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Defeating Ebola . . .

10 Oct

http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/10/09/4170417/we-are-dying-wheres-the-world.html?sp=/99/274/

Remembering that Africa is not monolithic but rather is a continent with over 50 countries that are very different from each other, the ebola epidemic has some interesting dimensions.

Picture the largest, most influential country on each end of the continent. Egypt in the north; South Africa in the south; Nigeria in the west; Kenya in the east. Each of these countries has several smaller nations in its orbit. What each of these nations does *not have (thank God!) is an ebola epidemic.

Nigeria had ebola break out, thanks to a dying man who arrived from Liberia, but it has been largely eradicated, only a couple of months later. Nigeria, which is not really a third world country anyway, handled its outbreak responsibly and got rid of it.

Why have these nations been so successful in staying free of ebola while the U.S. has not? Do the words “travel restrictions” mean anything to us?

You see, ebola is not a civil rights issue. It is not a case of the U.S. (and other countries) showing hatred for Africans by not letting them in freely during an epidemic. Their own fellow African nations are not letting them in freely. There is a good reason for that. You don’t show sympathy for people dying of a virus by letting them share it with you.

We need to send aid in all of its various forms to the three stricken nations but what we do *not need to do is let their citizens come to the U.S. to escape the epidemic, possibly bringing it with them. It is just not sensible to have unrestricted travel from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone right now.

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Bowdoin College and Free Speech!

11 Mar

Bowdoin College and Free Speech!

For those of us who loved the movie Gettysburg and will forever associate Bowdoin College with the brilliant, if somewhat academic, military tactician Joshua Chamberlain, this news is chilling.

The fourth most highly ranked liberal arts school in the U.S. believes that freedom of association no longer works in the U.S., at least for Christians.

The leadership of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship chapter on campus are being told they must sign a statement that people of alternate sexualities are eligible for leadership in their group. The belief is that, since Maine state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, there should be no other additional standards to those in Maine law for eligibility to lead in this Christian group.

What? As the article says, are they going to apply that to leadership of dance groups (you can’t discriminate against non-dancers) or foreign student groups (you can’t discriminate against people who have never traveled outside the U.S.)?

Scary ground toward which we head.

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The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

5 Feb

The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

Disclaimer: not all young Christians are hipsters and not all hipster Christians spend their time acting like they would like to hide the fundamentalist folks in Christianity in a broom closet, along with their hardworking old grandmother who makes them feel ashamed in front of their friends by her terminal lack of coolness.

But there are enough young hipsters like that in Christianity to be ironic.

Ironic because they denounce fundamentalists for hating them and trying to make them go away.

They denounce us while using these same tactics against us.

Enough already. Mom here! I don’t care who started it. Let’s just stop it. We are all part of the same Christian camp.

The above post doesn’t address many things theologically.

If you want to be a hipster Christian and defend marriage as being other than Christ defined it (one man, one woman, for life), then show me where the moral authority comes from to do that.

If you want to believe in theistic evolution, explain to me theologically how death came along before Adam and Eve fell.

If you want to reconcile a world that is millions of years old with a Saviour who was born of a virgin, explain to me how a God who wasn’t capable of creating an old universe in the Old Testament (with starlight already in progress, since stars that we can see are millions of light years from earth) suddenly became capable of creating a virgin birth in the New Testament.

There are lots of things that need to be addressed theologically by the above post. They were not even attempted. The writer merely did some terminally cool posturing. I throw a flag on his play.

And just sneering at fundamentalists does not count as a logical argument. In fact, that is called an ad hominem argument, for anyone who is truly looking to learn the fair rules of debate.

Just sayin’

The Damage that can be done by People without Knowledge of History

14 Jan

This is going to be dangerous territory.

There are some ideas that you cannot call out in the U.S. without people who hold them realizing they are being called out for holding those ideas.  

You can call it a “conversation” if you wish, but if you have talked with said individuals numerous times and have found it to be like hitting your head against a brick wall, then you doubtless are aware that this is not really a conversation.  

Sometimes you just have to say things plainly and . . .if people hold other views and feel their views are being attacked, well, that is actually true.

You see, not all ideas are equally valid, no matter what we say about free speech.  You have a right to say it.  But just saying words does not gain you validity, nor followers.  You have to know what you are saying and be able to back it up.

People who have not studied history have the same right to free speech as the rest of us.  But they also have the right to listen to others laugh at them when they say silly things, due to not knowing history.  

In the marketplace of ideas, laughter is a valuable thing.  We don’t need to suppress speech.  But we do have to research what we are saying if we hope to have our speech be respected.  

I have a friend in my age group who has been a valuable person to help me understand how some folks in younger generations look at the military in the U.S.  She has helped me with that because she holds many of the same views as our younger generation generally does.   

The military is regarded, nowadays, as an unaffordable luxury.  What are we protecting, after all?

As a student of history, I see that mindset as myopic.  Tragically so.  

But it may take another world war to turn that mindset around.  

My friend has often made statements about the military not having a right to an opinion about what she calls “other entitlement programs.”  Yes, she will say, “You have your entitlements like the commissary and Tricare, so you have to keep quiet about the entitlements of the rest of us.”  

Really?  So when you serve 27 years for it, as I did, it is still regarded as an “entitlement”?  

So when the government signs your paycheck because you work for the government, it is the same as when the government signs a welfare check?  Have we told the President and the Congress that their paychecks are “entitlements”?

I totally get it about not treating welfare recipients as pariahs.  But that does not mean they earn their checks in the same way the military does.  You don’t turn it around and elevate the self respect of welfare recipients by lumping them in with the military, for whom we have traditionally held the highest respect of all.  

In an era of limited resources, it would go far toward healing some of the U.S.’s divides if people would at least act appreciative of the military while asking them to take 50% of the budget cuts (note:  the military is not 50% of the budget, but we are regarded as having more discretionary dollars than Medicaid, Medicare, social security or welfare).  

I totally get it that most of our Senators and Congresspeople have no military service, for the first time in history.  So they can’t really appreciate us unless they are students of history.  Sometimes they try to give us lip service.  Sometimes they don’t bother.  

I totally understand that most people sleep through high school history classes and some even do that in college.  But . . . I entered the military with a very sparse knowledge of history and just started reading . . . It is amazing what history books, even good historical fiction, can do for you!  I always loved history.  Now I have a pretty broad background in it.  

There is no excuse for not understanding the Cold War or what the U.S. did to preserve freedom in World Wars I and II.  There is no reason for anyone to not tell a Viet Nam vet “thank you for your service” with full understanding of why that phrase matters to him.  

And, more recently, our next “greatest generation” that gave the strength of its youth in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be praised and encouraged, not lumped in with welfare recipients as “entitlement folks.”

It is important.  Very important.  

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Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

29 Nov

Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

Christena Cleveland, a young woman consulting on diversity in the church, Christ’s Body, packs a wallop with this interview with Thabiti Anyabwile, a Baptist pastor and blogger.

The First Gay Legislator to Vote Against Gay Marriage

13 Nov

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/November-2013/Exclusive-Why-Rep-Jo-Jordan-voted-against-Marriage-Equality/

Jo Jordan explains her no vote on gay marriage in Hawaii.

Interestingly, it was important to her that people listen to each other on this issue and one side consistently shut down dialogue with her. They had an attitude that they already knew they were right on every aspect of the legislation so she should just vote yes, with no questioning.

The same side that usually says fundamentalist Christians always believe they are right in every situation and won’t listen to anyone else . . .

Maybe they have learned from us, after all.

Nobody but God is always right!

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The Joy of Slander (Not!)

20 May

The Joy of Slander (Not!)

Have you ever noticed that when someone is intent on secretly slandering a person, they can always dig up someone from that person’s past who will call him a dirtbag?

I don’t care where someone has lived or what his job has been, if you want to shake the trees badly enough to find his enemies, you can always do it.

I have heard people say, “Oh, yeah, I know a chief who used to serve with him in the military and you should hear what that chief says about him . . .” or “I know someone who used to minister with him at his former ministry position and, wow, your head will explode if you hear what he has to say . . .”

Only, let’s be fair.

Does anyone who is active at all ever get through life without making a few enemies?

And, that said, why do people always dig into someone’s past looking for his enemies? Why not look for his friends?

Oh, yeah, ‘cuz then it wouldn’t be slander, would it?

Let’s admit it. The human race loves the juicy, negative stuff.

But let’s also admit that that part of us must die. It is the part Christ came to save us from!

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