Saturday, January 30, 2010

Constitutional Law Degrees Must Not Be What They Used To Be

I know the biggest takeaway moment from President Obama’s State of the Union address has been his indecorous criticism of the Supreme Court. But I think there was another moment that deserves some attention as well. At one point, he said,

“We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.”
I find three things worthy of mention here.

1) Um, the Constitution says nothing about us being created equal – that would be the Declaration of Independence, Mr. President. Specifically,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
2) The Constitution is designed to protect U.S. citizens, even if they don’t abide by the law. Our civil protection is not jeopardized if we break the law. In fact, much of the law is written to ensure the fair treatment of those who have broken it. That makes us a pretty rare find in the political world. Or, at least, I hope it still does.

3) The President said that if we “adhere to common values”, then we should not be treated differently, and that this is “enshrined in our Constitution”. Again, a search on the word “values” or its synonyms turns up nothing like this in the document. And the idea of “common values” is completely in conflict with the first part of his statement – that “we find unity in our incredible diversity”. Even more disturbing, is he implying that some of us will lose the privilege of equitable treatment if we stray from this generic set of common values? Hmmmm…he may actually be right about that one. I’m thinking of Tim Tebow and the upcoming Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad.

One would think that a Constitutional law scholar from Harvard would have a better grasp of what the document actually says. But maybe, an Ivy League degree isn’t worth as much as it used to be. Perhaps he should consider sitting down for a moment to read the Constitution…
If you are interested in learning more about the principles in The U.S. Constitution, please visit the Constitutional Education series.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Radical Environmentalism –The Dubious Results of Copenhagen (Part 12)

Last month, a host of environmentalists and politicians met in Copenhagen to save the world. Were they successful?

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) met in wintry Copenhagen, with the proclaimed goal to reverse so-called “climate change”. The premises that the conference assumes are that 1) climate change is occurring, 2) the change is bad, and 3) the change is due, in some large measure, to human activity. I have commented on all three of these topics in previous posts (here, here, and here) and it’s fairly obvious to me that anthropogenic global warming is no more than a dubious theory.

The Climategate scandal was no more than a month old – it was being revealed that much of the science behind global warming had been fabricated by people who have placed a social objective above factual study. In addition, it was revealed during the conference that the Climatic Research Unit (the same group that falsified data in the Climategate incident) was shown to be cherry-picking only the warmest temperature data coming out of Russian surface monitoring stations. In essence, the people who have been hired to provide governments with purely scientific data, with which they must make trillion-dollar decisions, are “putting their foot on the scale” in an effort to prove something that they know is not true. They are doing this, because, as their top official has pointed out, it would be a tragedy if we can’t prove that global warming is occurring. Yes, he really said that.

To me, the real tragedy here is the economic damage caused by such arrogance. Because they want global warming to be a result of man-made causes, they seek to limit the achievements that man can make with the resources that God has given us. Like many social causes, the facts have been lost in the stew of feel-good statements. I have pointed out that environmentalism has become a primary religion for many – and history shows that religious fervor often trumps practical actions. Hey, I’m not for burning down all of the rainforests (we should be good stewards of God’s gift of nature), but I also don’t approve of lying about scientific data to push a social agenda.

So, what was the result of this multi-million dollar conference attended by “concerned” heads of state (each of whom created a huge, hypocritical carbon footprint by jetting in and out for a few days)? A limited group of countries agreed to:

· Limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius since “pre-industrial times”
· The United States agreed to give $30 billion to developing nations over the next three years ( to help “cope” with climate change)
· Undeveloped nations would agree to limit deforestation in exchange for cash from richer nations

That’s it. And get this – this agreement was not actually voted on and approved, but the delegates from the represented nations “approved a motion to take note of the Copenhagen accord”. And while the White House was announcing this accord, it was noted that many of the delegate nations had not yet had the chance to read it. Let’s face it – the whole thing is a sham, a desperate and weak political ploy by certain governments to show that they care and they are taking charge of the situation. But, in effect, nothing has happened.

And that is precisely the outcome I had hoped for. Because I believe that man cannot change the temperature of the planet even if he set out to do so on purpose. Our efforts are completely swamped out by the effects of sunspots, ocean currents, and the El Niño phenomena - effects of which God is in control. I am happy that, once again, politicians cannot meet to establish the damaging policies that they seek.

Do you think my opinion is one-sided and uncaring? Read here what the Washington Times had to say about President Obama, the conference, and the outcome. Wow.


Next in this series.......
Back to Part 1 of this series...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How (Not) To Perpetuate A Stereotype

I’m not typically one to agree with people who protest out of political correctness. But I can’t keep myself from commenting on this article – which really appeared in my local paper this week.

There’s not much more to say, except this: when I laughed out loud while reading it for the first time at the breakfast table, my kids asked me what was so funny. I read it to them, and then looked up with a smile. All three of them (ages 10 to 16), just sat there and stared blankly at me. “I don’t get it”, one of them finally said.

Which, I guess, is a testament to how not to perpetuate a stereotype. If people would stop pointing out fictional differences between races, the idea of inequality could be wiped out in one generation.

I wonder, do the Denver Public Schools have this in mind?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Worldview Class #2 - Part 2 - Cat Murder and Ethics

While teaching a Sunday morning class at church on the topic of various worldviews, I plan to share some of the more significant findings which our class is learning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

In the last installment, I mentioned how critical it is that we recognize this fact – there is only one truth. To further emphasize the point, let’s consider a premise given by the New Age community – that truth is different for everyone. In this case, the New Agers will contend that each individual has the ability to “define their own truth”. So for one person, truth might be that cats are inherently ugly. Another person will contend that cats are preferable to any other living being, including humans. The New Age worldview will say that both are right, and that there are two truths in play (I recognize that this may be a tough example for some, considering how opinionated people tend to be about cats!).

Moving up the spectrum a bit, let’s leave the topic of feline physical beauty, and put into play whether it is ethical to kill a cat. This example may elicit a different answer from people, as many in our society are invested in the rights of animals. Others have no qualms about drowning cats. Again, New Age says that both viewpoints can be correct, as truth is different for each individual.

So, it’s time to take the example to the extreme. Consider the topic of premeditated human murder and where people might classify it – as an acceptable practice, or an act that must be punished by law? With very few exceptions, people will say it is the latter. The New Age movement will, in general, say that premeditated murder is inherently wrong and against societal norms. We can draw the following spectrum diagram:
There are two questions that beg to be asked here. Number one – where does an issue go from becoming one of personal preference (cat beauty) to one of ethics? And, number two – along the ethical point of the spectrum, where is the concept of multiple truths supplanted by one single truth for all? That is, can I definitively locate the gray arrows in an absolute place – for all people?

But, to do so requires the admission that somewhere there is an absolute truth. And the next question must be, “Where does that absolute truth come from?” The answer from the Christian worldview is obviously, “It comes from God”. But what is the answer offered by other worldviews?

This clearly causes a dilemma for other worldviews, who must struggle under the weight of a changing or arbitrary definition of right and wrong. It is much easier to believe that God set right and wrong in the hearts of men and that, for matters relating to ethics and not personal preference, there is a defined line of good and evil that pertains to all men. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)

-- or --
Back to Worldview Series #1

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Worldview Class #2 - Part 1 - Introduction

While teaching a Sunday morning class at church on the topic of various worldviews, I plan to share some of the more significant findings which our class is learning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.


A worldview is an acquired and developed “filter” which each person possesses (whether they want to or not). Each person’s worldview may be slightly different, but it is this filter which determines how we view most everything that we experience. When we read the newspaper, our worldview determines how we interpret data and articles, and is the driving force behind the formulation of our own opinions on almost every subject. In our class, we will touch on four different worldviews (though there are more than this which could be considered) – 1) the Christian worldview, 2) the Secular Humanist worldview, 3) the Marxist/Leninist worldview, and 4) the Cosmic Humanist (or New Age) worldview.

Consider this example – Saint Peter reads an article in the newspaper about new abortion rights being granted to mothers and is horrified at the prospect. This rails against his perspective that all life is sacred and should be preserved. Madonna (the singer, not the painting) reads the exact same article and is filled with satisfaction that the universe has reached a new level of progressive achievement. How can two people read the very same article and yet come away with such radically different conclusions? It all has to do with the worldview that they possess.

This subject is timely. The Christian worldview has largely been removed from the public square, and is even condemned at times by our own laws and practices. But our nation did not start out this way. Consider these words from some of our founding fathers:

“Whoever will introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world.” – Benjamin Franklin

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” – Patrick Henry

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison, fourth President of the United States

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it tied together in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” – John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States

“God has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers” – John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Can we imagine a politician or Supreme Court justice uttering these words today? Clearly, the worldview lens at the political level has changed in the last two hundred years.

There is much to support a Christian worldview. The idea of a soul is engendered in many other worldviews, including that of New Age supporters, but it is often not thought of as a “real” item to possess, but as more of an ethereal concept. Consider these words from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

“There is a disaster…which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness. If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature.”
Throughout this class, I will reveal several articles of faith to be declared emphatically as elements of a Christian worldview. The first is this:


Once we arrive at the understanding that truth is not different for each individual (a common misperception in the New Age arena), it drives us to seek and understand what this truth is. This element is not an easy one for many people to accept. Many professing Christians will falter on this issue as they unintentionally compromise their belief or their moral position in order to be more accepted by others, and so live to fight another day. But this concept is one that must be adhered to if one is to successfully defend the ideal of Christian Theism.

Next: Worldview - Part 2 - Cat Murder - Ethics and Truth

Saturday, January 9, 2010

No News Here – Presidential Candidates Lie To Get Elected

You have probably heard the latest flap over the healthcare debate. The media has been pressing President Obama (through his press secretary Robert Gibbs) to keep his campaign promise and allow the Congressional healthcare debate to be televised on C-SPAN. Obama promised this eight times during his campaign to become President (see all eight on video here). He could not have been clearer about avoiding closed-door sessions where “deals” could be made that were not in the interest of the American people.

And yet, once elected, he has absolutely no intention of keeping his promise.

Like the promise that middle-class taxes will not be raised or the one about posting all legislation publicly on the Internet for 48 hours before voting on it, it was a pledge clearly made with only one real objective – to get Obama elected. I actually think Obama is not much worse than any politician who would run for President. In my experience, they all lie to gain their objective – power and self-glory. Lest you think I’m simply an Obama-basher, I’m relatively certain that we would have seen similar actions from McCain. I’ve already gone on record as being frustrated with George W. Bush, who did little to turn our nation from the curse of abortion, even though he had a high popularity rating AND control of both Houses for a time. Rare indeed is the honest politician who would run for this office…and stick to his or her promises once elected.

Commitments and integrity don’t matter. Personal legacy and victory trump everything.

There have been two White House press briefings on this subject this week. Warning – these will probably make you mad. Maybe we need more anger toward our politicians to make a real difference. Here is the transcript from the Tuesday briefing:

QUESTION: C-SPAN television is requesting leaders in Congress to open up the debate to their cameras, and I know this is something that the President talked about on the campaign trail. Is this something that he supports, will be pushing for?

GIBBS: I have not seen that letter. I know the President is going to begin some discussions later today on health care in order to try to iron out the differences that remain between the House and the Senate bill and try to get something hopefully to his desk quite quickly….

Later in that same briefing, a reporter raised the C-Span issue again:

QUESTION: Okay, just lastly, why can't you answer the C-SPAN question --

GIBBS: I did.

QUESTION: You didn't, because you said --

GIBBS: I said I hadn't seen the letter, which I haven't --

QUESTION: do you need to see a letter? I mean, this is something the President said during the campaign and he talked about he wants everything open on C-SPAN --

GIBBS: Dan asked me about the letter and I haven't read the letter.

QUESTION: Well, I'll just ask you about having it on C-SPAN --

GIBBS: I answered Dan's question and I answered this before we left for the break, Keith. The President's number-one priority is getting the differences worked out, getting a bill to the House and the Senate…

QUESTION: There are a lot of reasons not to do it on C-SPAN -- people could showboat. Does he regret making that statement during the campaign?


Now to Wednesday's briefing – with another question from a different reporter:

QUESTION: During the campaign the President on numerous occasions said words to the effect of -- quoting one -- "all of this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public." Do you agree that the President is breaking an explicit campaign promise?

GIBBS: Chip, we covered this yesterday and I would refer you to yesterday's transcript.

QUESTION: But today is today and --

GIBBS: And the answer that I would give today is similar to the one --

QUESTION: But there was an intervening meeting in which it's been reported that the President pressed the leaders in Congress to take the fast-track approach, to skip the conference committee. Did he do that?

GIBBS: The President wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: In spite of the fact that he promised to do this on C-SPAN?

GIBBS: I would refer you to what we talked about in this room yesterday.

QUESTION: But the President in this meeting yesterday --

GIBBS: And I addressed that --

QUESTION: -- pressed for something that's in direct violation of a promise he made during the campaign.

GIBBS: And I addressed that yesterday.

Another reporter took up the questioning:

QUESTION: Well, does the President think it would be more helpful if this process were more transparent, that the American people could see --

GIBBS: Mike, how many stories do you think NBC has done on this?

QUESTION: Speaking for myself --

GIBBS: Just a guess.

QUESTION: That's not the issue. The issue is whether he broke an explicit campaign promise.

GIBBS: So the answer is --

QUESTION: I deal with the information that --

GIBBS: So the answer is hundreds, is that correct?

QUESTION: Right, but that's got nothing to do with it. I deal with the information, however much or little of it, there is. I'm saying would people benefit by having more information?

GIBBS: Have you lacked information in those hundred stories? Do you think you've reported stuff that was inaccurate based on the lack of information?

QUESTION: Democrats ran against the very sort of process that is being employed in this health care --

GIBBS: We had this discussion yesterday. I answered this yesterday. Is there anything --

QUESTION: But the President met with members of Congress in the meantime --

GIBBS: And he'll do so today.

QUESTION: -- and pressed them to --

GIBBS: Do you have another question?

Which, I guess, is a fancy (and lengthy) way to say, “Get lost. We do what we want.” By the way, all three of my children are taking Logic this year in their homeschool studies, and would recognize Gibbs' avoidance technique as the Red Herring fallacy - where a person introduces something irrelevant into an argument and tries to focus only on that.

Here’s the video of this exchange. Gibbs looks very uncomfortable. I hope this story doesn’t die.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year’s Resolution Experiment

I typically make New Year’s resolutions. I even keep some of them. This year, I decided to try something different, and invent a new way to go about it. Maybe you’d like to give it a try. Feel free to share yours in a comment if you like.

The rules are pretty simple:

1) Every resolution must begin with one of these two words – “More” or “Less”.

2) Try to keep them brief and not terribly quantifiable – for example, “Less calories eaten - 1000 per day less and substituting fresh fruit calories for empty calories at a rate of two for one is acceptable, as long as….” is NOT what I’m after. You don’t have to be too descriptive – as long as YOU know what YOU meant. As a result, your resolutions may appear to be cryptic to other people – but not to you.

3) Because time is a fixed quantity, for each “More” resolution there needs to be a “Less” resolution. Strive to have the same number of each when you are done (this is not as easy as it sounds). Yes, we all need to do more of certain things- but we only have so many hours in the day, and so we probably need to do less of other things, as well.

Having said that, here’s my list for 2010:

1) More devotional time before leaving the house for work
2) More guitar-playing
3) More non-fiction and biographies
4) More one-on-one time with the kids
5) More dates with my wife

6) Less Facebook and computer time
7) Less buying
8) Less clutter and “stuff” in general
9) Less time with secular influences (books and music)
10) Less time wondering what others are thinking

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For My Daughter, On Her Sixteenth Birthday

My oldest daughter, Molly Michele, turns sixteen on this day. The words that I had to say to her at her birthday party were extremely easy to write…
It’s hard to believe that we are celebrating your sixteenth year already.

The days of “Train up a child”, “Don’t let anyone look down on you in your youth”, and “Spare the rod and spoil the child” are almost behind us. Now, you are approaching the stage of living as the Proverbs 31 woman. Instead of needing daily instruction and encouragement, you are becoming a frequent source of those things for others.

As my oldest child, it is a wonder for me to see you move from the various stages of needing to be taught how to pour milk on your cereal, how to study your Bible, or even how to drive. You are now able to learn things and make discoveries on your own. You can learn and create and be an encouragement to others without being told to do so. You are self-sustaining.

I see this in your daily walk, in how you treat and unselfishly serve others, and in the things that you write. For example, you have written this in your blog:

"I know how hard it is to stay positive all the time, but that is definitely something my generation needs to work on. There is a hole inside each of us that begs to be filled with something. You may choose to fill it with electronics or clothes, but Jesus is the only thing that will fulfill you completely. Choose to be content with what you have so that you may radiate the joy of Christ in everything you do. Although happiness lasts only moments, God’s joy will last forever."

And you also wrote:

"Please understand that because someone calls you a teen does not mean that you have to act like it. Our generation needs to raise the expectations of our world so that we can make a difference for God in everything we do. Make the decision to break the barrier of low expectations so that you can do great things for Jesus now, without having to wait until you are an adult. God does not care if you are 14 or 65…He created you to do big things now."
These are the words of a young woman who is maturing in Christ.

Finally, the gathering of well-wishers at your surprise party is a witness to your life so far. Your fan club is not simply made up of young people of your own age. Since you were very young, you were comfortable with adults of all ages, as well as with toddlers and newborns. Your life has touched many people already, and you are able to socialize, and love and be loved by people of all ages. You know that this sometimes makes you “different” from the average teen, but I believe that you are brave and fully accepting of that role. I want you to know – your mother and I want exactly that reputation for you. It’s not always easy, and it’s not necessarily the world’s view of a popular lifestyle, but you have become a godly young woman. Know this – you are exactly the sixteen year-old daughter that I always dreamed of having.

I love you so very much, Molly. Watching you grow up thrills me and breaks my heart at the same time. It breaks my heart because I love each stage that you have gone through and I often want to simply freeze time so I can enjoy you where you are at forever. But it thrills me because I believe that God continues to have great plans for your life. You are so special – I can’t wait to see where He will lead you next. I love you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Renewed Resolve

It’s been a year-and-a-half now that I have been publishing words on topics that are important to me. Some of the articles have flowed effortlessly, and some have been very difficult to write.

I am convinced that this world, and our very nation, are moving away from God – not toward him, and not parked in the same spot. And I believe strongly that Christians are called upon to point out this departure and to make strong statements and pleadings for what is right and true.

Over the past year, I have occasionally struggled with whether I should continue to write about topics related to true Christian living. I have angered some people, and I’ve probably turned off some people from ever reading a PP&P post again. That’s okay. I’ve also found some new friends and kindred spirits, sometimes in the most unexpected of places. Without a doubt, I’ve had some of the most interesting and involved conversations with people on subjects such as abortion, education, finances, environmentalism, and Christian living that I have ever had in my life.

Is it worth it? I have to admit that I have been tempted at times to give it up. There is simply no way to write anything without angering someone – either you are too aggressive and opinionated, or you are too timid. I have been praying that God will reveal to me if this is a profitable venture. Curiously, almost every time that I pray in earnest that He would give me that answer, I find myself in a great conversation or find a new fan that very day – and it makes the whole thing seem worthwhile again.

This Christmas season made me think anew about what is happening to this world, and to our beloved United States. Whether watching Christmas specials on television, or getting a “Holiday” greeting from a sales clerk, I see one overarching characteristic – the majority of this world is purposefully walking down a path that leads away from God. That may not be a new thing, but it nevertheless inspires those of us who have an eternal longing, either for ourselves or for others, to make a statement. How far should our convictions go?

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that we receive from God a bold spirit – “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” My mind comes around to that verse every single time I am tempted to water down my writing. Without a doubt, God has used some very bold people to make progress. Would the civil rights movement have made the progress it did without the daring words of Martin Luther King, Jr.? What about John Hancock’s bold signature on the Declaration of Independence? And didn’t Jesus Christ forsake inclusiveness for audacious words of truth – to the point of death? He said himself, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” (John 15:18)

I know I am not any of these three men in either stature or position. But I feel compelled to say words, after much prayer, about things that I believe are meaningful – words about our nation in its apparent moral decline, or to counteract a world awash in anti-God sentiment. So, I will continue to write forcefully and unapologetically about earth-worship environmentalism, the desirability of home-schooling over public education, the decline of a nation dedicated to the “rights” of abortion but which strips away the founders’ desire for individual freedoms…and to plead for all to recognize the truth of the one God.

Let me end with this. Not everyone agrees with what I have to say, either in the way I say it, or in the fundamental underpinnings of what I believe. But if this past Christmas season meant nothing more to you than giving or getting gifts, if decorating for company was the pinnacle of your holiday, or if this time meant only a celebration of the winter solstice or some time away from work…you are missing out on the greatest joy you could have in this life, and all of eternity. Without Jesus Christ as your Lord, and a desire to live your life for God’s glory above all, you may not realize it, but there is something that you need that is far greater than gifts, wealth, or even family. I beg you to consider this – and contact me or your local Christian church to ask about the saving grace of Jesus and the promises that God has made for those who will accept his free gift. Please – don’t ignore this if you feel a tug at your heart.

Not everyone will agree. But I pray that God will give me the words in this coming year, and that He will use them to help further His kingdom here on earth. God bless you all.