Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I'm Most Proud Of

All parents have those things that they swell with pride over. For some, its their child's game-winning touchdown. For others, its the straight-A report card. For some it is just seeing them finally overcome a difficulty.

I am no different. Maybe its lame, but I beam with so much pride when my daughter dances, that I actually cry. When my son got the lead in his 1st grade play a few years ago, I fought back tears throughout the entire show (which wasn't even the least bit sad or moving, mind you). When my son was selected as one of the very few 3rd graders to join the 4th and 5th graders for "Battle of the Books," I bragged about it for weeks. When my daughter got personal recognition from the music teacher after their winter concert, I had proud visions of her following in my musical footsteps, getting all the school solos, flashing through my head. And I feel an immense sense of pride whenever my son reaches a new milestone in his struggle with math. And on and on... But while those are all great things that my children have achieved, they aren't what I consider the things I am most proud of.

Recently, my son joined his school's community service club. We came to find out after the first meeting, that out of 29 students, he was only one of 3 boys who joined the club. After the initial fear of him being teased for wanting to join a club that required doing something as "sissy" as knitting wore off, I had a sobering realization. My son didn't care that he was knitting! He didn't care that the other boys may not see him as "macho" or "cool" because of his choice to join the club! (Of course, it doesn't hurt that his best friend, who is the 2nd biggest kid in their grade, is also in the club. You don't mess with the best friend of the biggest kid in class!) He cared that he was making a difference. See, they are knitting to make hats, blankets, and scarves for hospitals and homeless shelters to give out to those in need of warm clothing this winter. I think that is what I am most proud of my son for. He doesn't care how his choices are perceived. He doesn't care what others think. He cares about nameless, faceless people he has never met, and about making life better for them, in the form of a red and black hat knitted by a 3rd grade boy. For a 9 year old to understand that abstract concept, to be that truly altruistic, to make the conscious choice to do what is right rather than what is popular...I am truly in awe.

Then there is my 6 year old daughter. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that her daughter had come home from school and announced, "I have a best friend, mom! Her name is Joy!" Now, this may not sound very significant, but you have to understand, my friend's daughter was a micro-preemie - born at 28 weeks - who still, at age 6, has numerous lingering health and developmental issues, including autism. This little girl is very withdrawn from most of her peers (typical of autism), and isn't the easiest child to get to know. So not many of the other kids have bothered to get to know her. But my daughter has been patient, kind, loving, and caring toward this little girl, and slowly but surely, she has come out of her shell, and the girls are now best friends. My daughter doesn't care that her best friend requires more patience and understanding. She is happy with the friend she has, and accepts her just the way she is. Knowing how fragile her friend is, anytime she isn't at school, my daughter worries that she is hurt or sick, or may have to go to the hospital. She isn't afraid of these things, she doesn't feel like her friend is too "high maintenance," she just sees her as her best friend. I was always friends with the "outcasts," but I'm not going to lie. The peer pressure, not being accepted by the "cool kids" for being friends with the underdogs, got to me...and more than I'd like to admit. So honestly, I don't know if I would have taken the time to try and make friends with someone like my daughter's best friend, much less boldly proclaimed that she was my best friend. In my eyes, my daughter has guts...and the biggest heart I have ever seen! And THAT makes me swell with more pride, and shed more happy tears, than anything else.

So what makes me proudest isn't the things my children do to earn accolades in sports, dance, or academics. Its not the things they do to please themselves, my husband and I, their coaches, their teachers, or their friends. Its the things they do for others. Its the things they do that other kids don't have the heart or the guts to do. Its who they are in their heart of hearts, and how that is shown to others. Its the things they do that have nothing to do with anything they have learned from me, my husband, their coaches, teachers, or friends. Its the choices they make and the things they do in humble servanthood, love, charity, kindness, acceptance, and friendship. THAT is what makes me the proudest!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can we just stop the blame game already?!

Well, I reeeeaaally should be cleaning and planning for my son's birthday party tomorrow, but I have all these half (or more)-composed blogs (primarily politically-related...what a surprise, right?) swirling in my head, so I figured maybe I should try and type like a mad woman and get at least one out, then bust out some serious housework in double-time. Anyway...not that any of that is really relevant, but...yeah.

So anyway, the first installment of my half-composed blogs is about the blame game when it comes to politics. I get irked to no end by politicians and the media slinging verbal mud at eachother, but now I am hearing no end of the blame game by private citizens - friends, family, aquaintences of mine (and probably yours) - placing blame for all the woes in their life on Obama, the current administration, state representatives, one political party or another as a whole, past presidents and/or their administrations...and so on and so forth. Basically, that the government, or some government figure-head is the root of all their trials.

Now, I'm as cynical, critical, and skeptical about our government as the next person (and perhaps even more so), but I'm sorry...I just don't buy it. I just don't feel like the government is that powerful over my own life and circumstances. And my own circumstances are just that - my own. While yes, some of my circumstances are some small trickle-down from government action (or inaction), I still own the situations I am in.

I think problem lies more with the attitude of our culture and generation than it does with anything related to government. Seriously. We live in a culture and generation that is too quick to find a scape goat and "pass the buck" to someone(s) else, than, oh, I dunno, take responsibility for their own situations and find solutions on how to change them.

It reminds me of the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


Notice it doesn't say "the ability to blame other people for the things I can't or don't want to change because it takes work." No. We need to do just what this prayer urges us to do.

First, we have to serenely accept the circumstances we cannot change, not with whining, sniveling, and blaming others. Does serenity involve blaming other people? I don't think so. Not the way I define it. Serenity means coming to peace with something and accepting that the circumstance, and probably its outcome, is out of our own hands. Basically...let it go! Stop dwelling on it because there is nothing that can be done about it.

Secondly, we need to have the courage to change the things we can. Are you out of work? Instead of exhausting energy whining and complaining about it, actively seek a job. Yes, the pickin's are slim, I fully acknowledge that. But I know far too many people who have gotten discouraged and have essentially stopped looking, waiting for the perfect opportunity to fall in their lap. Again, the only person who owns, or can change, your current circumstances is you. If you are waiting around for the government to make it all better, to change their M.O.'s to meet what you are convinced will fix all your problems, well...you'll be waiting a loooonng time! If you are waiting for a "political Messiah" to come...yeah...I doubt that's going to happen.

Oh, then there is this theory! One thing I read this a few weeks ago, and find completely ludicrous, is this: That its in our DNA! I mean, really?!? Bashing presidents is in our DNA?!? Maybe its just me, but I highly doubt when God created us he thought, "Hmm, maybe I should blueprint people to bash their leaders. Yeah, that sounds good, I'll do that." And even if we are a product of primordial ooze, what primal survival instinct does that provide us with? Anyway...ridiculous, in my opinion.

And here is why I think that. When our grandparents faced the World Wars, The Great Depression, etc., what did they do? They worked their tails off to improve their circumstances! My paternal grandfather, at one point, worked 3 jobs - one of which took him out of the country for 3 months right after my dad and his twin sister were born - in order to provide for his family. He made the sacrifices necessary to provide for his family. I'm sure it was hard working 3 jobs simultaneously, being away from his wife and newborn babies, but he did it. Meanwhile, my grandmother planted a "victory garden," went back to college, and took many steps of her own to provide a secure future for her family. They put their "nose to the grindstone" and did what they were able to in order to better their own circumstances. I am sure at times they felt buried, like there was no way out, much as the majority of Americans feel right now (the wars and crummy economy are pretty similar). But the difference is, they never lost hope, they never quit trying, and they never expected the government to change their own circumstances.

Quite frankly, I think our current generation is largely...lazy, and feels an unrealistic sense that they are owed something just for their existence. This was certainly evident when I worked at a grocery store! All those who were about 25 and over worked their behinds off, while all but one that I can think of offhand in the under 25 bracket dragged their feet and made a mountain of extra work for the rest of us. One young guy literally would hide in the back room behind boxes and freight pallets, ignoring pages and complaining that he didn't get paid enough. (Yes folks, this is the future of America. Yikes!)

Anyway, now that I've gotten largely derailed, my point is, we can only change ourselves and our own circumstances, and the only way to do that is to change our attitudes. As Elvis once said, "A little less conversation, a little more action, please." We need to spend less time and energy complaining and blaming others, own our own problems, and resolve to change what we're capable of. Because we can't change Obama or his policies. We can't change the damage done by Bush's decisions while he was in office. We can't single-handedly talk sense into our law-makers. We can vote for change - that is doing something productive. We can scrimp and save to get to a better financial position if we've been hit by the bad economy and loss of work - that is doing something productive. And we can remain as positive as we can. I know it sounds so much more easily said than done, and I know many of us are feeling the painful trickle-down effects of national debt, loss of jobs, a bad housing market, healthcare premiums rising to astronomical levels, etc., but all we can do is what we individually can do to change our own circumstances, actively advocate and vote for change, and stop blaming others. Doing anything else - especially blaming others - is just plain unproductive.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Legislated into Christianity?

I occasionally (okay, more like frequently) stew on the madness and hypocracy of the Christian right. I am a Christian, I (try to) live by the Word of God in my personal life, but I get so frustrated with the Republican political agenda to feebly try and force people into Christianity through legislation. The main two reasons being, God gave us free will, and God doesn't force himself upon us. (Which I guess are pretty much the same thing, but go with me here.)

The thinking is so backward it makes me want to scream! I am going to take this from a Christian perspective first, then break down a few hot button issues.

First of all, God has given us all free will. We can choose to follow Him, or not. We can choose good, or we can choose evil. God never forced Adam and Eve to follow Him. He encouraged them to do so, but he did not force them to. They had the choice to avoid eating the fruit (as a side note, why does everyone always assume it was an apple?!?) and be in constant communication with God, or eat it and suffer pain, death, destruction, sickness, and all other evil we as human beings have to experience, and inherent separation from God if we do not consciously seek it. And we all know, they chose to give in to temptation and eat of the tree. Even God's very first humans had a choice whether to accept Him or not. I think this is very profound.

I had a hard time finding a verse that explains very well, in a manner that speaks to both Christians and non-Christians alike without coming off as condemnation or a rebuke, but this one seemed to be the most fitting one I found:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose
you this day whom ye will serve...
(Joshua 24:15)

Clearly we have a choice. If we choose to reject God, He accepts that. (He may not prefer it, but He allows it.) We can choose to serve God, or money, evil, ourselves, or just about anything else you can think of. In summary, God is not forceful.

Which brings me to my next point. God NEVER forces himself on anyone. He doesn't "make" anyone follow Him.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus stands at the door and knocks on our hearts, but he doesn't force himself in. It doesn't say that He knocks the door down and forces his way into our hearts. We can choose to reject him.

So this brings me to the root of this blog. If we, Christians, say we are followers of Christ, how hypocritical is it of us to force Christian principles on others? Yes, we Christians are called to be set apart and live our own lives according to the Word and the guidelines established by God for a life that is prosperous to both ourselves and others. We are called to live by the Word of God. Those who reject Christ aren't. Read those last two sentences over a few times and let that soak in.

So if we claim to follow the Word, the WHOLE word, then who are we to disobey God and take away the first, and I believe most powerful gift he has given us - free will? Who are we to represent God as someone who forces himself and his laws upon everyone, even those who reject him? We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Dictionary.com defines "ambassador":
1.a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary).
2.a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty.
3.a diplomatic official serving as permanent head of a country's mission to the United Nations or some other international organization.
4.an authorized messenger or representative

So my summation is that an ambassador is a diplomatic person who is called to be a messenger or representative. We are representatives of God. And if we are, then we need to accurately represent him. I mean, an ambassador from any country "talks up" their country, pointing out its supreme good and contributions to the world as a whole, right? So that, in my opinion, should be a Christian's approach. We need to be diplomatic. And a diplomat tries to find common ground. They try and build bridges between one people group and another through understanding and kindness. Do you see what I'm getting at?

So how can it possibly be diplomatic to use force? (Hint: Its not!) Each and every person on this planet has different morals, ethics, values, and core beliefs. We cannot stuff everyone into the same box! Its not kind, its not diplomatic, its not exercising understanding or kindness, its sure as heck not building bridges, and based on all those discrepancies to the Word and heart of God...ITS NOT GODLY!

And here's another thought... How many people have EVER come to Christ through force? Who has ever changed their core beliefs and modes of operation out of force? Nobody I know! The only thing forceful tactics have ever caused with anyone I know is bitterness, resentment, and skepticism about God, and the desire to keep their distance. And I used to be one of those people before I was saved. I couldn't stand the people who would get all up in my face, telling me how to live my own life. And even after getting saved, I have experienced Christians in various churches who want to "stuff me in a box" through their condemnation and judgmental attitudes. Force DOES NOT WORK on ANYONE! It causes rejection, not acceptance.

So what the heck are you doing, Christian right? Why do you think that forcing the unwilling into submission to God's laws is going to make them embrace him? Do you honestly think that is going to work? Do you really think that restricting gay marriage is going to make a Christian out of a gay person? Do you really think that banning abortion is going to make more desperate women keep their babies? Do you really think rejecting the legalization of marijuana is going to keep people from using drugs? You personally may be against these things morally, and that's fine, but you cannot force others into your own moral code, especially in the name of God and/or creating or "preserving" a "Christian nation." You don't win souls that way.

We are all saved by GRACE, not by religious acts. We can restrict what people do, but that will do nothing to change their hearts and make them want to embrace God. On the contrary. It will paint God in a bad light, based on the message of his ambassadors; a message that God is forceful. Which he's not.

And I truly believe this shows a lack of our own faith, Christians, that God will do what he does best - draw people to him by the power of the Holy Spirit. I love, love, LOVE what Romans 2:4 has to say about it:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

Technically, I know this verse is directed at unbelievers, but I think we can take a cue from this, too. If we aren't trusting God to use his kindness, not his force, to draw people to him, then maybe, just maybe, does that mean we Christians are in contempt of his kindness, tolerance, and patience? If we feel we have to "force" people into submission to him, then are we really trusting that he will do what he says he will? Are we really trusting that its his kindness that leads to repentence? Or are we trying to take matters into our own hands and through force, portray him as an unkind, intolerant, and impatient God who is incapable of winning our hearts without force? I think the Christian right is, unfortunately, doing the latter. And those who don't agree with the Christian right already view, based on the radical Christian right, that most Christians are one big collective group of people who are just that: unkind, intolerant, and impatient. Not the right message, Christians. Not at all.

So Christians, maybe others' morals make us uncomfortable. Maybe we don't like how others live their lives. But come on...suck it up and let people choose for themselves how they want to live! God has given us all that choice and that freedom. Leave moral issues off the ballot. Or if they do end up on a ballot, can we at least be authentic ambassadors and vote for the protection of God's oldest, greatest, and most fundamental gift to humanity: the right to free will? It may be uncomfortable for us, but as the saying goes, "what is right isn't always easy, and what is easy isn't always right."

If we want to see people live more godly lives, then we need to let God do what he does best, and not try and do his work for him. Let God deal with others' hearts and the way they live, not us. Especially when we're going about it all wrong and instead are repelling people. We need to live our lives by example. We need to be loving, caring, kind, accepting, understanding... We need to build bridges, not put up road block after road block.

So in summary, Christians (especially the Christian right), let's do more loving people into the Kingdom, and less forcing them out. Okay? Pretty, pretty please?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why (I believe) we lose faith

I know many, many people will disagree with me on this, but I think we all come into this world aware that there is a God. If we grow up with Christian parents, we come to know at an early age that it is God and who He is. If we don't (like me), then we cannot define who this "bigger than me" entity is, but we know there's someone or something out there.

I remember when I was probably 4 or 5, I was at daycare (not a Christian daycare) and I overheard someone...or maybe we were singing in a group, I can't really remember...singing "He's got the whole world in his hands...," and I remember imagining a giant someone holding the whole world in His hands. I look back now, and know that I had an awareness of God, even though my parents were agnostic at best, if not atheists. We didn't talk about God, I had no definition of God, and probably didn't until I was probably in junior high, or maybe even high school.

But somewhere along the way, I began to let go of the idea that there was a God. I was taught that praying was silly and unneccessary, and that God was a myth, or at least someone who didn't deserve a lot of acknowledgement or attention. And as a freshman in high school, I even had a friend introduce me to the concept of being an atheist, and I began toying with the idea that maybe God didn't exist at all, and it was all happenstance. I don't think I was ever fully convinced of that though, because I had a science class in high school, and as we were studying evolution, there were parts of it that I just couldn't fully embrace as true. It was introduced as a "theory" (although the other side was laughed at, ridiculed, and disregarded as pure hooey by our teacher), and that's all I could embrace it as - a theory, something with too many variables and holes in the story.

It took a huge act of divine intervention and one brave school counselor who risked her job to reach out and share the Lord with me, to ultimately make me face God, acknowledge his power, love, and goodness toward me, and make the decision to put my faith in Him. But I'm not going to lie - it hasn't been an easy road, and it certainly hasn't given me a "perfect" life. So far from it! And even since getting saved, I haven't always loved God, followed Him, or respected Him, and there have even been times when I have questioned Him to the point of almost giving up on my faith in Him.

I am speaking so openly about this because I think too many Christians act like everything is constantly perfect and nothing can ever go wrong if you're a Christian. I think more Christians should be more open and honest - both to themselves, other believers, and the unchurched. Sure, its hard to be openly honest and vulnerable, especially since being so is hard and we always aim to put our best foot forward, but if we preach honesty, shouldn't we live it?

Anyway, I was doing some introspection into some current circumstances in my life, and the struggle to keep my faith that God will get us through. And my life isn't even half as hard as a lot of people! I'm not living in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, still trying to rebuild my home and my life 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, my husband and I have secure jobs despite this terrible economy, we always have food on our table and a roof over our heads, our children are healthy and thriving.... But still, life is hard no matter who you are!

As I was pondering, I came to a theory about why some people walk away from God, whether it be at an early age for lack of being able to define God, an environment and culture that tries to explain Him away, or hard circumstances that leave us wondering where He is and why we feel like He doesn't care.

The issue is this. We extend ourselves to God and we get let down. But its not because of Him, its because of us. I know you're sitting back saying, "Say wha..?" right now. Hear me out.

Its not until we fully embrace and begin to understand God's ways and heart that we begin to recognize that God has three answers to everything in our life: yes, no, and not right now. I think too many of us - Christian and non-Christian alike - view God as one of two things: a wishing well or an ATM.

The wishing well view goes like this. We assume that we send up a prayer or a plea to God and that our "wish will come true." We forget that God's ways are not our ways, and that He knows better than we do what is best for us. We may not think that or believe that, but its true. And so in losing sight of the fact that God doesn't always say yes, when the answer is no, we assume He doesn't care, so we become embittered and often get the "why bother with God if He won't bother with me" attitude, and walk away from Him. We believe some highly perpetuated myth that God grants ALL prayers, not realizing that maybe our prayers are not in our own and/or someone else's best interest. So let me tell you straight up - God is NOT a wishing well! You don't throw in your "prayer penny" and all your dreams come true. But here's some encouraging news about that. Sometimes when he says no, its because He has an even better answer to that request coming than we even thought to ask for.

And here's the ATM view. We assume that God's answers are instantaneous. We assume (as I recently did) that if we pray for the "perfect" job that will relieve "all" our financial stress, that it will automatically happen, and in a month's time things will improve. Its like we push the "magic prayer button" and God spits out an instantaneous response. Even Christians I believe think like this sometimes. We Christians are more prepared for God's answer to be no, but we still have a tough time with the "not right now." Waiting on the Lord, especially when circumstances are extremely difficult, is hard. We want the intantaneous response. We are used to a culture of instant gratification, and so I think that sometimes spills over into our prayer life. When the answer is wait, I think our impatience turns to frustration, and we think that God is mean and unfair. But the Bible says differently.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

So after many years of scratching my head, wondering why people walk away from God when they're young, or Christians struggle to "keep the faith" during intensely difficult circumstances, I am left to believe that it may be in large part due to our inability to accept when God's answer is no, or when God's answer isn't instantaneous. It takes faith, it takes maturity, and it takes patience to weather the storms of life without losing heart. Its difficult to want things so badly and so instantly to accept when it doesn't go our way. The key phrase is "our way." We forget, or don't want to accept, that God is bigger, greater, and knows better than we do what is best for us. When our expectations aren't met, we lose faith. Some temporarily, some forever. We become embittered toward God because we don't get our way. We're like spoiled children.

On that note, I was reminded of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (The kids and I just watched it a few weeks ago, so I guess its fresh in my mind.) Veruca is an exaggerated example, but I think she has both the "wishing well" and "ATM" mentalities going on. Maybe not in a faith sense, but nevertheless, I think she's a good example. She wants whatever she wants, and right now! And that's how we view our relationship with God. We ask of Him, and we want what we want, right now, and if we don't get our way, we throw a hissy fit and blame our Father - our mean, unfair Father who clearly doesn't love us, because if He did, He'd give us everything we want, right here and right now. He'd never say no, and he'd never make us wait for anything. Right?! (Rhetorical, sarcasm-laden question.)

I hope I have clearly explained my theory and that its some decent food for thought. And now its only appropriate I leave you with our favorite spoiled brat's little ditty:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reaching out

I had an epiphany today. (Oooh, scary!) I realized I haven't had any company over, other than family, in nearly two years! In that two years, the state of my house has gone downhill a lot. I finally drew a bit of a connection.

A few years ago (4 or 5), I was a good housekeeper. No, make that a great one. No clutter, no dirt...spotless. Like, almost OCD spotless. Then I went through a series of rejections to invitations to come over. Some people would say yes, then call and cancel the day of, and I would find out later it was because they got a "better offer" with their clique. I threw candle parties and scrapbooking parties, and even those who said they'd come would flake and nobody showed. That happened twice in a year. Finally, embittered, defeated, and wounded, I severed virtually all ties with those people and stopped having people over altogether. My house fell apart.

My house never fully recovered, but I began to heal from that hurt. Still, it was scary to put myself out there again at the risk of rejection. Reliving all the let-down just induced too much anxiety. And as I severed ties with an entire network of people, I lost almost all my "friends." (Using that term lightly because real friends don't do that kind of stuff.) Feeling alone, I just quit trying. Maybe one person/family a year.

The thing is, I am not a reclusive person. I am pretty social, and I love, love, LOVE to entertain. Seriously, I think one of my God-given ministries is the food ministry, as corny as that sounds. I love blessing people by cooking for them and serving them food, letting them take a break from their cooking, and I enjoy spending time with people. I really do.

So my epiphany is, even though I'm a social person, I gave up. I gave up on having people over because I gave up on trying to connect with people out of rejection. I didn't want to invite insincere "friends" over, and I was too scared to take a chance and invite someone who might ultimately hurt me into my home. This is my sanctuary, and I shouldn't allow people to hurt me on my own turf. So I think I just gave up on keeping my house very clean because I just figured, "well, nobody's coming over anyway, so why should it matter." Ultimately, I let it go to have an excuse to shut people out of my house, and in doing so, keeping a wall up so that I didn't really have to get that close to people. The problem is, I've realized that having few "real" friends is pretty lonely.

Admittedly, I am not really one who reaches out to people in the first place. I never have been. Sadly, I think I am more of a "taker" in my friendships than a "giver." People have to extend themselves to me, invite me, plan an event...I don't generally take that initiative.

But something has to change. I'm not getting any younger, and I think turning 30 a few weeks ago has made me re-evaluate my life, my current happiness, and the direction in which I'm going. I'm not unhappy or going through life without purpose - far from it - but I know I can have, and deserve, more. And so do my kids.

I feel self-conscious even about my kids' friends coming over a lot of the time, so unless someone asks, I rarely extend the invite on their behalf. I always wanted to be the "cool, young mom" whom all my kids' friends loved, and wanted to have pretty much an open door policy here at our house, where their friends always felt welcome to drop in. Neither my husband nor I had that growing up, so its kind of a foreign concept to us, but its what I've always desired to be as a mom. But I am depriving my kids, their friends, and myself of that. My kids need to have that ability to have friends over too, and what I'm doing is unfair to them. I can choose to shut people out because I'm an adult. They're kids, and they deserve that right.

So here's my goal... Reach out to more people. Stop making excuses, let go of the past, get this house in order, and start inviting people over! Sure, the whole thing seems a little daunting, but nothing worth anything in life comes easily. The house needs a lot of work (and its still 100 years old and funky...even on a "good" day its no lap of luxury), but I know its doable. I just have to do it. And I can't spend my life shutting people out and keeping them at an arm's length. In the end, I'm the one who will end up alone and unhappy. And that's just not fair.

So...here's to turning over a new leaf. And why did I blog about this? Because I think maybe having "witnesses," people to hold me to my word, may help me follow through. "May" being the key word. ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sharia

Sharia. It seems to be the new "buzz word" that people, particularly conservatives, keep getting all up in arms about. I am not going to say other people do or do not do their own "homework" because honestly I don't know, but as a Magic 8 Ball would say, "signs point to no." Why do I think that? Because it seems while this word is thrown around so much, largely as a scare tactic and a way to oppose anything having to do with the Muslim religion and culture in America, nobody I've come across personally can actually correctly define Sharia law. And so, to better grasp what it is in the first place, and why people are so opposed to it, I went in search of answers. And after hours upon hours of research, I still barely understand it. But here's my feeble attempt anyway, for whatever its worth.

The argument I hear by conservatives is that Sharia law is leaking into both American culture and her courts, and that the powers that be are allowing it, and that pretty soon Sharia "law" is going to basically take over America as we know it.

First of all, from my understanding, there is moral/personal Sharia - the moral, ethical, religious, and highly personal governance of one's own life by Sharia law. And there is legal Sharia - Sharia as it applies to legal matters. Yes, they are intertwined somewhat, but that doesn't mean they share the same function. The way I compare it to make it relevant to myself is the differentiation between Christianity being the framework by which I govern my own personal life, and the Constitution being the framework by which I abide by my country/culture's laws.

Secondly, Sharia itself is largely hard to define - both personal and court Sharia - because so much of it isn't "nailed down." Some comes straight from the Koran or other esteemed Muslim writings. But a lot of it also comes from.... Honestly, nobody knows where. It is based in large part on tradition and things accepted as "Muslim," however much of it appears nowhere in print. At least Christian Americans can say their convictions come from written sources - morally/personally from the Bible, and legally from the Constitution.

Read -here- for excellent information about this, including passages taken from the Koran and other Muslim writings. (Just be forewarned, some pop ups may come up when you click on the page...annoying and detracting, but I promise, the article is well worth the read.)

Now maybe its just bacause I am a Christian American, but I find the whole idea of a moral and legal code that isn't in written form unsettling. A code of any kind that isn't defined is one that is open to biases, corruption, usage for personal power and/or notariety, personal gain, manipulation, inaccurate translation and application...and the list is endless. Therein lies the fundamental flaw, in my eyes, within Sharia, and why I don't believe it will EVER be tolerated by or used for legal purposes within our courts. Even in matters pertaining to one's personal ethics. And here's why.

NO citizen in America, regardless of their religion, gets a free pass on murder (honor killings) or spousal or child abuse. Pre-meditated murder = life imprisonment or death sentence - end of story. People make the argument that honor killings have been permitted in America. This is absolutely untrue to the best of my knowledge. There is one case I know of where a man has been convicted and is on the run, but once caught, that man WILL be brought to justice for his heinous crime. Further, as for "eye for an eye retribution," that is also shot down hard by the Eighth Amendment's guideline for fair trials and justice to be carried out. "...nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." A court would never allow someone to enact retribution on another that is "cruel and unusual," such as, for example, crashing their car into someone because they killed their relative in a drunk driving accident.

In other countries, yes, some heinous acts of Sharia have been permitted or "swept under the rug" based on what I can only define as "religious exemptions." However, in America, that would be unconstitutional. It would be showing religious favortism, which is contrary to the Constitution's First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

This protects our rights to our religion, but it also protects one religion from being esteemed over another. To make an exception/exemption on a moral or legal matter which violates Constitutional law, would be in and of itself unconstitutional. So to permit or downplay honor killings, spousal abuse, child abuse, eye for an eye retribution, or anything else that is prosecuted by the law of the Constitution based on one's religion would be unconstitutional.

Still not convinced? Think of it this way... This is America. In America, regardless of whether or not you're a citizen of this country, if you're on our soil and commit a crime, you answer to our laws and legal process - NOT that of the country from which you immigrated or are visiting. And most, if not all, countries around the world have that same structure. Most other countries' legal processes/customs are a lot more harsh and their systems are a lot more corrupt and biased, but ultimately, you are to answer to the legal process of the country in which you commit the crime. It may not seem right, and it may not seem fair, but that's how it works. To ask that your own legal process be used in another country's courts is ludicrous to begin with! You would be laughed at for even asking!

But for the sake of argument, let's look at what would happen if we even tried to allow Sharia in our courts.

To cross-reference, here's the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

And here's the Sharia. These references are taken from -Wikipedia- but have been collaborated by a number of other sources. I am going to break it down with my own comments/dissections.

-- Sharia courts do not generally employ lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves.

So a Muslim wants to use Sharia. Great, then they waive their right to legal representation. In my opinion, that is a really stupid legal move, but okay, fine, that's their right. It probably won't work very well in their favor - it will make for a VERY weak case, since an "Average Joe" doesn't know the court system the way an attorney does - but whatever, that's their choice. If they want to waive the right and have little to no strong case and probably therefore lose their legal battle, then fine. No skin of my nose.

-- Trials are conducted solely by the judge, and there is no jury system.

So much for a "public trial, by an impartial jury." The Sixth Amendment pretty much shoots that down to begin with, which is enough right there. But for the sake of argument, even if it was decided that a jury not be present, that is putting your fate in the hands of one person - one person who may have missed things, has biases, etc. In my opinion, not wise.

-- There is no pre-trial discovery process...

This would not lead to a fair trial AT ALL! Things would be VERY skewed! Without a pre-trial discovery process, crucial evidence isn't obtained, so never entered into court. This could cause a guilty person to go free, or an innocent person to be charged. It is crucial to the process in order to maintain an "unbiased" trial! I just cannot foresee our courts, under constitutional law, EVER conducting a legal proceeding without it.

-- ...no cross-examination of witnesses...

Again, this is integral to the Sixth Amendment's guidelines "to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor..." And without cross-examination, you are only hearing one side of the story. This could either exhonerate a guilty party, or convict an innocent one.

-- ...and no penalty of perjury.

No penalty for lying?!? Well, if lying is permitted without penalty, then you know there will be a LOT more liars in court than there already are! Wow, can we say corruption of justice?? If this were ever to happen, then yes, that would be a scary thing, because it would undermine the entire legal fundamentals of American justice!

-- Instead of precedents and codes, Sharia relies on medieval jurist's manuals and collections of non-binding legal opinions, or fatwas, issued by religious scholars (ulama, particularly a mufti); these can be made binding for a particular case at the discretion of a judge.

Non-binding opinions? Issued by religious scholars? Made binding at the discretion of a judge? Did these stick out like sore thumbs to anyone beside me?!? This would mean an ever-changing, ever-open-for-discussion, nothing-set-in-stone legal system. The Constitution IS set in stone! It cannot be changed on the whim of one judge or religious leader, and is hard to misinterpret, especially since our legal guidelines are pretty airtight. I take comfort in knowing what (hypothetically) would be facing me BEFORE I stand trial, and not be at the mercy of the judge, based on what the religious "scholars" are telling him/her! And fortunately, with the Constitution, I can go into any court knowing what to expect, and knowing its not subject to change based on the "gospel" of any religious leader or the discretion of any judge. Shot down by the Sixth Amendment once again!

-- Sharia courts' rules of evidence also maintain a distinctive custom of prioritizing oral testimony and excluding written and documentary evidence (including forensic and circumstantial evidence), on the basis that it could be tampered with or forged, or possibly due to low levels of literacy in premodern Islamic society. A confession, an oath, or the oral testimony of a witness are the only evidence admissible in a Sharia court, written evidence is only admissible with the attestations of multiple, witnesses deemed reliable by the judge, i.e. notaries.[107] Testimony must be from at least two witnesses, and preferably free Muslim male witnesses, who are not related parties and who are of sound mind and reliable character; testimony to establish the crime of adultery, or zina must be from four direct witnesses. Forensic evidence (i.e. fingerprints, ballistics, blood samples, DNA etc.) and other circumstantial evidence is likewise rejected in hudud cases in favor of eyewitnesses, a practice which can cause severe difficulties for women plaintiffs in rape cases.

Sorry for such a big chunk on this one, but it all makes pretty much the same points over and over, but better than I can, so there ya go. Basically, with Sharia law, any evidence other than verbal testimony is rejected. No forensics, no circumstantial, no written, nada. However, the majority of the most heinous crimes, such as murder, rape, etc., HAVE NO WITNESSES!! So we're supposed to reject forensics, physical evidence, cirumstantial evidence, and written evidence in favor of the testimony of a suspected murderer or rapist?!? Are you kidding me?!? Basically, all the evidence says the perp is guilty, but he gets off scott free because, well, he says he's innocent?!! Oh, and I'm sure his cronies testifying on his behalf are all credible witnesses who are telling the truth and were there to witness him raping some poor woman. Yeah...of course they were. And obviously, their testimony is better and stronger than the victim's because, well, they're men, and men are always so much more honest and credible. Of course they are. (That was sarcasm, if you couldn't tell.) Sarcasm aside, this would NEVER fly in an American court of law! NEVER! We find the evidence, process it, and USE it, and let the EVIDENCE have a voice. To silence the evidence is to silence the most credible witness.

-- Testimony from women is given only half the weight of men, and testimony from non-Muslims may be excluded altogether (if against a Muslim). Non-Muslim minorities, however, could and did use Sharia courts, even amongst themselves.

Yeah, that'll make for an impartial trial. Mm hmm. And besides, I'm sure all the women's rights activists will just roll over and let that happen! (Sarcasm again.)

-- Sharia courts, with their tradition of pro se (self) representation, simple rules of evidence, and absence of appeals courts, prosecutors, cross examination, complex documentary evidence and discovery proceedings, juries and voir dire (oath of honesty and honor) proceedings, circumstantial evidence, forensics, case law, standardized codes, exclusionary rules, and most of the other infrastructure of civil and common law court systems, have as a result, comparatively informal and streamlined proceedings.

This is Wiki's summary, so I'll offer mine. (Oh goody. As if you haven't read enough of my mumble jumble already, right?!) Basically, by my interpretation, their system is one entirely of "he said, she said." Nothing is concrete, and its highly biased and wishy-washy. It is open to interpretation, changes, corruption, selfish usages, and therefore, I'm sure, results in many (if not mostly) false convictions and exhonerations.

By contrast, the US Constitution is concrete. It doesn't change, it doesn't bend, and if implemented properly, cannot be penetrated by corruption or used for ones' own personal motives. Each person walking into a court knows what to expect. They know its going to allow them a speedy, fair, public trial by an unbiased jury. They know there will be witnesses who will be cross-examined, and forensic, physical, circumstantial, and written evidence will be allowed to speak for itself and for the victim.

Ultimately, Sharia itself - moral and legal - is different from person to person. Each person defines it differently, and since there is no concrete governing document (for either facet, but especially legal) by which to base, well, anything really, then I cannot believe it will ever come to pass here in America. How can something undefined overrule and overthrow the defined?

Bottom line, as long as the Sixth Amendment stands, then Sharia never will. And based on that, I don't live in fear of Sharia. Do I like it? No. Would I ever use it to live by in my own life? Never. Would I (given the choice) want to use it in a court of law? No way. But because of my Constitution, and the court system in my America, I don't live in fear of it. Sure, its an interesting time and world in which we live. But this is America. Its Constitution is POWERFUL, and I have faith in it and in my country, that it will never be torn down in favor of a system that is so fundamentally flawed, ineffective, and biased. That's not what America is about - not when the Constitution was written, not now, and (hopefully) not ever. I think we'd have to get both really stupid and really lazy before we'd ever practice Sharia in our courts, or permit the aspects of it which violate constitutional and human rights in our culture. And I like to believe we're smarter than that. ;)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fear of political disclosure

So I have been stewing on this a lot the past few days. No, make that weeks. No wait...months. Years? Anyway, its something I keep coming back to over and over again, and its something that I have realized I need to work through and get over.

So here it is... I live in constant dread of others opinions/judgments of me, especially those in the church potentially calling my faith into question over moral, ethical, and political stances that don't align with the "mainstream." Part of this fear is justified through past experiences.

When I was in Bible college, someone suggested that I be kicked off our ministry team since I don't speak in tongues, and in his mind, that is the true test of deep faith...or something like that. Luckily, in her wisdom, the leader of the team sided with me and put him in his place, but it hurt me. It put doubts in my mind about my own level of committment and faith in the Lord, and made me feel like an outsider in an environment that I believed should have been affirmed and uplifted in, not questioned, judged, and singled out in.

Then again at a previous church I used to attend, there were a few times I expressed different opinions or views (mainly on mental health issues, attachment parenting, and spanking), and was told all the reasons why my thinking was wrong. And it was even backed up with people "sharing" the Word with me to show me how wrong my views were. (As if I don't know what the Bible says. Sorry...but I found it rather condescending and insulting.)

So far, praise the Lord, I haven't felt anything but accepted and loved at the church I currently attend, but I'm not going to lie... There have been a few times when others have been nodding in agreement with the pastor's opinions on world events and political issues, and I have been (internally) shaking my head in disagreement. When it comes to the Word, we align. My pastor, and our church as a whole, is right on the money Biblically! But where issues begin to stray from the Word, there are many on which I differ from the majority...in any Christian church or circle.

Oftentimes, I have wanted to post political issues along with my thoughts on Facebook, or here within my own blog, but have stopped myself (especially on Facebook) for fear of what others, mainly those in the church, will think. I know its silly, but I don't want them to question my relationship with the Lord or consider removing me from ministry, or...whatever...based on my views. (Hey, like I said, its happened before.) I feel like when it comes to hardcore Republican Christians, when they find out I'm (gasp!) not a Republican, I am automatically labeled as "backslidden" or having relationship with God issues, based on my political views. And in talking with the majority of Christian Republicans, I feel like that pre-emptive labeling prevents them from any effort of wanting to hear me out. My stances on certain issues have real - and even Biblical! - reasoning behind them, yet few listen long enough to hear my reasons. I just get the label, and that's that. Case (unfortunately) closed.

In my own personal life, my views do align with Christianity. Shouldn't that be sufficient?! Just because I want to afford all Americans - and "neighbors" around the world - the freedom to make their own choices governing their own lives, even if I disagree in my personal life with their choices, doesn't make me less of a Christian. My political views have no bearing whatsoever on my salvation! I'm saved by GRACE, not by voting Republican! It doesn't mean I am less dedicated to the Lord or less educated as to what His Word says. But yet, that is how I am too often left feeling when I speak my mind. So most of the time, I don't, even when there is something I really feel passionately about speaking out about. Which is sad, because these are "my" people; the people who should love and accept me regardless. Not tell me how they think I am wrong, not preach to me about the Word I am already quite familiar with and follow wholeheartedly, but instead to try and listen, respect, and understand where I'm coming from.

So I am left with a big conclusion that even I don't totally like. If I am judged, I need to let those people go from my life. If I am not afforded the same respect that I give to others with differing opinions, then how can I really call that person a friend? If I am expected to bite my tongue or face having my faith put on the chopping block, then why would I want to associate with such narrow-minded people? And certainly if I am judged and my faith is called on the carpet based on things that have absolutely nothing having to do with my own personal relationship with the Lord, then why should I allow myself continued exposure to such toxic people?

My friend, Logan, put it most eloquently in a conversation I had with him yesterday:

"If someone doesn't like you because you have the brains and heart to feel the way you do and the backbone to say it, it seems that that's their problem, not yours."

I don't mean to rant, ramble, and share with the world (okay, or all of, like, 15 people who will read this blog) this wierd self-therapy, but I do feel like I should at least make my thoughts and feelings known, because I feel like its the first step in my quest to full self-acceptance and letting the past hurts and go. Trust me, its SCARY to be this open and vulnerable, but as "they" say, how can you move forward when you're stuck in the past? And as Dr. Phil says, "How can you change what you don't acknowledge?"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where values come from

There have been a lot of things in the media lately that have sparked the same thought in me over and over. I am going to try to keep this less political, and maybe I am a total nutjob for my views, but hear me out.

I keep hearing this undertone of, "Oh no! What is this going to do to our values as Christians/Americans/etc." And once upon a time I followed that herd. I was worried that if anything was ruled in favor of Muslims/foreigners/etc. that it would be the downfall of Christianity/America as we know it. But as I get older and (I'd like to think) wiser, I am beginning to realize that's not the case.

A big issue is gay rights. I have heard it said by many, many a Christian that it will undermine the values of Christianity to allow gays the right to marry? My question is, how?! How does it directly affect what I believe and how I live my own life? Does it really threaten my own relationship with Christ if gay people want to get married? One of my best friends is gay. Does having a close friendship with him undermine the Christian values I have? No! It doesn't! He and I have very different views on many things, but him being gay has no effect on my salvation!

Then I hear it taken one step further and people say, "Well, what if they allow pro-gay curriculum into the school systems." (Whatever that even means...) So what? My kids don't go to school to learn their core values. They go to school to learn math, reading, writing, history, geography.... And I doubt many people consider 2+2=4 or the capitol of California being Sacramento as core values. My point is - and maybe I am either naive or overly-confident in this statement - I don't feel threatened by what else is "out there." Jeremy and I work hard to bring our kids up right; to teach them good, godly, Christian values, and to respect and serve others, even if they're different.

I wrote a blog years ago about a woman who was suing her child's school for singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" because it was a Christian song (eyeroll!) and she was Jewish. My kids' school Christmas program includes songs from every religion except Christianity (for which my husband always gets a little grumbly every year), however, it doesn't bother me in the least that they are learning about Hannukah or Kwaanza. I mentioned this in that blog, too, but I don't honestly feel threatened by my kids learning other things. In fact, and maybe this is wierd, but I sometimes see public schooling my kids as a blessing, in that it opens far more doors to talk about the world, other people's thoughts and values, and reinforce what we believe and why we believe it. And trust me, Seth's only going into 3rd grade, and we've had a LOT of "teaching moments" already.

I pray for my kids, that they would grow up to know and love the Lord. I pray that they will grow up to be godly men and women who do great things for the Kingdom. And Jeremy and I do everything in our power to teach them how to "walk the walk" of a Christian. In the back of my mind, I do undertstand that maybe they will reject Him. Nothing is a guarantee. But I feel like if I allow that "spirit of fear" to take over and convince me that I need to vote to over-regulate others' lives and freedoms in order to protect my own, then am I really putting my full faith in the Lord to correctly guard and guide my childrens' hearts?

I get bothered by the very notion that we should restrict others' freedoms to begin with, just on the mere basis that we don't like what they say/do/think/believe. But it bothers me even more that we're doing it in order to "preserve Christian values." Obviously, I want to preserve my own values and those of my kids in our own lives, buuut....that's between us and God, and only us and God. That isn't the school's job! That isn't the government's job! That is the job of each and every individual and/or their parents. Values are learned at home, NOT at school or through the ballot box.

Christians, we need to be spending more time sharing with our kids about the Lord and showing them why we need to follow Him, and less time telling our kids to hate or fear those we disagree with. We need to spend more time showing our kids how to love others, and less time showing them how to judge, condemn, and ostracize them. And we ourselves need to do the same. Remember, we are "in the world but not of it." We need to be in it - actively working for the Lord, and teaching our children to do the same. But no, we cannot be of it. But the separation of self and surroundings needs to be more internal than external. We cannot shelter ourselves and our kids from the world by fear, hatred, avoidance, and legislation. That only goes so far, and hurts far too many people in the process...ourselves included. The way we shelter ourselves and our kids is by having a right relationship with the Lord. That can only be done through prayer, reading the Word, repentence, and reliance on Him.

Reliance on Him... I guess that's what it boils down to. If we wholeheartedly - without doubts and fears - rely on Him, then we have no "need" to rely on the schools, government, etc. to protect and teach our values for us.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"...or for worse. In sickness...."

In 3 days (August 5), Jeremy and I celebrate our 10th anniversary. So in light of that, I was going to draft a marriage blog anyway. But I had a conversation with one of Jeremy's aunts the other day about marriage, and it hit me hard. (In a good way.) Her words have been ringing in my mind non-stop since, so I thought it only appropriate that I pass them on and add my own thoughts to her wisdom.

First a little background...

Jeremy's dad has been battling cancer for the past few years, and has been going downhill more progressively over the past few months. He has become a lot more weak and has been having more trouble with walking and things like that because he is so weak. There are a number of other side effects too, but for the sake of family privacy, I am not going to elaborate much more. Jeremy's aunt - the one I mentioned above - has taken on the role of caregiver when Jeremy's mom has to work. She drives 5 hours each way, and stays at their house during the week, so that she can be there to support and help care for my father-in-law.

Jeremy's aunt and I were chatting in the kitchen the other day and I mentioned how concerned I am not only for my father-in-law, obviously, but for my mother-in-law. I just can't imagine the emotional, mental, and physical toll it has got to be taking on her. My mother-in-law is one of the toughest cookies I know, but I know it has to be unbearable at times watching the one you love in pain, having trouble doing the simplest things for themself anymore. Jeremy's aunt said this (it may not be verbatum, but its close):

You know the part in your wedding vows where it says "or worse?" This is the "or worse." When you are young, standing up there at the altar, you have absolutely no idea what "or worse" even means. You are just gliding by on those feelings that it will always be "for better." But this is what marriage is about right here. Look at her [my mother-in-law] and you can learn something valuable. There comes a time in marriage when you don't want to do it anymore. Its hard, it hurts, its no longer fun, and your spouse is no longer that attractive person you stood next to at the altar. There is nothing fun about the "or worse," but you made a vow. And there will come a time when you have had enough and will want to give up, but that's not what its about. If you can't accept the "or worse" as part of the package, then you have no business getting married in the first place. Too many people give up when it gets hard, but you have to recognize, marriage is for life. Its for the long haul. You made a vow, you made a promise, and you need to keep your word. And this is what keeping your word is all about.

Powerful words. And you know, even 10 years in to our marriage, I still don't think the reality of "or worse" has fully sunk in. Jeremy and I have been through a LOT in 10 years, but I still don't think we've ever gotten to severe enough of a level of "or worse" yet for either of us to really grasp it.

Its ironic... I was thinking about our past anniversaries, and 3 of our actual anniversaries have been great examples of "or worse."

***trig alert***

On our 3rd anniversary, we had to cancel our dinner reservations to rush to the women's center for a check-up because I was bleeding. Two days later, I miscarried. That was one of the toughest times. We were devastated. We cried, prayed, and got through it, but it was heartbreaking.

Another year is what I like to refer to as "the pot roast anniversary." I wanted to go out and do something to celebrate our anniversary, but we were so broke that all we had was a frozen roast. So instead of going out, having a break, and enjoying a nice date, we ate pot roast with our kids. In hindsight, I guess its not that big of a deal, but it made us sad that we were stuck at home with pot roast on our anniversary.

Another year, we had the biggest fight of our marriage (about what I now can't even remember) on our anniversary. We were up almost the entire night yelling at eachother.

Through that reflection, I realized that we've been through some hard days and gotten through it. We got through the loss of a baby. We got through (albeit temporarily) financial difficulties. And we got through a day of wanting to throttle eachother. I think its safe to say that life throws some pretty unexpected curveballs. And Jeremy's aunt is completely right. Standing at that altar I had no idea we would ever lose a baby, or feel so financially pinched, or have days when we couldn't stand eachother. (And that's just scratching the surface!) I can only speak for myself, but honestly, I did say my vows completely unaware of the full weight of the words coming out of my mouth. But as I get older, and the more challenges we face, the more I think it is beginning to click.

I may whine and complain about my husband's little habits that drive me bonkers, but when I look at the bigger picture, it comes into focus. I am married to a pretty great guy. He works harder than anyone I have ever known. He listens to me. He keeps me grounded (and anyone who knows me well, knows that's a feat in itself). He is trustworthy. He keeps our family afloat, even when it seems like there is nowhere to go but down.

So yeah, marriage is about the "for betters." We need to enjoy those days, those joyous occasions when all is right with our world. But we cannot ignorantly believe there will never be "or worses." So the million dollar question is, will we have the stick-to-it-ness to continue in a marriage that is no longer fun or easy? Are we willing to stand by our word, our promise, our vow, and see it through to the very end? All I can say is, I am pretty sure it will be worth it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My thoughts on faith healing

There is a church in the Portland area that has come under fire for their no-traditional-medicine, faith healing approach to medical concerns. A teen died a few months ago due to an easily treatable condition that his parents chose not to treat conventionally, relying on prayer alone. His parents were convicted on charges of child neglect. And in my opinion, rightfully so. Now their newest thing is a family refusing to get an eye condition of their 7 month old daughter treated that could cause blindness if left untreated.

Here is the story.

Here is a comment I wrote on KATU (one of the Portland news stations)'s fan page regarding this:

I'm a Christian and believe God can and does perform miracles, BUT its on HIS terms, not ours! And sometimes the answer is the quiet, simple one, not the "flashy," mystic one. God imparted humans with great intelligence; the intelligence to heal others through medicine. In fact, one of the authors of the Bible (Luke) was himself a doctor! Why would Jesus (God in the flesh) possibly choose a doctor as one of His 12 disciples and an author of part of His Word if He didn't believe what they do is holy and good? And Paul instructed Timothy to drink wine (the "medicine" of that time) to cure a stomach ailment. (1 Timothy 5:23) Based on that evidence, how can I possibly believe God is against conventional medicine? If you need healing, go get it! Don't wait for a miracle to fall out of the sky, because the miracle is already here - you just have to go get it! These people clearly don't understand the Bible. This is a cult, and not a true representation of Christianity. Most Christians are intelligent, reasonable people who would do ANYHTING for the good of their children (which God also supports). Its clear these people are more wrapped up in obeying their cult than doing right by their children, and that just sickens me!

That is by no means all my thoughts, but it is a good start/summary. So to elaborate, let's start with the faith aspect of this.

I guess one of my biggest issues with this is, these people are completely misinterpreting God's heart. If Christians are called to be representations of God, then they are representing God as someone who neglects His children. They think they are honoring God by their choices to ignore mainstream medicine, but in actuality, they are misunderstanding Him, and therefore misrepresenting Him. They are not a true picture of the TRUE God! But yet, its extremist cult members like this that give the collective body of Christians a bad wrap. Its extremists like this, who do NOT understand God's Word and His ways, that are sometimes all the world see. As a Christian, it frustrates me that I get lumped in with people like this. And it also makes me sad that there are people out there who don't know God....even if they think they do. They don't understand that He would do ANYTHING for us, and that His heart is that we love our children as he loves us.

This may seem like a harsh statement, but I would never want to follow, much less serve, a God that expected me to neglect the needs of my children. I would venture to say I may even walk away from a God who wanted me to do that. My children are my life, my breath...everything that I care about. I love my children more than words could ever convey! I would do anything for them! I would even DIE for them! And God, the TRUE God, feels the same way about His children - you and I. Think about it for a second... God came to Earth, in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, to bring His children back to Him, to teach His children His ways, to heal their hearts, and ultimately to lay down His life for them. THAT is how a parent is supposed to treat their children!! A parent is supposed to do ANYTHING for their child whom they love....ANYTHING....even lay down their life for them. And as I said I wouldn't hesitate to lay down my life for my children, God didn't hesitate to lay down His. So I am left with one burning, and quite disturbing, question... Why are these people unwilling to love their children as Jesus loves us? If they are truly followers of Christ (and that is the name of their church, "Followers of Christ"), then why aren't they following His examples?

As a Christian, I am by no means opposed to "letting go and letting God." Not at all! But I feel like we need to do something proactive too; to do what we are capable of, and let God deal with what we are incapable of. We should ask for God's help, wisdom, and guidance in everything, but we still need to be diligent. I believe in the power of prayer with all my heart. I wouldn't be sitting here today as a Christian if it weren't, in large part, because of the constant prayer of a friend of mine over the course of 4 years. But I believe that if the answer is right there in front of us, yet we ignore it, then we are ignoring the answer God has already provided for us. Which to me is like saying, "Sorry God, this isn't good enough. Can I have something else please?" "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17, NIV) Did you get that?? EVERY good and perfect gift comes from God above! To have a good and perfect gift in front of you and ignore it, seeking another gift - a bigger, better, different, more "significant" gift - is, how do I put it nicely? Rude? Inconsiderate? Selfish? It would be like me going out and buying my kids a swingset for Christmas, and my son saying, "Yeah, that's nice and all, Mom, but can you buy me a DS instead?" I took the time, the energy, and the money to provide him with a great gift, something he could use and enjoy. To tell me he wanted a different gift would just be rude, inconsiderate, and selfish, right?! So to do so toward God would be all that much more, right?! That's the way I see it.

And one other thing... Christians (myself included!) are opposed to abortion, believing that no life should be terminated, no matter how small or new. Yet, these same people who don't support abortion are evidently okay with the termination of the life of their child if they need medical help. It makes no sense. Life is life. If you can't support abortions, but can support watching your teenage son die of a treatable condition, then I'm sorry....doesn't that make you a hypocrit?

Okay, now for a more legal/political look at this topic....

I am all for the separation of church and state - both as a Christian and a Libertarian. I want the church out of the state's affairs, and the state out of the church's affairs. But that said, medical neglect is a form of neglect, neglect is a form of abuse, and abuse deserves punishment. And for anyone outside of a faith healing church, its cut and dry - "you do the crime, you do the time." You neglect a child, you abuse a child, you go to jail. Its that simple. Why should any faith be an excuse not to pay the same penalties as anyone else for the exact same crime? They are still Americans, and should therefore still have to answer to an American court of law. As soon as we start making exceptions, that is when our judicial system no longer means anything. So on that note, I am thankful that the State of Oregon didn't let these parents off scott-free. THEY, and they alone, were the only thing standing between life and death for their child! And now, this new family with the little girl, her parents are the only obstacle between sight and blindness. How sad and selfish!

If you are a legal adult and want to refuse medical intervention, fine, be my guest. That is your right. But if you are a child's caregiver, you are supposed to advocate for and protect that child and meet their needs. And if you don't, then you have just committed abuse. Its that simple. And no amount of religious justification can make that right, nor should it get you off the hook.

I believe that every American has a right to their own belief systems, and I think one thing that sets America apart is the protection of one's religious rights and freedoms. But the Constitution clearly states that the government's job is to intervene in matters of violation of someone's God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Denying your child life- or sight-saving treatments is clearly a violation of the right to life! So its a cause for the government to take action. Prosecution is the clear consequence.

There's more I wanted to add, but its not coming to me right now. I guess that's what happens when you make a blog a week-long project. But oh well....you get the idea.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Founding Fathers' Faith

Once again, I am sooo sick and tired of hearing people say that America is a Christian nation, and that we have to protect its Christian interests and integrity. I have done hours of personal research on the topic of the forefathers' faith and, as best as anyone can interpret, their intent with faith's/Christianity's role in the founding and governing of our nation, and have come to the conclusion that we are not a Christian nation, were never intended to be, don't know where that implication is coming from within a historical context, and am scared that so many think its the governments job to "protect" and "implement" Christian values.

Through my research, I have learned of the faith backgrounds of many of the founding fathers. Many people will only look at the issue from one side or the other; they either were devout Christians who wanted a Christian nation, or they weren't religious men, and therefore wanted a nation that didn't acknowledge religion. I think its both and neither.

Those in the "Christian nation" camp base their viewpoint on the fact the founding fathers believed in God and/or were "religious men." They were "religious" men...most of them. Most of them did believe in God, at least, as God the Creator. But in Jesus? In the foundational principles that Christianity is based on, such as redemption through Jesus alone, that Jesus was God in the flesh, the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), that we are all one day destined for either heaven or hell, that God is someone who cares to be a part of our daily lives.... That is another matter entirely.

Here are the Founding Fathers' religious affiliations:

* John Adams - Unitarian
Unitarians are open to the teachings of Jesus, but accept all faiths as worthwhile and valid. They do not believe in eternal damnation or hell, believing all will one day enter heaven.

* Samuel Adams - Most likely a believer in Jesus, based on the wording of his last will and testament:
"Principally, and first of all, I resign my soul to the Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for the pardon of my sins."


* Benjamin Franklin - Deist
A Deist is "One who believes in the existence of a God or supreme being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason." Deists reject the Judeo-Christian accounts of God as well as the Bible. They do believe that God is eternal and good, but flatly reject having a relationship with Him through Christ.

* Alexander Hamilton - Episcopalian, appears to be a believer in Jesus, as evidenced by his purported dying words:
"I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me."
However, I must note, these were only "purportedly" his last words. They are not in written form, therefore not verifiable.

*Patrick Henry - May or may not be a believer in Jesus, most likely was, based on a letter to his daughter:
"Amongst other strange things said of me, I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of the number; and indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long, and have given no decided and public proofs of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is a character which I prize far above all this world has, or can boast."
I find it interesting though that he mentions he didn't speak about his Christian beliefs publicly. His faith was personal and private.

* John Jay - Most likely was a believer in Christ, based on a letter to John Bristed:
"While in France . . . I do not recollect to have had more than two conversations with atheists about their tenents. The first was this: I was at a large party, of which were several of that description. They spoke freely and contemptuously of religion. I took no part in the conversation. In the course of it, one of them asked me if I believed in Christ? I answered that I did, and that I thanked God that I did."

* Thomas Jefferson - Deist
Deists respect Christ's teachings, but reject His divinity, His miracles, and His resurrection - all fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. Jefferson penned The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels, in which he removed all mentionings of miracles or anything of supernatural nature, such as the resurrection and ascention, which are the most fundamental of all fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. So I can only conclude that Jefferson was definitely NOT a Christian!

* George Washington - Cannot be determined
All his writings, and writings by others about his faith, contradict one another. I believe he did have a sense of faith and belief in God the Creator, but whether it goes beyond that is unknown.

There is much more to read, and is put much better than I have, here. It is the most unbiased, factually-based source I have found so far.

So, as far as bonafide, Jesus-believing Christians, of the ones listed above, I think its safe to say it was about 50/50. ALL believed in a higher power, but some definitely did NOT believe in the divinity, ressurrection, and ascention of Jesus, and therefore cannot be considered Christians.

Okay, and here's where I get all preachy.... Belief in God alone, without Jesus, does NOT a Christian make! The Bible addresses this in James 2:19. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." I understand that I am taking the verse somewhat out of context - in full context it applies to belief without action (faith without works) - but the bottom line is, you can be a believer in God, but that doesn't make you a Christian. Simply acknowledging God doesn't mean you believe in, or put your faith in, His Son, Jesus Christ. So certainly demons wouldn't consider themselves Christians! But yet, they do acknowledge there is a God. Much the same, one can believe in God, but that doesn't make them a Christian. So it bugs me when people assume that just because the founding fathers were men of faith that translates into them being Christians, and them therefore basing our government on Christian principles.

But here's where it gets tricky.... Our founding fathers were men of faith...one faith or another. Certainly their faiths drove their personal belief systems, and it was their personal convictions that determined what was written into our governing documents. However, I cannot believe our nation was founded INTENTIONALLY on Christian principles, because not all our founding fathers shared the same faith, and therefore, I cannot believe they would have all been in accordance on founding our nation on the belief system of one sector of them all. I do, however, think that they all acknowledged that Americans have an entitlement to exercise their God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I mean, that's pretty clear-cut, indisputably written into our Declaration of Independence. But...even atheists believe in the universal principles of personal safety, protection, privacy (life), freedom to govern ones own life as they see fit without restrictions by others (liberty), and the ability to work toward prosperity (pursuit of happiness). Yes, you could say these are Christian principles, because they are - most definitely they were things God established and Jesus taught about and fought for while He walked among us - but they are principles that nobody in humanity can argue with, regardless of religious affiliation. They are HUMAN principles! Given by God, yes, but I hardly think we can call them "Christian principles," because ALL men - Christian and non-Christian alike - believe in treating others with respect for their life, liberties, and pursuit of happiness! It is so much farther-reaching than Christianity! So I don't believe our founding fathers wrote those principles in because they were in one Christian accord....because they weren't all Christians! I believe they wrote it in there because they were in HUMAN accord - they wanted the best life possible given to every American, regardless of where they stood religiously.

Now, all that said, do I deny Christianity's role in our history and government? Not for a second! But I still don't think we are, or were ever intended to be, a Christian nation. Instead, I believe we are a "nation that is predominantly inhabited, and therefore heavily influenced throughout history, BY Christians." We see God everywhere in this great nation of ours. Christians are involved in humanitarian works, politics....there are Christian churches everywhere....we openly pray and give talks, we share our faith openly with others... We are definitely a nation predominantly "OF" Christians, but we aren't exclusively a "Christian nation," and were not ever intended to be.

But I firmly believe every Christian has an obligation to make America great. We have an obligation to meet the needs of our friends and neighbors; those down the block, 10 states over, and around the globe. I believe we need to take care of our country's money and resources, our environment... We need to be productive, loving, caring people who uphold what Christ is about WITHIN our nation, and in our relationships with other nations. We have been called by God to be used by Him in whatever capacity we can right where He has put us, and we are fortunate enough to be Christians in America, where we can easily, freely, and safely commune and collaborate with other Christians. But would God's call be any different if we were a believer in India, Japan, or Afghanistan? No, it wouldn't. We are called to His work no matter where we live. So here in America, we are the "nation's Christians," but are still not a "Christian nation."

So to say we're a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, by founding fathers who were Christians, I believe is inaccurate. But on the flip side, to say we're a nation without godly influence, without God-fearing, love-spreading Christians, is also inaccurate. Our culture is immersed in Christian influence, but our government was not designed to uphold, protect, or influence it, nor push Christian values on the unwilling. America is for ALL MEN!! Christian and non-Christian, ALL men's rights are protected under our Constitution, and NO man's rights should be determined, restricted, or undermined by our government!

One final note.... If you cannot tell - either from this post or others - I am a Christian. However I am against the religious right pushing Christian values on the unwilling non-Christian. So if its possible for me to retain a level of separation between my Christian convictions and my political ones, do you think its possible that our founding fathers were able to as well? I think they were more than capable, and I think they saw the value in doing so. Even the most Christian of our founding fathers were able to acknowledge the need for a government that respected the rights of even those who weren't Christians. In my opinion, it is quite pious to think that one group's relgious values should be everyone's political values. So I am incredibly grateful that our founding fathers had the good sense to recognize the harm and oppression of a government founded as such, and didn't establish America that way!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Not to get techincal, but they're fighting for what??

Okay, so maybe I am a horrible person for bringing this up on Memorial Day. And maybe I am being really nit-picky. But just like everything else, this is MY blog, and MY opinion, so I'm gonna say it.

I am growing increasingly more and more irritated with people talking about the troops fighting for our freedom. They aren't fighting for our freedom, they are fighting for our safety!

Way back in the day, during the Revolutionary War, yes, they were fighting for our freedom, our independence from Britain and the tyrannical control of the King over every aspect of their lives. In Britain they weren't free, so our fore fathers came to America to establish a new nation. Through the Declaration of Independence, they declared themselves free. Through the Revolutionary War, they fought for that freedom. And in our Constitution they outline what those freedoms are and state they are our unalienable rights, the rights of ALL men!

Our freedoms aren't given to us by waging wars and fighting foreign enemies! We are already free, we are a sovereign nation, our fore fathers fought for our freedom from another country's dominion. We won that freedom over 200 years ago! Being a sovereign nation, protected by a Constitution that states our rights are endowed by our Creator (though NOT claming, as many think, that it was founded on Christian principles!), our freedoms cannot, will not, be taken away by a foreign enemy. Not gonna happen. Not possible.

For one thing, if our freedoms are in fact endowed by our Creator, then they would have to be taking our rights essentially away from God. No man can do that! No enemy can do that! They can torture and kill us, but they cannot take from us something that is inherently God given.

Secondly, a foreign nation certainly can't take our freedoms away. Unless they completely overthrow our government, and everyone here in the US just rolls over and goes along with it, that isn't going to happen. They can threaten our safety, our security, and our lives, but they cannot take our freedoms. Our HUMAN rights are given and protected by God Himself, and our AMERICAN rights are protected through our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our victory in the Revolutionary War. Those rights cannot be undone, without recreating both God and history, neither of which CAN be recreated!

So our soldiers today are NOT fighting for our freedom, they are fighting for our safety. We live in a volatile, hateful world where the way we settle differences is by harming, threatening, and killing. Our troops are doing something about THAT! They are fighting to keep us safe, keeping those who aim to harm us out of our country and keep us safe.

I would venture to say that even those who are fighting against us, our "enemies," are fully aware that they cannot take our freedoms away. They know they can threaten, scare, harm, torture, and kill us, but they have to know that will do nothing to actually take our freedoms away. They can cause both bodily and emotional pain to us by killing our people, but they cannot take away our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!

I support our troops. I believe they are doing something very important and brave, in putting themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. But I believe they are fighting for our safety, and not so much for our freedom.

So do you want to know who is threatening our freedoms? Our own government! They are the ones we need to be fighting against as to not lose our freedoms! Not with armies, weapons, and killing, but with informed citizens who Constitutionally know what our freedoms are, and what they're not, and what can and cannot be restricted based upon it. Little by little, the government is taking more and more freedom away from each citizen; freedoms that are both Creator-endowed, and Constitutionally-protected. Our "enemies" overseas aren't the threat to our freedoms, but our own people are. Which I find so much scarier.

So what are our troops fighting for? Our safety from the threats of other nations. What should we American citizens be fighting for? Our freedoms to be protected and upheld within our own nation.

THANK YOU to all our men and women who have fought for our freedom during the infancy of this great nation of ours, and those who have been fighting to keep us safe from the threat of harm at the hands of others ever since. So much of America is great because of your service and sacrifices. You are much braver than I could ever hope to be, and America is forever indebted to you. May you be blessed this Memorial Day and respected and revered throughout history.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"SAHM-topia"

My sister-in-law posted something on Facebook earlier, that she was feeling kind of snarky toward a number of blogs she had been reading about being a SAHM, homeschooling, homemaking, even making your own shampoo. As people responded - including myself - the mindset of "SAHM-topia" (my term...like it?!) was touched upon.

Jeremy and I decided before we were even married that when we became parents, I would be a SAHM. His mom was a SAHM til he and his sister were in junior high. My mom was a lot more career-driven, so only took a little over a year each with myself and my brother, and only 6 weeks with my sister.

One of my best friends growing up had a SAHM up through high school and beyond (and as far as I know, she is still a homemaker, and never went back to work outside the home). I have to admit, I was always pretty jealous. My parents did plenty with us, but it was nice to have my friend's mom always around and engaged in our activities when I was over there. Sure, she laid down the law when we were giggling so loudly the whole neighborhood could hear us at midnight, and scolded me pretty well when I had the naive audacity to put my tennis shoes on their dining room table, but overall, she was great. I love my parents dearly, but it was just...different...from what I had with two full-time working parents.

So somewhere along the line, I got this perception in my head of "SAHM-topia." You know, the June Cleaver mom with fresh-baked cookies and milk when the kids rolled in the door every afternoon. A spotless clean house, a hot, home-cooked meal every night, greeting her husband with a sweet kiss and absolutely showing no signs of stress or weariness from her 8 hours of slaving away over raising her kids, cleaning her house, and cooking and baking. And you know, my friend's mom didn't fall far from that mark, so that was just a reinforcement of my "SAHM-topian" perception.

Truth is, I do a lot "right" as a SAHM, but I also do a lot "wrong." Sometimes I do spend 3 hours making a lasagna from scratch - sauce and everything - and homemade fresh-baked rolls and a green salad on the side. But some nights I resort to grilled cheese sandwiches that I throw together in 10 minutes. Some days I bake, but most days I don't. I ALWAYS make my kids' lunches for school, but rarely remember to throw one together for my husband. (Sorry honey!) Some days the kids are well-contained and well-mannered. And some days its an endless war. Some days I am cool as a cuke when Jeremy walks in the door, and some days I am about ready to scream. Some days I am very productive, and other days I'm either too lazy or two busy to run adequate amounts of laundry. Sometimes I let crumbs sit under the table for far too long without bothering to sweep them up. Usually I remember all the kids' appointments, school events, and extracurricular activities, but sometimes it just completely slips my mind. I'd like to say I never raise my voice to or around my kids and husband, but truthfully, sometimes I do. (Hey, I'm human. *shrug*) I censor the kids' TV watching, but certainly not well enough to meet AAP standards. And on and on....

My point is, "SAHM-topia" doesn't exist. And anyone who says it does is either "Mother Of The Year," a TV character, or a liar. I'm going with liar. We don't become SAHMs to be perfect. Truth is, our young kids love us, imperfections and all, as long as we show our love for them, imperfections and all.

Somehow, we need to break this notion that SAHMs are "perfect moms," and that "SAHM-topia" truly exists. I have tried to create "SAHM-topia" before, and failed miserably. Finally I had to accept the fact that its a myth, it doesn't exist, and that the best I can do is good enough. Some days are more utopian than others. We are all mothers, and being a mother is tough! We may not get everything done in a day, and that's okay. We may not be able to shower and get dressed til noon, but that's okay too. Our babies may try and eat Aveeno diaper rash cream (which is safe, BTW...Poison Control told me so) when we aren't looking, but hey, it happens to the best of us. We may not be able to keep our cool in every situation, but we're only human. We may not be able to juggle everything, but every juggler drops the ball sometimes.

So, my fellow SAHMs, we need to lighten up, and just be our wonderful mother selves, and cut ourselves some slack. "SAHM-topia" doesn't exist, and the longer we try and attain it, the longer we're just going to run ourselves into the ground, and keep the momentum of this urban legend alive. Just be a mom. That's all your kids need, and at the end of the day, if all you've done is just been a mom, then you've done your job. The rest is just...the rest.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The "Grand Old" Party

I posted this a while back on Facebook, and had to dig it up (and it took me a while and some trouble-shooting to figure out how), because it was still on my mind, and I think this article best articulates many, if not all, of my frustrations with the Republican party's ways of thinking and operating. I am not going to elaborate a whole lot on my own take, but suffice it to say, the article is worth a read (IMO), regardless of where you stand politically. I will forewarn you though, the article is pretty long and requires a lot of critical thinking to retain everything. (Or maybe its just because I am lousy at retaining things I read...?)

For the record I am NOT a Republican, and these are MANY of the reasons why!! However, I am also NOT a Democrat - I think many of the ways they operate are utterly attrocious and unconstitutional as well. And I don't buy into bipartisanship, and think its a fundamental flaw in government that it causing it to deteriorate. So I do believe I am looking at this through a critical, yet unbiased, eye. The article was, from what I gather, written while GWB was in office, but you can't argue with the facts, no matter who is in office, and I hardly think what this article says is outdated information!

Its funny.... The Republican party calls itself the "Grand Old" Party, however, the values and modes of operation of today's Republican Party are anything but "grand old!" Today's Republican Party is NOT conservative in the least, when compared to the foundational principles upon which the party was originally formed. Since the mid-60's, and early 70's, what Republicans are ascribing to is a new regime of government that is NOT based on true, historical Republican values - it IS, contrary to what MANY believe, trying to push for more and more government control all the time - "Big Government," as its been coined - the very thing they say they are fundamentally against! It is also pushing in the direction of more moral and ethical control over individual freedoms and is arrogantly thinking they can enforce, and get away with, being moral police - which is neither Constitutional in the least, NOR "grand old" in nature! Pushing for moral control, based on the religious right, is not democracy-driven OR historically-driven, but rather theocracy driven. Though I am a Christian, I have a problem with this!! I want to see a government that is true to its historical, and certainly Constitutional roots. Which Republicans CLAIM to be, but if the majority actually did their homework (politicians included!), they would actually realize they are NOT upholding in the least.

Anyway....not to rant, I just want to get the facts out there, because I think waaay too few people (on the right and the left!) actually know, historically-speaking, what they stand for, and I think its VITALLY important that people know what they stand for - and the only way to understand it fully, is to study and understand the history. I want a government that PROTECTS and PRESERVES the human rights of ALL Americans (read the beginning of the Declaration of Independence!), NOT a theocracy that worms their way into people's personal lives in the name of religion, or anything else, and in doing so robs American citizens of these very basic, Constitutionally-protected and GOD-GIVEN, human rights - the rights to life, liberty (free will), and the pursuit of happiness (to prosper in this great nation) for ALL Americans!

Anyway, here is the link to the article: Not Your Father's Republican Party

I will delve into the Democratic Party when my brain doesn't hurt anymore. ;)