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Faith in the Public Square

Reality in an Unreal Election

by on Nov.05, 2016, under Faith in the Public Square, Musings

Some days reality is harder to face than others. Tuesday will be such a day. For the reality is that we must choose between two horribly-flawed candidates. Neither has demonstrated the honor or character that should be required of a President. But the reality is that one of them will be, like it or not. To vote for either should be an extremely difficult thing to do but a vote must be cast nonetheless.
Yet here is another reality – our vote will also decide who is sworn in as Vice President; who will fill the Cabinet Secretary positions; who will have a hand in deciding and implementing crucial policies throughout our government. Our vote will move the Supreme Court in one direction or another, and lower federal courts as well. That reality brings greater clarity and, for me, makes the choice easier to make.
A vote for she who pledges to continue the present course means more of what we now have. The names and personalities of Cabinet officials and their deputies may change, but the ideological bent of the newcomers will not. And I judge the ideologies of the current government to be a grave threat.
A vote for he who seems unable to get over himself at least comes with this promise: he picked a good and decent man to run with him. That gives me hope that others selected to fill important roles in the executive and judicial branches will be women and men of equal integrity and character.
So the reality is that my vote is not a choice to fill one position, but thousands. And that is why and how I will cast my ballot. And I will pray this sad chapter of American politics is not soon repeated.

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July 4th

by on Jul.05, 2015, under Faith in the Public Square

Perhaps today would be a good time for us to collectively remember that among other freedoms sought by those alive in 1776 was the freedom to worship and express their faith freely. Protestants of all persuasions, Catholics and Jews, Deists and those with no belief at all in the Divine fought side-by-side. Years later, in the Bill of Rights that was necessary to secure adoption of the Constitution, the First Freedom enumerated was the right to freely speak and exercise one’s religious faith. Diversity wasn’t born in our generation but theirs. And it doesn’t speak well for those today who proclaim themselves the tolerant ones to seek the annihilation of all beliefs except their own and the silencing of divergent voices in the public square.

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Sorek

by on Mar.17, 2009, under Faith in the Public Square

I discovered a short book by Marja Meijers called Breath of Life and highly recommend it. It can be ordered here. The engaging story is a powerful apologetic for choosing life and is narrated by a wonderful little personality named Sorek. Follow the links, Sorek will appreciate it!

When I finished reading Breath of Life I knew I wasn’t finished with Sorek. This brief poem is written in his honor.

Sorek

Who will side with Sorek?
Who will set him free?

God has formed his features
God has shaped his plan
This God who holds his future
Still gives a choice to Man.

Choice to seek his purpose
Or choice to turn away
Choice that stops a beating heart
Erases birth that day.

No laughter in his future
No hugs, no friends, no wife
Because a choice was wrongly used 
And took his Breath of Life.

Millions are their numbers
Sorek all their name 
Lives not lived but slaughtered
Choice reduced to shame.

Must it always be this way?
Is there nothing we can do?
To value life above false choice
What’s next is up to you.

Who will side with Sorek?
Who will set him free?

I will side with Sorek
I will help him be.

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Biblically-shaped Leadership

by on Mar.14, 2009, under Faith in the Public Square

A friend of many years posts here on how the wisdom of Proverbs is aligned with characteristics that are found in successful leaders. A great blending of Scripture and secular research, the posts are concise,  convicting, and are must reading for anyone who takes leadership seriously … and wants to take their leadership to the Highest level. Check it out.

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More on Truth

by on Mar.07, 2009, under Faith in the Public Square

I wrote about truth in the post below, then ran across this interesting post. Whether you approach the subject from the left or right, it’s thought-provoking and a good discussion starter.

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Soundbite-sized Lies

by on Mar.07, 2009, under Faith in the Public Square

Increasingly it seems as if both sides of the political spectrum are adopting the Al Davis / Oakland Raiders mantra – Just Win Baby – as a guiding principle. Win, what ever it takes. Ruining a reputation is no problem, not if it leads to political victory. In this world, twisting words is a legitimate tactic even if it results in a new meaning that is 180 degrees opposite of what the speaker actually said and meant. After all, it’s all about winning.

In the world of politics, professional image makers manipulators are perfecting the soundbite-sized lie. They extract words from their proper context to paint an entirely false and deceiving picture. They’re unconcerned with the collateral damage they cause. Not if their tactics score a jump in the polls for their candidate or position.

Truth is never advanced through falsehoods. That fact should be especially apparent to people of faith who follow the One who said: I am the Truth. When people of faith engage arguments in the public square some tactics are off limits. Because when we knowingly craft soundbites into enticingly attractive – but false – arguments, we damage our integrity. And we discredit the One who has called us to be salt and light to the world. Lies are not legitimate weapons in the battle for truth. Period.

Here’s an example of what I mean. In the 2008 presidential campaign ABC’s Charles Gibson interviewed Sarah Palin and asked her this question: “You said recently, in your old church, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a holy war?” Palin responded by saying, “You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.” Gibson came right back by saying they were her “exact words.” So, what’s true here?

The truth is that Gibson was factually accurate in saying that Palin spoke those words. But in making his assertion he was, at the same time, acting either out of ignorance or with deliberate intent to deceive. Because Palin’s words were clearly separated from their intended meaning. Judge for yourself. Here are Palin’s words taken in context. “Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending U.S. soldiers out on a task that is from God.”

Breakdown those two sentences and you will find a two-part prayer request:  First, pray for our men and women who are striving to do what is right and, second, pray that our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers out on a task that is from God. This prayer request paints a far different picture of what Palin actually said than the words put in her mouth by an argumentative interviewer. But, hey, it’s all about winning, right? No! Not if we are acting with integrity.

Radio talkshow hosts often play a similar version of the game themselves by constantly replaying “gotcha quotes” they think will drive their ratings or favor their positions. And if truth gets misplaced in the process, so what? It’s a small price to pay, or so it seems. How unfortunate and dishonest this game is regardless of the players involved.

You see, it is quite possible to be factually accurate while at the same time being deliberately deceitful. Soundbite-sized lies are not the truth, they are distortions. People of faith have no business operating in that arena. Because compromising truth for temporary gains is no victory at all.

Before leaving this post here’s a final application, this time a personal and not political one, because all of us can be tempted to “color the truth” for our own advantage. Years ago I was late for a meeting because I carelessly lost track of time. En route I passed a checkpoint on Interstate 5 in northern San Diego county. Usually the checkpoint was a traffic bottleneck that added about 10 minutes to the trip but at the time I passed that day it was closed. When I finally arrived for the meeting I could have commented innocently, “Sorry to be late but the checkpoint traffic was not what I expected it to be.” It would have helped me cover being tardy. It would have been factually accurate. But it would have been deliberately deceitful. And my integrity would have been compromised.

If the truth is always our ally we have little to fear and we’re in exactly the right place. In politics and in our personal conduct.

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Needs vs. Wants

by on Mar.01, 2009, under A Steward’s Journey, Faith in the Public Square

The banner in the bank window said it all: Needs vs. Wants – with our low rates you don’t have to choose. Nonsense. The ability to separate needs and wants is a fundamental part of establishing priorities in life. And failure to do so ultimately leads to the kinds of economic disasters evidenced by the “Foreclosure” signs scattered in our neighborhoods.

Accepting the bank’s false message led too many to believe they could have it all. Now we’re seeing the same unwillingness to prioritize and live within our means played out on the national stage. Any legitimate “stimulus” needs in the recently passed legislation were completely overwhelmed by the wants of those who saw economic crisis as a vehicle of political opportunism.

Proverbs 21:5 says it this way: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Spending nearly a trillion dollars of borrowed (non-existent) money without taking the time to establish meaningful priorities is a study in haste, not diligence. It will surely lead to poverty. We deserve better from our leaders.

Yet don’t each of us need to ask whether we’re acting diligently in our personal financial decisions? Are we acting as stewards or acting out our wants? It’s a question we need to answer so there will be profit – not poverty – in our future. (for more on this subject, check out A Steward’s Journey.)

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Taxing the Tithe

by on Feb.27, 2009, under Faith in the Public Square

The government is looking for money, and this week it proved that nothing is sacred in its never ending search for new revenue sources. The Chronicle of Philanthrophy reported that the feds are preparing to tap into the offering baskets of churches, synagogues, faith-based ministries and other non-profits whose life blood is the generosity of private donors.

The proposal to cap the annual tax deductible amount that can be given to non-profit organizations isn’t unexpected. In our increasingly secularized and faith-hostile culture it was really only a matter of time. But what does that say about who and where we are as a nation? What does it mean when we discourage generosity toward organizations like the Salvation Army, an acknowleged model of compassion and integrity in favor of corrupt and inefficient government bureaus?

How misplaced are our priorities when we spend billions on a “war” on drugs and then take steps toward disarming organziations like Teen Challenge that actually succeed at restoring drug casualties to productive lives?

Hello? Does this make any sense? More later.

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