Archive for February, 2009

And Now We Turn Our Attention To Country Music

 

            I confess, I listen to country music.  I don’t understand the rap or hip-hop.  I do understand that it helps if you are a narcissist before you begin singing.  I don’t like the alternative and the new rock does not make sense to me.  So here I am a country music fan.

 

            There is a new song out there about chicken fry.  I think that might be the title, but I don’t even know who sings it.

 

            The sad thing about this song is the final verse.  Like great country songs, “Chicken Fry” wants to get in some thank yous to the soldiers who are fighting and dying for our freedoms.  I believe I am as thankful as the next guy, in fact, these days I am more thankful than the next guy.

 

            My fear is that this song speaks to what we have become as a nation.  We are no longer a nation of higher ideals; instead, we have become a nation of whiners and thrill seekers.

 

After thanking the soldiers for their sacrifice, the singer recounts what they have died to give us.  Here is the chorus, as best as I can remember it:  “The things we love, like a chicken fry, warm beer on a Friday night, a pair of jeans that fit just right and the radio on.”

 

            Now there is a little more than this, but if we are thankful for soldiers dying so that we can enjoy another beer filled weekend, the radio, and blue jeans, then we are the most pitiful people in the history of the world.

 

            I would hope that our soldiers are dying for a little more than these things.

 

            And by the way, I thought we were no longer allowed to eat fried chicken.

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Sean Penn, Are You Out There? Are You Done Milking The Public?

            I am not sure why it has become the new intelligentsia cause to free the homosexual community of this curse that says they are not normal until they marry.  And we are all bigots if we do not agree with them and change 10,000 years of culture without a debate.

 

            On a number of occasions citizens of various states have voted on the question of whether to allow homosexuals to get married.  Every time so far the public has said no.  That includes Hawaii and California, two of the most liberal states in the Country. 

 

            The self-proclaimed leaders of this new movement, intellectual giants like Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, keep insisting that we are all bad if we do not believe like they do.  Brad Pitt aside, I am giving him a pass because Angelina and Jennifer seem to be getting ready for a good old fashioned paparazzi fueled feud, which by the way, I am looking forward to—even though Sean keeps telling me, at the press conference that seem to follow him around, that the paparazzi are bad.

 

            The good news is that last night Sean’s declaration did not come from Iran or Venezuela, rather it came from a country a little closer to home.  The free state of Hollywood.  You know, it is that place where reality is suspended.  People who can imitate other people can even come to believe that they are as smart as those they imitate.

 

            Of course, this rule does not apply to Ronald Reagan, because he did not toe their party line, and yes, I am using the term party in the same way McCarthy used it so well so long ago.

 

            If they love these foreign dictators so much, why don’t they go there and demand equal rights for the homosexuals?  Maybe the reason they are demanding it here is because they hate this country and know that such a radical move could destroy much of what we believe in.

 

            Of course, they have to speak well of Iran and Venezuela when they are there because if they say anything negative in those countries they could be killed for their seemingly intelligent statements.

 

            I did not watch the Oscars.  As my wife says, I did not see any of the movies that were nominated. 

 

            Remember when we went to the movies to be entertained and not preached to?  That was back when we went to church to be preached to and not entertained.  Maybe we have gotten everything mixed up and therein lay our problem.

 

            Next week I am calling all my friends together, it won’t be a large gathering, and they are going to give me an award.  I will buy a trophy to make it real.  We will roll out some red carpet and…oh, you get the picture.

 

            Oh, well, Sean, enjoy the trophy.

I Am Not A Theologian, And You Might Now Be Glad

 

            I was reading the Bible a couple of days ago.  No, that was not the last time, I have read it since.  Anyway, I was reading the Bible a couple of days ago, and that is a dangerous thing for a non-trained theologian who is a lawyer to do.

 

            The trouble with reading the Bible with an open mind is that I find myself asking questions.  The bigger trouble is that the answers do not always settle peacefully in my heart.

 

            So, I am looking at the conversation between God and Abram.  You might remember that Abram eventually becomes Abraham.  At the time of the conversation I was reading Abram does not have any children.  That started me to thinking, when God made the promise to Abram he said that anyone who blesses him will be blessed. 

 

            As Christians we have claimed that this extends to the children of Abraham and that means Israel.  Here is where the problems begin for me and now that you are reading this, the problems begin for you.

 

            The promise to Abram was passed to his children and his children include Israel and Ishmael.  So, now you can see my dilemma, we give great honor to Israel, and I think rightly so.

 

            The only question I have is why does the same promise not pass down to the other of Abraham’s children, through Ishmael?

 

            I would be very interested in hearing your answers.

 

            I am really not interested in hearing you explain to me that I am evil for thinking these thoughts.  I probably already knew that.

 

Genesis 12:1-3  Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you, and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse and in you all the families of earth will be blessed.”

His Holiness, The Pope, Meets Her Stupidness, Nancy Pelosi

 

            I know, I know, half of you are mad that I would show such honor to a Catholic, especially the Pope, while the rest of you are angry that I called Nancy Pelosi stupid.  So, let me clear it all up.

 

            I was being nice—Nancy would need to brain transplant to rise to the level of stupid.  Evil might be a better description.  The queen of the left coast, hero of the City by the Bay, ground zero for judgment in the final days, met the Pope this week and evidently thought it was a good time to show him some family photos.

 

            I do not care what your belief system is; stupid is a good word for someone who shows personal photos at a time like this.  She probably asked him to be her Facebook friend at the same time.

 

            “Oh, Mr. Pope, I mean your sometimes holiness, when you are not speaking about abortion, do you twitter?  I am known as @idiotbythebay.  Follow me on twitter.  After all, I sort of follow you the rest of the time.

 

            “And by the way, when you are going to let a woman serve as Pope?  I volunteer.”

 

            Oh, I could go on all day, but you get the point.

 

            As long as people like this are in charge of the government we can only pray that we are not destroyed by our own stupidity.

Why Those Pesky Laws Forbidding Speech Matter

            We have all been in a public place when someone started sharing their beliefs without regard for our desire to go from one place to another without being confronted by any other person’s beliefs.  We have all experienced the street preacher who passionately shared his theology from the sidewalk—often making sure we understood that our theology, whatever it is, is wrong.

 

It is a natural reaction to think that this type of speech is something we could do with less of in public places. After all, we have churches where these people are welcome.  Why can they not preach in their own churches and leave the rest of us alone?

 

Once we understand that freedom of speech is a foundational freedom it is easy to understand why it is important that we do not tolerate intrusions that prohibit free speech in public places.  And when we further understand the idea expressed by Justice Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court who said, “Freedom of speech without religious speech is like Hamlet without the Prince.”

 

I represented a pastor who was arrested for violating an ordinance like the ones considered by this article title.  In Hendersonville, North Carolina there was a local city ordinance that forbid anyone from “making a sermon” without the written permission of the chief of police.  As a result of the ordinance he was not just arrested, he was placed in jail overnight, chained to a post in the booking room for a couple of hours, and brought him shackled to meet with me—his attorney.

 

On its face this might not seem like such a bad idea, except that this means that you can only speak in public once you have a slip of paper saying that your free speech is permissible.  This is hardly free speech. 

 

We have to remember that what the government gives the government can take away.  That is why the Bill of Rights remains so important; those rights cannot be abridged or taken away without a significant act, like changing the Constitution of the United States.

 

  When a pastor is arresting for violating a free speech ordinance it is time for us to understand that these seemingly meaningless ordinances lead to great problems.

 

Why does this matter to the average one of us?  Think of a piece of cloth that does not have a hem on the edges.  Eventually those edges get frayed and have to be trimmed off making the cloth smaller.  Eventually the cloth is gone.

 

If the government can trim off the fringes of speech through unconstitutional local ordinances, then the edges are moved in and what was not fringe yesterday becomes the fringe tomorrow. The cycle repeats itself and soon we are hearing things like, “You cannot say that here.  Believe what you want inside the walls of the church, but do not bring that antiquated theology here.”

 

Finally, we get to the place where the only place religious speech is allowed is in the sanctity of the church.  Then, we will find someone wanting to determine what can be said from the pulpit because all of these young people go out into the real world with these backwards ideas.

 

Then, nothing is permitted that does not fit into the accepted norms of a secularly society.  Religious speech no longer exists.  And it all started from unconstitutional local ordinances that did not seem so bad at the time.

Why Free Speech Must Be Free

            “I think, therefore I am.”  Descartes says it.  We Americans would go one step further, “I speak, and therefore you know I am.”  Speech is, in its purest form, art.  Our whole world is found in our words.  Jesus summed it up pretty well himself, “Out of the mouth the heart speaks.”

 

            In these concepts we find the most complete understanding of why free speech is the root of all freedoms.  Freedom of speech, even that speech with which we disagree, is the foundation of respect for life.  When a man or a woman expresses what is in their heart it is only right that there is an inherent respect for the speech.

 

            In a relationship that has lost trust speech becomes a tool for evil.  It is often one of the first signs of a relationship gone bad.  At the same time, speech is the first line in building up another person, the first line in creating trust and love.

 

            We understand this concept in the depths of our soul.  As Americans we have been given a political tradition that takes this basic concept and codifies it.  Our Constitution is the foundational document for every freedom we have.  It is also the document that is most used around the world to create the same basic right.  Yet, no one in the world understands the value of speech the way Americans do.

 

            The first thing a government does when it is seeking to control a group of people is to stop the free flow of communications.  Whether that is stopping the written word, the spoken word, the word through music, it is always the same—freedom of speech is the first to go. 

 

            People are only free when they can express their innermost thoughts and beliefs in a public place—whether that is a public sidewalk or the confines of an intimate relationship.

 

            A mature government of the people has to respect the voice of the people.  We cannot truly be free, as individuals or a group, if we do not have the freedom of expression.  And the reason for this is simple—speech is the communication of what is at the core of our being.  When the core of our being is suppressed, the rest of our being is entrapped—whether we know it or not.

 

            Even if we have nothing to say, it is important that we have the right to say it.  Take away that right and we all begin to live behind prison bars.  Open, public debate is more important than peace.  That is one of the lessons of Orwell’s Animal Farm. 

 

As troubling as it is to permit the free exchange of ideas, it is un-American to suppress ideas for the sake of peace.

 

If we tolerate the loss of the freedom of speech we will soon see the loss of every other right we hold dear—for it is the right to express ourselves in public that keeps everyone around us, including the government, honest.  Without it we will find all we hold dear to be gone in a vapor.

The Preservative Value of Plastic: Cher Lives!

 

            I have to say that I love George W. Bush, I know that is not popular, but then what do I care?  I have thought that Bush’s Presidency was successful with some serious failures.

 

            Now, I have to rethink my opinion.  If I had known how close Bush came to killing Cher and yet failed I would never have felt good about his Presidency.  So close, but this in not hand grenades. 

 

            Cher lives, thus Bush failed.

 

            The real question is, and you will have to excuse me for cussing but this moment demands it, why in the hell is it that liberals cannot win graciously.  They have the Senate, the House, and the Presidency and still they want to whine about George W. Bush.

 

            Grow up and shut up.  Get in line right behind the proverbial Bruce Springsteen who only manages to sound stupid when he is talking.  Otherwise he seems like a nice, intelligent rock star.  Mr. Springsteen, do us all a favor and go behind that huge security gate on your properties and use that gate to our advantage—shut up and sing, then we can turn to another station, problem solved.

 

            Of course, part of the problem is that they are deliberately working hard to make matters worse than they are so that expectations will be low and thus success not expected.

 

            Even Forrest Gump could succeed in the world Obama wants us to believe he inherited from Bush.  These arguments might be nice if we would only forget that it is Congress that has spending power.  And then we have to remember who is in control of Congress—oh, yeah, the Democrats, the global warming creating and fighting, abortion-providing taxers of everything good and decent in our world.

 

            Oh, I know, let us live in the hope that was promised.  Let us live in a world where government spending on government programs will help the rest of us.

 

            What we need is a good five year plan, just like our father Joseph Stalin was so fond of.  Well, there probably is some hope for that.

 

            Cher, do not give up.  A couple of more surgeries and you might even be preborn—then you have nothing to fear from your crowd of heroes and baby killers.


Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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