Monday, March 30, 2009

Do-good-ism and Feel-good-ism

Batman teaches us that “it’s not who I am underneath that defines me, It’s what I do.”

Most of the older Christians I know here in the Southeastern United States are do-good-ists. They were raised in an era where hard work was exulted above success AS success. It didn't matter whether one actually accomplished anything as long as one worked hard. Generally, if one works hard one actually accomplishes something. This ethic along with a society where most people were Christian or at least were associated with a local Christian church sought the scriptures with a mind to validate the ethic.

And it was easy to do. If you don't work you don't eat. “A worker is worthy of his wages”. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” which is work hard. When they went to harvest, they needed everyone out there. When cotton was picked, it took every hand. When tobacco was brought in, it was acceptable to keep kids out of school. Little Johnny had a dog and a gun. Why? Because he needed to go out and learn to hunt. What - you don't hunt? You must be a farmer. No? You must be a preacher. No? Are you even a Christian?

This was the attitude and not much soteriology beyond this was observed. The generation raised by these adults carry this same mentality. Their soteriology by and large hasn't progressed much although "work hard" has gone into the factories, service and the professional sectors. The rebels from this generation are often drug addicts or alcoholics and have trouble holding a job. The rest have a hard time finding an identity between the two and usually tend toward liberalism, godlessness or feel-good-ism.

I'll start to address feel-good-ism in a moment, but I want to make a distinction between do-good-ism and legalism. Legalists hold that one must do good things to go to heaven. If bad things are done, then some good thing must be done to make up for it. Roman Catholics are legalists. Do-good-ists on the other hand recognize that Christ died for our sins. But they also confuse sanctification for justification and believe that if we are saved that we somehow won't sin anymore and rather always do good things. So, they observe that if someone sins and they are supposed to be a Christian, then maybe they're not a Christian. They certainly aren’t as good as someone who manages to work hard and keep his nose clean. As such, the do-good-ist sees sin primarily as a behavioral issue and not an intentional issue. The do-good-ist is often quick to condemn people who appear to misbehave no matter what they believe or intend.

Legalism and do-good-ism both create rules that are not in the Bible. The Jewish Rabbis created a boatload of new rules that God never gave them through Moses. Roman Catholics have obviously done the same. But there are otherwise decent Christian churches who also burden church members with certain scrutiny for not following a higher standard of behavior than what the Bible prescribes. For example, they wouldn't tell you that a woman not wearing a dress was going to hell, but they would wonder. Such a woman would certainly not be asked to play the piano on Sunday morning. That's do-good-ism.

It's easy to think that such churches are more faithful than most because of the apparently high moral standard accorded by their behavior. One could look at old mainline churches with huge pipe organs and floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows and pews with sparsely seated older members who won't even sing the liturgy they claim to love. Such seem to have the appearance of religion, but are merely empty shells. Behavior is the do-good-ist's stained-glass window. Self-righteous condemnation is the do-good-ist's pipe organ. The gospel of grace is the do-good-ist's liturgy.

Good behavior isn't evil. Stained-glass windows and pipe organs aren't evil. Correctly identifying genuine sin isn't evil. But Protestant liturgies are loaded with theology and Christ's gift of grace is meant to be proclaimed. But both to gloss over the depths of truth found in the scriptures by mindlessly repeating a tired liturgy is sin. Likewise to fail to proclaim Christ's gospel of grace because the sinner is first condemned and shunned is sin. Both delving into the depths of God’s truth and proclaiming the gospel are admonitions of scripture. The love for God leads us to learn who He is. The love for others leads us to proclaim Christ to them.

Feel-good-ism has risen up against do-good-ism as what Christianity ought to be, but the pendulum has swung well past center. Feel-good-ists took the theological tools they learned from do-good-ists, recognized the problems inherent with condemning the people you have failed to share the gospel with and sought to share the gospel without being offensive. As such, feel-good-ism is no less theologically astute than do-good-ism. The problem is that do-good-ism is not very theologically astute.

I ran into a feel-good-ist the other day. He praised me for singing Christian songs and proceeded to share with me information about a massage ministry where one church was offering massages during the worship service where people would go out to be massaged and come back in to continue worshiping. He said the reason was because the world was such a stressful place and people worship better when they are relaxed. Yeah, right.

It’s easy to condemn such as rank liberalism. However, liberalism actually includes scholarly study of the Bible and liberal theologians attempt to address the parts of the Bible that otherwise clearly contradict their erroneous claims. Feel-good-ism just ignores the Bible altogether and rather focuses on the notion that God just wants us to be happy.

I was presented with the question recently (for the umpteenth time) of what we needed to do to get to heaven. My stock answer is a question, “Is that what our goal is supposed to be?” I follow this with the instruction that our goal must be to glorify God, not get to heaven. If our heart is with God and his glory, then we are with God and He is with us.

As a parenthetical, I was presented with the false notion that the text of Romans chapters 9-12 is a separate “codicil” that has been inadvertently added to the middle of Romans. Read it. Such an observation seems plausible. Now read it a few more times. Analyze the logic of Romans without that section and that section by itself. Then analyze the logic of Romans with the section intact.

I haven’t found a full critique of this observation, but it’s clear to me that it’s false. For one, I don’t see any scholarship observing ancient texts that omit this section. I don’t see any evidence that early church leaders exegeted the conclusion drawn in Romans 12 by analyzing the content of Romans 8 as its source. Finally, the logic of Romans intact makes more sense than if chapters 9-11 were missing.

As such, I noticed something in Romans I never noticed before. We like to read the end of chapter 8 as though it ended a chain of though and read the beginning of chapter 9 as though it were unrelated to chapter 8. There’s a reason why Paul wrote the end of chapter 8 and he uses it to reinforce the disclosure of his desire to see the Jews come to faith to the point where he would accept condemnation.

Knowing that he could do nothing to separate himself from Christ, his heart is with the glory of God in the fulfillment of his promise to the Jews as his chosen people. If we look at chapter 8, merely sigh with relief, and thereafter fail to seek God’s glory, then we could perhaps have false assurance that we are even part of the promise of chapter 8. And that’s where I pick back up with do-good-ism and feel-good-ism.

Both do-good-ism and feel-good-ism focus on the life of the believer. When God threatened to kill the Israelites for their disobedience and later let the Israelites make the trip to Canaan on their own, Moses appealed to God. In both instances, Moses’ appeal to God had nothing to do with whether He or the Israelites deserved God’s favor, but rather that God had made a promise to Israel. Moses argued that if God was seen to condemn the Israelites even for their disobedience then it would be seen by all the surrounding nations as a betrayal of his promise to the Israelites. God’s glory would be marred.

God is not concerned for our happiness. He is concerned with our obedience. We should likewise be more concerned for God’s glory than we are our own salvation.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Glory of God in the Wrath of God

Consider this: Is it true that every good thing glorifies God? Could there be a good thing that does not glorify God? "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

What do we say then to God's wrath poured out on the unrighteous? We may see that the unrighteous may prosper for a time or that the righteous may suffer, but God's wrath may poured out on people that they may turn to him and his judgment is certain for eternity.

Therefore, if any are righteous, though they suffer for a time, we will see God's grace and he will be glorified. And if any are unrighteous, though some prosper for a time we will see God's wrath and judgment and he will be glorified.

Nevertheless, it's for better for us to seek after righteousness that God may be glorified in his grace toward us than for him to be glorified in his wrath against us.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Do We Handle Suffering?

How Do We Handle Suffering?

What physical, emotional or spiritual maladies plague you? I've always considered that everyone has their issues. Such issues shape us at our deepest points and our responses cement our innermost desires. How we handle them indicates our level of spiritual maturity.

I suffer bouts of depression. Most of the time it is mere melancholy. On occasion it is profound enough to rob me of my appetite and my sleep. For most of my life I thought this was just normal, and indeed it is normal for me. It's a physical issue, but the mind tends to seek reason for it and as such depression can distort perceptions of reality. Only recently have I discovered that there is no particular mental or spiritual problem unless I make it one.

I have had other issues in life. There were a couple of times where as a child I was abused: When I was a mere two years old I was neglected and abused by the babysitter that kept me and my baby brother. She favored my brother and ignored my toddling needs. I distinctly remember being left to play in the back yard alone and intentionally stuck with diaper pins because of my soiled diapers. My mom, in her journal, wrote that this lady completely undid my potty training and I wet the bed as a nervous subconscious condition throughout my childhood as a result. I was also sexually abused when I was a little older. This is the first time I've ever made this public and I'll offer no detail there.

Finally, I've mentioned in posts before that between my dad's medical school and subsequent school loans, a move from the Midwest to the Southeast, my mom's fatal and costly bout with cancer and the legal loss of our house in Ohio left my family rather short on finances for a few years. I remember eating onions for supper because that was all we had until payday. I remember going to school with pants that were too small and had holes on the patches. I was ridiculed at school for it. I remember eating squirrel stew because a squirrel had been given to my family and we weren't about to waste any kind of food. I remember mom being amazed at the flour canister miraculously refilling when there was no money for flour.

There are other issues including some minor theological and racial prejudices against me throughout my life, but it's hardly worth mentioning except that some of you may have gone through these things. To be sure, I don't consider that my life as a child was at all too difficult. My family was generally loving compared to many families that I see. We always enjoyed the moral support and fellowship of a church family.

Today, however, I still suffer depression - and I still have trouble building close friendships. In fact, I intentionally waited until a good depression came on to write this article so I could write it with the passion for these struggles that they require. I took this Facebook quiz the other day:


You're somewhat of a loner. You prefer to challenge others on your terms. When the confrontation doesn’t work the way you want you may get depressed. The good news is that you have inner strength that few people possess.

I'd say this pretty well nailed me. I can identify with this description of Elijah.

But perhaps you identify with one of my issues. Perhaps you have similar issues, or completely different issues. What do we do with these issues?

From a practical standpoint, should we not turn to friends who can comfort us? job did this and his friends frustrated him with bad advice and poor accusations. Perhaps you have good friends. Wonderful! I'm blessed with my wife who lays my head on her and strokes my head. At least she's not like Job's wife who admonished him to "curse God and die." However, I spend most of my day virtually alone. Except when my wife comes to town I have no one to spend lunch with. I don't have a friendship where I'm comfortable picking up a phone and calling for compassionate company. Who do I know who would answer who would not wonder why I called THEM and who would ask, "Has he no other friend?"

But we know this, that God must be glorified in everything and he will be glorified in everything. Have you done this? I haven't always done this and occasionally cry out, "Oh God... Why!?!?!?" Recognizing that the clay cannot ask of the Potter, "Why have you made me thus," I am humbled and moved afterward to count my suffering as blessing.

And depression is a matter of physical suffering. My heart pounds. The acid in my stomach rises up. I lose appetite and sleep. I'm suspicious of others. I obsess over insignificant things such as a lack of close friends and near-imaginary wrongs done to me. I rise up in the morning tired for lack of sleep. My thoughts are difficult to gather. There is pain in my chest and stomach. My joints ache. My head hurts. My body cries out for death. This is depression.

I deprive my body of food. (How do you think I lost 40 pounds a couple of years ago? I was heart sick and constantly depressed for several months then.) Yet I also deprive my body of death, for I will not consent to it. I discipline my body through vigorous exercise. I struggle to bring it under subjection to what I know to be true. I weep.

Jesus wept. He brought his body under subjection even though blood came from his pores. He calmed the storm only when the disciples lost faith. Otherwise he was content in the storm. He suffered on the cross so that he cried out to the Father asking why he had forsaken him. My Lord suffered far worse than I, and for my benefit! How small are my sufferings by comparison? How much am I like Christ when I suffer in faith?

Like Elijah God is faithful to sustain me even in threat of death for I am his. For lack of friends, he sends the proverbial ravens to feed me though they would just as soon eat the flesh off my bones. Yet I can see God's provision. He is faithful not only to sustain me but to glorify himself through my suffering for that is a far greater thing.

Do you look for God's glory in your suffering? Abraham left his country and his people and lived in a tent in his old age. He was led to kings who would kill him for his wife and claimed that she was only his sister. And God blessed him by moving these kings to bless him for fear of his God. He paid a tithe to Melchizedech and his wealth grew far beyond that tithe. Even that was a small token of the promise of faith for he suffered into old age without a son to carry the promise and sinned with Hagar. Yet after Isaac came by no small miracle for Sarah was beyond the years of childbearing, Abraham went in faith to sacrifice his own son according to the instruction of God. And he suffered to the point of cutting the wood himself for a burnt offering as he agonized over God's command. Yet God did this to bring about the promise of the Christ, the followers of which constitute a legacy of faith attributed to Abraham by Christ himself that all who have his faith are his spiritual children.

Moses suffered exile to the wilderness for his sin of murdering an Egyptian. Yet God blessed him with a law condemning murderers to death. And still God himself took Moses' body when he was full of years. Now we see him in the scriptures standing on the mount of transfiguration with Elijah and Jesus a sinless, glorified man.

Therefore, our suffering is temporary and through faith our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. Moses is no more a murderer and Elijah is no longer friendless. Therefore, give glory to God who gives all things.

So we should count our suffering as blessing. Regarding suffering, one man's curse is another man's blessing, and for those of us who know Christ, we are blessed in our suffering. Just as Elijah had that inner strength, so God strengthens his children, yet not against suffering but because of suffering.

Do we hide our suffering? I usually do. Others ask how I am and I reply, "I am alright today." I lie. I'm not alright and I fear the shame of it. Yet I suspect that others don't really want to deal with me otherwise. It disturbs them. I suspect they will be like Job's friends and condemn my depression as sin. Perhaps it is. I am a sinner after all and I submit myself to God's judgment in the name of Christ. Though I cry out in my turmoil to God, I also submit my turmoil to him that he be glorified. And how might he be glorified unless I don't find occasion to share my resolve with others who suffer their issues that they may be encouraged? Yet I must be careful lest I wallow publicly and offer my identity as one who perpetually wears the proverbial sackcloth and ashes so as to be recognized by my false humility. So we suffer and look for the glory of God that He may receive glory and not us.

God is faithful in all things; He is faithful to subject me to suffering. He will be glorified in all ways. I will submit my suffering to him that he will be glorified in it.

I think I'm starting to feel a little better. Praise God!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Can God Be Glorified Through Limited Human Will?

Unless someone has printed this out, you are reading this online. There's a title in bold at the top of the page. Above that, there are various other links, titles and information. Look to the side and you might see a photo of me with a link to learn more about who I am. There may be a whole list of links to other places on the internet over there too. Look at the bottom and you might see some other stuff. Other articles, comments, perhaps a hit counter. You may see some commercials my hosts have decided to attach to my page to offset the cost of giving me license to post articles such as this one at no cost to me. You may see a nice background and some colorful adornment to the page.

All this is nice and there's a certain reality to it, but it's a bit of an illusion. Obviously, the light that forms the image of this "page" is generated by the monitor, and the information used to tell the monitor how to do this is a bit of electronic code. But what the computer has downloaded is not what is displayed necessarily. Most people are using a browser to view this page that is capable of showing you the source text that describes how this page is to be displayed on your monitor. This source text as well as all the referenced images is what was actually downloaded. In the browser I currently use, FireFox, I can click on the "View" menu and click on "Page Source" down at the bottom. If you look at this source, this looks nothing like what is actually showing on your browser. Yet this is required for your browser to display what you do see. It is descriptive of what is shown.

If you change something in the source text, it may affect what you see in your browser. You can't change what is displayed in your browser unless the source text describes that capacity to change what is displayed. Nothing in the source text is affected by what is displayed in the browser, but everything displayed in the browser is affected by the source text.

This is metaphorical. God is the writer of the source text which he has written with the finished display in mind. The source text is the spiritual world. What is displayed in the browser is the physical world. This physical world as we experience it has a sense of reality, but is largely an illusion. It is representative of the spiritual world, which is a greater reality. Truth comes from God through the spiritual world to the physical world.

God has created us as characters in his creation. He has given us free will described in the spiritual world and manifested in the physical world. His own will is not so described in the spiritual world, for he is greater than the spiritual world having created the spiritual world though he himself is spirit. We have been told that he has created the heavens and the earth. He is eternal and there are even temporal aspects to the spiritual world. I said all this to set up this passage:

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:1-29, ESV)

I have heard arguments from non-Calvinists that seem to me would be easily answered by this passage.

"But God wants us to love him and we can't do that if we're just automatons, right? It's more meaningful if we choose him."
"We can't be held guilty of breaking the law when we don't have free will, so God would be unjust sending anyone to hell."

Such arguments presuppose false ideas of such concepts as will, love and justice.

Human will is prescribed by God. He created the behavior of the will according to physical forces such as hormones and other biological proclivities; temporal knowledge including education, social pressures and familial normalities; and spiritual revelation including creativity and our deepest intentions (the balance between whether one really wants to know the truth of a matter or distort the truth in the interest of self-justification). God made the rules governing human will and all the information fed into the human will. There is nothing new under the sun. We have no original thoughts. Within the constraints of God's created order human will is free to act, and God's created order is huge. But our will does not trump God's created order.

Love is ultimately God's eternal cohesion. God is amazingly detailed to the extent where in that we discern him by analysis, the particulars of his character are always in complete agreement. We can point to theological tension, but any consideration that theological tension is contradictory is an illusion brought on by the sin of this world. Rather, theological tension serves to validate the revelation of God and give those so inclined points of focus for greater understanding of God's character. God's love manifests itself throughout his created order in such elements as mutual submission, sacrifice, reconciliation and justice.

Justice is the proper response to God's law. God's law is his boundaries. It serves as a general revelation of God to the world. If you are within God's boundaries, you have life. If you are outside of God's boundaries, you are dead. That's justice. Life and death have physical and spiritual manifestations. Following or breaking the law physically is a behavioral matter. But the law is spiritual where our deepest intentions have their place. In that regard, we cannot have good intentions without the Spirit of God moving in the heart of our will. Although our lesser intentions may be inclined toward some natural moral law, we may not yet ultimately be inclined toward God. And, as he did with Pharaoh by hardening his heart, these lesser inclinations can be affected by God. Yet we shall not say that God causes us to sin though he gives any of us over to our sin. Rather, we are dead in sin outside of God or dead to our sin in God. This is evident in our behavior whether as believers we show true contrition with regard to our sin and attribute any righteousness to God or as unfaithful to deny both our sin and the righteousness of God.

So then, the unfaithful glorify God by incurring his wrath in judgment and the faithful glorify God by receiving his grace as Christ bore the wrath of God for us. In all ways God is glorified, but for the faithful the glory of god is preeminent even beyond salvation. And by glorifying God we grow in faith as Abraham did: "No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God." (Romans 4:20, ESV)

Therefore we participate in love with God through the submission of our will to him being so inclined by the Holy Spirit and thereby know his grace afforded by the blood of Christ.

And God is glorified.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For those Who Pass

I don't know why it occurred to me to make this statement today, but perhaps someone needs this comfort:

For those passing into rest in Christ:
Let not your passing be troubled by those you leave behind. We are in God's hands.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Please Check Your Facts

I get e-mails like this from time to time. I check them sometimes, but I usually don't because I know that they're bogus. The e-mail reads:


It does not matter if you personally like or dislike Obama. You need to sign this petition and flood his e-mail box with e-mails that tell him that, even if the House passes this bill, he needs to veto it. It is already impossible to live on Social Security alone. If the government gives benefits to 'illegal' aliens who have never contributed, where does that leave those of us who have paid into Social Security all our work ing lives?

As stated below, the Senate voted this week to allow 'illegal' aliens access to Social Security benefits.
Attached is an opportunity to sign a petition that requires citizenship for eligibility to that social service.

Instructions are below. If you don't forward the petition and just stop it, we will lose all these names.

If you do not want to sign it, please just forward it to everyone you know.

Thank you!

To add your name, click on 'forward'. Address it to all of your email correspondents, add your name to the list and send it on.

When the petition hits 1,000, send it to

PETITION for President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:
We, the undersigned, protest the bill that the Senate voted on recently which would allow illegal aliens to access our Social Security. We demand that you and all Congressional representatives require citizenship as a pre-requisite for social services in the United States.

We further demand that there not be any amnesty given to illegal aliens, NO free services, no funding, no payments to and for illegal immigrants

[Then a huge list of dupes who didn't check their facts ensues followed by:]

If you don't forward the petition and just stop it, we will lose all these names. If you do not want to sign it, please just forward it to everyone you know. Thank you! Just think every time that the list hits 1,000 in all the forwarded e-mails, this petition will be sent not just by a thousand petitioners, but rather THOUSANDS of petitioners!

To add your name, click on 'forward'. Address it to all of your email correspondents, add your name and send it on.

1000th signer... please e-mail to:

I checked this at It's usually a good place to start with the understanding that such emails go through changes in wording and various other iterations. Following are some excerpts from the snopes article detailing this particular email and offering some common sense regarding this kind of email petition. I matched up highlights from the excerpts below to statements in the email above in like colors.

This item is a textbook example of the worst aspects of Internet petitions: It treats a non-existent issue, and suggests dealing with it in a largely ineffective manner.

As with all petitions sent via e-mail, the process of circulating them poses a number of problems. Forwarding a petition through e-mail duplicates the names of hundreds and thousands of earlier signatories as each recipient adds his name and then fans out his copy to multiple acquaintances. Moreover, there is no verification or validation process to ensure that completed copies were actually "signed" by the persons listed (rather than having their names added by someone else). As well, any "break" in one branch of the chain caused by recipients' not forwarding the petition along to others means that all the collected signatures unique to that branch will be permanently lost.

The designated target for the receipt of completed petitions - in this case the general comments e-mail address for the White House - is not a good choice. Petitions seeking legislative changes are best addressed to the legislative branch of government (i.e., the members of Congress who represent the petitioners).

The petition's goals are neither clear nor well-articulated.

Regarding not being clear or well-articulated, the article points out that The Departments of Social Security and Social Services are very different bureaucratic entities. I would add that the amnesty issue goes to yet a third area of government: The Department of Immigration. Bills for each of these areas would require different petitions.

The article also states that the issue goes back to an earlier email chain letter with a message based on a false premise. The snopes article for that one details the actual legislative activities behind the false claim that the senate voted to give social security benefits to illegal aliens back in 2006:

In a nutshell, the amendment...wasn't about "giving illegal aliens Social Security benefits"; it was about whether formerly illegal aliens (who had since become legal) should be credited for monies they themselves had paid into the Social Security fund while they were in the U.S. illegally. The senators...did not vote in favor of this proposition; they voted to withdraw the amendment from consideration.

So, please don't be duped by jokers who get their jollies off how many people they can get to propagate their lies by forwarding such emails. Email can be used to draw attention to legitimate online petitions with proper identity verification tools as well as for contacting your representatives directly. However, petitions such as this one and many emails with outrageous claims are entirely bogus. Check your facts before trusting forwards - even from people you otherwise trust. Those loved ones may be honest, but they are honestly duped.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Who Is: Star Parker

There are some people I agree with and then there are people I admire.

With all the national talk lately about Rush Limbaugh after his ascention to the head of the GOP in the minds of the administration, it's easy to miss out on other political conservatives who are holding the line. But Entertainer/commentators like Rush, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck don't do much outside of talk. So, while I like them and agree with them I reserve my admiration for the lesser-known people who are actively putting rubber on the road.

I just learned of one such person today. If you aren't already familiar with her, let me introduce you to Star Parker. Here's her bio:

The story of Star Parker is a stunning chronicle of how she left the seductive life of drugs, crime, abortions and welfare abuse through the power of the Gospel to become a leading advocate for the family. She is at the forefront of the Christian conservative movement to motivate and lead others away from the lies of the culture to a life full of grace and truth.

Star Parker is the founder and president of CURE, the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education, a 501c3 non-profit think tank that provides a national voice of reason on issues of race and poverty - in the media, inner city neighborhoods, and public policy.

In addition to heading CURE, and its network of inner city clergy nationwide, Star is a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service, offering weekly op-eds to more than 400 newspapers worldwide.

As a social policy consultant, Star Parker gives regular testimony before the United States Congress, and is a national expert on major television and radio shows across the country. Currently, Star is a regular commentator on C-Span, MSNBC, and FOX News. She has debated Jesse Jackson on BET; fought for school choice on Larry King Live; and defended welfare reform on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Star Parker’s personal transformation from welfare fraud to conservative crusader has been chronicled by ABC’s 20/20; Rush Limbaugh; Readers Digest; Dr. James Dobson; The 700 Club; Dr. George Grant; the Washington Times; Christianity Today; Charisma, and World Magazine. Articles and quotes by Star have appeared in major publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and The New York Times. Recently she co-hosted an episode of The View with Barbara Walters, and her testimony went around the world on the television show of the Reverend Billy Graham.

Star has written three books, “Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats” (1996), "Uncle Sam’s Plantation” (2003), and “White Ghetto” (2006), works in Washington, DC, resides in Southern California and has a beautiful two year old grandson, Mr. James.

You can read her column at or the CURE website. But keep in mind that she's much more than a mere columnist, pundit or commentator.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Asking For One Thing, Pursuing Another

I often ask myself what it is that people really want.

I first noticed a disparity between what people say they want and what they actually pursue years ago when I was a single young man chasing single young women. I would inquire of women what they were looking for in a man. Most often they would give some warm fuzzy answer about an ideal man being sensitive and tender among other similar qualities. The problem was that they would invariable chase the “bad” boys. I fit the bill for what they said they wanted, but they pursued men who were almost the exact opposite.

Either they didn’t know what they wanted or they were intentionally misrepresenting their true desires because they were ashamed of their true desires… or both. For myself, I went through a period of rebellion. Before this period in my life, some girls would consider me as a candidate for their affections. This never lasted because what they thought they wanted wasn’t what they really wanted. Usually they would break it off with me with the words, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Only after I went through my rebellious period did I become particularly attractive to women. I was a “bad boy” who was improving and still needed some work. I’m sure this was how I hooked my wife.

Most women like a do-it-yourself fixer-upper that they can train. No one – not even men – want someone who is perfect. Because down deep, we all know that we are not perfect. How can we stand to be partnered with someone who is?

We feel great value when we can make a difference in someone else’s life and that’s not possible when that person it too perfect to need someone else to make a difference in their life. It’s also endearing when someone else finds value in making a difference in your life.

The observation doesn’t stop there.

What do you suppose homosexual activists want? What purpose does it serve to codify explicit permission for homosexual relationships when people generally leave homosexuals alone these days?

What do you suppose today’s black civil rights activists want when laws today ensure equal (or better-than-equal) treatment in every civil venue?

Do either of these groups of people really only want to be left alone to be free to do whatever they want to do without harassment? They already have that and yet they aren’t satisfied.

What they want is not merely for public acceptance, but individual acceptance. They want it illegal to harbor anything against them for being homosexual or for being black. To be sure, no one who knows me would accuse me of being afraid of homosexuality or for being racist. But it’s unreasonable to force people to be so kind.

People accuse Christianity of trying to force morality on others when authentic Christianity is explicitly non-compulsory. On the other hand homosexual activists, today’s black civil rights activists, and even atheistic or secular activists seek to force not only their morality, but their beliefs on others as a matter of law.


Children act out in whatever ways promise to draw the attention they need. What I’ve learned is that although the body is grown and the intellect developed, people never lose the emotional needs they had when they were children. Unmet needs often result in a diminishment of self-worth reinforced by the fact that we are sinners and at least subconsciously realize the fact. This generates cognitive restlessness that causes the mind to develop logical conflicts to explain such internal discord.

Christianity can be non-compulsory because value is given to Christians by Christ that is not contingent on our behavior. Rather, we desire to obey God because we have been freed from the internal conflict of our own sin. But for non-Christians, there is no such imputation of value.

First, people should be free to believe what they want, like what they want, hate what they want and carry out their lives as they want. What they shouldn’t be able to do is infringe on others’ capacity for the same. Inasmuch as we are an integrated society, some of our self-harming behaviors and beliefs affect society negatively. In general, these align with basic Judeo-Christian principles of morality. So it’s easy to vilify Christians in America as trying to push our morality through legislation. But good spirituality cannot be legislated. There are people who hate other people irrationally and no one is immune to being hated. Three words of advice when dealing with such people: get over it.

Second, many of our internal conflicts are perpetuated in much ignorance. For example, there were factors surrounding the Civil War besides slavery that are rarely discussed or taught. Darkness_Weaves may correct me on this, but the North was no particular friend to slaves and the South was no particular enemy. Check out these quotes regarding slavery:

"I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable," and, “If I could unite the nation without freeing a slave I would.” -Abraham Lincoln

“So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.” –Robert E. Lee

That sounds backwards, but it’s not. So, it may be supposed that educating people will help them except that people cannot be forced to learn. But the effort is necessary. Here’s another example:

What do Christians really want with various preferred styles of music on Sunday morning?

Just a few days ago I was approached for the third time with someone from another church offering me a job as a music minister in a church that wants to change their music format on Sunday morning. My first question, as always, is, “Why?”

The answer I got this time is, “Contemporary music is the future.” That’s a vague answer.

Then the fellow continued, “There may be a little bit of a battle because the older folks want to stay with the older the music, but we need to get the younger folks in church and they want the newer music.”

Well, at least he was honest about what he wanted, but his approach is backward. My answer is that first there should be no battle. If the older folks know the younger folks yearn to worship in a style that is meaningful to them, then they should rejoice. But the younger folks should understand that the older folks yearn to worship in a style that’s meaningful to them.

But this begs the question that everyone would be spiritually mature enough to have these considerations. The fact is that worship starts in the Bible, not the hymnal. It is lead from the pulpit and followed in the music. It comes from the understanding that worship is not about the music or our preferences, it’s about our inclination toward God and this understanding comes by educating the congregation spiritually. You can’t make them understand, but you must give them this spiritual meat to chew on.

Otherwise, a church subjected to new music will founder in ignorance and spiritual immaturity. The difference is whether people want to have their preferences satiated or whether they want to glorify God in unity. What is their greatest desire? For, they may claim to desire to worship God, but their hearts may be on their own comfort instead.

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