Monthly Archives: May 2009

You Get What you Pay For

This by Verum Serum convinces me that being in public education is right where I need to be.  My job goes far past raising test scores and teaching academic skills.  I know some will huff and puff at that, insisting that I leave that to others outside the classroom, but they don’t see what I see every day, and I would graphically tell them where to stick it, but, you know, it just wouldn’t be polite.  Plus, as VS acknowledges, others outside the classroom aren’t picking up the ball.

Working as a teacher in public schools ain’t pretty, but that’s allright.  Paraphrasing C.T Studd, I’d rather set up a rescue yard within a foot of hell than live within the comforts of church and chapel bell.

A few other points: as Azam notes in an interview, this is a reflection of our hyper-sexualized culture.  This is their reality: everything from what’s on Road Rules and The Real World, to “Pimp and Ho” parties (sadly, I know those in my church who have gone to such parties or even thrown such parties without blinking an eye) creates an environment where such behavior is no big deal.  Life imitates art….or at least life imitates entertainment.  Of course, we are gobsmacked at this, but to paraphrase C.S Lewis, we laugh at chastity and are shocked to find pimps in our midst.  You get what you pay for, and “The New Good Night Kiss” is simply the logical outcome of a hyper-sexualized culture.  Will this knock some sense into us?  Probably not.

Here is the Azam interview:

Furthermore, this is more testimony to the fact that daughters (and sons) need their dads.  I know some in the blogosphere are baggin on parents, saying “why didn’t dad react better when he found out his daughter was doing X?”  Really, these gals needed their dads well before any of this went down.

In my pre-marital class this week, one husband of 30 years remarked on his consistent practice of taking his daughter out on “dates” every Monday night when they were growing up under his roof.  He did this regularly starting when they were wee little gals.  As he was talking, I had a “note to self” moment; I need to do that with my future family.  Such a practice actively socializes young women in an incredible way, teaching them volumes about how a man is supposed to treat a woman.  My bet is that any girls who have dads like that won’t go anywhere near the promiscuity revealed by Azam.  Their dads have given them more integrity and self-respect than any self-esteem curriculum could ever hope for.

Azam makes some pretty insightful comments about parents engaging their daughters (and by extension, sons) in the many teachable moments that arise almost daily.  Engaging is exactly what isn’t being done, and it is so important on many, many levels.

Lastly, I don’t think anyone is arguing that this is the case for the majority of women and girls….it definitely is a rising trend, though, and we should take note.

Bark Bigger Than the Bite

Dr. Chris Forbes addresses the claims of the internet film Zeitgeist.

Another, longer treatment by Forbes can be found here.

Being Famous is not Attractive

“I don’t think being famous is very attractive.  That is not what lifts you up.  You don’t have to build an archive.  You  don’t have to panic over your number of volumes.  The object of a masterpiece is giving yourself away.”

–Boris Pasternak, Nobel Prize winning Russian writer

The lines above comprise part of a poem that Russian wrestler Buvaysar Saytiev recited before all of his matches.saitiev

A little about Saytiev: he was perhaps one of the most dominant wrestlers ever…definitely in the top 5 of all time.  He won three Olympic gold medals (Atlanta, Athens, Beijing), and six world championship medals.  In thirteen years, he only lost two bouts.

The poem continues,

It’s not about the noise, it’s not about the success.  It’s embarrassing that just because you’ve created something that you’re on the lips of other people.  Just because you’ve achieved something that doesn’t mean that everyone should be talking about you.  Just because you’ve won.  It is only a piece of you defined.

About the poem, Saytiev says,

These words are going to stay with me for the rest of my life.  It is going to be very hard to forget them.  These words have defined my life both inside and outside of sport.  When I truly understood this poem, it was the moment when somebody was lifting up my hand as a champion wrestler and I realized that this is all bull***t.  I am the only one who understands how much I put into this victory and whether or not I deserve it.  Already from my youth I had an abstract view of victory.  I had different goals than my opponents.  Even when I was a child I thought that if I become the champion of my city it is not going to be important.  All I really wanted to know was my limit.  Because of the attitude I carried, I once had an astronomical score in the finals of the USSR championship.  I won 17-0.  Everyone said it was unreal.

I wish I could burn the words of the poem in the soul of every student I teach.  I, myself, would do well to remember Pasternak’s masterpiece.

Here is a video of Saytiev (There are also a few clips of his brother Adam in the video.  Adam is also a world champion.):

Buy One Pound, Get One Free

Just had to share this:

guidepost.com

guidepost.com

Pretty much sums up a lot of what has passed as “deficit solutions” the last few months…especially in my grand state of California.

Look at Him Go!

NY Times columnist Ross Douthat spanks Dan Brown (login required)…luv it.

An Uncalled for Low Blow

Last night I participated in a Facebook discussion in the wake of the Prop 8 court decision.

One guy who was for same-sex marriage kept bringing up divorce, using it to hammer Christians and conservatives over the head.  I have seen this time and again in discussions on same-sex marriage: “I don’t hear any Christians campaigning about divorce, yet Christians get divorced just as much as non-Christians.  Why doesn’t anyone get up in arms about that?  You all need to get your own house in order before hating on gays.”

Some even tout the 50% statistic: that 50% of Christian marriages end up in divorce.

One area of housecleaning before I talk about divorce: enough with the false dichotomies.  As my friend Neil recently noted, just because we do not buy into 100% of the gay agenda doesn’t mean we “hate” gays, and just because we don’t support same sex marriage doesn’t mean we are “anti-gay.”

The folks who bring up divorce skip over some huge points.  First, I know what Barna says, but there is some other data and studies out there that need to be taken into account.  Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, notes,

Mere religious affiliation may not reduce divorce, but religious practice clearly does. One longitudinal analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth found that couples who attended church as often as once a month had divorce rates less than half that of couples who attended church once a year or less. Similarly, a recent study of the National Survey of Families and Households found that marriage in which both couples attend church regularly have the lowest divorce risk (David B. Larson and James P. Swyers, 2002, “Does Religion and Spirituality Contribute to Marital and Individual Health?” in John Wall et al (eds.) Marriage, Health and the Professions).

The National Marriage Project, a research arm of Rutgers University, found that Religious affiliation does indeed lower one’s risk of divorce.  In the link, see the section titled “Your Chances of Divorce May be Much Lower than you Think.”  Religious affiliation lowers one’s risk of divorce by 14%.  Granted, they do not specify which religious affiliation, but the reduction is telling.  The NMP is an authoritative research group; anyone who wants to get to the bottom line would do well to pour over their data, rather than be content with a second-hand report of a few general stats from Barna.

Often, the people touting the statistic just heard one small sound bite in passing from a news report on a study, thus failing to take into account the details.

Yes, no matter which way you cut it, the divorce rate in the church is very high…too high.  Among evangelicals, for example, while it is lower than the national average (26% for evangelicals, 33% national average), it isn’t much lower.  I am not excusing divorce in the church by any means.  I just get bugged when vague stats are thrown around so cavalierly in an attempt to discredit an argument.  Best to get an accurate handle on the facts first.

Next, many fail to realize what, exactly, has caused the divorce rate in the Church to get so high.  Hint: it is not following the Bible’s teachings!  It is no coincidence that the divorce rate, both inside and outside the Church, has gone up up up since the 1960s.  The secular ideology brought on by the sexual revolution has unduly influenced the Church.  Divorce is just a natural consequence when you put your own desires above serving and obeying God.   Self-gratification was what the sexual revolution was all about.  The Bible’s got nothing to do with it, therefore it’s a stretch to try to lay the blame at the Bible’s door.

The folks at the NMP hint at this when they say:

The recent family trends in the Western nations have been largely generated by a distinctive set of cultural values that scholars have come to label “secular individualism.” It features the gradual abandonment of religious attendance and beliefs, a strong leaning toward “expressive” values that are preoccupied with personal autonomy and self-fulfillment, and a political emphasis on egalitarianism and the tolerance of diverse lifestyles. An established empirical generalization is that the greater the dominance of secular individualism in a culture, the more fragmented the families. The fundamental reason is that the traditional nuclear family is a somewhat inegalitarian group (not only between husbands and wives but also parents and children) that requires the suppression of some individuality and also has been strongly supported by, and governed by the rules of, orthodox religions. As a seeming impediment to personal autonomy and social equality, therefore, the traditional family is an especially attractive unit for attacks from a secular individualistic perspective.

All of what I’ve said so far are small points compared with the next three.  Divorce is a tragedy.  If you have been divorced, you have my sympathies.  I know that doesn’t help a bit, but I can’t imagine the pain you’ve gone through.

A past error in law (in this case, laws that made divorce easier), though, does not justify making another error in law.  I’ll say it again:  loosening laws in the past does not justify loosening them more now, especially if we have good reason not to loosen laws further now.  A third time: just because The Family has been weakened by lawmakers in the past doesn’t mean we cavalierly continue to do so now.  To suggest we continue down the slippery slope just ‘cuz, and to suggest I have to keep my mouth shut merely because lawmakers of the past decided to grease the skids in the first place is just plain silly…it’s a very large non sequitur.

If one grants the assumptions used to justify things like no-fault divorce, those assumptions might, indeed, be used to justify other changes to the institution of The Family, but that is not a problem for me, since I don’t buy into those assumptions.

I, as well as a throng of other Christian conservatives, happen to think that no-fault divorce laws and the worldview that justified them were horrible errors in thinking, so it is pointless to us for anyone to argue for same-sex marriage by bringing up the errors of the past.  Telling us to shut up because of the errors of the past falls on deaf ears.

Most  importantly, many who bring up the divorce canard, for some reason, bring it up as if Christians are for divorce!  They act like Christians think no fault divorce laws are ok!  I have no idea why they assume this.  What church are they going to?  What Bible are they reading?  Must not be the same Bible I’m reading.  Must not be the same Bible that almost every other Christian I know reads.  You can find churchgoers that attempt to justify their own adultery by slithering past a verse or two, true enough….but it’s wise not to set fire to straw men.

Geez, look around at churches and you will find countless individuals and organizations committed to helping married couples stay married.  You will find a cacophany of voices that hails divorce as an absolutely terrible tragedy.  You will find a great number of sermons dedicated to uplifting the virtues of a solid marriage and preaching the vices of divorce.  In fact, my pastor just had a sermon on divorce last week, and I will be blogging on it soon.

By the way the detractors beat their chests about the state of marriages in the Christian Church (which, I already admit, is in a sad state of affairs), you’d think they truly cared about divorce.  Ok, I’ll call their bluff: you, my friend, will you join me in the fight against divorce?  Will you write blog posts about how it has affected children?  Will you agree with me that divorce is a blight on society?  Will you financially support ministries and groups that help strengthen marriages?  If someone in a marriage is thinking about calling it quits (outside of abuse and egregious adultery), will you stare them squrely in the face (as my pastor did a few weeks back) and counsel them to seek help and not throw in the towel?  Will you aplaud with me all that James Dobson has done to help marriages thrive?

Chances are: no.

These folks who bash the Church over the head with divorce…I just don’t get it.  It is so uncalled for and represents a serious ad hominem + straw man.  I wish they’d take a closer and more charitable look at the Church when it comes to this subject.  I have a hunch that it’s not a serious point they really care about; my gut tells me it’s just their way of shaming and silencing those they disagree with.

Lastly, the reason why you hear so much talk about same-sex marriage relative to divorce is elementary: same-sex marriage is where the battle is currently waging.  No-fault divorce was decided years ago.  If there was a serious  chance that those laws would be repealed, you bet your bottom dollar that you’d see a strong push from many conservative Christians in that direction.  Same-sex marriage proponents write letters to the editor, appear on Larry King Live, and march in the streets today.  We want to answer those arguments.  Simple as that.

In conclusion: those who bring up the Church’s record as to divorce are changing the subject; they are merely distracting folks from the arguments for and against SSM itself, and they should drop the tactic.

Economic Houdinery

Yesterday I wrote about the long term social ramifications of Obama’s domestic policies.  In this post I’m tackling the other side of the coin: will the economy recover as a result of Obama’s policies, or in spite of them?  Will his decisions aid or hinder the recovery process?

I am just beginning to explore this question, so I only possess a beginner’s knowledge.

Here are some posts I’ve been reading that have helped me put things in perspective.  They are all pretty much coming from a conservative point of view…I happen to think that view point has a lot going for it, so to the charge of bias, I say:  meh (shrug).

Without further ado:

Healthcare

The government plan option is an intermediate step to a single payer system. Dems favoring the government plan option aren’t being completely honest with the general public, but they let their real intentions slip out when talking with groups that favor a single payer system. As Charles Krauthammer points out, Obama has abandoned advocating a single payer system for now, but this is only a practical step.

Here is clip of another Democratic Senator letting the real game plan slip out (HT: VS.  Be sure to read the comments section in the link.  Very educational because they go past making critiques to offering and evaluating better solutions.):

VS makes yet another post on the “public plan” talk. The cat is out of the bag.

While some might object that Congress, not the White House, has taken the lead in healthcare reform, Obama is still in the background orchestrating the plan.

Hugh Hewitt has more on the potential consequences to the government option on healthcare.

Laura at Hot Air breaksdown the “uninsured crisis” by bringing to light some inconvenient facts for those who want government-run healthcare. (HT: Wintery Knight).  WK supplements with some videos of his own in the HT link.

Obama vs. the evidence.…again.

Obama on healthcare reform: let’s keep digging ourselves a hole.  Here’s a bigger shovel. (This one’s got some hefty stuff to wade through for economic midgets like me, but it’s well worth it.  VS has some great stuff almost every day.  I highly recommend that you subscribe.)

Wall Street Journal: How ObamaCare will affect your doctor (HT: HH)  Hint: longer waits, less time in the appointment itself.  A notable quote:

The surest way to intensify flaws in the delivery of health care is to extend a Medicare-like “public option” into more corners of the private market. More government control of doctors and their reimbursement schemes will only create more problems.

Hewitt lets the doctors themselves weigh in…some eye opening testimonies about what goes on in Canada.

The Economy

Here’s a nice lil’ graph from Keith Hennessey on who cut spending more: Obama or Bush?

HT: Winteryknight.wordpress.com

HT: Winteryknight.wordpress.com

Accountability? What accountability? Greg Mankiw, professor of Economics at Harvard, discusses how the Obama administration’s attempt at accountability is anything but. The administration’s quarterly reports give the “illusion of accountability without the reality.”

Verum Serum also comments on the chart referenced by Mankiw, adding a question: besides putting us into a gigundous financial hole, what, exactly, has the stimulus accomplished when it comes to getting us out of the recession?

The O administration seems to be wearing rose colored glasses. John points out that the administration has had to revise the deficit numbers up $90 billion. Oops.

VS also reports on the AP fact checking Obama on his deficit and budget claims in front of the cameras. Once again, he’s a little less than truthful.

Obama: “we’re out of money.” His solution? Spend more money that we don’t have (aka the “stimulus bill”– now there’s a misnomer if there ever was one–and the budget for FY 2009 and beyond.).

Speaking about being out of money, Obama blames 7 straw men for our financial woes.

Wintery Knight asks: is Obama saving or creating jobs? The law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head again.

WK continues, evaluating Democrat policies on the budget, healthcare, and cap and trade. A key excerpt:

When it comes to federal spending, there’s a pattern emerging with President Obama, and it’s not a flattering one. The president says all the right things about the importance of getting the deficit under control, but his actions don’t come close to matching his rhetoric.

I have seen this pattern pretty much across the board in Obama’s brief tenure.  I’m not one of those folks who thinks he’s an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing, and I don’t think he’s naive either.  He’s incredibly savy and slick, and is not a sinister guy.  He totally believes that where he is taking the country is truly good…yet that doesn’t comfort me one bit.  In fact, it concerns me more.  He knows his rhetoric doesn’t match reality.

Here’s another anecdote exposing Obama’s habit of issuing sleights of hand from the podium (albeit, it’s on another topic than the economy).

I don’t trust him, period.

See my other posts on politics

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