Once upon a time, when European immigrants came to the United States they would stare in awe upon approaching our shores as the Statue of Liberty came into sight. Whether real or mythical, the ideals and symbolism of the Land of Opportunity brought many to tears while providing inspiration to emulate all that came before them in building a better life for themselves and families.
In our current culture, a sign should be hung around Lady Liberty’s neck that says “Help Wanted: Leaders”. Perhaps the single biggest issue facing our youth is the lack of leaders, in particular male role models, to emulate in finding their mission and God-given purpose in life. From the highest levels of government to the streets in many communities, our youth have been failed by not having proper role models.
The vacancy of the father in the home leads too many of youth to seek a false image of manhood through celebrities, athletes and less than desirable friends. When one looks at the dysfunction of our leaderless, dysfunctional government, they see a total lack of personal accountability. Instead of taking responsibility for what goes on around them (a trait ingrained in the DNA of all great leaders), we get the whining, name calling, finger-pointing and blaming that our kindergarten teachers didn’t accept from us on the playground.
Instead of working for a solution, those that run our country make excuses for their failures. This has a tremendous and negative impact on our overall culture as our nation’s leadership sets the tone and direction for the rest of the culture. So where do we go from here?
At the grass roots level, men everywhere need to step up and lead by taking responsibility – in our marriages, our homes, our churches and our communities. We must empower our wives, equip our children while providing mentorship to those kids in our community in desperate need. We must break the chain of self-victimization (aka playing the victim) that’s become so prevalent in our society and is holding entire generations back from fulfilling their true potential and discovering their spiritual gifts so they themselves can lead someday.
As for our nation’s leadership, we need to hold our leader’s accountable to lead. We need people to stand up, take personal responsibility for the chaos around them and lead our country by the very ideals that its been built upon. By the way, here is a good way to interject that just because we often fall short of our ideals and standards, doesn’t mean we need to abandon or lower the bar of those ideals and standards. I long for a day when we have more adults in the room among our elected officials and fewer bickering kids staking out their turf around the swing set.
October 14th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
While there was unfortunately little to no shock value to the recent five-part series by Sports Illustrated on the corruption of Oklahoma State football — as most of us assume this goes on to varying degrees at every major university with revenue producing sports — a telling quote gave an indication of how our youth are ensnared while growing up with the rebranding of marijuana as a soft or harmless drug.
“Everybody thinks marijuana isn’t a bad drug, but it really has destroyed my life,” former running back Dexter Pratt said in part three of the series titled “The Drugs.” “When I was (at Oklahoma State) I wouldn’t have said it was an addiction, but it was.”
Seldom have we seen the pendulum swing back and forth to wild extremes of cultural perceptions as we’ve seen with how society has viewed marijuana. Due partly to the fictional, propaganda film “Reefer Madness” released in 1936, the public perception of the drug was one of horror that could lead to murder, rape, suicide or insanity.
Unfortunately scare tactics not based on substance don’t last for long. Since the 1960s, the backlash to “Reefer Madness” from the counter cultural movement has moved further and further mainstream. The result is a growing perception amongst the culture that marijuana is a harmless and safe drug.
As a result of the shift in societal attitudes, we must now, more than ever, properly educate our youth on the dangers of using marijuana — not by fictional scare tactics, but by reality. While we hear that the drug is not addictive, Dexter Pratt tells us a different story.
A mind-altering substance, marijuana may not be physically addictive like alcohol or heroin, but the grips of a psychologically, addictive, mind-altering substance is no less a detriment to those addicted.
Addiction is addiction, be it physical or psychological.
Once a person becomes addicted, getting high is often the only thing they think about, and in the case of marijuana, this leads to lower levels of personal drive, ambition, motivation as well as increased levels of paranoia.
How can I verify this last sentence? Well, outside of countless medical studies, I’ve seen it firsthand. I used it as a youth and it was truly the end of the innocence of childhood for me and hundreds, if not thousands of others that I’ve seen over the years.
‘A’ students become ‘C’ students. ‘C’ students become ‘F’ students, often dropping out. Great athletes become average athletes or quit competing all together.
Are there exceptions to the rule like our current president? Yes, but by and large our youth that begin using the drug inhibit themselves from fully reaching their talent and potential. Many graduate to more potent and deadly drugs as yes, marijuana is a gateway or stepping stone drug.
The legalization push would just further legitimize use among our youth by sending the signal that it’s harmless and OK to use.
So some straight talk is necessary. Not by scaring our kids away from the drug but by showing them through our own lives that the best life lived is a peaceful, joyful existence with a strong, clear and sober mind under the influence of nothing more than the Holy Spirit, through having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
September 26th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
I remember being shocked when former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley gave a riveting speech in August 2010 towards the end of a bloody summer, specifically for young black men in Chicago. In one of the hardest hit neighborhoods of Englewood, Daley said to the residents in no uncertain terms (paraphrasing) that the police are not your enemy, the primary problems lie within the breakdown of the black community, that the father is no longer in the home and the church is no longer the center of the community. It was refreshing, blunt and surprising candid coming from a politician, but even more so given that it was coming from a Democratic politician and member of the liberal political establishment. It also came as no surprise when he announced a month later that, out of gas, he would not seek a seventh term. Clearly, when he gave his speech in Englewood, he knew he would be soon heading off into retirement and was free from the shackles of preaching the liberal orthodoxy of victimization, blame as well as finger pointing. Instead, we got raw candor and emotion in calling for personal responsibility and accountability from a mayor that had been at the helm of one of the most violent American cities for over two decades.
We need more of that candor to solve the problems plaguing our black brothers and sisters trapped in these dysfunctional communities. While Conservatives, in particular white conservatives, need to do our part by recognizing that institutional racism still exists. While we need to sympathize, if not emphasize, with those young black men who feel stigmatized over deep rooted issues like racial profiling. While we need to reach out to help empower these communities with our time and treasure, its time the black leadership and here I’m speaking to the hierarchy of the liberal establishment – from the Democratic politicians, the President to the Congressional Black Caucus to the Civil Rights Organizations, the NAACP to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition to the ministers like Al Sharpton to their surrogates in the mainstream media that push their narrative – to STEP UP with the full force of their tremendous resources and public platform to empower the black community to do or itself what it cannot expect others to do for them.
In 1911 Booker T. Washington said “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well.” Sadly, this grievance industry still exists and the patient in the inner-city is not getting well.
So we need more diverse voices at the leadership table. We need prominent players to stand up to an entertainment and music industry, rap and hip hop culture that glorifies the worst aspects of sexuality, violence and base instincts within the community while perpetuating vile stigmas which become self-fulfilling prophecies within the disillusioned inner-city. I can come up with an All-Star line-up of a multitude of black male and female leaders in prominent places in the media, public and political realm. But they are shunned by the establishment leaders and the mainstream media. Instead of the usual line-up of the Jacksons, Sharptons, Tavis Smileys and Van Jones, we need to see the Jason Rileys, the Ben Carsons, the Thomas Sowells and the Allen Wests be given a prominent “mainstream” voice. Even moderate liberals like Juan Williams, the author of Enough, is shunned for not preaching the usual liberal orthodox
We know the statistics – black men make up only 6% of the population yet commit 50% of the murders in this nation, 92% of which are against other black men. Between the drugs, the gangs and the violence, there’s genocide going on within the black community and its only going to stop when the liberal establishment steps in to demand accountability by screaming from the highest mountain tops from Washington D.C. to Hollywood, CA. I hear the establishment talking about disproportionate rates of unemployment and incarceration yet make no mention of 50% high school dropout rates (compared with under 10% in the suburbs). What else would we expect with so many young men on the streets and ill prepared to enter the job market?
It’s become a redundant, conservative cliché, but it really does start with the family and providing a stable home where education is encouraged not frowned upon – 73% out of wedlock birthdates (80-90% in the inner-cities) is a continued recipe for ruin. We need young black women to be more accountable in taking responsibility while honoring their bodies as the temples God created them to be (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Likewise, we need black men to be more accountable for honoring the women by treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve (Ephesians 5:25-28), while most importantly taking responsibility for the children they bring into the world (Ephesians 6:4). The culture is not lost. But the problems plaguing the black community are deep and generational. We need to start now with the youth if we’re going to have an impact in our children’s lifetime!
July 24th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
I’ve always been one that believes that when you have a personal problem that needs to be fixed, the first place you need to look is within yourself. If your marriage is in trouble, you need to address your own shortcomings and fix yourself before you turn your attention to your spouse’s issues. As somebody who has always had a deep interest in social issues going back to my undergraduate days of majoring in sociology, I believe that premise of how to affect true, authentic change in our personal lives extends to our culture as well. Change comes from the inside out, not the outside in and I believe that’s Biblical. Jesus always addressed the heart of man and transforming that heart first and foremost. You can change the exterior societal and cultural conditions all you want, but without an interior heart transformation nothing will ever change in our culture.
What we have in our current culture is one void of personal responsibility and accountability from the top down across all racial and income groups. In the absence of personal responsibility and being accountable for your actions, into the void comes blame shifting and finger pointing. Enter the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and once again a spotlight is shining upon the worst aspects of blame shifting in our society. I’m saddened that this young man died. My heart breaks for his mom and dad who have handled themselves with class and dignity. But I’m also saddened to see this tragedy polarize our nation along the lines of race when it didn’t need to be that way. After all, George Zimmerman himself is a brown-skinned man, apparently without a racist bone in his boy (FBI interviews 45 people who knew Zimmerman, looking for racist intentions).
The cynical side of me sees Left Wing power brokers (white and black) stirring up racial strife because it’s good for business. It’s not good for the country and certainly not for our brothers and sisters in the crime-ridden inner cities, but its big business for the media (ratings), for the Democratic Party (votes), for the civil rights leaders (relevancy) and ministers (full pews and offering plates). While I have no problem with people who are angry as well as outraged and who peacefully protest against what they see as racial injustices, I’m cynical about the motives behind the power brokers who are stirring up the anger. I’m cynical because here are some stats that should cause an equal amount of outrage and anger amongst the power brokers, but don’t – 50% of those murdered in this country are African-American (despite only making up 12% of the population). Of those, 92% are murdered by other black people (mostly young black males murdering other young black males).
There’s genocide being committed within the black community but the power brokers are all but silent. Where is the outrage from the community, the politicians who serve these communities, the academics, the civil rights leaders and, last but not least, the media? What we get instead is power broker after power broker (see MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry) telling us, among other things, that the Zimmerman verdict somehow makes the country unsafe for her sons. What we get is ridiculous, reckless and divisive front page comparisons to the horrific murder of 14-year-old Emmitt Till in 1954 Mississippi. And when it comes to the outrage over “profiling”, as noted black columnist Jason Riley just penned, perceptions of young black men are the result of crime rates among young black men, not the other way around.
What I’m saying in no way suggests that the current and historical stain of racism doesn’t exist in our culture. Only a fool would say that and we should work in a dignified manner to correct the wrongs that still exist. But not every perceived racial injustice should be treated as a sequel to Mississippi Burning.
To fix the problem, the first place we need to look, specific to changing the culture, is transforming the collective heart within our inner-city communities. I have a vested interest here and am not just some white, right wing blogger living and working in the ‘burbs. For years, my wife and I have put our time and money where our mouth is in investing in these communities. A good deal of my ministry work is pouring into young black people who I care deeply about and I don’t want to see them murdered on the way home from school. I work alongside many white and black, men and women, teachers, coaches, community members and youth pastors who are just as passionate as I am for change. But the power brokers need to step up and help us. For starters, we need to draw attention and do better than 50% high school rates and 73% out of wedlock birth rates (both recipes for disaster and community ruin). This problem is solvable, again by looking within the heart. But until the power brokers put the true interests of the community above self-interests and profit, the self-inflicted genocide will continue while our nation continues to fray.
July 17th Posted in: Current Issues with No Comments
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
The biggest misconception in the on-going dialogue in our nation over same-sex marriage is that if you stand for the historical, traditional definition of marriage then you’re either hateful, intolerant, judgmental, a narrow-minded bigot or all the above. It’s been defined that way by advocates of same-sex marriage and while strategically successfully in marginalizing their socially conservative opponents as extremists, the “you either love us or hate us” choice does little other than to polarize our already fractured nation. The danger in dividing to conquer in such a fashion as to demonize your opposition is that constructive dialogue to at least respectfully disagree with your opponent becomes impossible. In essence, the agents of the tolerance movement only tolerate those who believe as they do.
For those of us who hold a Biblical worldview, we do so because we believe the Bible is the Word of God; we believe it’s a living, breathing book. We believe this because it’s a book that’s completely and supernaturally transformed our lives, our marriages and our families. Although we may still struggle with various aspects of sin (the old self), we’ve largely been freed from the overall bondage of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit as we read His Word. We’ve seen the transformation work firsthand and thus see God’s Word as infalliable truth!
So it’s problematic to look at the act of homosexuality as anything other than what the Bible describes as sin. As Christians, we are to look for consistent threads of scripture from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation in how we form our beliefs as opposed to obscure, one off verses, usually found in the Old Testament. And consistently as well as directly, seven times to be exact – which doesn’t include God’s plan for marriage laid out Genesis or Jesus’ reiteration of that plan in Mark – and seven times homosexuality is cast in a sinful light.
Now, I want to emphatically state that authentic, mature Christians should never hate anybody regardless of their sin because, biblically speaking, we were all born sinners. I love homosexual family members and acquaintances in the same way I love any family member or acquaintance that’s engaged in a sinful lifestyle – be it drug or alcohol abuse or heterosexual sin outside of marriage. But while I love them doesn’t mean I have to accept their lifestyle choices or decisions regardless of whether or not they were predisposed with those traits at birth because, regardless of whether or not they were “born that way”, people choose if they pursue or act upon their predispositions. And because I don’t accept their choices doesn’t mean that I hate them or are being bigoted in my beliefs.
In wrapping up my two-week series on gay marriage, this is a good place to re-state that I believe that God knows best what constitutes a healthy and vibrant society. One that’s based on the healthy pillars of faith, communities, marriages and families; all of which he lays out for us in His Word. The more we try to social engineer away from God’s plan and redefine what we think is best using human wisdom and reason apart from God, the less we should be surprised that society continues to falter. Marriage is a key pillar. If we change the historical meaning, how far do we go in redefining marriage and what we allow? Should so-called bi-sexuals be allowed to marry one of each because they’re pre-disposed to be attracted to both genders and thus have a “civil right” to be happy? What do we do when the polygamists inevitably start filing lawsuits? In the end, if marriage can mean anything, then it means nothing which I suspect is the end goal for many who seek to redefine it.
April 2nd Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
“…As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.’” Romans 3:9-11
Not that there’s any shock value left at this point to anything we hear anymore when it comes to athletes, celebrities, politicians or anybody in the public square for that matter. But last week was just another reminder of just how far from we’ve wondered from God’s original plan and our desperate need for spiritual healing and revival in this nation and world. More importantly though, it was another reminder that any place or trust put in so-called public figures in simply misguided and the only one we should look to and emulate is Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our standard-bearer and role model.
To me, Lance Armstrong’s decade long campaign of lies and bullying outweighed the transgressions of being a drug cheat. I heard it said that he was a bad person who did good things. After all, he was a hero to millions through his Livestrong Foundation. But we’ll never know if his “good works” were for self-adulation or to throw others of the scent from the highly sophisticated doping program his team ran. We’ll never know because he has no credibility when it comes to being truthful.
As for Manti Te’o, the All-American linebacker from Notre Dame, whose girlfriend that died from leukemia turned out to be a non-existent person, a hoax and complete fabrication. We’ll probably never know the extent to which he exaggerated that story for self-adulation. But aside from being a cautionary tale of creating virtual emotional attachments in the tech era, it’s also a reminder of why we need to put our trust in a Risen Lord and Savior and not people – regardless of their worldly accomplishments – because people will let us down every time.
Paul reminds us time after time in his New Testament epistles that our goods works don’t come close to measuring up to God, and that God alone is where we should place our trust. If we learned anything last week it’s that once again we need to remember that none of us is righteous of our own accord. We are incapable of understanding the good works we were created for without first knowing who created us and that only comes with the true wisdom and understanding of seeking God.
January 21st Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Revelation 3:14-17
Probably the most controversial topic of the last presidential campaign was a 2008 op-ed by Mitt Romney in the NY Times titled ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’. The column proceeded to lay out how General Motors, a failing American institution, should restructure itself through a managed bankruptcy. An insolvent and failing company enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a time of protection from its creditors to reemerge even stronger. After the results of last week’s election as well as the passage of voter referendums in various states to legalize marijuana and same sex marriage, it’s pretty clear to me that American Christianity has reached a state of insolvency and is in dire need of restructuring through a managed bankruptcy.
Last week was a referendum in this country and it was a referendum against the American brand of Christianity – the kind that forges an unholy alliance between faith and politics while poisoning both. For 40 years we’ve fought the “culture wars” in this country raging against abortionists, homosexuals, the sexual promiscuous, liberals, progressives and probably six other groups I’ve failed to mention. But where has it gotten us?
Now I’m not saying we water down the Bible or moderate scriptural principles or fail to stand for biblical truth. Nor am I saying we should withdrawal from the political realm or cease to have our voice heard in the public square. But I am saying we need to change our tone while reflecting and praying deeply about how God wants us to be the hands and feet to a lost culture. I believe when we do that, we’ll be deeply convicted of our sin of forgetting to love. We’ve neglected 1 Corinthians 13; we’ve not had love and are nothing to a lost society. We have not gained, while failing to earn, the respect and trust of a lost and disillusioned culture because we’ve not had love.
Our enemy is not opposing political parties or abortionists or homosexuals. Our enemy lies in the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12) and it’s an enemy that wants us to divide and conquer, wants us to give in to fear which leads to anger which leads to hate, the very opposite of what God wants of us. He’s called us to live out The Great Commission in Matthew 28 – “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Where in the Great Commission do we see that we are supposed to align so closely to a political party whereby we automatically alienate 50% of the American people? Where do we see that we’re supposed to fight more for Christian symbolism such as keeping the Ten Commandments in courthouses over fighting to fuse the need for personal salvation with the social gospel of helping those less fortunate among us?
We have a stark choice in American Christianity – we can continue along the path towards insolvency and irrelevance in this country or we can restructure by stripping away the inefficiencies and old way of doing things that’s robbed us of our spiritual vitality as well as our ability to reach our communities for Christ? Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision summed it up beautifully in a recent article – Goodbye Christian America; Hello, True Christianity and in his book The Hole In Our Gospel. In short, we can continue to complain about the darkness or we can light a candle. If we spent as much time and energy as a Christian community on loving and serving the lost as we did on getting frustrated and angry over politics or other issues that don’t matter or serving ourselves, we wouldn’t be able to build churches fast enough to handle the overflow of the masses. My blog entries for the next couple of weeks will address how to light a few candles.
November 12th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
Note – this is the first in a two-part series. Next week’s piece will take a look at the Pharisee in all of us and the need to “take the planks out of our own eyes”. Matthew 7:5
I know that every four years we say “this is the most important election ever”. So while I’ll refrain from that proclamation, I will say that I’ve never seen a presidential election cause so much anxiety on the part of the Christian community, including yours truly. Especially compelling in light of the angst being directed toward the defeat of the candidate who is a professing Christian; ironic really when you consider his opponent is a Mormon. For those that read my blogs or follow me on Facebook, you know that it’s been a constant battle for me – and one I’ve found myself losing these past few months – in trying not to be so overly political at the expense of my Christian witness. In the end, we should as Christians be known less for our political fervor and more for our spiritual fervor. It’s an area many of us have fallen quite short on during this election season.
So why all the angst? After all, CNN just ran a story on Obama’s evolving Christian faith and a more evangelical style. In my mind, I’ll never question a man’s faith as only he and the Lord know what’s in his heart. So if Obama says he’s a Christian, I’ll take him at his word. But from there, I believe the root of the problem with many in the Christian community is he seems to hold a diametrically opposed political position to every foundational biblical principle – chiefly abortion and the biblical definition of marriage / family. And so it can be frustrating to hear a “Christian” say his opponent’s policies, against abortion and government-mandated contraception, will take us back to the policies of the 1950s.
On the biblical definition of marriage and the family, it’s absolutely imperative that we tolerate, love and respect everybody as Christians. But we aren’t called to tolerate, love and respect the lifestyle decisions and choices people make, including those engaged in same-sex relationships. In fusing the two together – abortion and same-sex marriage – it will always fall on deaf ears for a community that believes that God forms us in the womb (Psalm 139:13) when you advocate a policy that destroys 2 million+ lives in the womb every year (who are the most vulnerable among us) but you simultaneously talk about issues of “fairness”, rights, protections and “looking out for others”.
Regarding issues involving the poor, people who advocate a top-down, centralized government approach don’t own the debate on who cares about and wants to help the poor. Nowhere to be found in the Bible is a mandate that calls for a secularized government to take from its citizens as it sees fit and to redistribute as it sees fit. In fact, many Christians believe this approach is toxic and for the last 50 years has undermined marriage, the family and entire communities. Large scale social engineering has arguably debilitated and destabilized our society, entrapping entire subgroups into generational poverty. And lastly, the anxiety level of the Christian community gets raised when we see our “Christian” president using vulgarity in a media outlet like Rolling Stone or authorizing an ad to draw in young voters that likens voting for him to having sex for the first time; all the while catering to an entertainment industry like no other President we’ve ever had; an entertainment industry that has more of a polluting effect on our children than any environmental issue could ever have on our culture.
All of that said, I try to take issue with policy issues and not make it personal towards the President because, quite obviously, I don’t know the President personally. So how could I possibly dislike him? Political issues and politicians will come on go. We need to remember that what this nation lacks is not political solutions because our problems are not political in nature. Rather we need spiritual solutions because our problems are spiritual in nature. When I confessed recently of the high anxiety in my heart over this election, a wise friend told me that we’re “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5: 17,20) and to meditate on Psalm 2. So no matter who is elected when we wake up on Wednesday, November 7th, we need to remember that Jesus will be on His throne and that’s ultimately whom we serve.
October 29th Posted in: Current Issues with 4 Comments
With the presidential election upon us, I think it’s time for all of us to take a step back as well as a deep breath. In that regard, I found it incredibly light-hearted that both Governor Romney and President Obama paid tribute to one another last Thursday after exchanging light-hearted and humorous barbs – poking fun at themselves and each other – at the Al Smith Charity Fundraiser (Romney roast here, Obama roast here). This was the best part of the campaign so far with two opponents coming together after developing a competitive respect for one another. President Obama – “And I particularly want to thank Governor Romney for joining me because I admire him very much as a family man, and a loving father. And those are two titles that will always matter more than any political ones.” Governor Romney – “…Don’t tell anyone I said so, but our 44th president has many gifts and a beautiful family that would make any man proud. In our country, you can oppose someone in politics and make a confident case against their policies without any ill will and that’s how it is for me. There’s more to life than politics.”
Too often times in this country we don’t do a good enough job with separating policy attacks with personal attacks. And I think that’s because we don’t do a good enough job of relationship-building anymore. I was reminded of that with the passing of one of my best and closest friends last week. My tribute to Patrick Faherty is here – The Loss of My Twin Brother. Pat was a God-fearing Catholic, a Massachusetts liberal. I’m a God-fearing Protestant and a Christian conservative. And although we had many debates, especially on Facebook in recent years, neither one of us never lost our love and respect for the other. But that’s because we took time to build a relationship and although there were many things we never agreed upon, we knew the quality as well as the character of the other and drew a hard / fast line between philosophical disagreements and personal attacks.
I was also struck by the tribute to former democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, who passed away over the weekend, penned by former republican presidential candidate Bob Dole – George McGovern, the man who never gave up. McGovern was the face of modern liberalism and yet Dole, a staunch conservative, said the country and the world is better off because of his long-time friend.
For various reasons, we’re not relational enough in our fractured society to get to the point where we can have healthy discussions to move the country forward. This should be particularly troubling to Christians, because how can we truly show Christ’s love to others if we’re not intentionally relational towards them. Ultimately, the point here is not to solve the world’s problems but get to the point where we realize that just because people have a different worldview be it conservative, liberal or other doesn’t make them any less of a quality human-being than anybody else. My friend Pat and I disagreed on just about every hot button topic, but he was among the highest of quality human beings I ever had the pleasure to meet. I learned how to be a better man because of him.
October 22nd Posted in: Current Issues with No Comments
I’ve been following politics for a long time and, if we’re all honest, we’d admit the both sides of the political aisle parse, spin, and distort. In short, they tell half-truths which in reality are whole lies. But this is the first time in an election cycle or during a candidate’s term where I’ve seen lies become ingrained as truth throughout the culture. What’s so alarming is it’s not just the uninformed voter out there but otherwise educated people who should know better, but don’t.
I’ll first point out the five biggest lies with a concluding, albeit brief, analysis of why these lies have become truth.
5. “Bush tax cuts for the rich” – We’ve heard these talking points for years about the Bush tax cuts to the extent that most people believe that President Bush only cut taxes for the rich. The reality is that he cut taxes for ALL middle and upper-income earners by the same percentage – click here. So many of the very people on the left who decry the Bush tax cuts, benefited and continue to do so from those cuts. Suffice it to say that those same people would not go back in time and give up their additional income.
4. “Bush is responsible for the deficit” – this is another whopper that’s taken root as truth, not so much by knowledgeable independents and conservatives, but by ardent liberals as well as many that make up the uninformed electorate. Rated “Four Pinocchios” by the Washington Post fact checker – click here. To quote – “We are not trying to make excuses for the fiscal excesses of the Bush administration — and Congress — in the last decade. But at some point, a president has to take ownership of his own actions.” A blog on accountability and personal responsibility is a blog for another day. But it’s worth noting now that I don’t ever remember Reagan, nor have I ever heard that FDR, whined, complained and scapegoated “their predecessor” for the troubles they inherited. And just for fun here’s three pinocchios for the claim that the Bush tax cuts led to the economic crisis.
3. “McConnell and GOP House Members set out to make Obama a one-term president.” – another half-truth (whole lie) that’s been posted by no less than five people on my Facebook to make the case that Republicans have been obstructionists since Day One of this presidency. Thoroughly debunked Here.
2. “The rich don’t pay their fair share” – if not for #1, this claim would by far be the top ranked lie seen as truth by all but the
truly informed. This lie has been perpetrated through such political gimmicks as the Buffet Rule and the “fair share”, “1%” comments spewed ad nauseam by those more concerned with dividing and conquering, more focused on scoring political points to gain votes by lying to the middle class as opposed to helping the middle class. USA Today cited the non-partisan Tax Policy Center in debunking this myth – click
here. “households making more than $1 million will pay an average 29.1% of their income in federal taxes, INCLUDING income taxes, payroll taxes and other taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 15% of their income in federal taxes.” According to Price Waterhouse Cooper, Romney himself has paid $10s of millions in taxes of his hard earned income, donated $10s of millions more as well as created 10s of thousands of jobs through his innovation and investments. I’d say he’s contributed to his country quite significantly.
1. “No President, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage he found in just 4 years.” - Bill Clinton. This is ranked #1 simply because of the quoted source and because it took root and is perceived as truth more than any line uttered from the DNC in giving Obama his post-convention bounce. To begin with, it’s been largely whitewashed from the history of the Democratic Party. But Bill Clinton is still the same Bill Clinton who had a tawdry, adulterous affair with a subordinate intern his daughter’s age, in the White House and then lied about it numerous times to his family, staff and the American people. This series of historical events should disqualify anyone from ever trusting anything Bill Clinton says and should really make anybody question the integrity of a political party where he is the face and most important figure. That rant notwithstanding, both FDR and Ronald Reagan did what Bill Clinton said nobody could do in the two worst economic crisis prior to this one. By year four of FDR’s first term in 1936, the economy grew at 13.6%. In year four of Reagan’s first term in 1984, the economy grew at 8%. The Obama economy in year four, despite adding more debt than any other president in history ($6 trillion) is growing at under 2%. Obama may have inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, as he likes to tell us, but what he doesn’t say is that he’s overseen the worst economic recovery ever.
So why are so many lies now seen as truth? I think the biggest reason is the downfall of the American media in being lazy, corrupt and derelict in its watchdog duties. In a free, democratic society, it’s imperative to have a neutral press contributing as an arbitrator in our system of checks and balances. But as former Democratic strategist Pat Caddell, who has worked for presidential candidates George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden among others said in a speech called ‘The Audacity of Corruption” published here: “when I first started in politics – and for a long time before that – everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybody. Which is exactly what they should be. They were unrelenting. Whatever the biases were, they were essentially equal-opportunity people. That changed in 1980…”.
Jake Tapper of ABC News recently had this to say – “I have said before… [that I] thought the media helped tip the scales. I didn’t think the coverage in 2008 was especially fair to either Hillary Clinton or John McCain,” said Tapper. “Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, [the] campaign narrative, that it wasn’t always the fairest coverage.” He also added in this election that the media wasn’t doing an adequate job in covering the vital issues like the economy and Afghanistan. If they were doing a adequate job, Romney – despite his shortcomings and campaign ineptitude – would be in much better shape at this point. Ask yourself if a Conservative was running for re-election right now, how much we’d be hearing and reading about high gas prices, unemployment, the debt the wars, the Mid-East vs. what we hear / read now.
Simply put, when the media is so slanted towards one side as they are towards the re-election of President Obama, the lies, half-truths and distortions go unchallenged. Those lies then filter their way into the mainstream public through not only traditional news sources but through the late night comedy shows, the entertainment industry and the co-worker in the next cube so the average voter comes to believe a lie as truth. The consequences are grim for a country where the political mantra is now “when you tell a lie enough times, it becomes true.” And what kind of lessons does that send our children?