Thursday, April 28, 2005

Simple or Super Majority?

Politicians, be they liberal or conservative, are rarely fair when dealing with each other. Neither party cares how blatant their unfair acts are. Do our politicians represent their constituents or their parties? If you are still naive you probably think we have a government for the people. A favorite example of politics at its worst is the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Thomas. The "highlight" of the confirmation process was the accusation of sexual harassment by a one time employee of Thomas, Anita Hill. Thomas was the Conservatives' favorite because he was anti-abortion. Hill was to the Liberals like David was to the Jews except Hill didn't slay the Goliath Thomas. I still think that either of them could be lying, however; Hill could gain nothing from her accusation. Hill would and did pay dearly for her accusation regardless of the outcome of the Thomas hearings. Thomas, on the other hand, would gain by lying. I'm not saying that Thomas lied. I'm saying that if Thomas had harassed Anita Hill, lying would benefit Thomas. But, if Thomas had not harassed Hill, lying would not benefit Hill even if Thomas had not been confirmed. Yet, every Conservative believed Thomas and every Liberal believed Hill. To the man. No exceptions. That's politics rather than a coincidence.

Changing the rules of the Senate is politics akin to redistricting while your party is in the majority. Is this an act that only a Conservative would commit? No. Liberals are as political as the Conservatives. The filibuster is part of the Senate's process and should remain so. Requiring a Super Majority to stop a filibuster is also part of the Senate's process and should remain so.

The urgency to change the process exists only because the Conservatives can't amass the 60% Super Majority required to break the filibuster so that the Conservatives, alone, can confirm Bush's "political" judicial appointments. Please keep in mind that I believe that nothing would be different if the "shoe was on the other foot".

If our Senators won’t rise above partisan politics, then our bench openings will be filled with politically motivated judges as often as the majority party in the Senate is also in the White House. Any process rule that minimizes the majority party's domination, especially when making court appointments, is a rule worth keeping. I believe we would be best served by an apolitical judiciary. How often has a court acted politically rather than only judicially? If you think, as I do, that this happens too often, then cherish the filibuster and the Super Majority required to break it.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Up with God. Down with Religion.

I had a tough weekend. I attended a Men's Ministry Convention - 6 PM Friday until 3 PM Saturday. We had a very good and funny guest speaker Greg Hubbard, evangelist. I guess that there were around 200 attendees representing 10 to 20 churches. The men could be divided into two groups; those who are sure about their relationship with God and those who are not sure enough about their relationship with God. I'll called them The Saved and The Wannabees. I'm a Wannabee. Technically the Wannabees are Saved but they don't feel as comfortable about it as The Saved do. The Wannabees don't have enough Faith and as a Wannabee I can only tell you that The Saved look and act like they have more than enough Faith. Matter of fact, The Saved also look like they get personal messages from God. It's that impression that keeps me from being one of The Saved. Every time I pray to God, I ask Him to "touch" me. I'm pretty sure I don't want to actually hear Him at this point. The "touch" is all I need. It is, in fact, all I want.

I think I can tell you who is a Wannabee and who is Saved by the end of the first Worship song. The first Altar Call really separates one from the other. The Saved move confidently to the altar for some one-on-one with God. Some Wannabees will move hesitantly to the altar praying for the touch. Many of the Wannabees don't answer the Altar Call.

On Saturday I attended one of three breakout sessions at the convention. Each was lead by a different senior pastor. I attended a session on the "do's and don'ts" of witnessing (evangelism). The young pastor (30+) gave many examples of what to do and what not to do when witnessing. Two of his examples shocked me and increased my doubts that I'm attending the right church.

The pastor gave us the following warning:
  • Don't tell a Catholic that he is going to Hell.
  • Don't tell a Catholic that the Pope is the Antichrist.

This evening I wrote the following e-mail to the pastor.

Pastor Mark,

I attended your second breakout session at the Men’s convention this weekend.

You related several Do’s and Don’ts of witnessing. Two don’ts were:
· Don’t tell a Catholic that he is going to hell
· Don’t tell a Catholic that the Pope is the Anti-Christ

I haven’t stopped thinking about your statements. Since, generally, your “Don’ts” were examples of poor negotiation rather than untruths; I’d like to know whether you think either of these statements is true without exception. If not, how could you consider them appropriate? Your second statement lacks as much fact as Nostradamus’ predictions.

I was never a Catholic. I’m reacting as a Christian, albeit a very new one. Had your examples referred to Calvinists my reaction would be the same.

Joe Lowery

I'll let you know when I hear from him.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Working on His plan for me

Laura and I with my daughter Sara, my son Jon and a few friends visited another church in the area. It may be the largest church in the Danbury area. It was nice, not as charismatic as the church we belong to but perhaps we caught them on an off night. The pastor was young but he was a good speaker and his sermon was very well prepared with projected verses and supporting graphics. I thought the message was good. He encouraged each of us to be a living sacrifice to God by fulfilling God's plan for us as well as we can with all the talents He has given us, by appreciating all that He has provided for us and by loving and respecting each other as He loves us. But, life is filled with obstacles and temptations to overcome as we strive for success. The pastor introduced several church members who with many others have established various ministries which provide support to any and all who are struggling. I struggle. Does anybody not have to struggle? Is anybody unaffected by all temptations? I doubt it. I could benefit from one or more of those ministries but I didn't ask for help tonight. Did I not because I don't think they can really help me or because I'm not ready to open up to others or worse yet, because I'm not strong enough to turn away from some of life's temptations. Yes, yes and yes. I have a ways to go but I'm still working at it.