Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Reminder:  the posts at this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the church where I serve as Pastor.

On Inauguration Day, I sat with my 5 year old son at home watching Barak Obama become the first African-American President of the United States.  While many of the President’s political policies do not reflect my own sentiments or principles, I was hopeful on that day for two reasons:  (1) we had taken a step closer to what the pundits and pop-culture sociologists refer to as a “post-racial” society and (2) I genuinely want President Obama to be a successful President.

After hearing President Obama speak so eloquently about hope, I listened to the inaugural address wondering who had absconded with his hope.  I then took a glance at his op/ed piece today in the Washington Post and found the President of “hope and change” beating the same “doom and gloom” drum.  I believe the phrase from the op/ed piece was that without this stimulus bill, the American economy might be irrecovably damaged; meaning that without this particular stimulus bill and this particular effort by the federal government, America will fall a part.

This kind of rhetoric annoys me.  It is not the federal government that has made America an exceptional nation.  It is the blood and sweat of hardworking, dedicated, honest Americans that have made this an exceptional nation.  Our rescue from the jaws of economic disaster will have little to do with President Obama, our elected officials and the trillions of dollars worth of useless bills they seem more than ready to print at the drop of a hat. 

Rescue from the jaws of the so-called impending economic disaster will come from the hearts and hands of the everyday bread makers and bread winners who will double down and roll with the financial punches so that the American (and subsequently the global) economy will again flourish.

President Obama would do well to encourage us to double down, roll with the punches and do what Americans have always done:  slap some old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity and elbow grease to the problems that ail our national economy.  Instead, the new President has successfully convinced us that we are a weak and misguided people who have no real capacity to make it through times like these.   He continues to convince us – if not by his words, by the substance of his policies, that the federal government, and an increase of its powers and influence, are the only things that can pull the weak, poor, misguided American masses into a new age of enlightenment.

I was trained as a counselor and it seems to me that a quick glance at some time-tested principles of family systems therapy highlight one of the gross flaws in the President’s philosophy and the policies he is basing on that philosophy.

Without a doubt, humans are shaped by the communal networks (systems) in which they are involved.  We are all a product – to some greater or lesser degree – of the relational systems in which we are involved. 

A government of the people, by the people and for the people that forsakes those who are in trouble is a system that will fall apart. 

At the same time, we know that one of the key ingredients of a healthy relational system is the ability of the individual members in that system to self-differentiate.  Self-differentiation is the process by which members of a relational system develop an individual identity that is strong, confident and secure a part from the relational system. 

Self-differentiation of an individual member within a relational system usually happens when others in that system cease to “carry” that individual and instead behave and act in such a way  that the individual is forced to build his or her own identity with a healthy deference to the relational system. 

This process is what happens when a 16 year old gets a driver’s lisence.  Because he can now drive himself around – and no longer has to rely on his parents to do so, the 16 year old builds an identity apart from his parents.  It is the development of this identity that helps create a strong and confident individual who will then benefit the relational systems in which he or she is involved rather than draining those systems.

President Obama’s policies go well beyond the kind of steps that will create confident individuals who will benefit our national relational system.  Instead, these policies will create codependent individuals that will erode the national relational system.

President Obama, with his oratorical skills and the current goodwill of the American people, has a “once-in-a-couple-of-generations” opportunity to signficantly move America away from an increasingly dysfunctional way of being a national community toward the very kind of national community that founded, built and has sustained America for more than 2 centuries.


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An Iraqi Thanksgiving

Check out the link below . . .

I’ll reserve any opinions on America’s operations in Iraq . . . but the link to Joe’s article below is provided in the interest of fairness as he is sharing a viewpoint on what is going on in Iraq that is virtually nonexistent in the mainstream media.




I’m sure this will provoke some thought!

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A GIANT of a win!  Eli Manning had the game winning pass last night, but the victory really belongs to Michael Strahan and the defense.  They did what no other team has done all season and held the Patriots to their lowest score of the entire season.  As Terry Bradshaw said to Strahan last night, “you guys showed us one of the best defensive displays in the history of the NFL.”  Amen, Terry!  You couldn’t be more right.  My knees are still sore this morning.  I was on my feet; about two feet from the television when Eli connected for the 32 yd winning play.  I turned and hit the floor.  Watching football history like that is absolutely amazing!  BTW, I’m glad the Giants helped Don Shula and his ’72 Dolphins keep their record.  This would be perfection:  to see Peyton Manning and my Colts get it pulled back together next season and accomplish the perfect 19-0 that Eli kept from the Patriots this year!  Even better:  a Manning versus Manning Super Bowl?

Mitt Romney and the News Media.  If you stop by here often enough, then you’ll know that I try to keep a close watch on the mainstream media and their chosen narratives.  Here’s one that has emerged in the last week to week and a half.  “John McCain has become the inevitable candidate of the Republican Party.  People don’t like Mitt Romney and he can’t pull it out.  John McCain is having trouble pulling the conservative right of the Republican Party to his side.  On the other hand, Democrats love both of their candidates.  It’s too early to tell which one will win, but the Democrats are going to demand an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket.”  All of this is fine, but let’s own up to the reality that this may be as much the media’s chosen narrative as it is the reality on the ground.  I’m not a big Romney fan, but the media has not been fair in its reporting or its commentary on his campaign.  And Barak Obama, who has exhibited the kind of character that has prompted my respect for him, is simply ignorant if he falls into the media’s plan of coercing him to accept a position has Hillary Clinton’s Vice President.  I think that would make him Bill Clinton’s lap dog.

From Romans.  The following passage in my devotional reading this morning really caught my attention.  As we approach the season of Lent, I am going to carry this passage with me . . .  It’s from The Message.

But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
     24–25     So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!
     26–27     Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.
     28–32     Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

Here’s the thing . . . this passage has so often been used to combat homosexuality that we have missed some of the greater implications of the passage; primarily Pauls’ insistence that when we ignore God and the order that is already inherent in His creation then all we get is one big disorderly, chaotic, mess.

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WARNING:  what I am about to write will probably make me sound like just another uptight, evangelical Christian.  Oh well . . . so be it.

We elected a Governor in Kentucky last November, or at least that’s one way to look at it.  It may be more accurate to say that we unelected the sitting Governor.  His administration – at least in the press – had been played up to be a great disaster.  There were definatley some “management” issues with the last administration.

Our new governor has promised that he will put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this coming fall that would make casino gambling and gaming legal in Kentucky.  Currently, gaming is restricted to our horse racing industry.  During last spring’s primaries, the governor not only guaranteed the constitutional amendment to be on the ballot, he promised that he would deliver on casino gambling.  His bill to put the amendment on the ballot goes before the General Assembly in early February.  Two northern Kentucky Chambers of Commerce have come out strongly in favor of the amendment and of casino gambling.

I’m no idealist.  I fully expect that Kentucky will have casino gambling before Beshear’s administration comes to and end.  But I’m also a realist.  Casino Gambling will do to Kentucky the same thing it has done to other states that have approved it.

I’m from West Virginia, for example.  When gambling became more widespread in West Virginia it was only within months that porn stores and strip clubs popped up everywhere.  West Virginia is now littered with casino’s, sex shops and bill-boards for Gambler’s Anonymous.  Gambling was not economic salvation for West Virginia.  In fact, West Virginia is still the only state in our nation that is not the home to at least one Fortune 500 company.  And the culture of the state has grown a bit more dark and dismal with the addition of casino’s and sex shops.  Gambling and sex shops feed on economic and cultural depression and there is no shortage of that to feast upon in West Virginia.  Creating an addicted and dumbed-down state population is not exactly the way to attract companies looking for well-educated and effective work forces!

Simply put:  Governor Beshear and other political and business leaders may assume that you can solve one set of social ills by creating a whole new set of social ills.  I simply do not follow that logic.  Maybe its OK to create a generation of gambling and sex addicts so the state can maintain solvency in its employee pension programs.  I don’t follow that logic, either.

If our political leaders are really worth the salt, certainly they could come up with something more creative than “sin-profits” and “sin-taxes” to solve the state’s problems.

 I do not usually step out to publicly protest public policies, but this one is so assanine that there is no way I can sit by quietly while our state government and our Governor try to shove Casino Gambling down our throats as the source of our economic salvation!

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Kyra loves realitivy TV shows.  Her favorites are “So You Think You Can Dance”, “Dancing with the Stars,” “Dance War” and now, she is in heaven because “American Idol” has returned to television.

I usually watch some of these shows with Kyra, but there is something about these first weeks of “American Idol” that always leaves me a bit disturbed.

Yes, there are people who can’t sing and think they can sing.  Yes, there are people who know they can’t sing and are just trying to get onto television.  And there are people who can really sing.

But there are also folks that come in for auditions who obviously have mental illnesses and personality disorders.  As a counselor I always find the judges’ responses to these people or the blatant display of these mental illnesses for the monetary gain of 19 Productions to be extremely disturbing.

Last night, for example, the judges openly laughed at a young man who obviously had a mental illness of some sort.  This happens at least once and often several times in each of these early episodes.  I just don’t find it funny.  Really, it makes me feel pretty dismal.  These are people who need to be helped; not ridiculed while they make a spectacle of themselves with the cameras rolling.

Oh well, maybe I’m just a prude.

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More arm-chair theology from my six year old . . . this morning on the way to school she decided that we should discuss the nature of the church.  Here was her thought:  “The church does not belong to my Dad (I’m a pastor).  It belongs only to God.  And people who are hurt and people who are poor get to come to it.”  Now I’ve heard theologians say this, in more uncertain terms.  I’ve said it it before.  The thing is that I know that my daughter really believes it with all that is in her.  I’m not sure that it always the case with theologians, pastors and adults in the church 🙂

In other thoughts this morning, the posts from a few days ago about mega-church pastors continues to get a lot of hits.  Christians discuss mega-church pastors like the tabloid media talks about Brittney Spears.  Most of it is done in the name of theology, but I am reminded that the media likes to talk about Brittney as if they are really concerned about her.  It seems to me that there is somethign a bit more morose in our fascination with Brittney and maybe our fascination with Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Ed Young or Perry Noble.  Not that a little criticism isn’t sometimes a good thing, but where criticism is coming from and why we are doing it is also a question worth asking.

Mitt Romney won in Michigan.  I keep a pretty close eye on the media and how they cover both parties so this is not necessarily a “they always pick on the GOP” kind of idea.  That being said, after John McCain pulled out his surprise victory in New Hampshire, he was on his way to the nomination, according to the media.  He was up in South Carolina and doing well in national polls.  Mitt Romney, on the other hand, had one last chance:  Michigan.  He needed to win Michigan to stay in the race (despite the fact that he went into Michigan with more convention delegates than any other nominee).  Now that he has won Michigan, we aren’t hearing about his victory, but instead we are hearing about how he won’t get a boost out of the win in South Carolina or in other states.  Is it just me or does it seem that the media still has not been able to adjust to the fact that this is one election where they don’t get to “crown” a nominee in either party?  I’m not sure they know what to do with the fact that we are having an old-fashioned primary season and people are really getting to make choices rather than having to swallow the candidates that have basically been endorsed by both the media and the party establishment?

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Charlie Gibson at the Helm

Three cheers . . .

for Charles Gibson of ABC News.  It has been ages since I have seen a member of the mainstream media ask tough questions of candidates from both sides of the aisle.  I thought he handled himself brilliantly on Saturday night.  He went very tough on the Repubs on the issue of health care.  He was equally tough on the Democratic candidates when it came to the “Iraqi Surge” and its impact thus far on the situation in Iraq.  When responding to Gibson’s questions, all four Democratic candidates noted that the government/parliament in Iraq had not moved quickly enough since the surge to make things happen.  In what I thought was a classic line, Gibson responded by saying, “Three of you are or have been Senators, you know how long it can take to push legislation through.”  None of the Dem’s had a response to that.  When Obama tried to tout his role in creating lobbying reform legislation, Gibson pointed out that legislation had made it illegal for lobbyists to by members of congress meals while seated.  Buying a meal from a line in a restaurant or while standing up at the table is still perfectly legal.

 I’m sure that Limbaugh and Hannity found holes in Gibson’s performance, but, in my estimation, it was a stellar display of journalism at its finest.  And we can always find holes (somtimes gaping) in Limbaugh and Hannity’s takes on journalism.  I hope ABCNews, with Gibson largely at the helm, continues to move in this direction.

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