Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Stakes of the United States Presidency 2008

In just about a year, the two political parties of significance in the United States will effectively decide their candidates for the Presidential election of 2008. When that happens, a large part of the participation of regular people in the decision will end, and the remainder of the election campaign will devolve to no better than an artificial process – political Velveeta, so far as the results matter. There will be no way to redeem the quality of the remaining pair from which we must choose, so now is the time to press hard questions and for clear quality of character and integrity.

For some reason, the media seems intent on ignoring the fact that many enemies of America are becoming more dangerous. North Korea and Iran certainly have nuclear weapons to some degree, a number of terrorist groups have been chasing them, China is ramping up a strong renovation of its military, especially its ability to deliver ICBMs and SLBMs. Also, a number of countries which have claimed friendship with the United States have been discovered dealing with America’s enemies for strategic resources and economic gain, usually personal gain. The scope and depth of the strategic international threat could scarcely be growing more quickly than it is now. Yet few media outlets seem interested in addressing this matter, and still fewer Presidential candidates.

The clock is running.

Friday, March 02, 2007

What It Is, To Be Christian

Interesting. It’s harder to make a case that Christianity is a success, than it is to defend against the charge that it’s a failure. That is, I think, because there is a sort of middle ground where something is clearly worthwhile to a point, but difficult to sell as a universal solution. I do believe that Christianity is good and worthwhile for anyone who would accept it, yet I certainly stop short – well short – of suggesting that it should be imposed on folks. And saying that everyone should accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, especially when combined with insinuation that non-compliance means torture and agony, certainly heads down that road towards oppressive installation of a theocracy. So I would like to start by qualifying what I mean, personally anyway, when I talk about Christianity.

For me, Christianity is about being Christian, which in turn means to be a follower of Christ. Follower as in, I like where He’s going and what He’s done, so I am following Him in order to be more like Him and go where He goes. Fair enough?

One of the odd bits about being Christian, is that it’s different for everyone from each other Some folks seem to enjoy a deeply personal relationship with Christ, while others have a more, formal I guess would be the word, relationship. Some folks experience miracles while some seem to have a pretty common-sense experience. God seems to have as many facets to His nature and character as we human beings do. Tempting as it is to try to describe what the “True Christian” looks and acts like, that too is a variable, and I would not try to diminish the hand of God in so great a thing as how He works among us. But I digress, as I tend so often to do.

I would describe, from my perspective, Christianity as “the Greater Life”. It’s that dance which begins when we accept that we cannot ever be all we want to be on our own effort, but that there is a plan for us to be greater than we ever imagined. Not “great” in the sense of physical wealth or influence among men, but in finding meaning in our identity and becoming something of which we would otherwise only be able to dream, in detached and wistful moments. For me it began, really, with gratitude. When I am not grateful, I am ill-suited to my condition and situation, but when I accept grace and hold it loosely in thanks, then I am raised up to something and someone worth the effort and the moment.

Christ made that possible, and that is how I would explain the success of Christianity.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Meaning of Death

Howdy folks, it’s been a weird week, and that means it’s time again to come up with something different on the blog. I’ve got some political notions in my head, but nothing really original, and most attempts to be brilliant are nothing brilliant at all. But something that happened Monday got me to thinking.

I was giving an annual review to my employees, and in the middle of one, while the employee was discussing her notion of what she planned to do to improve her results this year, I had an - 'image', I guess I will call it.

I felt just like I did as I was being wheeled in for my appendectomy back in November last year, only this time it was for my upcoming surgery at MD Anderson. I saw, in my mind but in a perception seemeingly of its own volition, the team of doctors waiting for me. They set me on the table, the anesthesia began -

and that was it. Not the end of the image, but as time passed I realized that in this image I died on the table. No white light, no happy or frightening recap of my life, no end credits or music.

Just black silence, and the sense that this was all there would be.

Now, I do not for a minute believe that what I saw was a real "vision", nor do I think I was hallucinating. I will be chewing the matter over in my head for a while, but I began to think about that. I was worried that I might be ready for those fashionable jackets with the sleeves which tie in the back, and should look for a comfortable and affordable tailor. But some good friends explained that it was very likely just a panic attack.

But to the topic at hand. Barring a radical departure from the known Laws of the Universe, we all will die sometime. With that in mind, we all wish to live Life to its fullest, although we don't fully understand that ideal. We also want to make a difference, to be glad of our choices and decisions. We all have decisions to make, with real consequences and real development of our lives decided by our choices. When we die, we don't want it to be anytime soon, but since it must happen, we want to go in such a way that, well, we will be missed. The higher order of person wants to go without leaving problems or pain for someone else, which is one reason why a person should never commit suicide.

We also understand that some people die in ways which, well, are magnificent. Men who die in battle, firefighters and policemen and medics who die while saving others, martyrs (the real ones) who die in the name of Peace and Justice and who build Hope for many through their sacrifice, are a sort of people difficult to understand completely, yet whose honor is so wondrous that all who see it cannot help but salute in some way. All who are truly human, sense and applaud the person who does something greater than should be possible. In a smaller, yet similar, way, we note the work of authors, composers, and creators of different sorts who bring something truly good into being. And this does not touch the subtler masters of Life, like truly good and wise parents and the True Friend. Death serves, in a strange fashion, to illuminate the greatness of such people.

Death also serves a function without which we should despair of Life. Inevitably, there is a friction to Life, some of it physical but most of it emotional and psychological. Every loss, every defeat, every serious wound leaves its mark and over Time it becomes a great difficulty to continue in anything like a normal fashion. Like Frodo at the end of the Lord of the Rings saga, it is too much to bear, and there must be an answer which serves to relieve the soul of its burden. As much as we love our families, our friends, and all the blessings which the Good Lord bestows on us, there is a time when it is meet for us each to leave the stage. Where to, we do not know, but we are bound for that journey nonetheless, as much in hope as in obedience to greater forces than we control.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Party of the Demented

David Remnick, writing in the “New Yorker”, has done a service to psychologists; he has demonstrated not only a cause for the now-infamous “Bush Derangement Syndrome”, which has inspired countless luminaries to spew the most vacuous yet vitriol-laced screeds against the President seen in the past half-century, but also demonstrated the depth of insanity to which BDS sufferers not only sink, but indeed cling, preferring their malicious delusion to the truth, no matter what.

In the column, entitled ‘Party Talk’, Mr. Remnick gushes with prolonged and wholly undeserved praise for failed Presidential candidate Al Gore. After hinting that a Gore Presidency beginning in 2001 would somehow have been fantastically better in results than the real-world version (and fantasy is a key component to Remnick’s thoughts), Remnick falls back on a convenient lie, saying: “It is worse than painful to reflect on how much better off the United States and the world would be today if the outcome of the 2000 election had been permitted to correspond with the wishes of the electorate.”

While Gore did win a greater percentage of the Popular Vote in 2000 than Bush, it was a small amount, but more to the point the “wishes of the electorate” are constitutionally established through the results of the Electoral College. Not only is Remnick claiming that we should have ignored the Constitution of the United States, he is claiming that the electorate of thirty states which preferred Bush to Gore should have been ignored.

Remnick, having started lying, smoothly moves on to the next big lie, claiming that “the attacks of September 11, 2001, would likely not have been avoided, though there is ample evidence, in the 9/11 Commission report and elsewhere, that Gore and his circle were far more alert to the threat of Islamist terrorism than Bush and his.”

I will say bluntly, that no such evidence existed, or exists now. Al Qaeda engaged in a declaration of war against the United States in 1995, and the Clinton-Gore Administration took no specific action at all to address the threat from Osama bin Laden whatsoever. It is, again, a typical tactic of the Left, to throw out a lie and hope it is unchallenged.

Personally, I have to say I see a bitter irony that a man unwilling to address the threat of Global Terrorism, to such a degree that he pretends Gore’s timidity would be preferable to Bush’s decisiveness in the Middle East, should try to claim that an election long proven to have been decided to have been both valid and Constitutional, should be the case to claim that “the historical damage is too profound.”

So why bring up Gore again? His reputation in the Democratic Party, circa 2004, should have been lesson enough, but no. Remnick and other minions gush about Gore’s “quality of judgment”, never mind his episode of campaigning for funds at Buddhist temples, that his campaign to coerce selected nations to be punished for unproven charges in climate change somehow makes him a man with “visionary leadership”. And of course, to Liberal minds the nomination for an Academy Award and the Nobel Prize (in demagoguery) makes him all but a front-runner.

When the Republican Party deserted President Bush in 2006 because they wanted to play up their own egos, the voters saw little difference between the corruption of the Right and the corruption of the Left, and put the Democrats back into power. I was worried that the Democrats would learn the lesson the Republicans ignored, and that we might see an honest, sane, candidate from their party in 2008. When so many of the left see the pompous, self-serving Al Gore as qualified in any way, they seem to me to be repeating their blunders of the last two Presidential campaigns, and thank God if they do it again. Provided of course, that the Republicans can ignore their strong desire to present a buffoon of their own.