Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why I can't feel comfortable voting for the "lesser of two evils"

Nicholas Kristof on McCain's foreign policy

It is never short of criminal to sit in approval of policies that enable the "innocent" to perish and thus the determination by many that a pro-choice candidate has disqualified himself (or herself) from public office. But I believe that equal weight should be given to the consideration of how an elected official will engage our country with other countries and how he will seek to protect and ensure American prosperity. Wars will always and inevitably lead to the deaths of the "innocent." Are the lives of the American unborn intrinsically worth more than the lives of young Muslim children? Certainly not.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dallas for the weekend

Highland Park Presbyterian Church is hosting the leader of International Justice Mission this Sunday so that he can talk about their work which is to seek the freedom of those who have been enslaved in the sex industry. An article this morning from IHT was written on this same topic. Here's an excerpt:
Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. It exists in all countries, and if some teenage girls are imprisoned in brothels until they die of AIDS, that is seen as tragic but inevitable.

-Nicholas D. Kristoff, IHT

Psalm 82: 3-4
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How do you bleed?

In light of some previous posts of mine, a recent blog discussion with Becky, and the book that I have mentioned on here a few times, I'd like to post some new thoughts.

The title of this post comes from the book just mentioned, The Myth of a Christian Nation, by Greg Boyd. In this chapter, titled "When Chief Sinners Become Moral Guardians," Boyd says many things that I might question, at least in part. But one thing that he says in particular I found to be particularly helpful. He tells a true story of an unmarried girl who gets pregnant at 18 and contemplates abortion as a result but is dissuaded by a typically pro-choice voting middle-aged divorcee. What was the basis of her argument?

She didn't go into a discussion about "reaping what you sow" or charges of infanticide (though both are applicable to the case in some sense). Rather, she offered to do whatever necessary to support this girl during this process, even to the extent of offering her a place to live after her Christian parents kicked her out of the house for getting pregnant, and doing whatever she could to help support financially her desire to go to college and become a veterinarian. Boyd's point is that this older woman was willing to do what was necessary to love the woman and the unborn; she even had to take out a second mortgage on her house in order to make it work, but she did it.

So, the question for those of us who call ourselves Christians must go beyond one of "which candidate is pro-life" to how can we individually and collectively "bleed in service" to anyone around us who is in a position of need? Further, should a pro-choice candidate come to public office, we need not fear some catastrophic rise in abortions if we will integrate ourselves more into the lives of those around us. We can reduce (even eliminate?) abortion without the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and as citizens of another country living in an alien world that is not submitted to the reign of Christ, we should expect to accomplish kingdom ends in no other way.

So, as Boyd asks in his book, I ask all of us: "how do you bleed?"

Feisty Steve Inskeep

Steve Inskeep of NPR interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday; I got to hear an extended clip of it this morning on the radio. You can read the transcript or listen to the interview here.

Reading it doesn't give the full effect of how tense it got at times between the two of them so if you can, listen to it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Something new?

Alright, so, I'm looking at beginning to write some consistent fiction on here just to keep pace with some of the fiction that I have been reporting on from the media. I'm going to be working from some ideas that I have had in my head for a while and plan to post installments with as much regularity as my creativity and time will allow.

To start tonight I shall give only a working title and a few prefatory quotes that shall serve as guide posts and have been points of inspiration for the beginning of this story.


Pulsing Grey
by trey arbuckle

"Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man . . . only against Death shall he call for aid in vain”

-Sophocles Antigone

It is not good for the man to be alone.”

-Genesis 2:18

“When art tries to speak of the new world, the final world, in terms only of the present world, it collapses into sentimentality; when it speaks of the present world only in terms of its shame and horror, it collapses into brutalism . . . many artists recoil from the challenging vision of the future, and prefer to give the apparently more 'relevant' message of despair.” --N.T. Wright

Music suggestion

I heard Ian McIntosh this morning for the first time. I'm a fan, particularly of the song that I heard this morning, "Awakening."

National Kyrsten Love Day

I have declared that September 19th should be National Kyrsten Love day. So, tell her how great she is just like I've done in the past by buying her a plush monkey in Costa Rica.

Here's to Kyrsten and all of her greatness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Republicans, free markets, and intervention

Ron Chernow, author of the biography I read this past spring on Alexander Hamilton, is quoted in the IHT this morning:
"We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams."

So the question has to be raised, to what extent can the current problems on Wall Street be tied to the current administration and what implications does this situation have for the Republican economic philosophy?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bailouts and Genuine Economic Solutions

Here is an article that explains pretty well the current Wall Street situation, a historical precedent of note, and some practical solutions that should be considered for our nation's economy.

Ahh, sweet prudence, where art thou?

Sometimes I wonder if David Brooks and I are actually the same person and that the universe in which we live is radically different than it first appears such that I can simulataneously be a middle-aged writer for the IHT as well as a twenty-something high school teacher without having any memory of my alternate life.

Here's why: he says the very same thing I've been telling my students. That being, the most important element of a candidate for office is an experience wrought prudence that displays itself exactly as Brooks has written: "the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events - the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight."

I'm looking for it in our candidates and unfortunately have not found it in either. Unless I become convinced otherwise, I shall be employing my democratic right this November by not voting for either candidate. I'm looking for prudence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

But you speak for all "real" women?

Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago's Divinity School wrote last Tuesday of Palin: "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman. The Republican Party's cynical calculation that because she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies ... she speaks for the women of America and will capture their hearts and their votes has driven thousands of real women to take to their computers in outrage. She does not speak for women."

-IHT article

It is a good chance that most women don't feel that they're really represented by Doniger who "holds two doctorates, from Harvard University and the University of Oxford, in Sanskrit and Indian Studies." (wikipedia article)

Is that really a more typical example of the American woman? Someone who has spent time studying Sanskrit and Indian studies? Not that there's anything wrong with studying those subjects, but to assume that Sarah Palin cannot be called a "real" woman is sheer stupidity and arrogance, particularly in light of what Doniger has done with her life. On what authority does Doniger get to claim the right to speak for all women? The fact that she hasn't had "lots and lots of babies?" Or the fact that she has gone to the most elite graduate schools in the country?

Brilliant. I think that I would like to take a moment to vomit into the trashcan under my desk.

Monday, September 15, 2008

More from Boyd

Christianization of military force was strongly reinforced when
President George W. Bush depicted America as being on a holy 'crusade' against
'evildoers.' Elsewhere he said that America is the 'light of the world,' which
the 'darkness' (that is, our national enemies) could not extinguish. He was of
course quoting Scripture in making his point--Scripture that refers to Jesus
(John 1:1-5). The fact that evangelicals as a whole were not shocked by this
idolatrous assocation is, in my opinion, evidence of how thoroughly we have
accepted the Americanized, Constantinian paradigm. In this paradigm, what
applies to jesus ("the light of the world") can be applied to our country, and
what applies to Satan ("the darkness") can be applied to whomever resists our
country . . . With all due respect, this is blatant idolatry.

That a political leader would use religious rhetoric to rally people around
a military cause is not surprising. This is typical in all versions of the
kingdom of the world. What is surprising, and cause for great concern, is that
many evangelicals were not only not disturbed by this--they applauded it.

-Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quick Music Recommendation...with perks

Visit here. Listen. Buy. Congratulate yourself,  you've just gained yourself some new tunes and more importantly, contributed to the movement that desires to eradicate modern-day slavery. 

See, I told you that you would hear more!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm it!

I 'got tagged' which I didn't even know existed in blog life and now, you will be subjected to my participation of the "tag." I am going to share with you SIX random Kyrsten facts. Here goes:

1. While studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile for five months, I went with my Chilean host sister to a market in Chile and had my nose pierced for $1. Studs cost .40 cents. It was a steal and so far, I'm healthy...ha. Just kidding. The piercing fell out my senior year of college and if it wasn't like fifty million times the Chilean cost to buy a stud and/or re-pierce it in the States, it would already be done. 

2. I am a very curious person.  So much so that I sometimes ask questions that are inappropriate--the best part being that I don't even think that what I said was inappropriate but totally normal. Oops. I also have no gatekeeper which makes for a grand combination...

3.  I have never been stung by a bee or broken a major bone (I broke my toe in elementary school--of all things and no cast required), in all my twenty seven years. I kinda feel like I have been left out of a childhood rite of passage. Kinda. 

4. I have never been to a single alcoholic party. Yes, I was that goody-two shoes girl in high school AND college. 

5. My freshman year of college, I trained for and ran in the Disneyworld Marathon (yes, all 26.2 miles) with the Leukemia Society's Team in Training program--we helped raise money for child Leukemia patients. I hi-fived Mickey as I floated through the Magic Kingdom...(pat on the back). And, my momma got to watch me cross the finish line!!

6. I went to Kindergarten twice. I guess I wanted to have naptime for another year. Wink. Actually, my family was in transition and my mom thought it would be wise for me to be held back. So that is why I am always the smartest one in the class....ha. 

Now, it is my duty to tell the rules and tag some people that I want to read random facts about...

First, the rules. 
1. Post the rules on your blog. 
2. Write 6 random things about yourself.
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
4. If you are tagged, DO IT and pass it along.

Second, Becky Baskin, Janette Bridenstine, Kendra Duty, Jamison Brunone, Rachel Supercinski, and Terri Chanlatte (my momma!) are all tagged!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

a quick p.s.

I had never read anything by Greg Boyd before, and though the name seemed vaguely familiar when my student asked if I had heard of him, I couldn't place it. I just looked him up via Google--found out that he is an advocate of the "open theism" position. If you don't know what that is, then don't worry about it. If you do and you are wondering if I am endorsing his theological position on that topic, know that I do not.

We can learn from many we disagree with on multiple issues. That is what I am doing here by reading his politically oriented writings.

More politics . . .

Just a question as I continue to skim through the Boyd book: The Myth of a Christian Nation:

Should the fact that a tax collector and a zealot lived together and ministered together under Jesus inform our interaction with those who belong to different political alignments but call Jesus Lord? Alternatively put, is it possible to hold different positions on some political arguments and still commune together? Or, can Christians disagree on politics because they agree upon who is King? Finally, is it right to excommunicate someone from the church (or exclude them from your "orthodox circle of friends") for voting for a certain candidate?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Single issue voting

So, I'm a Christian.

I am not looking to make America into a "Christian country", but I do believe that "Christian policies" are important when considering a candidate for office. Contrary to what some may believe about me, I do think that a candidate's position on abortion is important. And so as I was reading today at Starbucks I happened upon a thought: "I wonder what the abortion statistics look like during the Bush years compared with the Clinton years."

Obviously, the number should be down if the pro-life aspect of his platform meant anything, right? Well, I did a quick google search and found the article of which many may already be aware, written by a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary around 2004. His findings at that point based upon limited data (I think 16 states) suggested that the number had increased. He gave his analysis and reasoning for this: lack of a social net for people who are poor and getting pregnant when they shouldn't be. His facts were obviously controversial and inspired more research to be done. When this was done and more states were included, it seemed that the number had not risen but that it had also not decreased.

I also found some links to blogs by people who are clearly not fans of Obama decrying his statement at the Saddleback "debate" (?) that the numbers had increased during the Bush presidency. They were wondering if his statistics came from "his wazzoo." I believe that was the technical term employed and stated that research showed that it had gone down and cited a website that I looked at and found them to be accurate . . . at least according to that report.

So, which report do we go with? Obviously the one that is the most comprehensive, objective, and recent. To be honest, I wasn't looking to spend my afternoon in internet research on the topic so I don't feel inclined to verifying which report best represents what actually took place. The findings did support my original hypothesis: the very fact that different reports have found different conclusions suggests that there is much more involved in being a pro-life citizen than voting for whatever candidate describes himself/herself as such.

It seems to me that it shouldn't be debatable that under Bush abortions went down statistically if I am to vote for someone like him simply because of his stated position. It seems that we should be able to guarantee a much better return for our vote than the mixed findings suggest. One might be tempted to say that the original report that I have referred to must have just been written by a "liberal Christian" who doesn't care about the abortion topic because he's probably a socialist moron or something. To do so would be inaccurate as he calls himself a Christian ethicist who is pro-life and has a severely handicapped son to prove it. The data seems to be more unclear than some would like to believe which begs the question: is single issue voting really responsible voting?

Further, how many pro-life voters have even asked themselves this question as they prepare for November's election. How many have taken the time to verify that indeed their voting Bush into office actually furthered the one cause that they truly care about? My guess is that far too many satisfy themselves with political rhetoric.

Finally, one could argue that Bush put two justices on the bench that are conservative and that a Democrat would have appointed other people to those posts who would most likely have been pro-choice and likely to "legislate from the bench" to ensure the protection of Roe v. Wade. Granted. And so if you are satisfied with voting for a candidate based upon the hope that when a position opens up on the bench, your candidate will appoint a pro-life justice, then I have no argument with you. Just keep in mind that conservative judges who are supposed to stick to the Constitution are going to have to hold their peace until someone figures out a way to bring the topic all the way to the Supreme Court. In other words, your vote may be very limited in its projected purpose and there may be many unintended consequences (for example see Tom Delay, Mariana islands, and reports of forced abortions).

In conclusion, even if the statistics demonstrate clearly and universally that abortion declined during the eight years of Bush's presidency, to what end? Are we going to naively believe that we will be able to keep a staunchly pro-life candidate in the White House long enough to eradicate abortion once and for all? The very fact that we may end up with a strongly pro-choice President Obama in the White House clearly demonstrates that this is unrealistic. 

Perhaps we need to expand our vision to consider other aspects in this fight against a very real evil. If nothing else, we at least need to do our homework beyond listening to a few carefully crafted speeches meant to gain certain segments of the electorate.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sweet moments!!!

I put both kids down for a nap about 1PM. An hour later, I could still hear Ethan chattering with himself in his big boy bed. A little frustrated, I barged into Ethan's room and asked him why he was playing instead of sleeping. He couldn't answer me, at least he chose not to. 

So, wanting the quiet of two babies sleeping simultaneously and feeling quite drowsy myself, I told Ethan to get back in bed and I would lay down with him. This always produces a big grin on his face and is usually a futile attempt on my part to entice him to sleep (he just kind of giggles quietly that Mommy is laying down on the bed with him.) However, today was a different story. After asking me to pull the blanket over him, he promptly began thumb-sucking himself to sleep. Two minutes later, as I was just about asleep, I could hear his heavy breathing. Then his thumb slowly fell out of his mouth. He was out. Slumbering peacefully. Looking awfully precious, until, the drool started to ooze out of his mouth. He was definitely asleep. This won't work every day but it worked TODAY and Momma got a sweet moment out of it.

Which kingdom are you fighting for?

So in this season of partisan pep rallies, apocalyptic emails, and character attacks in the guise of political speech, I have talked to my students a bit in the hopes of getting them to think through these issues on a deeper level. As a result, one of my students lent me a book that he thought I might enjoy. I was reading a bit this morning during my off period in a chapter discussing the contrasts between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. Here's an excerpt that should serve as a good reminder for those of us who call heaven our home.
Conservative religious people involved in kingdom-of-the-world thinking often believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gay activists, the ACLU, the pro-choice advocates, the evolutionists, and so on. On the opposite side, liberal religious people often think that their enemies are the fundamentalists, the gay bashers, the Christian Coalition, the antiabortionists, and so on. Demonizing one's enemies is part of the tit-for-tat game of Babylon, for only by doing so can we justify our animosity, if not violence, toward them. What we have here are two different religious versions of the kingdom of the world going at each other. If we are thinking along the lines of the kingdom of God, however, we would realize that none of the people mentioned in the above lists are people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight against. They are, rather, people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight for.

Our battle is "not against flesh and blood," whether they are right wing or left wing, gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, liberal or conservative, democratic or communist, American or Iraqi. Our battle is against the "cosmic powers" that hold these people, and all people, in bondage.

-Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

David Brooks on McCain and Palin

I've posted articles by Brooks before; I have generally found him to be insightful and articulate. The last one was on Obama, I believe. This one is on McCain and Palin--take a look.

Here's to voting for somebody dead or somebody who will never die again this November.