(With apologies to Debra Galant)
OK, I'm not so much explaining the universe as explaining my take on certain things. And answering questions that have been asked of me. Perhaps I should have plagiarized someone else's blog name, like View from the Pew or What in Tarnation?...
First off, in response to Mom's question on blogging... Yes, this is interesting stuff - well, to me anyway. I used to spend a lot more time on this weblog than I have been lately - was much more bored at work and needed a diversion, so I would spend a couple of hours a day/evening composing my thoughts on various subjects. Whenever a rant would occur to me, I'd run with it... The idea for the weblog started because I was writing long letters to Cherry (my sis-in-law) on a regular basis and I realized that I ought to update my other friends just as regularly... and then I thought I had some things to say that complete strangers might find interesting as well... so the weblog was born. These days, depending on what I have on my mind, the blog takes maybe a couple of hours a week. The really long rambling posts with lots of links take me the most time - about an hour for one of those - while many others are just as quick as shooting off an e-mail to a friend. And... the laundry gets done on weekends, about every other week (or when I run out of clean undies).
Second, I got a very thoughtful e-mail from a gentleman named Stephen who ran across my blog and was in the mood for a good argument. Stephen tells me he is a Christian and is in favor of gay marriage, against abortion, against the death penalty, a pacifist, and hates George W. Bush, whom he thinks is an idiot. He feels that the death penalty, the war in Iraq, and tax cuts for the rich are "heavily anti-Christian" and challenges me to reconcile my Christian values with my conservative positions on such issues. This e-mail was apparently precipitated by reading this post of mine, which I must say was specifically targeted in response to an irritating talk show interview I had heard that morning on a "civil disobedience" protest being staged by supporters of gay marriage. If you ask me my opinions on gay marriage, I will tell you what I think. (Or just read them here and here.) I have been very clear in my beliefs and why I hold them. I think it's wrong. But honestly, when it comes to the whole legalization of gay marriage issue, I tend to agree with Marla:
Maybe we [Christians] should be fighting the tide, but something keeps me telling me it's only going to backfire--that political activism when it comes to consensual relationships between adults, no matter how far reaching their effects on society and future generations, is like putting the cart before the horse.
I sense that Stephen didn't really want to argue gay marriage with me anyway, but that he wanted to get his point across that we conservative Christians have some positions that he feels are contradictory. I'd like to take the opportunity to answer Stephen's questions in a public forum instead of via e-mail. Mostly because I haven't had much of interest to blog about and these topics are ones I have thought about often.
... Regarding the death penalty, the liberal Christians among us so seem to get hung up on this topic. They point to the fact that Christ fulfilled the law on our behalves and we no longer are under the Old Testament law (which proscribed the death penalty in many more situations than our law does), but under grace. Let me assure you, I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that we are living under the grace of God. We cannot possibly hope as human beings to live up to the law of God, and we would all deserve death if we were living under that law. Thank God that the death sentence has been commuted on our behalves. However, when it comes to the laws of society, it is not practical for a nation to live under grace. We have to have rules and punishments for breaking the rules. When it comes to people who are violent criminals and pose a danger to the rest of society, we can either lock them up for the rest of their lives, or end their lives. The laws of this country allow for the death penalty in certain circumstances. The Bible tells us that governments are given their authority by God, and in Romans 13:4 refers to governments' power to punish wrongdoers as "an agent of God's wrath". As a practical matter, I think burdening the rest of society with the tax supported costs of keeping a violent criminal locked up for 40 years or so is also not what God would have had in mind. He did, after all, institute the death penalty in the first place. He didn't institute lifetime prison terms.
... Regarding the war in Iraq - I don't happen to believe it was an unjustified war. Just because we haven't found Saddam's weapons of mass destruction doesn't mean he didn't have them. We know for a fact he did have WMD's during the first Gulf War, as he used them on his own subjects. He had plenty of time to ship his WMD's out of the country before coalition troops invaded, and I know I'm not the only one who briefly heard news reports that the UN finally admitted that they figure that's just what happened. And despite repeated resolutions from the UN and all that jazz, he never proved that he had gotten rid of those WMD's, nor did he cooperate with the international community. He was aggressive to his neighbors and committed atrocities within his own borders. He was an evil dictator who harbored terrorists and needed to be deposed. The people of Iraq have been liberated from tyrrany solely because the United States of America - and George W. Bush in particular - was willing to stand in the face of international skepticism and disapproval and do what he believed was right. Forget the usual liberal line about it being all about oil. Or all about revenge because Saddam put out a contract on his daddy. Or the whole "BUSH LIED" frenzy that people seem to get into, when if (and I do say if) the reasons we went to war were not correct (and I don't necessarily believe that they can be proven to be incorrect) then it was faulty intelligence and not bold-faced lies that caused it.
Let me just say to Stephen, your attitude toward the President of the United States does not appear to jibe with your professed beliefs. You call yourself a Christian. The Bible is very clear that all governmental authority is given by God and we are to honor that authority. President Bush also professes be a Christian and despite your disagreement with his politics, he has shown in his personal life that his relationship with God is real and honest and is something he takes very seriously. As a brother in Christ, I would think that you'd show more respect than that. Referring to him as a fascist and a war-mongering idiot does not strike me as consistent with the Bible's admonition to PRAY for our governmental authorities. I can tell you this - if John Kerry wins the election this fall, no matter what kind of idiot I may take him for, I commit myself to pray for him and for this country. And if someone comes by this blog and finds me viciously ranting and calling him names, you have my permission to call me on it. I believe it that strongly.
... Regarding tax cuts for the rich - I'm for tax cuts for everyone. Rich people included. If you happen to disagree with me, that's your perogative. But I think that it makes a whole lot of sense that when you cut taxes for rich people, they can do something with that money. Even if it's just putting it in the bank. When rich people get to keep their money, they can do a lot of things with it. They can donate it to worthwhile charities, which will help poor people directly. They can invest it in other companies, which gives them capital to be able to expand, which creates jobs, which helps poor people as well. They can blow it all on big houses and fancy cars and cruises and expensive meals and $2,000 a plate dinners - but you know what? All of those things puts money in the pockets of other businesses, which employ other people who aren't so rich. I think cutting taxes for the rich probably actually does more to stimulate the economy than tax cuts for the poor. Maybe I'm full of it - I never claimed to be an economist. I'm also not rich, and I don't think that the Bush tax cut plan is anti-Christian.
All that said, I will not deign to pass judgment on my Christian brothers and sisters who have carefully thought out their positions on various political issues and take a more moderate or liberal position. There are few political issues that are very clear-cut in the word of God. I happen to believe that abortion is one of them, but even on that issue there is room for discussion when it comes to extreme circumstances. My rant here is not for the purpose of swaying someone to "my side", but to assure my readers - and maybe even myself - that I have reasons for what I believe. Whether you agree or not, I don't think we necessarily have to agree. As long as we agree on the important things, that's what really counts.