical explanation regarding why it's not raining while standing in the middle of a downpour; evidence to the contrary is everywhere, if we'll just pay attention. 

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Righting the Religious Right

There's something in the air right now . . .

Something familiar. A growing sense of frenzy that was kicked up around election time, and seems to have re-emerged with the conversation surrounding health care reform. People are panicking. They aren't just disagreeing, or questioning the administration, or sharing opinions. People are yelling and screaming, threatening and freaking, and believing and perpetuating some seriously creative stories about the government’s desire to kill disabled children and leave our elderly "out to pasture".

I wish I could just sit and watch this unfold as a detached observer. People are drawn to drama - this is a universal truth. It would be easier for me to laugh it off and shake my head at the antics of some imaginative figureheads who enjoy cattle-prodding the masses into mass hysteria. The trouble for me, though, as a Christian, is that as I watch this unfold, I am unsettled with the fact that most of this is coming from other people who share my faith. The conservative right and "Christiandom" have been inexplicably linked in our nation - so much so that I think many people have difficulty differentiating between the two. What’s worse, the conservative right are being represented in the media by people whose communication tactics are manipulative at best.
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assuredly uninsurable

I've been wanting to write about healthcare reform for a while now. I feel really passionate about it, but I have so much to say that I end up getting overwhelmed and then say nothing. I've also been a little hesitant on what to say and how to say it, because it is such a divisive and polarized political issue. I know my views are sure to tick a few people off. But my unwillingness to choose a side in the conservative/liberal identification game, along with my tendency to blather on about my personal political views, basically means that somewhere along the lines I am sure to piss off EVERYONE I KNOW. Especially my mom, but probably more so for saying the word "piss".

Anyways, there are a million things I could say on this issue, but for now, I want to start with just telling my own story. The reason I think our story is important is because I think that most people who are against healthcare reform have some notions about the "uninsured", and also about what government-run healthcare is really like. In our family, we have struggled with private insurance, but we have a child who is on a government-run plan. I will talk about Jafta and our experience with his insurance another time. But today, I want to give a face to the problem for an average American family like ours.
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This morning, I followed my normal pre-work routine.  My alarm rang at 6:45.  I climbed out of bed to turn it off.  I climbed back into bed until the snooze alarm sounded.  I turned that off too, and climbed into bed again.  Finally, after thirty minutes of this game, I was ready to truly get up and face the world.  (Why I can’t just set my alarm thirty minutes later and sleep I’ll never know.)

Next, I journeyed to the bathroom for the morning ritual:  shower, shave, brush my hair (even though I buzz my hair), brush my teeth.  I got dressed, headed to the kitchen and poured myself a bowl of cereal.  I then embarked on a ritual I’ve had in some form or fashion since I was eight - I saw down and read the paper.  

When I was eight, I would literally spend 20 minutes combing through the local paper - skimming articles, checking out the day’s news, reading the funnies.  Nowadays, I migrate back to my computer and skim through the news stories on the website of the local paper.  If I have time, I’ll pop over to a few favorite sites or blogs that are on my newsfeed.  

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Uyghur Peacemaker on Trial Tomorrow

Below is an excerpt from an article on ChinaAid.org regarding a man with whom I have mutual friends. He has been in prison for a year and a half, and his trial is scheduled for tomorrow. In light of the conflict in the Xinjiang region of China, things are not hopeful for Alim, apart from a mighty act of God. 

Please pray for Alim's trial tomorrow.

XINJIANG – The trial for Uyghur Christian prisoner Alimujiang Yimiti has been set for the morning of July 28. Alimujiang Yimiti has been arbitrarily detained at Kashi Municipal Detention center since January 12, 2008, charged with “revealing state secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations.” However, ChinaAid contacts say the reason for his imprisonment is his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people.

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Racism and Sunburns: Lessons from "SkippyGate"

It seems like every major news outlet has been weighing in on the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Gates.  Someone observed Gates trying to break into his home (having lost his keys), the police were called, tensions mounted, and he was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace.  Now, the question on everyone’s minds: Was Gates a victim of racial profiling?

As usual, the answers to this question seem widely polarized and subjective.  For some, this incidence sparks anger and resentment, and further proves that we are living in a society suspicious of Black men.  For others, this is yet another example of African Americans needing to “get over it” and stop being so sensitive.   

I wonder, though, if there is more to learn here, and if the answers are not so black-and-white.   I’m not even sure if the question of this police officer’s racial bias is even the most relevant question here. 

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