Monday, February 25, 2008


Are Christians afraid of sorrow?
Yes, and why not, you may ask.
An article I read recently discussed the tendency of Christians to rush to happiness and to generally shun full-throated lamentation.
The extremities of which are the prosperity preachers, the name it and claim it proponents, also known as the blab it and grab it disciples.
I don't think I need to spend any time discrediting that particular line of thinking.
But the majority of us find ourselves in the middle.
We are so averse to trouble that we're in a terrible rush to justify every misfortune or tragedy that befalls us. One might think we were attempting to justify God to others.
Not so much. I think we are trying to justify God to ourselves.
One obstacle that has always presented itself to me when contemplating a direct request to God is just this. What will I do if God does nothing in response to my request?
The initial problem may well be that of complacency. I have no needs so desperate that I cannot afford to make do without them. Well enough. No point in making a mountain out of every molehill. (But then, had I the faith, every mountain would be a molehill.)
Too many mountains. No problem. I'll climb them.
God no doubt watches me strap on spikes and sling ropes and picks over my back at the foot of every molehill and quietly urges a new perspective.
Hearing no earthquake, fire, or whirlwind, however, I carry on. I'll save the mustard seed for when I really need it.
So it is with sorrow. We are deathly afraid of that which we cannot put in a box labeled Romans 8:28.
Upon a tragedy or mysterious problem we immediately begin casting about for answers to the riddle until we find one that is presentably plausible. Having a good reason to look at makes us feel better. The reason might be something so simple as God wanting us to not have to look for a reason.
Or bluff.
"That didn't hurt so much."
You'll notice that although Job did an awful lot of complaining, we're told he never once sinned with his mouth.
And you'll notice that although God set him straight, He was proud of him.
At the end of the book Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, Orual concludes, "I ended my first book with the words, no answer. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words."
And to Job's anguished question, God replies, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"
When we receive the answer to our questions, we are not so much awed by the answer as by the futility of the question.
The answer to these riddles undercuts the posing of them.
We have no right ask the question.
Yet, when we do, God supplies the answer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One More Slap

Its always difficult to admit to a shift in one's personal opinion.
That's why I'm not admitting to a shift in opinion.
A perspective shift is what I'll cop to, starting with the immigration furor over a year ago.
(I strongly suspect William Randolph Hearst of having stirred the whole thing up. Else explain the weary resignation of America to a porous border suddenly giving way to the out-of-the-blue frantic desperation. I shall state again that I am not opposed to fixing the problem. But I still think the sudden uproar is curious.)
All at once, I seemed to belong to, not so much a party, but an ideology, namely conservatism, that defined itself by one issue.
A reinforced border is a worthy goal, and the motivation for stopping the flow was largely well-intentioned, I think, but the din grew into a clamor such that a reasonable proposal offered by the president was labeled "amnesty."
To refresh your memory, the said proposal involved a fine leveled at illegals in the neighborhood of 6,000 dollars, retroactive collection of taxes, deportment for nine to fourteen years, a clean record for those nine to fourteen, successful background clearance, and a proficiency in English.
Then, and only then, could you attain legal citizenship.
If that's amnesty, then perhaps they've changed the meaning of the word and not told anyone.
But I digress.
Conservatives let their voice be heard. It was deafening.
I have not heard such a consensus on any other issue.
And that is precisely what began to nag at me.
I was willing to let it slide. Hey, what's a little jingoism among friends?
But the upcoming primary began to reveal another flaw in the conservative movement.
People calling themselves conservative supported Rudy Guliani for president and saw no incoherence in their own ideology.
Then as Guliani began his slide into history, following an ill-fated "don't sweat the small states" strategy, conservative punditry began to champion two other suspect candidates.
After the last three or four blogs, you may be thinking that I'm a little sore on the subject of talk radio.
Have patience. Maybe you never took these guys too seriously in the first place.
I think I took them more seriously than I should have.
I assumed they were coming from, and going in, the same direction I was headed.
Now whether the consensus of conservative punditry is the cause or the effect of the opinions of the majority of conservative voters out there, (I suspect the former) the fact is they were singing the song of a whole lot of people.
Aside from their exaggerration on McCain and Huckabee (Huckabee is a fire-breathing tax-raiser from Arkansas, thus a liberal, and McCain is no better, in some cases worse, than Hillary Clinton, in the opinion of a certain female columist who is long on shock value and short on substance) their praise of Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson was misleading.
Whether disingenuous or ignorant (I again suspect the former) the shut-out of all discussion about Mitt Romney's high-speed rotation on social issues and Fred Thompson's curt dismissal of past abortion lobbying was maddening.
They were true Reagan conservatives from way back. The seeds of Romney's stalwart Reaganism began to sprout as far back as 2004. Thompson appeared to be able to turn his off and on. But they were conservative by virtue of their position on immigration and big government. No mention of the social concerns that stem from the moral base that conservatism, I thought, was built upon.
My mistake.
Mike Huckabee, despite his numerous flaws, is a committed social conservative.
In the interest of clarity, could not the pundits have noted this, then pointed out his fiscal flaws and foreign policy hubris and let us make up our own minds?
Apparently not. He was a liberal. Because they said so.
Ronald Reagan combined morality with a strong distrust of big goverment and faith in capitalism and America. As far as I know, he never diminished social conservatism with an exclusionary emphasis on the other two legs of the stool.
In that sense, I guess Newt Gingrich was right.
The Reagan era really is over.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nowhere to Go

What purpose, you may ask, does it serve to continually dish up dirt on the top two Republican presidential contenders?
Because it is revealing to note how the political process works, and sobering but important to note how far things have regressed in the past several years, notably since 2006.
After the Democrats regained control of Congress, I was fearful (pessimistic) that this would cause the GOP to lurch left. At the time, it was Guliani I was eyeing suspiciously.
Now we have the frontrunner, the maverick, the thorn in the side of the elephant, the evangelical basher John McCain who claims the conservative label as loudly as anybody but has little right to claim it.
But this post has to do with the other one, the man conservative talk and print leaders are ramming down our throats as the true conservative.
Try this: "Mitt and Kerry wish you a great Pride Weekend. All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference" This was printed on a leaflet distributed in Boston in 2002 during the annual Gay Pride March. Romney was running for governor, Kerry (Healey) for lt. governor.
And this:"We must make equality for 'gays' and lesbians a mainstream concern." This from a letter from Romney to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts, a Republican gay and lesbian rights organization. Romney also stated in the letter that he would be a stronger defender of gay rights than, hold on to your hat, Ted Kennedy.
Alan Keyes contends that Mitt Romney is himself responsible for the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Court declared the current marriage law unconstitutional but gave the state legislaiture 180 days to redefine it. Romney beat everyone to the punch. Romney said he had no choice. "Exercising illegal legislaitive authority" says Herb Titus, constitutional law expert, Romney issued an executive order ordering all state clerks to change state marriage forms and begin registering same-sex couples.
This is our "conservative" option.
Begins to make the lesser of two evils sound like a gross understatement.