Monthly Archives: December 2011

by

Tim Tebow is the best selling religion author of 2011: What does it mean?

No comments yet

Categories: Books, News, Tags: , , , ,

USA Today has reported that quarterback Tim Tebow is the top selling religion author of 2011. From the article:

Tebow’s Christian life story, Through My Eyes, has become the top-selling new release of 2011 from HarperOne, a leading religion book publisher. With 220,000 copies sold since its June launch, Through My Eyes has even outsold Rob Bell’s best-seller Love Wins, which sparked intense debate with its unorthodox views about hell.

To Rob Bell’s disappointment, Tebow wins.

According to Harper/Collins there are now 475,000 copies of Through My Eyes in print and more are expected after the current run is over. As was famously stated on Twitter last week, “A white Bronco hasn’t gotten this much attention since O.J.”

What does it mean that a quarterback who did not even start the season starting for his team has sold more books than the most controversial theology book of the year? Here are a few of my own thoughts.

First, stories still matter. This book was released before the season started. If Tebow were still riding the bench his book would be heading for the discount table faster than the Broncos came back in the Chicago Bears game. But, as Tebow’s mythical story unfolded before our eyes sales increased and increased and increased. The drama and majesty of the story sold the book.

Second, books still matter. The argument over print vs digital is not worth having if books do not matter. If no one buys the format is trivial to the point of absurdity. As Tebow’s book demonstrates (as well as The Hunger Games and Larssen’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) people will read if the book is appealing enough.

Third, strategy can be highly rewarding. Harper took this book to press while Tebow was still be widely derided as a colossal failure, before he was named the starter, before the streak. Without that unknown turn of events I cannot imagine that there would be enough Florida fans willing to buy the book to have made it a worthwhile venture if only the southeast and Denver were the primary buying markets. Someone took a very high risk that is paying off with high rewards.

Fourth, the Christian narrative can still have impact. Because of Tebow’s unabashed sharing of the credit during the streak (a biblical virtue), patience in his circumstances (a biblical virtue), giving glory to God (a biblical directive) and “leaving-it-all-on-the-field” passion (another biblical virtue), his story has been told, his faith celebrated (and derided) while non-believers have been exposed to various depths of Christianity while watching ESPN.

Some of the books mentioned in this article are available below.

by

How one Christ follower decided to vote for Ron Paul, Part 3: Abortion

7 comments

Categories: Abortion, Blog, News, Opinion, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

To catch up on this series you can read the first part, and the second part.

When writing on the subject of abortion, I somehow feel it necessary to defend myself before I even get started. Not from those with a pro-abortion/pro-choice stand, but from some pro-lifers who seem to have a litmus test of whether one is pro-life enough. So, let me establish some street cred as it were.

I have donated money to pro-life causes, was a member of the Moral Majority (card carrying-literally), and regularly picketed the worst abortiatorium in the entire state of Georgia: Midtown Hospital (in Atlanta before being shut down). For I don’t know how many times on Saturday mornings I and others stood on the sidewalk handing out literature to women and girls who were heading in to have an abortion. We prayed for them, talked with a few and saw a few change their minds. But, it was a noticeable minority.

I know they were having abortions because it was the only medical procedure done at Midtown Hospital as far as we were ever able to ascertain.

I encouraged a church I attended to show The Silent Scream narrated by former abortionist Bernard Nathansen, participated in Sanctity of Life Sundays, went to marches at the state capital, preached and taught against abortion, and read an uncountable number of books and articles about life. I have been a supporter of the pro-life movement and the unborn with my words, actions and money.

With this background, I now hope to encourage Christ followers to consider voting for Ron Paul as an authentic, consistent, pro-life candidate.

Because Ron Paul has so many libertarian views many people assume that he is pro-abortion/pro-choice. I’ve seen this in more than one comment thread. But, this is incorrect. (The official platform of the Libertarian Party is that “abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.” This is insufficient, but it is what it is.) Not only is Ron Paul pro-life, he is the only candidate whose positions have any remote chance of effectively reducing the number of abortions performed in America.

Since the imposition of Roe v. Wade upon the United States population in 1973, 10s of millions of babies have been killed while in the safety and security of their mother’s womb. Dr. Paul’s stirring testimony of witnessing the attempted abortion of a baby while a resident physician is chilling. In that operating room, the baby was delivered alive then placed into a bucket to die. In an operating room just beside that one, many doctors and nurses were actively trying to deliver another baby. The only difference, as pro-lifers have argued for years, is that one is wanted and the other not. [See video at the end of this post.]

Paul understands a quote I read years ago:

We do not enjoy life so that we might exploit liberty. We enjoy liberty that we might respect and protect life.

Abortion on demand is not an affirmation of liberty in any respect. It is an exploitation of liberty to the detriment of humanity. The false conflation of a “woman’s right to choose” with a supposed “right to privacy” is one of the greatest blights on our nation’s history.

In America almost every crime of violence is a state issue. Rape, murder, assault, and the like are charged and prosecuted at the state level, not the federal level. Abortion is a violent assault. If the legality and regulation of abortion is returned to the authority of the states (as it was before Roe) then at least some states will restrict abortion even if they choose not to outlaw it. Likely, some states like California and New York will allow abortions as long as the baby’s little toe remains in the birth canal. Others might restrict it severely with still others scattered philosophically and legally between those to ends.

I am not of the opinion that Roe v Wade will ever be overturned. It is accepted by the judiciary as the law of the land. Shall we continue to allow abortion to continue unabated, providing only adoption options and support to struggling mothers, or should we try for what is actually possible?

In the years following Roe, the primary strategy to see abortion eliminated from American culture has been to nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would vote to overturn it. However, even “pro-life” presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush, were not able to tilt the balance of the court, and in some cases, did not even appear to try. For years the court was composed of people who were practically on life support and it was never overturned. Now we have younger, more diverse justices, but the balance has never created a condition that led to a reversal.

The other strategy has been to have a Life Amendment to the constitution. Potential candidates for office have been evaluated as to how they support a Life Amendment that would declare all human life protected from the moment of conception. There are only two ways to add an amendment to the constitution, neither of which, in my opinion, will ever happen. First is for an amendment to be passed on capitol hill (by 2/3 in both houses), then approved by 3/4 (37) of the states. The Equal Rights Amendment was the last to come by this method, but it failed because the time for ratification lapsed.

The second way an amendment can be added is for a constitutional convention to be requested by 3/4 of the state legislatures at which time amendments can be added. This has happened exactly zero (“0″) times since THE Constitutional Convention, so pro-lifers will turn all different shades of blue if they hold their breath waiting on this one.

Ron Paul’s position, while not removing abortion, would almost certainly guarantee a reduction in the number of abortions in the United States.

A problem that I have seen with the pro-life movement in America is how many see it as an all or nothing venture. I perceive that a significant reduction would not be enough for some even though the absolute outlawing of abortion on the U.S. is about as likely as finding a family of Bigfoots living in my basement. This seems a dangerously radical position that has the actual effect of working against the goal.

As you might expect, Ron Paul opposes the use of tax money for abortions. From his website:

Because he agrees with Thomas Jefferson that it is “sinful and tyrannical” to “compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,” Ron Paul will also protect the American people’s freedom of conscience by working to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for abortions, Planned Parenthood, or any other so-called “family planning” program.

Would Ron Paul’s view of abortion as a states’ issue ever be implemented? I do not know. Would he be able to accomplish anything even if he tried? I do not know. But, would he try? I believe he would, and likely more diligently than any president we’ve ever had. And were he to be successful we might even see a substantial reduction of abortions in the United States.

Below the video are links to three books on life. Rachel Weeping is out of print, but is the best book ever written on the subject if you can get a used copy.

by

How one Christ follower decided to vote for Ron Paul, Part 2: Foreign Policy

37 comments

Categories: Blog, News, Opinion, Politics, Tags: , , ,

My last post chronicled how I changed from being a dyed-in-the-wool Republican to an Independent who supports Ron Paul for president. In this post and the next one, I’ll be writing about some of Ron Paul’s positions that seem most misunderstood or misrepresented: foreign policy

The narrative of foreign policy options during the last two decades or so has not been whether we should be engaged in multiple conflicts around the globe simultaneously, but how many can we finance at the same time? Whether Democrat or Republican in office or the majority party there seems to be full, functional agreement on the use of military force around the world. From the MAD arms race of the 60s-80s we now stand at a place where the United States spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined (see video at the end of this post). Truth be told, we are spending much less on defense then we are on offense.

Foreign policy biblically, I believe, does fall under the realm of responsibility of the national government, and in our country the president has a major role. In meeting with heads of state, appointing the secretary of state and various ambassadors the president’s goal should be, through these appointees, to put America’s best foot forward to the world. It is a justifiably important discussion and rightly belongs front and center of debates.

No single area of Ron Paul’s political stances is more misunderstood than his foreign policy. He is commonly described as an isolationist, which is factually incorrect. An isolationist chooses not to be engaged on any level, to withdraw into one’s own borders, cut off trade and refuse communication with the rest of the world. Paul’s stance is that of non-intervention which is a different animal.

Do the stories of Somalia, Yugoslavia, Lybia, Lebanon or China, Albania or Iran ring a bell? Those actions all started as interventions in problematic areas and resulted in the loss of many lives, some American some not. In some cases we overthrew one freely elected president and installed a friendly dictator only to turn around years later and support an opponent of his. (Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has been involved in around six dozen military or covert operations under the auspice of interventions. For a list from 1945-1999 see here.)

Depending on the year, the United States has between 700 and 900 military installations around the world, and those are just the ones that the Pentagon will acknowledge publicly. The number of CIA shadow bases around the world is unknown. What is known is we have spent nearly a trillion dollars over the last 10 years supporting the multiple wars in which we are now engaged while running up a national debt of $15T. This is utterly unsustainable.

What is incredible about this is that Americans do not seem to put 2 and 2 together on this. We are rightfully furious about the past several years of unrestrained borrowing and spending, yet are not willing to cut back on our sprawling military adventures. There is a reason why Ron Paul receives more donations from active military personnel than all other Republican candidates combined.

Ron Paul addresses the Rally for the Republic in Minnesota in 2008


What Ron Paul sees and articulates pretty clearly is 1) we have no business policing the world, 2) we have no money to police the world, 3) the world does not appreciate our police state. It really is not appreciated when we tell people, “We want you to experience democracy so bad we are willing to kill you to give it to you.”

What Paul also understands that no other candidate will acknowledge is this: if the shoe were on the other foot we would respond both negatively and violently. If Chinese soldiers were occupying Alaska, would we stand idly by? Or, for a more historical perspective, when England’s grand king attempted to impose his will on our ancestors while they were still British subjects, did they stand idly by? On the contrary, so vehement was their complaint it became known as The American Revolution.

Exporting democracy is neither a biblical nor a constitutional imperative. Since it is not, I do not get why so many Christians feel compelled to support a war-machine.

Early in 2011 I was traveling in Russia. In one of their large, university cities I dined with an English speaking student who was born into one of the 42 ethnic minorities in China. His family remained there as he studied in Russia. We asked, “How is the United States perceived in your home town?” He answered in a way unfathomable to most Americans: “We are afraid that America might come attack China.”

Our reputation matters, and continual warmongering damages our reputation internationally. When Jesus said, “There will be wars and rumors of wars,” I do not think He intended it to be the Neo-con foreign policy handbook. It is time Christians understand something: When the government of the United States makes America look bad internationally, it affects the ability and perceptions of Americans who are on mission with God. Warmongering can create for American Christian missionaries a constant need to explain the actions of the government when they want to be fielding questions about God’s kingdom. As a Christ follower I will no longer support the actions of worldly kings who perpetuate actions designed to expand an earthly empire at the expense of the gospel. Ron Paul’s non-interventionist stance on foreign policy will restore American to a place of peace and protection of our own land that the founders must have envisioned when assembling the constitution.

(I am aware that not all internationals feel this way and that many around the world still–rightfully so–see America as the land of hope and opportunity. I love America. It’s our government that frustrates me.)

In his book, The Revolution: A Manifesto (available below), Ron Paul notes about former Republican Senator Robert Taft:

War, Taft perceived, was the enemy of constitution, liberty, economic security, and the cake of custom. . . . Though he was no theoretical pacifist, he insisted that every other possibility must be exhausted before resort to military action. War would make the American President a virtual dictator, diminish the constitutional powers of Congress, contract civil liberties, injure the habitual self-reliance and self-government of the American people, distort the economy, sink the federal government in debt, break in upon private and public morality. Emphasis mine.

Can any seriously suggest that this is not precisely what we see happening, and can anyone seriously suggest this is not what Ron Paul argues against with every opportunity?

No discussion of American foreign policy could be full without considering our relationship to and support of Israel.

As our closest ally in the middle east, Israel, stands alone as a democracy in an ocean of kings, princes, queens and Sharia Law. Since 1948 we have stood with them, have sold them bazillions of dollars in weaponry and given many billions more. A strain of conservative Christians remain convinced that without our support of Israel God will “remove His hand of blessing from America.” For years I was taught that the “last days” would be inaugurated when Russia (Gog and Magog of the book of Ezekiel) plowed through the countries in between to take over Israel.

The point of this is not to argue theology, but to argue that there is more than one way to “support” Israel. From the U.S. budget more money goes to Israel’s sworn enemies every year than to Israel. Honestly: What kind of support is that? That is not robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s paying Paul to leave Peter alone, while pressuring Peter not to act is his own best interests since we give him money, too. A Ron Paul presidency would mean that the U.S. government would not longer be keeping countries on the teet of the American tax dollar, and that Israel would continue to buy the arms she needs if she even needs them. I have not seen a biblical argument yet that “supporting Israel” has anything to do with foreign aid.

Below is a grassroots ad created to explain just a fraction of Ron Paul’s foreign policy. It’s about 13 minutes long, but features a bit of history, the present and some insight from recently discharged military personnel. If you’ve thought about Ron Paul, but wondered about his “unique” or “naive” foreign policy, this might help you see another side.

[If the video doesn't load, click here.]




by

How one Christ follower decided to vote for Ron Paul, Part 1

22 comments

Categories: Blog, News, Opinion, Politics, Tags: , , , , ,

A long time ago in a lifetime far, far away, I was a Republican. I stood in line for an hour or so–and was happy to do it–to be able to cast my first presidential vote for Ronald Reagan against the dangerous Walter Mondale. The primary reason he was dangerous, I guess, is because he was perceived as weak on defense issues. He was socially liberal being for everything I was against and against everything I was for. Back in those days, I would read the party platforms (if I could find them in that Information Dark Age). The Democratic Party platform was something out of my weirdest nightmare. I agreed with almost nothing in it.

I regularly wrote letters to the editor and once wrote a letter to the editor of a county paper in which I called our liberal Georgia senator, Wyche Fowler, “a southern-fried Ted Kennedy.” (I still think that is a good line, because he really was.)

Over the years, I have remained pro-life, pro-1st and 2nd amendment, pro-church, pro-business. In many elections, especially early on, I voted straight Republican tickets, even down to the judges and state utility advisers (or whatever it is those people do). I would not have voted Democrat if you put the proverbial gun to my head. Or a real one, either.

Then, a few years back I began to notice some things, the main one being that when you got right down to it there really isn’t a hair’s breadth of difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party if you look at what they do, rather than listen to what they say. To listen to them talk you’d think they could never agree on anything, but they agree on some very, very important issues.

The main two or three issues upon which Democrats and Republicans agree–especially if they are the party in power–is that bigger government is to be preferred over smaller government, spending money we don’t have and never will have to build said government is the best way to go about it, and that various special interests (banking, military, oil, etc) should have their campaign contributions rewarded with favorable legislation, lavish government contracts, and, when possible, lax prosecution when criminal behavior occurs.

As a believer I had always believed, and still do, that God blesses nations, though I might think about it differently now than then. I was convinced that God was not going to bless “us” (the United States) if we allowed abortion, gay-rights and the like to be part of our culture. The problem was that I cherry-picked the stances I thought God would judge and ignored quite a few others that God judged in the Bible. But it really didn’t matter because those were “liberal” causes.

So, I found myself in somewhat of a dilemma. The positions that were of crucial importance to me found little or no progress, while the country continued down a financial path that seemed problematic no matter who sat in the White House or held a majority on the Hill. For the first time in my life, I thought about not voting.

In the second half of George W. Bush’s presidency it was obvious to me that Republicans were going to have a very difficult time overcoming his low approval rating and keep the White House. Sure enough, they propped John McCain up and invited him to get run over by the Obama Train.

My daughter, who had always been interested in politics, said to me, “Why don’t you check out Ron Paul?” I, along with most Americans in 2007 outside of Texans and gold coin buyers, said, “Who?” “You need to check out Ron Paul,” she insisted.

So, slowly and somewhat reluctantly I began to delve into researching this rumpled looking little man with white hair, black eyebrows, and an unfailing tendency to take any subject directly, unerringly to a screed on the Federal Reserve Bank.

She even drug me off one night in 2008 into north Hall County, Georgia, to a “meet-up” with other Paulites. Everyone was nice and there were a number of Dr. Paul’s books in supply along with signs and bumper stickers. Some of those folks kinds scared me, though, like all their household plumbing was filled with cans of pork-n-beans and beef stew waiting for the zombie apocalypse.

“Oh, boy,” I thought. “Who is this guy?”

But, every time I questioned something, she would correct me. My problem was that I was thinking of him like a typical Republican, which I absolutely should not have done.

So, I started listening to his speeches and interviews on YouTube. I didn’t depend on his debate performances, because it was pretty clear he wasn’t the best debater in the world in presentation (but the substance was there for anyone who would pay attention). There was a moment, very early in the 2008 election cycle when he introduced himself to the debate audience saying “I’m Ron Paul, and I’m the champion of the Constitution.” That one sentence set him apart in my mind from any other candidate. They didn’t act like they knew what the Constitution was.

It also reminded me that I’m an American, and the Constitution means something. It is supposed to be the track upon which this country runs, freeing the people to power the engine. It is the primary document that protects the people from the excesses of the government, the founders gift to “our posterity” to help protect them from what they were experiencing from the King of England. It’s now more commonly used for a doormat and toilet paper on Capitol Hill.

I also learned to pay attention to the rest of the Bill of Rights, not only the first two. There really was more to being an American than having freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to own guns.

There were his warnings (and again in the debate on December 15, 2011) about the centralizing of power in the Legislative Branch, a complete violation of the Constitution. His concise and accurate arguments against the Federal Reserve Banking System are devastating, but most Americans are not paying enough attention to make understand them.

He’s the only candidate in either party who makes any attempt at all to bring actual Biblical principles to bear on how things should work, rather than just quoting a scripture here and there in a speech. But, because he rightly believes that the Constitution is the guiding document for United States government, even people who don’t care for the Bible still support him.

All my life I’ve heard, “Where are the statesmen? All these stupid politicians; just once I’d like to see a statesman.” Ron Paul is the closes thing to a statesman running for president that I am likely to see in my lifetime. I think the problem is that it’s been so long since we’ve seen one, we’ve forgotten what they look like.

It seems to me, that if we will not vote for him, we probably would not have voted for Washington, Adams or Jefferson, either. I think that says more about us than it does about Ron Paul.
You do not have to take my word for it. Check out Ron Paul from his own writings.


by

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012: No more rule of law

7 comments

Categories: Blog, News, Opinion, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined… could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” – Abraham Lincoln, 1838

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Each year for the last 48 of them the United States government has passed the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that provides funding for the Department of Defense. As with any other bill in Washington, D.C., it can be innocuous–just a means of channeling tax receipts and borrowed money. This year, however, there are additions to it that will forever change what it means to live in America, because it changes the essence of what America is. Martial law takes place of the rule of law. The President takes place of the constitution.

Originally passing the House of Representatives in May, the bill, last known as S. 1867, passed the Senate earlier this month and now waits on President Obama’s desk where it awaits his signature. The parts needing the greatest scrutiny are in sections 1013 and 1032, drafted by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) and supported on the Senate floor by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who said,

the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland. (Emphasis mine.)

Designating “the homeland” as a battlefield gives the power to President Obama and any future president to call out members of any branch of the service against any American citizen to arrest and detail without trial anywhere in the world including your own back yard. Or front yard if you prefer.

President Obama’s threat of a veto, apparently, was only to get modifications to the bill which grant the Executive Branch of the government even greater power. Under the last two presidents the constitutional undermining and power grabbing of authority has been so fierce and so overt it would make a bunch of middle school, in-crowd, “mean girls” blush.

Normal American citizens who once enjoyed freedom of speech are not only potential enemy combatants, but have already been placed on the battlefield. And our own government has defined all the terms and written all the rules. Liberty has already lost.

Constitutional expert and civil-rights attorney, John Whitehead, has recently written,

America has indeed become the new battleground in the war on terror. In light of this, you can rest assured that there will be no restoration of the civil liberties jeopardized by the USA Patriot Act and other equally subversive legislation. Instead, those in power will continue to sanction ongoing violations of our rights, relying on bureaucratic legalese to sidestep any concerns that might be raised. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which was passed by the Senate with a vote of 93 – 7, is a perfect example of this. Contained within this massive defense bill is a provision crafted by Democrat Charles Levin and Republican John McCain which mandates that anyone suspected of terrorism against the United States be held in military custody indefinitely. This provision extends to American citizens on American territory. The bill also renews the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) which was passed in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. In addition to renewing the AUMF, it extends its provisions to include military action against those who “substantially support” Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.” And to cap it off, the bill enhances restrictions against transferring detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay to the continental United States.

Taken collectively, these provisions re-orient our legal landscape in such a way as to ensure that martial law, rather than the rule of law—our U.S. Constitution, becomes the map by which we navigate life in the United States. In short, this defense bill not only decimates the due process of law and habeas corpus for anyone perceived to be an enemy of the United States, but it radically expands the definition of who may be considered the legitimate target of military action. If signed into law by President Obama, this bill will not only ensure that we remain in a perpetual state of war—with this being a war against the American people—but it will also institute de facto martial law in the United States. Although the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act placed strong restrictions on how and when the U.S. military may be used on American soil, the language of this bill supersedes Posse Comitatus, empowering the president to unilaterally impose martial law at any time of his choosing. This legislation signals the end of the rule of law in America.

(It’s worth your time to read the entire piece.)

In my younger years I would have urged people to write, call, or email their congressman or woman. But note this passed the Senate with only 7 (SEVEN) against votes. It has been clear from some time that the people in Washington don’t listen to the people who send them there, so don’t waste your time.

When “Barack Obama” is signed on the NDAA of 2012 it will be just as sad a day as when “George W. Bush” was signed across the Patriot Act. But people all over the land will still be arguing about whether Tim Tebow is getting mistreated by John Elway, whether Kim Kardashian was ever serious about her marriage, or who is the most selfish NBA players or owners.

We deserve exactly what we’re getting. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America.