Friday, June 26, 2009

Are Republicans Relevant?

or just endangered? Below is a recent cover of Time Magazine.

Me? I'm registered independent. I consider myself moderate. I lean left on some issues and right on others. I see lots of faults with both major political parties, but I also see lots of good things. From a non-partisan perspective, here are some things I see that are making the Republicans less and less relevant and more endangered:

1) Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney.
When these are the leading spokespersons for your party, you are in trouble. The base loves them, but if your goal is to be more inclusive and recruit more votes, this is bad. The leadership of the party has done nothing to draw new voters. I would argue that they don't want to draw new voters. The above do nothing but alienate moderate and left voters. Fear mongering panders to the base and excludes the peripheral voters.

2) Speaking of new voters, unless the message is changed, the Republican party is dead. The demographics of the country are changing. Hispanic voters will be crucial in all future elections. Not illegally registered voters as some within the party will claim, but voters who were born in the United States and have a stake in the future of this nation. Of their nation. Census data shows that the population of Hispanics in America is growing more from births within the borders than from immigration from outside the borders. Without a new message to attract these voters, formerly safe red states such as Texas, South Carolina and other midwest and southern states will be blue for a long time.

3) The Republican party has a perception of negativity. They are not FOR anything. They are anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-health care, anti-stimulus, anti-gun control anti-regulation and so forth. It's subtle, but it affects people's perceptions. The party has to repackage those views, some of which are good (I like small government) into a way that does not seem so negative, hateful and divisive.

4) The Republican party has a perception of hypocrisy. When you campaign as the morally superior party with the backing of evangelical Christians and you have so many leaders fall at moral levels, it sure hurts your credibility. From Larry Craig in the men's room to Ted Haggard's escapades and now Nevada Senator John Ensign and SC Governor Mark Sanford, the Republicans have been hit over and over by moral shortcomings. Not that anyone is perfect, but to outsiders, the "holier than thou" message that the party and its supporters perpetuate only adds to the hypocrisy.

5) Change for the sake of change is not always good. But failure to change when it's necessary is even worse. The Republican party is dominated by conservatives that do not want to see change. History is about change. This is a very different world now than when I was growing up. The party could be a part of it and guide the change or they can continue to resist it and reluctantly and spitefully watch as the rest of the nation and world changes.

If I were to choose a party, I would register Democrat. Some of it would be because I agree with more issues, but some would be because I don't want to be Republican. Speaking as a Christian, I see the Republican party in the same way that a lot of people see the Church: hypocritical, hateful and exclusive.

I walk the streets of Asheville and Hendersonville and the halls of the school I work in and I meet lots of people who would like to be part of a church but won't visit because they feel they are going to be judged. Or because they see the Church as hypocritical. There are a lot of people out there who have been very hurt by the Church. They cannot understand why in a place where there supposed to be much love and forgiveness that there is so much condemnation and judgment.

Fortunately, there are churches that do get it right. I hope those churches will stand out.

There are Republicans that do get it right. If they do not stand out, then the party will go the way of the dodo.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stand by Me

I know you are all busy, but watch this video. Six minutes well spent, I promise.

One classic hit.
35 artists from around the world.
A little mixing.
A vision of peace and harmony.

Playing for Peace website

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is Pittsburgh the New Boston?

First it was the Steelers. Now the Penguins. No city can claim "Titletown" like the Steel City. Last year, the Patriots were defeated, Celtics faltered and Red Sox choked. Pittsburgh is real America: blue collar, hard working and down to earth. Congrats!

Trivia: Can you name the 3 rivers that flow through Pittsburgh on which Fort Pitt was strategically built, the former Three Rivers Stadium got its name and for which Pittsburgh has so many cool bridges?
Trivia Answers: Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bethpage and Free Water

This coming week, the US Open Golf Championships will be held at Bethpage Black. The Black course is located in Bethpage State Park, in New York State. Bethpage, with it's relative bargain $120 greens fee for out of state residents, is the blue collar course to the exclusivity of Pebble Beach and Augusta and the exorbitant rates of Pinehurst, Bay Hill or TPC Sawgrass.
In the Sports Illustrated US Open Preview issue, the article Public vs Private compares New York's two Tour venues: Bethpage Black and the brand spanking new Liberty National Golf Club. Bethpage is where groups of strangers can arrive the night before and camp out, drink beer, play poker and swap stories as they wait for one of 6 first come-first serve tee times that are given out each day (the other tee times are via lottery). Liberty National, with its $500,000 initiation fee, is a place where you pay to not have groups in front or behind you on the course.

I was reading Charles Spurgeon's (1834-1892) Morning and Night, and for Morning, June 13 he wrote how Jesus says, "take freely". Come just as you are and "take freely" the water of life. He writes about how beautiful the drinking fountains in England were. No one in their right mind would come to the fountain if they were thirsty and say they couldn't drink because they didn't have five pounds. No matter how torn and tattered they may be dressed, weary and thirsty travelers will freely drink for no other reason than the fountain is there.

The fine gentlemen and ladies in their carriages that pass by, though they may be parched with thirst, will not demean themselves to drink for the fountain of the commoners. In the same way, there are those who are too rich in their own works to freely come to Christ and state, "I will not be saved in the same way as the harlot or the swearer."

Billionaire Jim Clark, founder and member of Liberty National, was asked in the article how he would feel about sleeping in his car to secure a tee time. His response, "I can't imagine having to wait half an hour for a tee time." This is not a diss on Jim Clark. He has earned the right to do with his money whatever he pleases. This is about the rest of us, who do not everyday get the opportunity to walk and play the same course as Tiger, Padraig and Sergio. For that, we will drive hours, sleep in our cars and shank our opening shot on the Number 1 Tee.

"Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come;
and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Exams, Strict Construction and Covetness

Tuesday Morning... my first period is taking their World History Final. Can you answer these questions correctly (answers at bottom):

1. What time in the past does "prehistoric" refer to?
a. before the Neolithic Age
b. before the invention of writing
c. before the establishment of civilizations
d. before the appearance of Homo sapiens

27. What do Muslims believe about Muhammad?
a. He was the last and greatest of the prophets.
b. He was the only son of the one true God, Allah.
c. He was the first and only prophet of Allah.
d. He was a combination of god and man.

31. Why did Kublai Khan favor Mongols and foreigners for government posts?
a. He did not believe in Confucian teachings.
b. He feared that Chinese officials would support Japan.
c. Genghis Khan had wanted him to remove all Chinese officials from power.
d. He believed that Mongols and foreigners had no local loyalties.

34. What was the chief goal of the Crusades?
a. to spread Christianity throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa
b. to recover Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslim Turks
c. to improve trade among Europe, Asia, and Africa
d. to force the Byzantines to become Catholics

60. How might small farmers of the agricultural revolution be compared to the working class of the Industrial Revolution?
a. Both endured long working hours.
b. Both suffered job losses due to progress.
c. Both lived in climates of social restructuring.
d. All of the above are true.

65. Which country was not a part of the “Big Four” that signed the Treaty of Versailles?
a. United States
b. Italy
c. Soviet Union
d. France

86. Which of the following gave the Europeans the greatest advantage against the Native Americans:
a. Disease
b. Guns
c. Horses
d. Religion


Strict Construction -
(narrow construction) n. interpreting the Constitution based on a literal and narrow definition of the language without reference to the differences in conditions when the Constitution was written and modern conditions, inventions and societal changes. By contrast "broad construction" looks to what someone thinks was the "intent" of the framers' language and expands and interprets the language extensively to meet current standards of human conduct and complexity of society.

Perhaps Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor perhaps took a Strict or Narrow Construction view when her friends and supporters told her to "break a leg" before the Senate.

Sotomayor Breaks Leg on the Way to Capitol Hill

To her credit, despite the broken ankle, she kept her appointment for the day.


"Thou shall not Covet" - Exodus 20:17

I blame and curse Apple. My iphone was the coolest and most useful (and addictive) thing ever. Key word: was. Apple introduces the new iphone 3GS, that boasts faster speed, more features (video recording, voice activation), more memory (16 and 32 gigs) and is available in white!

See the comparions between phones


Answers to exam samples: 1- b; 27 - a; 31- d; 34- b; 60- d; 65- c; 86- a

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Joyous Secrets

What is the sign of a friend?
Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows?
No, it is that he tells you his secret joys.

- Oswald Chambers

The life of a saint is not only seeking the Lord in sorrows and sufferings, but seeking and sharing with the Lord in our joys and praises.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


In my refrigerator are two seasonal brews: "Cattail Peak" from Highland Brewing Company and "Skinny Dip" from New Belgium. Cattail Peak is named after a peak off the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville and Skinny Dip, well-- you know. Both are very tasty. A little light, but I guess that's what a summer brew is.

I like beer. It tastes good. Now, I'm not one of those that can taste a beer and tell you where in the world the hops came from, how I like the hint of malt or the oak flavor. I can't taste the complexity of a beer nor could I distinguish the citrus or caramel flavors. I'm not that sophisticated. I just know I like some and I don't like others.

As a rule, I generally don't like beer that I can see straight through. Thanks, but I'll have water. I tend towards porters. I like Yuengling, but I can't stand Heineken. Since drunkenness is never my goal, I would rather spend extra on a nice microbrew than drink several cheap ones (can anyone say Busch?). My favorite local beers: "Wee Heavy-er" from French Broad and "Ninja Porter" from Asheville Pizza and Brewing.