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1.30.2008

We Apologise for Nothing

For being one of the ones that originally supported the "Shut Up and Sing" movement, I've really grown to like political songs. Since Matt posted one, I figured I may as well do one or two as well. Apologies that we seem to be dwelling incessantly on politics over the last couple of days; I wonder if we'll get over it before January 20th, 2009. I sure hope so.

Song: We Apologise for Nothing
Artist: Fightstar
Album: One Day, Son, This Will All Be Yours

Re-write these words upon my grave
And look down on everything we've loved
Loose lips sink ships and leaders
For this you need to lead us all.

For every change that you've put down on me
I've re-read this stone a hundred times.

Would you stand over these shadows and embrace our history?

We apologise for nothing
We apologise for nothing
Take the world away from us but
We apologise for nothing.

If I could gather strength a final time
And dream up a war to end all wars
Race lists and mist of vengeance
I don't fear your movements anymore.

Let's celebrate this change in turning tides
This revolution won't be televised.

Would you stand over these shadows and embrace our history?

We apologise for nothing
We apologise for nothing
Take the world away from us but
We apologise for nothing.

Cut me out of all of this
Cut me out of all of this you say
Just cut me out of all of this
Cut me out of all of this you say.

Would you stand over these shadows and embrace our history?

We apologise for nothing
Take the world away from us but
We apologise for nothing
We apologise for nothing.



This song is talking about a lot of different things at the same time, at least to me, which makes it cool. First, it's talking about the people who are so immovable that they will apologize for absolutely nothing. Their policies may destroy the world, but they won't change or apologize.

At the same time, it's saying, "We're sick of this! We're taking a stand, and we're not going to apologize for it, either!" We, as the people, need to have this attitude, which will in turn change the government's attitude--hopefully. We need to be fearless in our defense of our liberties.

I hesitate to explain the whole song lyric by lyric, because if you have to explain the song, it doesn't have the same potency. So, I'll let you think about the rest.

Conspiracy Theory

I apologize in advance to everyone who's sick of hearing about politics, but I feel these issues need to be discussed. So bear with me at least until the candidates are decided. I have a sinking feeling we're going to have a liberal socialist running for one party and a slightly less liberal moderate running for the other. ... I knew I was going to end up voting for George Washington in protest.

I want to delve into a little bit of "conspiracy" theory. I'm not saying I believe it, but it makes for an interesting discussion. Specifically, I'm wondering what happened to Giuliani's campaign. Six months ago, he was the front runner and was expected to do well in a general election. Come to think of it, so was Clinton. Giuliani is now expected to drop out of the race and endorse McCain (by the time most of you read this, I expect it will have already happened). Now, I'm thinking to myself, "McCain? How could Giuliani go for McCain? They're such different candidates!" or are they?

I listened to Giuliani's concession speech last night and I have to say, I liked what I heard. I hear somebody who seemed to understand and emphasize the three things we need in a president. In McCain we have somebody who doesn't really get the economy and doesn't understand the importance of national sovereignty in the case of illegal immigration. Giuliani understands tax cuts; McCain doesn't. Giuliani was tough on border security; not too long ago, McCain wanted to give illegals amnesty. So why in the world would Giuliani endorse McCain?

This is where the conspiracy theory kicks in. Suppose Giuliani didn't believe a word of what he said on the campaign trail and is far more liberal than he let on. Suppose he and McCain engineered this whole thing. Giuliani was to play the fiscal and foreign policy conservative while McCain loomed in the background. Giuliani drew votes from people like Thompson, Romney, and Huckabee allowing McCain to win in more independent states. Giuliani then "focused" on Florida and tried to set the stage for a McCain win there. Giuliani would then drop out and endorse McCain. With early wins in independent states along with all the delegates from Florida and endorsements from former candidates Giuliani and Brownback, McCain would go on to win the nomination.

I'm not saying I believe it, but you've got to wonder why candidates who have sharp "disagreements" on important policies would endorse one another. It makes me wonder if any of these candidates really believe what they're saying. Politics is a game and it is being played at the expense of America's future. They fiddle; Rome burns.

1.29.2008

Love at First Sight

I'd like to apologize for posting so many times in so few days, but I'm sure our few loyal readers don't mind...the following post, or at least the bit in quotation marks, is not my work. Rather, it is the work of a young lady who wishes to remain anonymous. Enjoy!

"A few months ago, I was asked by a professor to write about whether I believed in 'love at first sight.' I started to think about it--really think about it.

"Did I believe in love at first sight? I thought, 'Certainly not! People who believe such things don't know what love truly is.' And then I asked myself, 'Well now, what is love, truly?'

"So I did what I usually do when such questions arise: I went to the Bible. After poking around for quite some time, trying to get a picture of love, it occurred to me that I did believe in love at first sight! It was right there in Scripture!

"You see, the Bible tells us in Matthew 5:43 to love our enemies, and in 19:19 to love our neighbors--by the way, that's everyone.

"In Romans 13:8-10 and Galatians 5:13-14 the Bible tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law -- because he who loves others does not seek to defraud them. 1 John 4:7-8 says that if we do not love, then we do not know God, for God is love. And 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 explains to us what love truly is.

"Christ tells us that loving others is the second greatest commandment, inferior only to loving God.

"Guys, God wants us to live love. And that means loving everyone from the moment they enter our lives. At first sight."

1.28.2008

When Our Cause is Just

Josh has raised an interesting question with his post about the nature of war. This is my response. First off, we need to define two terms since we'll be arguing over them.

Evil - anything that violates or is outside of God's will. That which is considered "wrong," "immoral," or "bad."

Just/justice - that which is right in the eyes of God. In line with the law.

Many people have observed what they believe is a stark difference between God in the Old Testament and God in the New Testament. In the Old he seems to be much harsher, more judging, and warlike. It was during the Old Testament period when the law was given and the nation of Israel was established.

In contrast, the God we observe in the New Testament appears much kinder, more full of grace. Of course, Jesus, the Lamb of God is given as a sacrifice during the NT time period. And there isn't much mention of that nasty law. Indeed, Jesus seems to dismiss it somewhat.

So what's the deal? Did God get kinder or is this an illusion?

The answer should be simple if you know your Bible. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) No, God doesn't changed, but times and situations do. In the Old Testament, the time was right for laying down the law. In the New Testament, it was time for the Messiah.

Now, all of this background to say (and you may have already guessed where I am going), there is such a thing as "just war." How do we know this? God commanded the Israelites to go to war several different times. In one particular instance God commands especial "brutality" toward one particular people by commanding Israel to completely wipe them out. (1 Samuel 15:1-3)

So we know there is just war since it is impossible for God to be in violation of His own will. It is not possible for God to command something "evil" or "unjust." There were very specific reasons God did what He did and it isn't our place as human beings to question the morality of His decisions.

I believe the question to us is: are we fighting just wars? Are we fighting for our own gain or to put down an aggressor? War itself is not any more evil than conflict is. Fundamentally, war is a clash of ideas - a debate turned to blows, if you will.

I'm by no means denying the ugly carnage that war can leave behind. Obviously, war isn't desirable. From our human point of view, there is nothing closer to Hell on earth.

The people who founded this country had great ideas of liberty and justice for all. They believed in them so much that they were willing to kill and be killed. The important thing to remember is that, when war comes (and it will always come) we are fighting for the right side. Like that oft-forgotten final verse of our National Anthem says:
"Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just
And this be our motto: "in God is our trust."

Template Musings

I know Matt is gonna hate me for this, because he just updated the look of the site, but I was messing around today, and I kind of stumbled my way into a nice simple look that we might use in the future. It's too simple for an extended use, but it'd be cool for a couple days, maybe. Matt's the programming genius, not me, so I don't know how feasible this is.Note: yes, the sample post in that pic is something I've been thinking about.

1.27.2008

What Would You Do?

I've been putting off posting on this topic for a while, mainly because I've been weighing how to come off sounding intelligent about the subject, not just irrationally emotional. But, there's always a time and place for emotions. Cold, clinical rationalism is too metallic; emotion is all that we as humans have to distinguish us from robots. But I digress.

Imagine this, for a moment:

You are a sniper, perched on a dusty alabaster roof in downtown Fallujah. The sand is blowing in your face, scouring your cheeks. You have orders to shoot anyone who leaves the house about 500 yards in front of you. You brush the sweat off your brow, and wait, silently hoping no one exits. You don't know why your orders are what they are, you just know that you must obey them. Suddenly, a woman exits the home, her black covering blowing in the breeze. You briefly wonder if she is as warm as you are in this bleeding Iraqi sun. Then, you remember. You have to kill this woman. You look through the sight, and before you pull the trigger, thoughts race through your head--Is she married, does she have a husband? Children? What is she doing here? Could she just be getting water, something harmless? Why do you have to shoot her anyway? Could you possibly just incapacitate her? What will her mother and father think when they hear she is dead?--what will you do?

Editors note: This is hypothetical, I don't know why a soldier would be in that position...but maybe imagine a child running towards you on the street. He could have explosives on him, but he could just really want to say hi. Begin to see the problem?

Frankly, in the situation above, you're screwed if you shoot, and screwed if you don't. If you do, you get to see the woman die over and over in your nightmares. If you don't, you might cause the deaths of others down the line, and you'll get reprimanded or demoted or something.

To have to look into the person's eyes, and pull a trigger? I think I know why we invented smart bombs.

I have come to believe there is no such thing as a 'Just War.' Necessary, yes. Just? Never. You tell the mothers who lost the offspring of their womb, tell the father who lost the pride of their old age, tell the brothers and sisters who lost their best friend, tell the sons and daughters who will never truly know their parent. Tell them. Tell them war is just. Their bitter laugh will tell you the truth: while war is a necessary evil, it is always evil. Sometimes we focus too much on the 'necessary' bit.

Edit: This isn't supposed to refer to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the War on Terror...just war in general. My opinion on specific conflicts is the content for another post. Let me add, I support the troops whole-heartedly. I take issue with the policy makers, but soldiers--never.

Edit II: Critique without censor.

1.26.2008

A Savior on Capitol Hill

Song: A Savior on Capitol Hill
Artist: Derek Webb
Album: The Ringing Bell (2007)
I’m so tired of these mortal men
With their hands on their wallets and their hearts full of sin
Scared of their enemies, scared of their friends
And always running for re-election
So come to DC if it be thy will
Because we’ve never had a savior on Capitol Hill

You can always trust the devil or a politician
To be the devil or a politician
But beyond that friends you’d best beware
‘cause at the Pentagon bar they’re an inseparable pair
And as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
We’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill

All of our problems gonna disappear
When we can whisper right in that President’s ear
He could walk right across the reflection pool
In his combat boots and ten thousand dollar suit

You can render unto Caesar everything that’s his
You can trust in his power to come to your defense
It’s the way of the world, the way of the gun
It’s the trading of an evil for a lesser one
So don’t hold your breath or your vote until
You think you’ve finally found a savior up on Capitol Hill





This song really describes how I feel about politics right now. Our current politicians are serving their own interests rather than those of the people. They serve special interests, fight amongst each other, and lust for more power.

But it's our fault they're there.

We the people are responsible for putting them in office and keeping them in office. It's time we made our voice heard. We may disagree on policy, but I think we're united on this point: we don't want any more politicians. We want statesmen: public servants, not public masters.

If we don't make our voice heard in this upcoming election; if we don't wake up, I don't think we will until it's too late.

And yet, we cannot look for a Savior on Capitol Hill, nor in the White House. We must not hang our hopes on change though Washington. But more on that later...

I promise I'll find something non-political to post in the meantime.

1.25.2008

Work//I Am Legend

Remember when I said I Am Legend had real potential? Well, this music video mash-up really brings out the best of the movie - what it could have been if it hadn't just been a glorified zombie movie. I used the Jars of Clay song "Work." Josh and I agreed it went perfectly with the movie.

Spoiler warning! This video gives away the ending so... if you still haven't seen the movie and you want to: don't watch. Also, if you think zombie-esque creatures will give you the jibblies, don't watch.

Thanks to Josh for posting it online. Your account will get banned, not mine.

1.23.2008

Say What You Mean & Mean What You Say

I was going to post this months ago when I took the picture, but I'd forgotten until now. Remember kids, syntax is very important.

What I Want in a President

Ugh. It's going to be a long year. That's all I can say right now. I've been watching the primaries and it's not a pretty sight. I feel like it's my responsibility as someone who would love for this country to not completely fall apart in the near future [awkward phrasing intentional].

Unlike a lot of people, I'm not looking for the perfect candidate. It should be obvious by now that we're not going to find one. So stop looking for Ronald Reagan II, people!

Therefore, I have narrowed down the issues on which I will not budge.



1. The Economy

We need a president that understands capitalism and limited government. Bush's number two failure (number one is discussed later) has been his inability to reign in spending. To his credit, he seems to understand that tax cuts make the economy healthier and in the long run increase tax revenue, but if you keep spending like there's no tomorrow, you'll still bankrupt the country.
Also, our president needs to understand the economic force that built this country: capitalism, the free market. What the republic does for government, capitalism does for the economy. Businesses (and individuals) are allowed to innovate and experiment as they like. They put forth products. People "vote" for or against them with their money. The government plays a minimal role regulating where necessary, but otherwise staying out of it. American companies are losing the competitive edge partly because of government interference. Also, we’ve lost nearly all manufacturing in this country. That’s a real problem.

In short: we have to get out of debt and quit obstructing the free market.

I think Romney & Giuliani would probably be the best candidates on the economy. Romney was a successful businessman and Giuliani cut taxes in New York. Huckabee supports the fair/flat tax which makes way too much sense to actually be passed. Worst on the economy would, unsurprisingly, be the *ahem* donkeys who all support more socialist entitlement programs and take a decidedly anti-business tone.



2. National Security


We need a president who understands the real threats facing us in the world today and can deal with them rationally, reasonably, and boldly. Clinton did an awful job at this which, I believe, is part of the reason 9/11 was allowed to happen. Bush has done better, although I'm not sure Iraq was a good move (I'm not sure if it was necessarily bad either). At least he tries to be tough.

I see Russia and China as being real threats in the near future, far more dangerous than a few Muslims who are willing to blow themselves up. We need to deal with these threats like Churchill dealt with the Axis and Reagan dealt with the Soviets. We need somebody who’s going to call it as it is despite international pressure. The UN be… you know’d.

I’m not sure who’d be best on national security. Because of 9/11, Giuliani tries to cast himself as a tough guy which is not an easy task for somebody with a lisp. Romney tries to sound tough as well, but doesn’t have as good a story. Huckabee has proven he knows little about foreign affairs, but can still make up one-liners on the subject. I guess I’m obligated to mention Ron Paul or Josh will get mad at me. This is the area where I most disagree with Ron Paul. When it comes to foreign policy, he’s a hippy with a “blame America” attitude. I’m not even going to bother talking about the democrats.


3. Illegal Immigration/the Rule of Law

This is Bush’s number one failure. Though he’s tried to be tough on terrorism, it seems he’s completely forgotten the ongoing invasion of our homeland. It’s my personal belief that George W. is a globalist like his father before him. He ignored illegal immigration until the issue was brought kicking and screaming into the forefront of public debate. Funny how seemed to have no problem with it until that point… funny how he was so chummy with Vicente Fox… funny how he has no apparent problem with the NAFTA superhighway project…

Conspiracy theories aside, we need a president who’s going to solve the immigration problem. We need someone with a real plan that’s both practical and principled (a plan more than saying the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” every time the subject is brought up. Sorry, Hillary.) We need someone who will do the right thing and deport the criminals (that’s right—they’re criminals), not give them amnesty! (Well, there goes McCain.)

Above all, we need someone who understands the rule of law and the reasons why laws must be enforced. (Uh, this is probably where Huckabee gets off.)


You may notice I left off the list many "social conservative" issues such as abortion, gay rights, and the like. Why? The sort answer is that I think the above issues trump these in importance simply because we need a stable nation before we can begin to seriously debate those moral issues. Don't get me wrong. They're important, but there are more urgent issues at hand. The long answer is another post for another time.

Alright. I’ve laid down the line, candidates! If you fail to measure up to any one of these standards, I cannot support you. Here I stand. I can do no other.

1.16.2008

AKA, That One Guy

I know this is not very politically correct of me, but I read this on Wikipedia and just had to laugh:

"On January 28, 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a default judgement and order against Jordan Maxwell charging that he, along with Vic Varjabedian, aka Victor Varjabedian, aka Varouj Varjabedian, violated the FTC act..." (emphasis mine)

I mean, how many weird nicknames does one man need? And not only that, but those names aren't even very different from each other...

1.03.2008

A Thinking Man's Thoughts on Thinking

It is a little known fact that the most misunderstood concept in the world, sneaking in right above love, is thinking. For example, you probably thought that picture was funny. It wasn't. Cats are incapable of rational, coherent thought.

If you stop to think about it long enough, it will make
sense. The problem is that entirely too few people ever think about this, and the vast majority of people live out their whole meaningless existence without thinking at all.

So much of our bodies' functions are carried out autonomously, separate of any conscious decisions made by us. We aren't quite as important to our own bodies as we would like to think. Well, those that think, anyways. Take heat for example. It is an instantaneous reaction to yank a hand away after resting casually on a cabinet, only to find out that the perceived cabinet is, in fact, a stove. A stove that just so happens to be on, mainly because the concept of luck and most of humanity don't mix very well together. A stove that is on that also happens to be very hot, having been on for a great while.


A
nyway, the point of that bit was to show that our bodies can function quite well without us thinking, sometimes even functioning better than if we stopped to think about things. Some people should not even be allowed to think, because the simple fact remains: that most thinking people are very dangerous. Math, for example, was invented by people that think. Such is the monstrosity created by those great minds of humanity that are discontent with lying unused in that dusty cellar we call the skull.

The Atomic Bomb was invented by people that thought. Right after they invented it, they thought too, though their thoughts were quite different at the two different stages. It went from, "I think I shall make the world a better place," to, "I think I have just wet my pants." It was a quite sad change, one that took place a few seconds too late to stop horrid destruction.

However, a problem arises when very few people think. The people who think start to get bored with solving the problems of the world and the universe and start to move onto more intriguing concepts, such as, "I wonder if I could control all of these non-thinking people around me? Maybe I could make them do some funny stuff to keep me entertained."

To which the remainder of the thinking people reply, "What a good idea, a novel concept! We rather like it!" And then they set about setting about various schemes, the end goal of which is to either rule the world or to make the rest of men look stupid and idiotic. It's all very well and good if you can think, but if you can't, you feel rather silly about it all. Like the people who thought they were going to make the world a better place by making a really huge bomb.

Those men who think usually are rather successful in their sundry schemes, unfortunately for the majority of the human race. For those non-thinkers out there, here's three easy steps to avoid thinking people:

  1. They often seem to be self-absorbed. Like there is something very interesting happening, when in fact, there isn't. They might look as if they have just seen an invisible pink unicorn, when in fact, an invisible pink unicorn never ran by.
  2. They often engage in confusing, heady conversation over a hot cup of tea. They may ask about the weather, but be on your guard. This is often a relaxing tactic used to deceive you into thinking that they are not thinking about the inevitability principle of blanched artichokes. Don't panic if you don't know what that is. That's fine. Oh, and if they talk about confusing things over cups of cold tea, don't worry: they're probably just insane.
  3. When you see one of those two signs, run. If you cannot think, you are invariably a jock, whether or not you look it. Thinking people are usually short and nerdy characters that couldn't run faster than a feather pen. If you fail to run fast, swallow a cyanide pill, quickly. Anything is better than thinking. If you don't carry rat poison on your person, you're probably doomed. Ever heard of Room 101?

Hope and Love

I’ve gotten theological nuggets from some pretty odd places before. I just saw I Am Legend, for example, and it spoke to me on a theological, as well as an emotional and intellectual level. Plus the movie was just good, but that’s not the point of this post.

The point of the above paragraph was to set up this one. I get theological nuggets from some strange, seemingly non-theological places. So, it should come as no surprise that I got one from a song by Angels & Airwaves, a band that was formed by a former member of blink-182. The song is called “Secret Crowds,” and it says this:

Let your words spread hope like fire,
Secret crowds rise up and gather,
Hear your voices sing back louder...


Earlier in the song, the singer beseeches us to “Spread love like violence.” I want to take these two quotes one at a time.

Christianity started out as a religion of hope. There was a hope of a new life, of a new world, of a heaven. If you think about it, Paradise isn’t really mentioned in other religions. The Greek and Roman afterlives were both pretty gloomy. Judaism had the hope of a messiah, but the afterlife was still referred to as Hades. Hinduism’s state of nirvana is to be dropped back into the essence of all, to lose your individuality in the sea of being. That sounds peaceful at best, but disconcerting. Christianity’s message was one of hope: yes, God still loves us; not all is lost; there is hope for the world.

Today, Christianity seems to have lost this attitude and replaced it with a colder, harder one. Christianity is characterized by many non-Christians to have a sort of repent-or-die attitude. Not an attitude of “May God have mercy on your soul,” but “May God deal with you ever so severely.” We have become, in the eyes of the world, for better or for worse (and it is most certainly worse), the Pharisee praying in the temple, thanking God that we are in so much better a position than that poor money lender over there. Why, he hasn’t a chance! Thank the Lord we’re saved!

Leave the condemnation to God; God is the only one who can condemn justly anyways. Our purpose is to love people, and give them hope, and by doing this, give God glory. Today, there are three types of Christians that are available in large numbers for the world to see: the Joel Osteen type, the typical apathetic humanistsic Christian, and the Jerry Falwell type.

Adressing these individually:

Joel Osteen Christians: These are the so-called Christians-in-name-only. The watered down version of Christianity. Jesus was not mainstream, but that is exactly what Osteen and others wish to make him. Osteen claims that you can have a better life now, similar to many other proclaimers of the “prosperity gospel.” The problem with this is the immense amount of persecution that Christians, most of whome better than us, have suffered through. Were they not blessed because they did something wrong, or they failed to follow God whole-heartedly? I don’t think so; the reason is simply that God acts in ways that we do not understand. To us, “blessing” means something along the lines of monetary gain or increased popularity. These are all shallow things, God looks past that. Perhaps, in some strange way, death by persecution is a blessing, but our humanity prevents us from looking at it that way.

Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson Christians: These are the fire-brands. There is a place for shouting, but when these types of Christians shout, people are offended, not helped spiritually. If people saw Christians as they really are (or, rather, as they really should be), there would be a lot less vitriole directed towards Christians. The amount of so-called “persecution” that we as Christian suffer is directly tied to the amount of persecution we inflict on others. Listening to some people, you would think that Jesus said things like, “Gays are less than human! Mexicans are bad! When someone slaps you, slap back! There is no forgiveness!” But, he didn’t. In fact, he said the opposite. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Turn the other cheek.

And then, there’s the majority of Christians. They sit in the middle of humanistic Christianty (Osteen) and caricatured Christianity (Falwell/Robertson), sigh, and don’t really care. They may bemoan their lot, in the most free country on Earth no less, but don’t do a whole lot other than that.

There need to be Christians who are on fire for God, without believing that means setting all the so-called “heathens” on fire themselves.

God will deal, ever so severely, with those who fall short. We need to preach in a way that people are drawn to God, not lulled into thinking that He is normal (Osteen) and not scared away by the vision of His wrath…

Maybe I’m just waxing hippie-ish today. I’ll get back to the other quote eventually.

T Minus 7

Iowa Caucus happens today, in around 7 hours. May we get the government we need, not the government we deserve.