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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Today I read a very interesting article in Parade magazine that echoed a similar article I read in Time Magazine last year.  They both had to do with the melting of the arctic glaciers and ice fields because of global warming, and the subsequent race among nations to lay claim to this ever-clearing body of water, the floor of which may contain 25% of the world’s supply of natural gas and oil.  It’s a big deal because a small group of nation, including the United States, Canada, Russia, and several northern European countries, each of have a claim, but exactly how much they have to claim is up for debate.

There’s all sorts of political, economical and social implications for increased activity in the perpetually-melting north: cheaper gas prices for consumer, shorter and less expensive trade routes, international security, the gradual migration on people into previously unpopulated areas due to trading and drilling, and so on, and , perhaps most importantly, the presence of vital resources in a small space are ingredients for potential military conflict.  A few years ago it might have seemed silly to think about this barren wasteland of ice and snow as a new hot-button issue, but as gas prices continue to rise, it makes since that the all these countries would converge on this one area to squabble over the resources.

One of the things that bothered me the most about these articles is the short-sightedness of the people involved.  People are so addicted to oil that they will do anything possible to get their hands on as much as possible without taking into account that ultimately oil is a limited resource, meaning that eventually we will run out.  The politicians and businessmen quoted in these articles seem to care only about discovering and conquering, not about doing what’s right for the long term.

I’ve never been super concerned about the environment.  I do believe the evidence for global warming is convincing and that we do need to be good stewards of creation and so on, but I’ve never been one to fall into the camp of people who think that if we don;t go super green now, the earth will become uninhabitable and we will all die.  I just don’t think that will happen.  It doesn’t really seem compatible with my understanding of God’s plan for the earth.  However, I have come to see that while reducing our dependency on oil is good for the environment, it’s ultimately a moral issue.  In Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne, a book everyone should read before voting this year, the author, who is a pacifist, claims that since the acquisition of oil is a reason behind international conflicts, and since it has the potential to be behind many more conflicts, it is our duty as Christians to find ways to decrease demand for oil, thereby negating the need to fight for it.  It’s a captivating argument that I had never heard before until reading that book.  And it makes sense, doesn’t it?  By supporting research on hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel cars, we’re actually working to prevent armed conflicts in the future.

I know it sounds super-liberal, but this morning I also read an editorial by Larry Bowoto, a Nigerian villager who is filing a lawsuit against Chevron.  In the class-action suit, he and 100 other villagers claim they were protesting the fact that Chevron’s oil production has ruined local fishing and farming industries when Nigerian soldiers hired by Chevron Nigeria Ltd. opened fire, killing 2 and wounding a dozen others, including the author.  Today’s paper also had an article on the United States’ list of countries of that sponsor terrorism, and how Venezuela, which has been linked to Columbian terrorist groups, remains off the list, and thus free from sanctions that might hinder efforts to arm terrorists, because they are the fourth largest supplier of oil to the United States.

The point – oil is a limited resource that is highly prized by the nations of the world, and conflicts over it will only grow worse as it depletes, resulting in unnecessary deaths.  It is our duty as Christians to oppose this.

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In Memory

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.  In honor of this, I want to look at some numbers:

Number of people killed in the September 11th attacks – 2,819

Number of Coalition soldiers killed in the “War on Terror” – 4300 (3992 of which were Americans)

Number of Iraqi civilian death documented by Iraq Body Count as a direct result invasion-related violence – 82,249-89,760

Remember, the last figure is civilian deaths, not soldiers or insurgents.

If we were to have a minute of silence for each casualty, we would be silent for 2 days to honor the 9/11 victims, 3 days to honor the Coalition soldiers, and62 days to honor the dead Iraqi civilians.

If we follow this string of numbers, we can determine that every civilian that died in the 9/11 attacks is worth approximately 32 Iraqis.

How is this justice?

When will the crimes against us be avenged?

When will our angry blood lust be satisfied?

“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword” – Jesus

Furthermore, according to the CIA Factbook, Iraq is 97% Muslim, meaning that as a Christian nation, led by a President who claims to follow Christ, we killed 87,067 people who did not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” – Jesus

Some things to ponder.  Maybe it’s time to re-prioritize.

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ObamaIt’s easy for frustrated American to look at what’s going on in our country (as well as what our country is doing in other countries) and see Barack Obama’s cry for change as a relief. This is especially true for those of us that find our aggressive foreign policy immoral and strikingly unbiblical. However, it’s easy to be seduced by this wave of optimism (trust me -I know) and not be able to see the other side.

Here is an open letter to Barack Obama penned by Pakistani novelist and essayist Uzma Aslam Khan. It’s paints a very different picture of our presidential race.

I link this letter not to bash Obama, because he is a human being who is just as guilty for the tragedies of this world as I am. I link it simple because it needs to be acknowledged that Obama, despite the fact that I think he is the best man to be president, is a man like any other man – not a savior, a saint or a redeemer, just a man. Sometimes we expect our leaders to bring peace on earth and solve all the problems, but they can’t. Only Jesus can.

Sometimes I think that I need to be reminded that a presidential race is always choosing the better of two evils, because I don’t think its possible to fully serve the Kingdom of Heaven (as Christians are commanded to do) and the nation of America (as the President is elected to do) at the same time. They represent a conflict of interests for any president. If a president invades a country to protect America’s safety he is doing his job, but by ordering the death of foreign people, he is not doing his job as a Christian. Conversely, turning the other cheek may be right in God’s eyes, but any death of Americans it may cause would mean he wasn’t doing his job as President. Tricky situation, to say the least.

I seriously think that Jesus, Paul, and the other early Christian leaders never expected, and actually feared, the day that Christians ruled the world because they sensed this impossible conflict of systems. Perhaps Christianity was always meant to be the underground grassroots force that changed people from the bottom and worked their way up, as it was in the early days.

But I digress.

Read the letter and pray for all involved. Remember that (in the words of Derek Webb) “we’ll never find a savior on Capital Hill,” and that we must never substitute a political leader in place of Jesus. Ever.

Reactions, anyone?

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The King of Kings

I found this awesome picture at the Burnside Writers Collective Blog, and I must say, I love it.

Washing Feet

It’s a stark reminder that Jesus came as a King, but also as a servant. The picture has leaders from all over the political spectrum: George Bush and Tony Blair as the Western liberators; Osama bin Laden as the religious extremist; Kim Jong-il as the eccentric madmen. All of them are enemies to one another, and countless lives have been lost, and many more lives broken, because of the actions and decisions of these men. All of these men are hated by large groups of people, and adored by others.

And Jesus died for them.

Jesus came as a servant and a savior for all the people of the earth. That includes George Bush and Osama bin Laden. He shed his blood for them, and his Grace is available to them too.

I hope that the people in the painting see it someday.

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See Anyone You Know?

I found an interesting site at The Hive that tracks who gives how much to what presidential campaign.  It’s interesting to look through.  I looked to see if I recognized any of the names, and so far I see the names of various business owners and politicians, but have yet to see any private donors that I know.  Feels a but like I’m snooping, and that’s what makes it fun 🙂

Check out the site here.

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And the Race is On!

Well, with the Iowa caucus finished and the New Hampshire primary about to get underway, it appears the race to the White House is on. The list of candidates is growing smaller, and things are getting a little heated. I’d like to take a moment to examine some of the main contenders and how they’re sitting in the free-for-all for my vote.

Since I’m currently straddling two political parties, I’ll take a look at the top candidates in both. Also, I’ll say up front that in examining the issues, there is no candidate that will completely embrace my views. I have serious disagreements with the Democratic nominees because of their support of abortion and their embracing of same-sex marriage, and I have a strong distaste for the Republican’s nominees support of the Iraq war, overly-aggressive foreign policy, and the death penalty. That being said, it’s simply a matter of prioritizing. I think both parties show a disrespect of human life, but I find myself leaning towards the Democratic side of the coin with the issue of foreign policy more important at the moment, and with issues like abortion a little more out of reach of the President’s office. So, with that being said, here are the candidates, in order of my current preferences:

ObamaBarack Obama (D) – I have to admit, I’m a fan. He represents a kind of optimism that is rarely found in politics, basing his platform on “change,” a word that just about every candidate has been using much more frequently since the Iowa caucus. He gets people excited about politics, bringing out more young voters and minority voters to the political arena. He has vowed to make major changes to the way America handles its foreign issues, pledging to end the Iraq war, meet with world leaders that that the Bush Administration will only demonize, and replace war with strategic diplomacy. His autobiography left me with the impression that he has a much more global outlook than his competition, and I appreciate that. There are places where we differ, and he does have a relative lack of experience compared to the other candidates, but I have been impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

McCain John McCain (R) – McCain is a much more middle-of-the-road Republican, and that’s a big reason I like him. He has a solid history of embracing bipartisanship and stepping outside of party lines if he feels his conviction lead him to do so. Though he is a supporter of the Iraq war, he believes in doing it the right way, as when he boldly stood up to President Bush by refusing to embrace torture as a viable option and sponsoring a bill to back it up. He also is more liberal than the average Republican on issues like immigration reform and gay rights. Right now, we have a Democratic legislature who is willing to work with a Republican President who won’t compromise, and nothing gets done. Having McCain in the office would be a welcome change to that scenario.

EdwardsJohn Edwards (D) – I like Edwards for a lot of the same reason I like Obama, but that’s the reason he’s lower on the list. I see a lot of similarities between the two, but Edwards lacks the charisma and ability to depolarize America that Obama possesses. He would make a good Vice President for Obama.

HuckabeeMike Huckabee (R) – I love his attitude. He’s a funny, down-to-earth, ordinary guy. That being said, he’s ultra conservative of just about everything, which means you have to take the good with the bad. I don’t like his fiscal ultra-conservatism, and he’s one of those gun-happy Republicans, but at least he’s positive.

ClintonHillary Clinton (D) – This is a hard one for me. If you look at the lineup of issues, I probably have more in common with her than any other candidate on a variety of issues (death penalty, 3-strikes laws, gun control, health care, alternative fuels, drugs, taxes, civil liberties and the war), but I can’t get past the prejudices I have against her. I think she’s way to polarizing and divisive, and she’s a mean spirited campaigner and I have a hard time drawing authenticity from her. Right now this country needs a uniter, not a divider. Whether or not I would vote for her truly depends on the Republican candidate, and so far, it’s not looking good.

RomneyMitt Romney (R) – This guy is exactly the same as Huckabee on just about everything, only meaner and more aggressive. He’s Huckabee’s evil twin, and thanks, but no thanks.

GiulianiRudy Giuliani (R) – If I prioritize life as my biggest issue (which I do), I find that Giuliani’s pro-abortion addition to his otherwise conservative beliefs is unwelcome.

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…is the same thing that decides every presidential election. The video speaks for itself:

When I was in college, I took a “Service Learning” class, which meant that we had to do a project to benefit the community, and then present the results of our project. So, some friends and I did a presentation on voter awareness to several local high school government. We gave the kids a small survey asking about their interest in politics, party affiliation, where they get their political information, and so on. Then we showed them a short montage of political television ads that basically showed how candidates sway voters without confronting any of the real issues. Among these videos were this infamous Lyndon B. Johnson commercial, an anti-Barry Goldwater ad depicting his endorsement by the KKK (complete with numerous ethnic slurs), and a video of one rhino (representing the Democrats) mounting another rhino (representing the state the ad was intended for) with the slogan “Are you tired of the Democrats sticking it to you?”

Anyway, our survey confirmed what we already knew – that these ads, made entirely of bullshit, are where most people form political opinions. So, the next part of our project was to provide people with some good places to get quality information about the candidates and whethisre they stand on issues. Project Vote Smart, the group we got most of our materials from, is really good and providing non-partisan information, and On the Issues gives people a test to see where they stand on the issues, and then matches them up with the candidate that best parallels your political opinions. None of them are perfect, but they’re better than this.

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