Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The link between worry and the fruits of the spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2010)

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I find that the main thing that gets in the way of my having these fruits of the spirit are NOT the acts of the flesh which the writer condemns a few verses prior (19-21), but rather the WORRIES of the flesh. 

To wit:
but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.


I don’t know about others, but for me, it is the worries of life that make me tense and cranky, unkind, stingy, short, self-focused, & ultimately unhappy.  It is despair or self-pity that short-circuit my ability to be generous to others in the form of money, possessions, empathy, & mirth.   Additionally, the more I feel I’m suffering and allow myself to give in to despair,  the more likely I am to abandon self control and the other fruits of the spirit in a feeble attempt to “feel better” - to throw up my hands and do whatever gets me through the day.

Jesus’ teachings on this point are crucial.  Boy oh boy, do I wish I could really learn to live this consistently over time:

Matthew 6:24-34 (New International Version, ©2010)

   24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

GOP science skeptics

meet-the-gop-science-skeptics-likely-to-hold-top-house-science-energy-posts

This cracks me up.  Even the bible-thumper that said God promised he would never again destroy the earth by water should know that He said, next time, it would be fire.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I, as a Christian, vote Democrat

Why I, as a Christian, vote Democrat:
        Abortion.  I concede this, in general, to the Republicans.  I do worry that, in their haste to eliminate abortion-on-demand, they will limit access for legitimate medical cause.. 
        Money, in general.  My observation is the Democrats tend to value people over money, whereas Republicans tend to value money over people, in terms of their policies.  Which leads me to my next few points:
o       Class warfare.  Under the republican era from 2000 – 2008, wages for the middle class went down in real terms.  In the mean time, the richest couple percentile added to their wealth enormously.  Warren Buffet, head of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the richest men in the world, has many excellent quotes on this topic.  Among other things, he stated it is a "little obscene" that the tax system has gotten "tilted toward guys like me" over the last 20 years. He also states that the Bush Administrations policies had created a class war, and that his class (the uber-rich) were winning.  He also stated that his secretary pays a higher tax rate, as a % of her total income, than he does.  My hope was that Dem’s would correct this.  I have little hope of this at this point (see this open letter to Dem's).  Favoring the Rich is not a valid Christian position. 
o       The Environment.  Again, they favor profits over environment.  Take as evidence their resistance to cap-and-trade, which attempted to regulate CO2 emissions by creating a free market environment that serves this purpose.  The Republican argument that I’ve heard against this is two-fold.  A) Global climate change isn’t real.  I disagree with this based on evidence I’ve seen presented.  B) It will be too expensive.  I feel that this is prioritizing money and corporate profits over the needs of God’s good earth and His people.  Take also as evidence the resistance and general hostility to alternative energy as evidenced by Reagan taking Carter’s solar panels off of the white house.  God put man in the garden, and charged him with care over it.  We must take care of the Earth because it is his, and because we are stewards who share it with our brothers and our progeny.
o       Overall perspective on Rich Vs. Poor.  I have observed that Republicans tend to strongly favor the Rich, and there’s generally a feeling that the poor deserve to be poor and the rich shouldn’t be punished for their superiority.  I do not see this as a Christian perspective.  Even if the Rich are superior and the poor do somehow deserve it because they’re weak or stupid or lazy, Christ would have our society attend to the “least of these”, not lord it over them.  Democrats seem to be much more in tune with this.  I suppose it depends on whether you think of the poor as lazy lie-abouts or as decent people who caught some bad breaks, made some mistakes, or whatever.
o       Monetary policy.  This isn’t so much Christian, and just a question of responsibility.  Democrats may be tax-and-spend liberals, but Republicans are don’t-tax-and-spend-anyway conservatives.  In my lifetime I’ve seen the following scenario play out.  Carter ran an $800 Billion deficit, and people howled.  Reagan then talked a good game but in reality turned this into a multi-trillion dollar deficit by cutting taxes and increasing spending.  Bush(1) continued his policies, but to his credit at least tried to raise taxes.  Clinton then came into office, and we have an era of budget surpluses, which we handed to Bush(2), who again turned them into record deficits with an unfunded entitlements program (prescription program for Medicare recipients), two unwise and poorly executed wars, and tax cuts we couldn’t afford and which did not benefit the middle class in any significant way.  BTW, I’m all for the prescription program, but we needed to fund it. 
o       Free markets / Big Government.  This will be easily misunderstood, so I’ll try to say it carefully.  Free markets are great, and they do many things well.  However, they do not do EVERYTHING well, and they MUST be regulated.  Where they do not do things well, Government needs to fill th gap.  Where they do not act in the best interest of the nation as a whole, they need to be regulated, altered, or even broken up.  A tremendous example of in improperly regulated free market is slavery.  It worked REALLY well for all sorts Dutch traders and southern plantation owners, but it shouldn’t have existed because it was REALLY BAD for Labor, who also happened to be the product.  Government has a place in creating and regulating markets, and in trying to assure that they work for everyone, not just the metaphorical slave-owners.  There are some problems that Government is uniquely positioned to solve, and I think it makes sense to let them.  This all-government-is-bad-all-markets-are-good dogma is nonsense, and it is central to current Republican thinking.  Again, not Christian, just sayin’.
        Foreign Policy.  I’ve observed current temper of the Republican party seems to be very belligerent and unilateral related to foreign policy.  This was certainly true under Bush(2)’s term, but I do not see that it has changed.  I feel strongly that we are to be the leader of the world, and a light unto them.  We can not do this while bullying, oppressing, or excluding, nor can we do this by pursuing only our own interest.  I get the strong impression that Democrats get this much more so than do Republicans.  I think of Christ as having a big tent, as inviting all to join, and as including all people for the benefit of all people.  Christ would not work to secure America’s interests if they did not also work for the least of these.  Nobody’s good at this, but I think the Democrats are far closer to getting this than Republicans.
        Republican’s unconscionable behavior during health care reform.  Memos were leaked in which Republican leadership actually instructed people to show up to town halls and make big ruckus in order to make it appear that people were generally more upset about the bill than they actually were.  The lies and misdirection that came out, many of which some still believe, were intolerable.  We had a chance to do something really great and Godly by providing universal health care to everyone.  It was achievable, and Obama was ready to hear ideas from all sides and include them.  I believe this, although if you spend much time watching Fox, you probably don’t.  However, the really important public conversation couldn’t happen because Republicans saw it only as a chance to defeat the Dem’s and win the election.  Insurance companies will continue to set record profits while denying care to those in need.  Talk about death panels.  This was good for Republicans, as evidenced in the recent election.  It was not good for the people, or the company, and it was not a Godly act.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Frankly, most of the people who will read it will either already hold these same positions, or will discount them as the delusional ravings of a liberal mind, the word “liberal” here being used to connote a sort of illness or infection…  Just not worth the time.  So, Mike, if you got this far, good on ya’.  ;-)> 

You’re not going to “get it”, because you’re completely immersed in a completely different world-view, you take information from other sources, and you have different presumptions.  That’s OK, I don’t need you to understand.  I need you to take it on faith that I’ve read the gospels and prayed and worried and have come to these conclusions based on what I have observed, and my interpretation of the light the gospels shed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Open Letter to Democrats in Elected Office.

I elected you to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My cousin just shipped out for Afghanistan.  I elected you to end the tyranny of the Guantanamo prison and denying people due process.  We still hold people there indefinitely without bringing charges.  I elected you to give us universal healthcare.  We get an essentially Republican bill that, while it does many good things, falls short of that promise and which they still manage to completely demonize you for and leverage into a big electoral win.

And now, the latest outrage.  I elected you to stand up for the middle class in a world where the rich are getting richer and the middle class is wilting.  I elected you to fight government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation in a world in which our richest companies have set record profits while laying off workers or off-shoring positions, writing laws that politicians sponsor (literally), and don’t pay any taxes. I elected you to level a playing field in which Warren Buffet’s secretary pays a larger % of her total income in taxes than he does.  I elected you fix government spending by being a tax-and-spend liberal in a world of don’t-tax-but-spend-anyway Conservatives.

Now, you have an opportunity to continue tax relief for the middle class which is so severely squeezed by ever rising prices and stagnant wages, while asking the rich to be great patriots and give back to the country which has given them so much to help us restore our fiscal sanity.

And what do you do?  You give in.  You cave.  You throw up your hands and just reflexively give in to the whatever Republicans want. 

Why in God’s name do you not simply put a bill on the floor that permanently extends the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and doesn’t address the rich.  Let the republicans take a stand against extending tax cuts for the middle class and see how it goes for them.    If they want to introduce the bill to borrow $700 Billion so that millionaires can continue paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries, LET THEM!  Go on the major networks and say “Hey, there’s a bill that will extend tax cuts for the middle class but those Republicans are holding it up because their good buddies, the millionaires who ran the government under Bush, don’t want it.  You’re taxes are going to be RAISED by REPUBLICANS because they want to make sure RICH PEOPLE don’t have to PAY as high a tax rate as their secretaries do!”  You’ve been dealt a winning hand.  Why are you caving?

I can’t take it anymore.  You’ve lost me, guys.  I just can’t watch.  It’s too painful.

I suppose I need to figure out how to get by in a world where my country is run by big money for big money, where the middle class pays for bailouts so the richest Americans can do EXTREMELY well, and where these same richest Americans send American jobs overseas so they can get even richer by not having to pay the lowly and neutered American Worker. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chrome as replacement for Windows Explorer

http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/landing_chrome.html?hl=en&brand=CHMB&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-sk&utm_medium=ha

Google Chrome works wonderfully for browsing remote files over a WAN (such as when you're connected to a remote office through VPN).  Just type the UNC (Exmaple: \\someserver\someshare) into the address box and hit enter.  SUPER-FAST!  :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tea Party effects on business - Kudlow

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1596797157&play=1
I found this really interesting.

I think the point about businesses wanting a predictable horizon to plan against was good.
I found Kudlow's assertion that the contract with america contained specifics to be absurd. These were sweeping and in some cases contradictory goals. They want to cut taxes AND balance the budget? I can't wait to see what programs they cut, and how long they last after they do.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Zeal without Knowledge

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2019:2&version=NIV

Proverbs 19:2 (New International Version)

2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the way.

Tea Partiers - I'm looking at you.

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