I rarely write about politics, but over at Vic’s place, Matt DeStefano asked:
I’d be curious to hear how the Christians here feel about Romney’s Mormonism, especially given this video.
First, my general attitude towards voting for US presidents: I don’t. Unless I feel specifically called otherwise, I don’t pay attention to any of it. To brothers and sisters who vote, I respect your motive of civic duty, but the lesser of two evils is still evil. Second, I mean no offense to any denominationalists anywhere, but I cannot mince words: what I am about to say will be considered harsh, heretical and anathema to some. Third, if any professed believers feel the pressure of offense creeping up their soul while reading what I am about to say, I respectfully ask them to follow the “pray, wait, respond” strategy. Ask YHWH if there is any truth in what I am saying, then wait for at least five minutes. Please don’t just take offense and shoot from the hip. Lastly, please note that this is a response to Matt, so I’ll be addressing him personally hereafter. Since this is a supplement to a discussion that began elsewhere, glancing at the original thread will supply necessary context. It may also help to watched the linked video if you haven’t.
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Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and it’s pretty clear that somebody is killing Iranian nuclear scientists in an effort to stop this. I felt this was interesting because it relates directly to Sam Harris’ remarks that it “may be ethical to kill people based on what they believe.” What do you think? Is it morally right to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists as a pre-emptive measure? Why or why not?
I’ve been going through the comments, and Adam writes,
You wrote in your about page that you believe the church made a colossal error regarding homosexuality. I am a Christian and I agree with you on this, but I haven’t found a post about this topic (probably because it isn’t about (a)theism). Long story short, I used to be firmly against homosexuality, then wavered when my wife’s father was a homosexual, decided to give it a fair shake for the sake of family and found that I wasn’t uncomfortable with his sexuality or willing to reject him completely based on his position. The man is also a minister and loves God and I do not see his sexuality interfering with thus.
My request is if you could spell out your case for why you believe the church made an error in this area (I always hear people who are against homosexuality say that it is condemned in the Bible and I have no answer for that), I am most interested in your response as opposed to the liberal Christian moderating the faith for the culture because you approach these things with logic that is well beyond my own capabilities.
Thank you for the compliment. I’ve never posted on this subject because it’s an overcharged topic that tends to encourage binary thinking. It’s part of the whole “culture war” thing I really want to avoid (though one can’t help stumbling over the occasional land mine). On top of all that, “gay marriage” is actually a very complex issue that requires one to think deeply through their own positions, lest one be found inadvertently attacking another. Today I’ll try to explain my views on the whole “gay” thing, then answer Adam’s questions.
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Anybody up for discussing Osama bin Laden? In particular, I’m interested in the epistemological considerations. Who believes that the U.S. killed him on Mayday? Who believes he was actually killed much earlier? Who believes he’s still alive? Who believes he never existed at all? Is it just a coincidence that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated just after declaring that bin Laden was murdered? Most importantly, does Osama bin Laden use Just For Men? If not, how do we explain this?
Except for that last one, of course, I see a direct correlation between these questions and questions relating to the historicity of Jesus Christ. Many who doubt the existence of Jesus Christ seem to blindly accept the existence of Osama bin Laden. These questions seem interesting to me, as I am quite skeptical of the whole thing [bin Laden, that is]. How would we know? It seems really tempting to refer to the who-knows-how-many syndicated news reports citing Pentagon documents that identify Osama bin Laden as the leader of al-Queda, but is that really justification for believing he exists? We know from history that powerful propaganda machines can blind entire nations for their nefarious purposes.
I’ve ranted about campaign commercials before, and I don’t really have anything new to say about them, but I saw one today that contained a perfect example of a bad argument.
A Meg Whitman commercial begins by comparing Sacramento and Silicon Valley, claiming the former is unorganized and the latter organized. In support of that statement, the narrator goes on to namedrop:
Apple. Intel. Ebay…
What’s wrong with this picture? Meg Whitman is certainly responsible for some success at Ebay, but what does she have to do with Apple? Intel? I know she’s been at the helms of prominent companies like Proctor & Gamble, Hasbro, Disney and others, but – as far as I know – Meg Whitman has nothing to do with Apple or Intel. So why does her commercial subtly imply a link where none apparently exists?
If you’re at all like I am, you probably consider the pursuit of truth to be pretty valuable. I think most of us can agree that the pursuit of truth is an important task. That’s the way I see it at least, and as an extension of that principle, I say one cannot accurately call oneself a pursuer of truth if they allow falsehood to remain uncorrected.
With that in mind, I’d like to discuss how passivity, especially selective passivity, can obscure the pursuit of truth – and more specifically – how these ideas relate to blogging.
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Save for skateboarding evangelists, skateboarding and religion rarely cross paths in any sort of real way, but my friend Joe Haircut posted a link the other day to this New York Times article titled Skateboarding in Afghanistan Provides a Diversion From Desolation. The article was the story of young Afghan kids who share a small concrete foundation no bigger than the fountain everyone skates at Golden Gate Park, described as “…a decrepit Soviet-style concrete fountain with deep fissures.”
Despite the active environment around them, a half-dozen or more kids assemble peacefully to skate this thing fully-padded, with an instructor or two to keep an eye out for suicide bombers and other terror-related flare ups.
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Dr. Lawrence Britt is a political scientist who published extensive research on the phenomenon of fascism, based among other things off of his detailed studies of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and several Latin American regimes. He identified 14 characteristics shared by fascist states, and to commemorate the end of the Bush regime, I thought I would share them with you. It's absolutely frightening to see how many of them apply directly to America, today, and when I use the phrase "end of the Bush regime", it is certainly with a grain of salt, perhaps even the entire shaker.
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A white Chevy Silverado careened into my girlfriend’s black Mazda Protégé as she drove to school, ironically about a mile away from home just as the cliché demands.
It was an everyday inner-city traffic occurrence, just another random combination of blind physics and the natural human ability to misjudge. However, as opposed to accepting responsibility for the accident or even making sure the afflicted party was alright for that matter, after making his ill-timed left turn, this rather self-centered driver proceeded to reverse, finish the turn and flee the scene.
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So I went innocently enough to my email this afternoon, and there was a message whose subject read "Watch this video. Let me know what you think." Contained in the body of the message was a link to a thirteen-minute long video whose main character was Senator Barack Obama.
Not knowing anything about the video or its host site beforehand, and having nothing better to do, I hit play. What ensued further confirmed my near-unilateral rejection of American macropolitics, and further strengthened my argument that in the absence of a candidate one can endorse empirically, voting is immoral and dangerous.
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