Thinking Out Loud

November 6, 2017

Five Letters America Needs to Write

To the American People;

While those who helped form and shape of our country had nothing but our best interests in mind, time has shown us that upon internal investigation and when seen through the eyes of the world, one aspect of one of our founding documents is presently flawed. Therefore, acting as we would under emergency measures in a wartime situation, our upper and lower houses of government need to immediately suspend all other activity and work in a bipartisan manner toward the immediate suspension and repeal of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, including the clear stating of its antithesis, namely that there is no further blanket right to bear arms.

To the members of the National Rifle Association (and other similar special interest groups);

Your financial contributions to citizens seeking to hold elected office have enlivened political campaigns and helped form a robust political process, creating an environment allowing aspiring politicians to spend millions in order to have their message and agenda reach the electorate. Unfortunately, history will show that such action clouded the judgement of these legislators, even to the point where the perceived needs of some people undermine the principles of a democracy that serves the broader populace. Because your organization enshrines a constitutional right that is being repealed, we must ask that in the interim such campaign funding immediately cease and desist, as all forms of election campaign funding undergoes sweeping reevaluation.

To State and local governments;

America must change. It would be preposterous to suspend the former 2nd Amendment, only to have state, county or municipal governments reenact it or reinstate it in some form. A reworded constitution will clearly state no state laws will provide the citizenry with a fundamental right to weapon ownership, and existing statutes which are based on the former right will be similarly repealed or rewritten.

To the Educators of the United States;

In the spirit of what the constitutional framers stated as forming “a more perfect union;” American public education needs to be amended to include the teaching of ethics as a core curriculum subject; one given equal weight to subjects such as English, History, Geography, Mathematics, and Science; with successful completion necessary to educational advancement. The subject matter will be age-appropriate and run through elementary, middle school and high school grades and be compatible with common ethics, morals and values; and provide a compendium of teaching reflecting major religious and philosophical perspectives; but also annually incorporating a unit on the ethical basis for the value of human life.

To the manufacturers of guns and similar weaponry;

Because maintaining the status quo was no longer an option, as the 2nd Amendment is repealed, we as a nation we have no other option than to intervene in the manufacture, distribution and marketing of non-military weapons, and to move such products to a highly restricted status which immediately precludes any further increase to the available national supply.


Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. Jeremiah 9:1


Will any of the above letters ever be written? I fear they won’t. The United States is now effectively broken beyond remedy.

October 23, 2017

How Does This Affect Me?

If you’re a news anchor or a late-night stand-up comedian, the 45th President of the US has been an unparalleled blessing. Like the latest episode of The Truman Show, people tune in daily to see the latest installment of ultra-reality television or they tune in later in the day to see it expressed as farcical humor.

I wrote about what last November’s election has done 14 months ago:

There can be no doubt however that the U.S. federal election is also pushing a large number of stories and reports off the news cycle. What business mergers, medical advances, environmental initiatives or social trends are we not hearing about because every significant quotation from Donald or Hillary needs to be included?

On reflection however, my second sentence simply reflected the absence of other American news stories. In the middle of last week however Rachel Held Evans posted this link to a story about the exodus from Myanmar, made more real by the drone footage of those fleeing the country.

to which I felt I had to reply:

It’s true. Only those stories which will affect the U.S. in some way are considered. This reminded me of when I was writing for Contemporary Christian Music magazine a lifetime ago. The purpose of CCM/Canada, my page of the magazine was to expose Canadian Christian artists to the wider subscriber base that CCM had. Or so I thought.

But then I got a directive from the editors: “We want to read about our artists touring in Canada and information on how our artists albums are selling there.” He was dead serious. It was part of larger paradigm shift in how Christian music was marketed and is now marketed and I quit shortly after.

Also, returning to the more serious subject at hand, I think it’s interesting that Rachel got her story from BBC World. My son gave up on North American news media a long time ago and still uses BBC as his primary source. The British network is rather protective of the rest of its broadcast content — they geo-block just about everything — but their news is widely shared and is considered authoritative around the globe.

Americans know so precious little of the world outside their borders, with the exception of the small group able to afford travel. About six months ago I realized that I could name all 50 states, both in terms of placing them on a map or naming them alphabetically, but most Americans can’t name Canada’s much smaller number of provinces; let alone plot any of the world’s hotspots on a map.

Well maybe North Korea. Then again, perhaps not.

The problem is the same as what I said in August: What takes place in the large white building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC simply pushes far too much off the news cycle. Some of the most important things to take place this week — the things Paul Harvey described as having the most lasting impact — will probably not even be mentioned on U.S. network news.

 

 

 

July 26, 2014

#WeAreN

#WeAreN Twitter AvitarThose of you reading this in late July or early August 2014 will notice a symbol in the upper right of this blog that you may not recognize. Cathy Lynn Grossman of Religion News Service explains:

#WeAreN is sweeping the Christian Twittersphere as churches, organizations and individuals change their avatars to the Arabic letter “Nun.”

It’s the symbol for “Nazarene,” or Christian, used by Islamic State militants in Iraq to brand Christian properties in Iraq as part of their effort to drive out an ancient Christian community with threats to convert or die.

Today, the trending avatar is intended as a global message of solidarity in the place everyone now turns for that — social media.

Switching to the Nun avatar is a gesture reminiscent of the long-standing (although factually debunked) legend that Danish Christians adopted Jewish star armbands during World War II in solidarity with Danish Jews…

For the full background on this, here is a repeat of the link we ran on Wednesday to Breaking Christian News.

To follow the Twitter trend minute by minute, click here. Because using the symbol online is the equivalent of wearing a ribbon, you might see the term “twibbon” used on Twitter!

 

 

July 7, 2014

The Happy Rant Podcast

Church Clothes 2.5 John Piper LecraeOkay…I’m staying loyal to the Phil Vischer Podcast (and they’ve got video) but I now have new audio podcast favorite.

The Happy Rant is Stephen Altrogge, Barnabas Piper, and Ted Kluck

Self-described as “talking about things that don’t matter,” the latest, Episode 5, looks at alternative study Bibles we’d like to see. (Didn’t Mad Magazine do this premise?)

The Andre the Giant Study Bible
The Zangief from Street Fighter Study Bible
The Tootie from Facts of Life Study Bible
The Other Girl from Facts of Life, The One Who Is a Christian Speaker Study Bible
The Crease from Karate Kid Study Bible
The Dwight Schrute Study Bible
The “The Situation” Study Bible
The Chaz Marriot Study Bible
The “Platform” Study Bible
The Pete Rose Should Be in the Hall of Fame Study Bible
The Lloyd Dobler Study Bible
The U2 Lyrics Study Bible
The Mike Seaver Study Bible
The Super Bowl Shuffle Study Bible feat. William “The Refrigerator” Perry
The Twitter Every Word Is Hashtagged and Every Name is Squigglied Study Bible
The 1986 Mets Featuring Daryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez and Mookie Wilson Study Bible
The Joyce Meyer Study Bible

or this suggestion, “I want a Minnesota Sports Fan Study Bible which basically consists of Job, Ecclesiastes and Revelation.”

They also discuss John Piper’s upcoming gig with Lecrae, hence today’s graphic.

To listen to the podcast, click this link.

April 1, 2012

Would/Should Your Church Accept Lottery Winnings?

I threw this question out in 2008 but there is now a stadium’s worth of new readers here on a regular basis, so I’m hoping for a better response.

The Mega Millions Lottery on the weekend drew a lot of attention to lotteries in general, with people interviewed prior to Friday night’s draw — which yielded three winning tickets — proclaiming the prize was simply too big and would necessitate some sharing or charitable giving.  But if the charity in question was your local church or Christian parachurch organization, would the money be accepted?  Should the money be accepted?

In the 2008 item, I quoted this story from that summer about a church which received a winning ticket anonymously and was set to receive $150,000 annually for 20 years.  The church’s immediate desire was to build a bigger church building.  Sigh!  But a little over three years later, their website shows the new building, and announces they are holding four Sunday services.

BTW, I also wrote on this topic in May of 2009.  At that point, I argued, as I still do, that there should be cap on lottery winnings.  Friday night’s $640,000,000 could just as easily been 2,000 prizes of $320,000; 4,000 prizes of $160,000 or even 8,000 prizes of $80,000.  To this writer, saying “There will be 8,000 prizes” has more attraction than saying, “There will only be one number drawn, and the odds are better of being struck by lightning than winning.”  But lottery experts say the gigantic prize is the big lure. Sorry, but people are stupid.

But we’ve gotten waaaaay off topic here.  If someone in your church won a lottery prize and wanted to donate some winnings to your church, should the church accept?  What about someone in the community at large who wants to share some of their winnings with the church?  What are your reasons/grounds for accepting or refusing?

October 7, 2011

Leaving Life on a High Note

While the United States political system operates with two very dominant political parties, here in Canada, our provincial (state) and federal legislatures and parliament are usually comprised of representatives from three or more parties.  Even as I type this on Thursday night, votes are being counted in my home province to determine who lead us and under a parliamentary system, the premier (governor) is the one whose party nets the most representatives.

At the federal level this spring, the unthinkable happened.  While our national political scene has been dominated by the Conservative party and the Liberal party.  But the third party, the New Democratic Party (NDP) was fronted by an affable — no, make that downright loveable — guy named Jack Layton, who, after all the votes were counted,  became the first NDP leader to lead the official opposition.

But then, the unthinkable happened again.  Cancer struck Jack Layton down rather swiftly at age 61, and instead of seeing what he might have done in the House of Commons, instead, we watched his state funeral.

I mention all that because I was struck by a number of similarities with the death of Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs.  Both very likeable or even loveable guys, both struck down at the peak of their personal accomplishments; Jobs at only 56 years of age.

Life can be short.

Life can end suddenly.

And I can’t help think of a third person, a somewhat ‘once upon a time’ character that Jesus mentions in a parable, though when scripture says, ‘a certain man,’ though the general hermeneutic approach is to take this as hypothetical, I believe the omniscient Christ could have been drawing on a real character or a composite.


   Luke 12 (NIV) 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

   20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

Another guy at the top of his game.  Planning to expand in one sense, but planning to coast a bit — we might call it entering some years of profit-taking — in another.  But he never gets to enjoy his riches or see what happens next. 

And into the shock of that sudden crisis, Jesus interjects another issue: the man seems to have no succession plan.  There’s been no preparation for the next chapter, and suddenly it comes upon him.

Maybe the guy in the story has the wrong priorities, after all the parable comes after this:

15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he follows it up with his own prescription for how to relate to material things:

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

   27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

One pastor we listen to online ends each sermon with, “Now go out and build the kingdom.”   That’s what we’re here to do.  Political empires will come and go and business fortunes will be amassed and then lost.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Jack Layton was admirable in Canadian politics as also was Steve Jobs in American business.  It would seem we lost both men all too soon. But let’s use the shortness of their lives as a reminder to make each day count, and to measure what ‘count’ means with eternity in view.

Now go out and build the kingdom.

October 6, 2011

Link List Themes Revisisted

Yesterday’s link list was posted just before 6:00 AM EST, and as of 11:00 PM EST, while there had been many page views representing hundreds of unique visitors, there wasn’t a single comment.  Actually, that’s pretty standard here, but this was a particularly ‘heavy’ list of stories and I’m wondering if people are missing the larger themes:

  • Tennessee teachers aren’t being told they can’t pray, but they can’t pray in public, as (my words now) they are in an advocacy role and would be setting some kind of example that apparently is a negative example.  Can you say, “slippery slope?”
  • A teen leading the charge for social change is told he’s not exactly doing “wrong” or “bad,” but he should focus on preaching the gospel.  Haven’t we spent the last several decades deriding those who preach the “social gospel;” and while so criticizing them from our lofty theological perch, we did absolutely nothing to deal with poverty and injustice. 
  • A pastor — who may have crossed a line with this — invites another pastor to a seminar where the purpose of the seminar is stated from the outset as being to discuss the things on which we disagree and perhaps tend to sweep under the doctrinal rug.  While it’s a bit on the edge, it would finally clarify once and for all if this other pastor’s position on the trinity is the deal-breaker some of us believe it to be.  But it will never happen at all if certain conservative reformers simply boycott the seminar.
  • Mexico’s proposal on marriage could be the germination of something that is, long term, more insidious than the adoption of same-sex marriage.  It makes marriage modular, reinforces serial monogamy perhaps, but with an air that is more reflective of polyamory.  With simple divorce, there was always an opt-out if it didn’t work; but with Mexico’s proposal, the termination of the marriage after 48 months is really the default setting.
  • Switzerland adopts anti-tolerance.  Again.  The message is clearly, this is our country, our customs; if you don’t like it, leave.  Without commenting further, I wonder where this — or a backlash against it — leaves both the Swiss and more tolerant North Americans in the next 10, 20 or 30 years?
  • Isn’t the Texas oil-change shop’s John 3:16 verbal coupon idea enough to set Christianity back about a century?  If you have to have a license to work on cars in Texas, they should also require a license before you can go public with wacky evangelism schemes.
  • Does it bother anyone that Cathleen Falsani wrote 200 pages about Justin Bieber’s faith without ever sitting down with either JB or his mom?  Sure she has seven pages containing 211 footnotes, but…

Anyway, these are the big picture items from yesterday.  IMHO anyway.  So are TOL readers simply passive on these things, or were you just too busy to catch the links?

February 9, 2010

Once Again, A Loss of Trust

A military commander from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two women.

Col. Russell Williams, 46, of Tweed, the top commander at 8 wing CFB Trenton, was arrested Sunday in Ottawa, Ontario Provincial Police Det.-Insp. Chris Nicholas said at a news conference Monday.

Williams has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found Monday off Cary Road in the municipality of Tweed.

Lloyd had been missing since Jan. 28 from her home outside Tweed, about 30 kilometres north of Belleville.

Ontario’s chief coroner is to conduct an autopsy on Lloyd’s body, which arrived in Toronto late Monday afternoon.

Williams was also charged in the death of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 38, of Brighton, Ont., who was killed in her home Nov. 25. Comeau served with the 437 Squadron at CFB Trenton.

…So begins a story on CBC News that has left Canadians somewhat shattered early this week.   Within hours over 300 people had posted comments to the site before the CBC decided to shut down the comment section of the story.

Williams had flown Canadian army aircraft for the Prime Minister and for visiting royalty.   He enjoyed a position of trust such as few others in this country.

Earlier in the day Monday, we had driven along Canada’s busiest highway, where a large sign invited the public’s help in finding Ms. Lloyd, pictured at right, who was last seen on January 28th.   An extensive search involved many people in Belleville, a city approximately an hour and a half east of Toronto.     Ms. Comeau, a Canadian army corporal,  had been found murdered on November 25th.

As we discussed the story over dinner, while we reminded ourselves that until brought to trial, Col. Williams is only alleged to have committed the crimes in question, it is no small task to place some in such high profile under arrest.  The police would need a fairly high degree of certainty, while Col. Williams would possibly place himself as beyond suspicion.

All this of course at a time when Canada is enduring painful losses in Afghanistan.

One of the deleted comments at CBC News wondered how anyone could be in charge of one of Canada’s largest military bases with what will certainly emerge as a disturbing mental health profile.   (Williams is also charged with two counts of sexual assault and forcible confinement.)

I feel sad.   Sad not only for the families of the two women and for Williams’ family, but sad for every young person who sees our military — especially right now — as heroes.  Some of that confidence was shattered today.

The shadow it casts on the Canadian military and to Canada itself is leaving us reeling.

How do we teach our children to “respect those in authority,” when those in authority often disappoint?   As adults, who do we trust?   Is there anyone on earth who we can truly trust, or is it inevitable that people are going to let us down?

Psalm 20:7 (NIV) Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

December 9, 2009

Robert Schuller Quadruples Broadcast Reach in Network Acquisitions

Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News reported the following deal with between Robert A. Schuller’s company and the network owned by Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries:

A Dallas private equity firm co-founded by Robert A. Schuller, the former televangelist from the Hour of Power, has acquired two media companies in Atlanta that nearly quadruple its reach to 50 million U.S. households.

ComStar Media said Monday that it’s buying FamilyNet Television and FamilyNet Radio for an undisclosed amount.

“It’s a pretty big leap,” said ComStar co-founder and chief executive Chris Wyatt, who is Schuller’s son-in-law. “No one knows who we are in Dallas, and we run two major television networks.”

Wyatt hopes to change that.

He projects that ComStar’s $5 million in revenue will at least double next year.

Wyatt and Schuller, who is chairman of ComStar, started the company late last year to buy distressed faith-based media companies. Its first fund has a target of $10 million, but the next fund will shoot for $50 million, Wyatt said.

In May, ComStar made its first acquisition, AmericanLife Television Network, which reaches 13 million households…  […continue reading here]

To learn more about Schuller’s new program, Everyday Life,  and American Life Network, click here.

Photo:  Scene from Everyday Life, ALN Network

August 7, 2009

When Winning Isn’t Winning

Filed under: news events — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:13 pm

Donna MooreShe won a contest, entitling her to a seat on the stage of the Big Valley Jamboree, a large outdoor concert in Camrose, Alberta.    Then the storm came and the stage — the same stage that had been used in the Paul McCartney concert in Halifax, Nova Scotia a few days earlier — came crashing down.

Donna Moore, 35, a single mother of two boys, aged 10 and 16, was killed by a falling speaker.   She was the only fatality.

We were mortified by the story when it took place, but hours ago, I read this additional detail:

On the day she died, her oldest boy, Michael, sent his mom a text telling her he had chosen a career. He said he wants to be a youth minister.

[She] was extremely proud to learn of her son being on the right track.

Words can’t describe the heartbreak these two boys are now experiencing.

Prayer is all we’ve got.

To read the story, click here.

For more on the investigation into the accident, click here.

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