Yes, John Stewart! We Built It!

Watched "The Daily Show" last night and was amused how folks like John Stewart don't understand why "We built It" is an American message. Consider how the Huffington Post reports it:
"Tuesday night's speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa were centered on a new catchphrase: We Built It. The slogan is the latest reaction to President Obama's remarks about small business from earlier in the Summer, and as far as Jon Stewart can tell, there's only one problem: the GOP is taking the quote totally out of context."
Whether the Obama quote is out of context or not, it is absolutely clear that the president believes that the government, and not tax payers, is responsible for the things that make business successful. Somehow he thinks that the government can take credit for for the things accomplished by American's tax dollars. In truth, the government builds a bridge only because Americans pay their taxes. So, in a very real sense, Americans have built every part of America - not the government.

Yet I wonder how many really understand this very simple American message?

Conservatives have endorsed Romney

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is often considered by many to be a moderate at best and a liberal at worst. Thought it might be fun to list some of the endorsements from conservative leaders and others.

“Throughout this campaign I have heard from many candidates on how they are uniquely qualified to get our country back on track. While I am proud of all of them, I know that one man stands head and shoulders above the rest. That man is Mitt Romney. I have seen him up close for many years and I know he is the conservative we need to lead our country.” -American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas

“Romney cheerfully campaigns on, the biggest outsider and most conservative candidate we've run for president since Reagan, while being denounced by the Establishment as "too Establishment." -Ann Coulter

“No other candidate will do more to advance the conservative judicial movement than Governor Mitt Romney.” -Judge Robert Bork

“If Americans want a real conservative in the White House, they need to look no farther than Mitt Romney,” -Bay Buchanan, Treasurer to Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns

“I’ve talked to Governor Romney and I have no doubt, and I mean this in all sincerity, I have no doubt he understands the centrality of family.” -Rick Santorum

“Romney is a conservative. And he was one of the first national Republican leaders to endorse me. He came to Florida, campaigned hard for me, and made a real difference in my race.” -Senator Marco Rubio

"Romney's record shows he should be totally acceptable to all conservatives" - Michael Reagan

Pro-Lifers must unite behind Romney. -Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List

Unalienable vs Inalienable

I have read that Jefferson wrote "inalienable" and Adams preferred "unalienable" when the Declaration of Independence was being drafted. I am not sure that there is a huge misunderstanding here as one dictionary uses inalienable as the definition for unalienable. Even so, I enjoyed this explanation from

"English has changed since Thomas Jefferson used unalienable in the Declaration of Independence. Inalienable is truer to the word’s Latin roots—in- is the Latin negative prefix, and un- is an English one—and while Jefferson’s Anglicized word has always been listed as an accepted variant, inalienable is now the more common form. Unalienable mainly appears in quotes of or references to Jefferson’s document. Inalienable is preferred everywhere else."

Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, - 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;' and to 'secure,' not grant or create, these rights, governments are instituted. -BUDD v. STATE OF NEW YORK (1892)

Following Jesus and the Presidential Election

Adam Hamilton, our senior pastor, has a new post, titled Faith and the Presidential Election, on his blog. I am glad that he shared his perspectives on the election. Here is an excerpt from it:
"So, what do we know about the faiths of Mitt Romney and President Obama? Both men claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. President Obama came to faith and was baptized in a Disciples of Christ Church. The Disciples are mainline Protestants. I have several friends who have spoken with the President about his faith, and they contend that his faith in Christ is authentic and an important part of his life.

Mitt Romney comes from the Mormon tradition. In several areas Mormon theological convictions differ from mainstream Christianity but they share in common with mainstream Christianity a desire to follow Jesus Christ. My experience with most Mormons I've met is that they are, like mainstream Christians, earnest in their desire to follow Jesus.

My point is this: to the degree that each of these men is seeking to follow Jesus Christ they will seek to love God and neighbor. They will long to “do justice, and to love kindness,/ and to walk humbly with…God” (Micah 6:8). And they will seek to do unto others as they would done unto themselves. Both President Obama and candidate Romney claim these basic convictions and practices."
You can read Adam's entire post here. I like his focus on how the candidates are trying to follow Jesus better than a questioning of whether they are Christians. What do you think? Do you consider a candidates faith when you vote?

Rolls-Royce Pickups and Showers with Hammocks

On the rare occasion when we travel these days we often don't look for the amenities offered in hotels like the ones above. Mostly we look for things like roll-in showers and other accessible features. What amenities might attract you to stay at a hotel? Would a hammock in the shower lure you to a hotel in Mexico or a butler button to one in India?

The Hunger Games | ★★★★★★★★

Ann and I caught this one on DVD a few nights ago. I think that Science fiction is such a great genre to communicate moral messages. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this flick. Here are a few of the messages that I liked in it:

    1) The triumph of courage and sacrificial love in the face of death.

    2) The contrast between corrupt authority and righteous individual power.

    3) The toxicity of voyeurism and the heartlessness of reality television.

This movie is targeted at young people and I am so glad that it showcases such a courageous teen heroine. I am wondering where the story will go in future movie releases. On a scale of ten, I give The Hunger Games ★★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Blue Pancakes

My friend Dan made a boatload of pancakes this morning for our weekly men's gathering. I like the idea of playing or singing in a band but I am totally tone deaf - can't carry a tune in a bucket. :)

Considering the image to the left: What is your band's name?

Google's Nexus 7 :: not Blogger ready :(

My arthritic wrist has been acting up lately so I thought that I would give Ann's new Nexus 7 tablet a try. Not sure that I could do it full time - does not seem to be all that pain free. And I cannot figure how to paste an image into this post. The tablet is great for reading and web surfing but alas, I may need to take a blogging break until the pain is less. :(

Is Tolerance an Aspect of Love?

Interesting that the bishop does not speak to the actions of persons. Most certainly society does not tolerate the actions of law breakers. Still it seems that the actions and lifestyles of some are difficult to separate from those who we are advised to tolerate.

I wonder how this would read if we substituted love for tolerance and hate for intolerance? Not sure that it would accurate to frame the dialog that way. Thoughts?

Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity

Mitt Romney's VP pick has brought The Path to Prosperity (i.e. the Ryan budget plan) back into the forefront in the United States. Thought it might be helpful to share the bullet items from it that were detailed in the Business Insider.
  • Major cuts in government spending and reduced tax revenue.
  • The plan does not balance the budget for at least 20 years.
  • Redraw personal income taxes into two brackets--25 percent and 10 percent. The plan doesn't exactly specify yet what income would qualify you for the higher bracket.
  • There would also be a massive drop in corporate taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent. And there would be hardly any tax deductions either.
  • Big cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and (implied) Social Security, along with the elimination of Obamacare.
  • Existing Medicare users would keep their current plan.
  • In the future, the plan offers a govt subsidy that Americans could use to buy private insurance. The idea is that competition among insurers would keep costs down.
I predict that this budget plan will be the centerpiece of the campaign and hotly debated by both sides. I think that it will bring the candidates' back to ideas and away from personalities. What do you think?

Biblical Versus Magical Faith

Greg Boyd is talking about doubt as he prepares to write "Benefit of the Doubt", a new book on faith and doubt.
Here are a few excerpts from his posts titled "Biblical Versus Magical Faith" and "Rethinking Our View of Faith" ...
The certainty-seeking, doubt-shunning model of faith reduces faith to mental gimmickry.

The certainty-seeking model of faith is irrational.

The doubt-shunning model of faith is not concerned with truth.

Many Christian’s model of faith is closer to magic than the biblical understanding of faith.

The model of faith that encourages people to shun doubt and strive for certainty
makes a virtue out of a non-virtuous behavior.
I agree with Greg when he says "magic is about engaging in behaviors that ultimately benefit the practitioner while biblical faith is about cultivating a relationship with God that is built on mutual trust." Not that I am not interested in a magical miracle. I shared about wanting a Powerball type event three years ago in a post titled "The Miracle Lottery".

Condoleezza Rice at Willow Creek

The former U.S. Secretary of State is currently teaching political science at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and recently spoke at the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit founded by Bill HYbels. Here are some of the highlights of her speech that people have tweeted via Willow Creek's Twitter account:
"I know what I'm called to do -
I'm called to do public service - and not just in DC."

"I love policy, I don't love politics."

"Today's headlines and history's judgement are rarely the same."

"After struggle comes relief - after Friday there comes a Sunday.
It is a privilege to struggle."

"The most important characteristic in a leader is irrepressible optimism."

"If every life is worthy, every life is also capable of greatness."

"The strong must hold up and bring the weak along -
true everywhere in the world."

"Friendship can be the place that let's you have difficult conversations."
Not sure that relief always comes after struggle - sometimes we struggle for a long long time and do not experience relief. I so love that last quote and know what it is like to have difficult conversations (even online) with friends.

We Bought a Zoo | ★★★★★★★★

I am a sucker for stories about hurting and grieving people. So it is no surprise that I loved this film that is based on the true life story of Benjamin Mee. When the movie opens we are introduced to Mee and his family six months after his wife has passed away. Everything seems to be falling apart - his son is having huge issues in school and his successful career is taking a nose dive. He is at his wits end when he decides to buy a small zoo in rural California (in reality Mee bought a zoo in England). His brother counsels him against buying the zoo but Mee senses something in this adventure that might turn things around.

I think this is a great family flick - it has something in it for everyone. I loved the interactions with the zoo animals. Mee's daughter was so cute the way that she interacted with the peacocks. Also appreciated the way that the writers resisted the temptation to make something more out of Mee's relationship with the attractive zookeeper. In every scene I seemed to get a deeper sense that this hurting family was getting healthier. I greatly enjoyed "We Bought a Zoo" and highly recommend it you. On a scale of ten, I give it ★★★★★★★★.

The Mathematics of Voting

It is predicted that voter turnout for today's election in Kansas City will be about twenty-five percent max. Not surprising when you consider this:
According to International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), the United States has almost the lowest voter turnout in the world, ranked a measly 140 out of 163. Perhaps Americans are apathetic, or maybe they’re just concerned their vote is meaningless in the face of America's massive political machine. Can my vote really change the course of politics, or am I just a grain of sand on the massive beach of democracy?
Now you might expect me to bemoan the apathy of the other (probably more than) seventy-five percent who shunned the voting booth today but I am not sad at all. In actuality their apathy made my vote more powerful today because of the mathematics of voting - the fewer people who actually vote means that my vote carries more weight.

Do Missourians already have a Right to Pray?

Tomorrow Ann and I vote in our state's primary election. The following excerpt from a Christianity Today article describes one of the issues we will vote on. Do you think that the amendment is needed?  How would you vote?

Who owns Congress?

This interesting chart from a 2010 Mother Jones article presents an interesting image of congressional donors. They purport that to the dots on the chart represents the industries which gave them the most money over their entire careers. So interesting to note the different patterns between the two congressional houses. Seems like Finance, Insurance and Real Estate are the power players. You can get the full story and dotted details here.

Oscar Pistorius: Double Amputee Olympic Runner

Sometimes a person simply takes your breath away by simply showing up. This morning I watched Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee Olympic runner from South Africa, run in the Olympics and place second in the heat. Can you see his prosthetic "Cheetah Legs" in this photo - he is running so fast it is hard to see them.

The moment spoke to me about how, even without legs, people can do amazing things. Watching Oscar take off from the starting blocks and run that race was a great Olympic moment that I just had to share.

The New York City Floating Church

I ran across the story below and photo at the New York City Chapter of The American Guild of Organists on their website and had to share. This was the church that I attended until I went into the US Army. I have fond memories of All Saints Episcopal and have always been fascinated how, in 1914, this building was moved from its home on New York City waters to a foundation that was up on a fairly high hill.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church began as a mission Sunday School of Church of the Ascension. It was founded the evening of All Saints’ Day 1889 by Mrs. Susan DeHart in a private building in Mariners’ Harbor on Shore Road (now Richmond Terrace). The mission was moved to Franklin Hall, at the corner of Harbor Road on December 1, 1891, and again later to Central Avenue (now DeHart Avenue).

When the Rev. William Mix became rector in October 1909, the parish burdened with debt. At this time the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York had vacated its floating chapel on the East River known as the Church of our Savior. It was offered to the church and a suitable location was secured for it in the Kill Van Kull in Mariners' Harbor opposite Van Name Avenue. The floating chapel and its organ were moved just after Christmas in 1910.

For nearly four years the chapel served the congregation at the waterfront before it was moved to a land site at Richmond Terrace opposite Van Name Avenue. A foundation was built and on July 31, 1914, the chapel was freed from its mooring and moved to the new location. The church was used at once for services although the cornerstone was not laid until the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Parish, on November 1, 1914 (All Saints' Day).

On December 26, 1958, a devastating fire almost completely destroyed the building. Unfortunately, the insurance did not cover the loss, so the children and young people of the parish set up a booth at the New York ferry terminal and collected $6,500.00 toward building a new church. For the next several years the congregation worshipped in Graniteville Methodist Church and at Sailors' Snug Harbor chapel. The old property was sold to the V.F.W. Post who demolished the church and built a clubhouse on the site. Land for a new church was purchased by the Diocese on the corner of Victory Boulevard and Woolley Avenue. On All Saints’ Day, 1964, the cornerstone of the new church was laid, and the first service was held on February 22, 1965.

The Sage of Solomon

It has been said that King Solomon, the son of King David, might be the wisest man who has ever lived. His life and ascendancy to his father's throne is chronicled in Kings and Chronicles. His sage (i.e. wisdom received through reflection and experience) is expressed in Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes.

Over the years I have read his writings many times. For years it was my practice to read a chapter from Proverbs each day. So beginning tomorrow I'll briefly comment (maybe ramble a bit) each day about the thoughts and impressions I have as I read through the sage of Solomon. Please join me on my devotional blog, An Eye for Redemption, as I daily share a reflection about the things that Solomon wrote in the bible.