Monthly Archives: August 2007

None of the Above (Part 1)

I have a big problem when it comes to the next U.S. presidential election. I can’t seem to find a candidate that I can vote for. As I have become older, I find myself leaning more to the left than the right, which I understand seems to go against what happens to most people. But I still hold firmly on a few key issues that limit my ability to vote for most Democratic candidates.

For starters, I am staunchly pro-life. I believe that abortion is America’s holocaust. Since I believe that abortion after conception is taking a life, the only legitimate reason that I can see for an abortion is when the life of the mother is at stake if the baby is born. In such instances, you are trading a life for a life. This decision should be made by the woman who is carrying the child. But let’s be honest. Most abortions are not made for this reason.

Most abortions occur because the parents decide to abdicate their responsibility, and the government allows this to happen. We care about our own lives too much to sacrifice for others. That isn’t just an American problem. It is a human condition that Jesus came to fix.

Please don’t get me wrong. This is not an attack on women who are pregnant outside of marriage and face the daunting task of raising a child by themselves. First, men need to step up and take responsibility. Second, the Church needs to serve and encourage these woman instead of judge them. So we can all do a better job when it comes to abortion and “unwanted” children.

I thank God for ministries like Pregnancy Resource Center of Metro Richmond (http://www.pregnant-richmond-va.org/index.htm) that do a good job providing direction for distressed women. But at the end of the line, I believe that we have to speak up for those who cannot defend themselves.

Honoring life is a core belief for Christians because all humans are made in God’s image. If someone does not hold this value, I have a hard time seeing how I could trust them to make right decisions when it comes to the moral implications of government decisions. As a result, I cannot in good conscience vote for someone who is pro-choice. That cuts out most Democrats even if I do agree with them on other issues.

For the above reason, I cannot vote for Rudy Giuliani even though he says that he is a strict constructionist who would only appoint conservatives to the courts.

…TBC

None of the Above (Part 2)

Continued….¬†

None of the Republicans appear much better for one reason or another. First, I feel that the Republicans (and many Democrats) are way too beholding to special interests, particularly insurance companies, major banks, military contractors, major energy players, etc. Mitt Romney is highly connected to big money as a senior manager and principal figure in a major private equity firm. That makes me not want to trust him.

John McCain is someone who I admire on one hand as a decorated veteran. Then again, I don’t feel like I could really trust him for some reason. I wonder if he would be a control freak who would struggle when he switches roles from the maverick outsider to the man in the White House.

Sam Brownback is too conservative to win, and I don’t know if he has enough experience to be a good president. Ditto for Mike Huckabee. Plus, I don’t think he has a realistic view on the immigration issue. He opposed the comprehensive reforms that failed in the Senate this summer. I support it. People who only want to talk about strong enforcement don’t really understand the issue, which makes me question their ability to solve hard issues.

I like Duncan Hunter’s position on most things except the immigration issue. He has been a champion for fair and equitable trade, and I really agree with him when it comes to our trade deals, especially China. Hunter accurately points out that many other areas around the world have unfair advantages that have hammered our manufacturing base.

Hunter has lots of D.C. experience, which is both a plus and a con. I just don’t know if he could win. And there is that immigration issue drum that he beats too much in the wrong direction. Congressman Tom Tancredo does the same thing and appears to have less experience than Hunter.

Then there’s Congressman Ron “Dr. No” Paul who makes me smile and want to cry at the same time. He is really a libertarian running as a Republican. I like Paul because he is brutally honest. I don’t like Paul because he isn’t very realistic. It is great when you don’t compromise your beliefs. But it is a problem when your beliefs are so strict that you cannot find common ground with almost everyone else in government.

Ron Paul champions one of the issues that is near and dear to my heart – private property rights. I believe that the federal government has abused eminent domain to push agendas that violate individual liberty. Paul also opposed the Patriot Act (so do I) and the war in Iraq (not sure how I feel on that issue although we need to leave the area as stable as possible before any exit is carried out). So I guess that I agree with him on the Iraq issue.

Here are some other interesting things about Ron Paul:

He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.

I believe that Paul accurately represents the conservative ideals better than many other so-called conservatives. That is particularly true when it comes to the fiscal responsibility of the government to operate with a balanced budget. While I don’t think Paul has a chance to win, he brings an interesting element to the debate.

Oh, you also have the non-candidate candidates, such as Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich. I kind of like Thompson, but I need to know more. Newt is a smart guy. But he is too polarizing a figure to get elected. Plus, I do think that your personal life matters. And he hasn’t always seemed to do too well in that arena.

Then, I could stray outside the normal two parties for a long-shot candidate. Let’s see, there is Ralph Nader. He’s better as a consumer advocate than a political leader. Next. Then there is Pat Buchanan. He needs to stay on his TV gig. Then there are a bunch of other parties without a declared candidate. Most of these are spot on in some issues but way off base on others. Then there are the socialist parties if we all want Hillary Clinton to be our government nanny.

What’s a guy to do? I am thinking about supporting a write-in candidate. I could always vote for Elmo, Bruce Wayne or maybe even Kurt Loder of MTV News.

Then a co-worker the other day had a great idea. She suggested that there always be a “None of the Above” option on ballots. If this option won, a follow-up election would be held where none of the previous candidates could participate. I kind of like that idea.

Maybe we would eventually get candidates worth voting for. Until then, I am strongly thinking about voting for Jesus in the 2008 race.

I welcome any good campaign slogan suggestions for the Jesus campaign. ūüôā

Here I Come to Save the Day

Hanging out with my nephews is always a hoot. I have three nephews and one niece. Matthew is eight. And he requires an extra degree of creativity if you want to get into his world. He loves to pretend and develop elaborate stories that we act out in sort of a live TV show kind of thing. He writes down many of these stories using pictures and some words.

The other day, I decided to make up a new show while we were playing. I called it, Zook vs. Billy & Joey. The premise is that Zook, a space alien from the planet Zuron, wants to take over earth. Billy and Joey are two kids who along with their pet bird, Birdie, try to stop Zook when they discover the invasion plot. Billy and Joey use their kid powers to knock Zook’s robot ship off course, which saves the day.

Of course, Billy’s dad, Mr. Ross, is completely unaware of the danger and seems incompetent to do anything about Zook anyway. Thank God there are the two boys and the bird to protect the planet. The entire show involved a comedy of errors that luckily played into the boy’s favor while Zook passed the blame for his failures to his subordinates. (Yes, this show has adult themes… insert chuckle here).

After I was done with the pilot episode, I asked Matthew what he thought. He said, “Uncle Chaille, your show was too violent for a kid’s program. It should be more kid friendly.”

I said that most of the new cartoons were fairly violent, including many on Nickelodeon. I told Matthew that violence was part of the new formula. He said that he wasn’t sure. Did I mention that Matthew has a real tender heart? That’s one of the things I love about him.
Then I told Matthew that the real reason I picked the earth invasion scenario was to illustrate a point. I said that many kid’s shows portray adults like we are all bumbling idiots.

If you don’t believe me, just watch any cartoon TV that has been made in the last five years. If the show has parents in it, nine times out of ten they are not as cleaver as the children. Kids are the heroes who save the world. The adults do nothing, are oblivious to the real problem, or are inept. I told Matthew that this sends the wrong message to young minds, which I was drawing attention to by my ridiculous story. This reinforces the idea that kids know best not parents. It doesn’t foster good child/parent relationships.

Matthew looked at me and said, “OK, but I still think your show is too violent.”
I agreed. Maybe Zook can become a pacifist. But then that takes away one of the key aspects of any story – the struggle between good and evil.

Matthew has a point because love wins in the end. His heart captures what Jesus must have been thinking about when He told His disciples that they could not enter the kingdom of heaven unless they changed and became like little children.

A Biblical worldview understands that Jesus not Mighty Mouse is the one who can really say as He rushes to the rescue, “Here I Come to Save the Day!”

Entitled to Nothing

While America is the land of opportunity, it is also the land of entitlement where each generation feels it should have a better life than the previous one. The entitlement trap is something I thought a lot about while in Atlanta a month or so ago.

An article in Group magazine titled, “Fighting the Entitlement Dragon” led me to thing through how our expectations determine our mindset. America is all about more. More money. More fame. More stuff. More good times.

In a recent USA Today article, writer Stephanie Armour wrote, “Gen Y has been pampered, nurtured, and programmed with a slew of activities since they were toddlers…They are both high performance and high maintenance.”

Here are some the in-your-face comments from the Group article referenced above:

  • “If¬†‘gotta have’ is an addictive drug that ruins kids’ sense of ‘enough,’ the adults in our cutlure are the drug dealers.”
  • “You can’t buy happiness, right? That’s what we say, but that is not how we act. In fact, our consumer-based¬†economy would collapse if we really believed it.”
  • Recent research shows that once personal wealth exceeds $12,000 a year in the United States,¬†more money produces virtually no increase in life satisfaction.
  • “Everything is about going forward, falling back is the¬†American nightmare.”
  • “More ain’t what it used to be.”
  • “In making life easier for their kids in the short term, adults are making it harder for them them in the long run.”

Who would have thought that the key to helping people cope with the problems caused by the “More Mentality” is a good dose of less stuff? It seems that¬†fewer choices can be better than a wide selection. Too many choices just adds unnecessary pressure. More challenges instead of safe environments will cause struggles in the short run that lead to stronger students in the long run.

Helping kids at a young age learn the value of hard work is a good way to avoid the entitlement dragon, which can become almost impossible to tame when a boy or girl reaches adolescence.  

Honestly, we adults have to admit our contribution to the problem. Not only have we allowed the sense of entitlement to grow in the future generations we suffer from the same problem ourselves.¬†Teens or kids aren’t the only ones who tend to be selfish.

My preoccupation with my environment became clear to me while in Morocco and Nashville on mission trips. Both places were very hot. I didn’t like the weather. I complained both to myself and to others. There were times that I lost all sense of focus while rushing toward the nearest fan or air conditioned spot. It was sad how preoccupied I was with my own comfort.

The best solution to the entitlement dragon is to come to the conclusion that we are entitled to nothing. As Christians, we gave our rights away to God. And He benevolently offers us all things that are good. Taking a fast is a good way to meld this theology with real world experience. I personally hate fasts. But I am starting to see the value in them.

Fasts can take many different forms. We can fast almost anything from food to entertainment to work to a favorite hobby or activity. Fasts allow us to practice personal discipline while spending our energy focusing on God.

The harder that I hold onto things help me to see just how much the entitlement dragon has wrapped itself around my life.

A Look Deep Inside China

ESPN recently posted on its Web site a great article about the China that government authorities don’t want you to see. As China prepares for the 2008 Olympics, journalists will be going places and telling stories that we usually don’t get to hear.

My hope is that this will force China to improve its policies especially when it comes to human rights, environmental protection, religious freedom and child labor.

Kudos to ESPN for a good article about a lovely people¬†despite China’s bad government.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=bamboocurtain