unique perspectives from six people

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Six Perspectives...No More

While Six Perspectives is no more, please consider reading my personal blog:

In all of my past efforts with blogging, I've only attempted community oriented blogs...ones where I am writing with a group of other writers.  This will be my first attempt at a solo blog - please wish me luck.

Maybe, someday, I will resurrect Six Perspectives.  But for now, I expect that social media has taken the place of online communal discourse.  Sadly, I personally believe social media allows us to share our ideas without consequence or discussion.  And without real online community, people can spew vitriol without being held responsible for the inappropriateness of their words.  

Writing thoughts within a cohesive, responsible framework forces a person to think.  And with this thoughtfulness, we are forced to consider if the words make sense.  And if the words make sense, do they inspire action?  Further we should ask our selves, "Is the action worth taking?"  "Will I change something about myself today?"  "Or will you change something about yourself today?"

I believe that words - in the context of engaging discussion - have the power to change us all.  But social media is the equivalent of a protestor's painted sign or a street corner preacher screaming loudly for all to hear - and with no one to discuss.  John Mayer wrote a song called "Belief", with lyrics that I believe now apply to how we use social media:

Is there anyone who ever remembers changing their mind from the paint on a sign? Is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking record off for something someone yelled real loud one time? Oh, everyone believes...in how they think it ought to be. Oh, everyone believes...and they're not going easily.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Should mentally competent, terminally ill patients be able to end their lives?

#1 A Declaration in Favor of the Value of a Life

This is one of those laws that seems so laughable, if it weren't so sad.  We don't want people to commit suicide, so we outlaw it?  Because people won't end their own lives if we threaten them with legal punishment?  This is a pointless rule.

I don't want anyone to commit suicide, for any reason.  I think suicide is the ultimate abandonment of those who love you, even if it's just days short of a natural death.  And no matter how passionately I feel that no one should ever ever commit suicide, it will never be my right to make that decision for another person.

The natural extension of this question is, "if I am allowed to choose suicide, shouldn't I be able to require my health care provider to assist me in carrying out this personal decision?"  And I think this would be a really dangerous line to cross.  

While a law against suicide is silly and unenforceable, I can imagine why it exists.  Because if it's acceptable for me to decide that life is hopeless, and that I should end it, then why wouldn't it be ok for my spouse or my friend to help me?  And if ending a hopeless life by suicide is ok, then why isn't it ok for my doctor to decide that my life isn't worth living when my health comes to a certain level of hopelessness?

Maybe the law against suicide is a declaration in favor of the value of a life.  A legislative stand that says, "each life is important, and no one, not even the person in possession of that life, should have the right to end it prematurely."  Maybe i like that law after all.

Submitted by Beth Rogers.

#2 We Are All Terminally ill!

We are all terminally ill!  I am going to plead that we should not allow patients to decide or be allowed to end their lives.  

The first reason is society’s inability to determine a set of concrete guidelines for who would be considered terminally ill.  We all know that as soon as this “Pandora’s box” is opened, it would only continue to be challenged and pushed further and further.  

The second reason is this would be a devastating step in the wrong direction for the valuing of human life.  Let’s assume that we begin to allow terminally ill patients this option.  Ten years later, insurance companies might just begin to cover the fees associated with that “procedure”.  (They would definitely do this because think of the money they would save….yet it would be considered a new “service” or “option”)  Ten more years pass and insurance companies would begin to offer policies that were cheaper if you had a “terminally ill” clause that meant they didn’t have to cover health-care for “terminally-ill” cases.  It would seem like a great idea, because you could save so much money, until you are the one deemed “terminally-ill”.  Don’t think that’s true...try getting a transplant if you’re obese.

The third reason is simply, we cannot play God.  I do agree with choosing not to take “drastic” measures because that is the essence of leaving a situation in God’s hands, however; willingly ending one’s life is the essence of taking things out of God’s hands.  

Submitted by Paul Buchanan.

#3 Everyone Else Should Honor And Respect That Choice


Whether or not a person continues to live is nobody else's choice but their own. I'd go farther and say that terminal illness shouldn't be a constraining factor. If a person decides that they are done living, then everyone else should honor and respect that choice.

To me, this is a basic human right. It is so obvious that marshaling arguments for it is actually more difficult because it is hard to predict what kind of complaints could be made. Of course, I'll do my best.

Q: What about all the loved ones this person will hurt by ending their life?
A: Those that truly love this person will stand by them and respect their choices. If that choice is to withdraw from life, then so be it. Those who wish to override the choice are not displaying love. They are displaying fear and selfishness. Now, I am NOT saying that loved ones shouldn't try to convince the person to change their mind. We do that for each other all the time when we don't agree about important decisions. By all means, make the case that sticking around is a better choice. But remember who gets to make that choice, when all is said and done.

Q: What kind of example will this set for kids?
A: Actually, I think that it might have a positive impact in areas like teen suicide. If we actually embraced the idea, sat down and talked frankly about it, explored the implications and understood the impacts... Perhaps a little reality would take the romance out of it. Also, our culture would adapt. There would be a transitional period, but eventually, we'd use such opportunities to explain death to those children who had reached an age where they were ready to understand it.

Q: Doesn't God say it is a sin?
A: I am not sure. I haven't talked with God today. I think the real issue here is that some beliefs count it as a sin. But since when is it okay to enforce our beliefs on someone who clearly does not share them? I don't think this is a valid argument. If a person has decided on suicide, then they have obviously dealt with any spiritual issues they might have had with it, and those issues WE might have with it are irrelevant.

I can see no compelling reason to forbid suicide, especially for those who are mentally competent and terminally ill.

Submitted by Matthew Rohr.

#4 I'll Reserve Judgment For Someone Who Makes That Choice

It's really sad when terminally ill people linger on in severe pain and suffering. I'd really like to say I thought it would be alright for them to choose to end their own life, but I do not. I'll not quote any scripture. There are several applicable, but my mind is made up that God does not want us to end our own life. While I do not think suicide is an unforgivable sin, as some Christians do, I do not think life should be ended by anyone but God.

Some might suggest that that would preclude capital punishment, but that issue was covered in the Old Testament. Also in war lives are taken, and I do not consider that murder either. My understanding is that the command “Thou shalt not kill” would have been more accurately translated “Thou shalt do no murder.” Murder would denote the taking of an innocent life, as in abortion.

I have no problem with life support being removed, since that is an artificial means to prolong life. When it comes to removing a feeding tube, that gets sticky. I'll not judge that. I certainly do have sympathy for situations where someone begs to die to end the pain, but I cannot give my permission for euthanasia. I'll reserve judgment for someone who makes that choice, but if asked what God would want, I'll have to say I don't approve of allowing someone to end their own life.

Submitted by David Parker.

#5 The Taking Of A Life is Murder

I just want to go on the record here and say that this was/is difficult for me to sort out. On the one hand, who am I to tell someone who is suffering unspeakable pain with absolutely no quality of life remaining that they don't have the right to end their suffering? 

On the other hand, medical miracles happen everyday. What if someone unnecessarily ends his or her life when there is still some hope? And where do we draw the line? To me, the taking of a life is murder. May seem like a simplistic viewpoint, but there you have it. So to begin with, we allow these terminally ill people to end their loves because their quality of life is bad. Then we allow people to voluntarily end their lives because they're lonely or unhappy. Their quality of life may seem just as bad to them. So now we are allowing people with a poor quality of life to make the decision to end it all. 

What's next? Allowing people to kill other people because they're bad or because they negatively affect quality of life? Where does it end? Where is the ethical line? 

Submitted by Lauri Lenox

#6 There Really Isn't Anymore Hope

If you believe in the right for every human to be able to make his or her own decisions, then you should believe in this option as well.

If mentally competent, that patient has the ability to comprehend the situation and decide to choose an end result that is not only best for their own well being, but also the well being of those around: family, friends, etc. I believe there are times when the pain and suffering of an ill patient is more difficult to handle than the lingering anticipation for the day goodbye is said to the world and their family.  It is at that point that someone may call it quits. We can not fault the family members who want to hang on a little longer or the doctor that may have a few more tricks up his sleeve.  They are human and respectively they are afraid of loss and afraid of failure.  

If there are no other options, then why not have the ability to choose this option?  When a hurting loved one passes, we always hear the same self-comforting reasoning from the family members, "They are in a better place now, they are no longer in pain."  If dying is what makes this peace a reality and everyone wants this peace, then let dying be the reality.  Otherwise, the patient's reality is pain, and everyone else is stuck in a fantasy because they refuse to accept the inevitable.

While I believe the choice should be an option for a mentally competent patient, I hope that if they do make the decision to end their life, it is because they want to and not because they have to. I hope they don't choose to end their life because of the financial cost or because any other options are unaffordable or too burdensome for the family.  I guess what I am saying is that I hope that the only time a patient has to make such a decision is because there really isn't anymore hope for their condition.

Submitted by Damian Trudell.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should We Decriminalize Prostitution?

#1 Our Religious Rights End Where the Freedoms of Others Begin

Yes, prostitution should be decriminalized. But that is not enough. It must be well regulated, organized, and taxed.

We have slowly begun to understand that not everyone shares the same moral standards, and that it is not ethical to force our moral standards on someone else simply because it is our moral standard and we believe that it was handed to us by some higher power. Most people believe that their moral standards are approved by or generated by a higher power. Those that don't most likely don't recognize any higher power at all.

Our religious rights end where the freedoms of others begin.

In addition, keeping it criminalized has not eradicated prostitution. It has made it more dangerous, less healthy, and more likely to lead people into other forms of crime. In decriminalizing it, we must go further. We must regulate it - ensure the health of those who would work in that industry. We must organize it - put power in the hands of the labor in the form of unions. We must tax it - there will be costs, and the money to pay those costs should be generated from within the industry as much as possible, seeing as a majority of people (at least in the short term) will not approve of it.

Submitted by Matthew Rohr.

#2 Prostitution Threatens to Cheapen the Experience of Human Sexuality

In a practical sense, moral laws are established so as to discourage actions that would harm the character of individuals or the community.  In particular, prostitution threatens to cheapen the experience of human sexuality by making intercourse more available and more frequent than is common (think economics…”dumping” product on a market decreases the price and the value).  Shared sexuality is a core component of our lives, so it has been historically justifiable to protect it and make it sacred.

Though the U.S. constitution does not, our state and local laws have made human sexuality sacred by reserving it for specific circumstances.  For example, we do not consider it acceptable for people to have public intercourse.  We also encourage young women and men to refrain from having intercourse until reaching the age of consent.  Further, we prohibit intercourse between adults and children, humans and animals and a myriad of other things that we commonly find morally deviant.  In essence, our laws regarding human sexuality represent what is commonly acceptable as being “legal” and oppositely represent what is uncommon as being “criminal” (e.g. “deviant behavior”).  Even though it has never been uncommon in the United States, prostitution has always been commonly unacceptable and is banned in 49 states for this reason.

Interestingly, two consenting adults having sex before marriage was once uncommon and therefore labeled deviant behavior under the law.  Also, two consenting adults having sex with people other than their spouses was once uncommon and considered deviant behavior under the law.  And finally, for a breathe of current air, two consenting adults of the same gender having sex together was once considered uncommon and deviant behavior under the law.  It should be obvious that what is common behavior has the tendency of changing over time. And as a result of changes in behavior over time, deviance from the standard of what is commonly acceptable should not be labeled criminal behavior.  But if we no longer have at least some standards based on our common morality, we should also expect eventually to commonly dissolve sanctity from our shared human sexuality.

Submitted by Jason Buchanan.

#3 The Constitution of the United States Protects the Right of the Individual to Make Horrible Personal Decisions

We live in a nation defined by a constitution which was written to ensure each individual the freedom to make their own decisions. And that freedom should be impeded only when it damages the rights of others to make their own decisions. And no matter how strongly I feel about the profession of prostitution, I believe that the constitution of the United States protects the right of the individual to make horrible personal decisions.

I think it is very important that those of us who so strongly believe in the importance of American freedom of religion, remember that freedom is for everyone. We do not have the right to legislate the interactions of two consenting adults, based on our religious beliefs, no matter how firmly held.

Aside from religious reasons, the only reason I can think of for a law against prostitution is the hope of protecting men or women from being victimized or trapped in a life of sexual abuse by strangers. And I simply cannot see how making a person a criminal for being a participant in a less than optimal way of life, benefits anyone, least of all the prostitute. It is a policy that is counterproductive to allowing these people to find a way out.

Submitted by Beth Rogers.

#4 Seems Like a Win-Win

The only real victims of prostitution as it stands are the women themselves. The world's oldest profession lends itself to violence, degradation and abuse. But let's just say for a moment that it didn't have to. Let's say that it was legalized. Let's go a step further. Say it was even taxed by the government. If there were houses run by madams, where the women were tested and received regular medical care and kept safe, this would solve a myriad of problems. It would get the women off the streets, prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, reduce the violence and abuse that is rampant among this type of profession, all the while making money for the government. Seems like a win-win. 

Submitted by Lauri Lennox.

#5 Last Time I Checked The McGriddle Was Still Legal

Absolutely. The only two things being accomplished by the criminalization of prostitution is, 1) further driving a sinister black market for the exploitation of women and girls, and 2) further victimizing these women and girls at the hands of the criminal justice system. I've represented COUNTLESS women (and men) who have been charged with prostitution or its offspring (e.g., "failure to register" as a sex offender and "crime against nature"). Guess how many men I've represented for patronizing these individuals? NONE. If we as a society have decided we morally want this to be a behavior subject to criminal penalties, then why is this the case? 

There is a serious double standard being used to persecute women and girls who have most often already been subjected to circumstances in their lives which would horrify us. And for what? Some puritanical notion that prostitution is a sin? Well, so is gluttony, but last time I checked the McGriddle was still legal. So is greed, but Wall Street's still too big to fail. At least in the case of prostitution, if it were legalized we'd stop perpetuating an often insurmountable barrier to the "perpetrators" being able to become productive, non-puritanical belief system-offending citizens. For instance, I'd often see rap sheets three pages long or more that had "prostitution" or some derivative of it listed as the first charge followed by, "failure to register: no address provided," "failure to register: failure to pay registration fees," "failure to register: no notices sent," etc., and then low and behold, another conviction for "prostitution" would pop up... Some of these "failure to register" charges are felonies, mind you, so guess who can't get a job? Guess who can't find housing because no one wants to rent to a felon? Guess who can't register or send notices because they don't have a home much less the ability to pay any registration fees? And hmmm, if you were a woman in this position who society had already tagged with a scarlet letter anyway with little to no means of raising yourself out of these circumstances, what might be one way to feed yourself or put a roof over your head for a day or so? 

The criminalization of prostitution is doing absolutely NOTHING but hurting any chance these women and girls have to getting out of this vicious cycle. Luckily, states have been taking prostitution out of the lists of crimes for which one has to register as a sex offender (a designation originally designed to identify sexual predators but expanded by religious zealots to include every possible sex-related offense under the sun), and some have even forgone prosecution of prostitutes as felons. However, more needs to be done to decriminalize something that is inherently should not be criminal in the first place. I could talk all day about how not every moral tenet needs to be turned into a criminal statute, but that's for another post. However, in particular to prostitution, it is especially harmful to target the women and girls who engage in it and not take a good hard look at whether doing so actually solves any society ills.

Further, I firmly believe that if some version of prostitution were legal, there would be more of an outlet for people's sexual desires who wanted to engage in such behavior and perhaps, less of a black market for exploiting young girls by the way of human trafficking or other predatory behavior. As a judge once told a peeping tom client of mine while he was admonishing him during sentencing, "listen, if you need to do that, I can tell you where to go." He was referencing a strip club down the street from the courthouse. In a roundabout way, my sentiments exactly.

The simple truth is that the criminalization of prostitution hurts women and young girls, and it is not the answer to the problem, even if you are of the persuasion that prostitution is a sin. For more about how damaging the criminalization of prostitution is for especially young girls, how our criminal justice system is failing them, and how this topic intersects with the issue of human trafficking, see:



Submitted by Amanda Love, Esq.

#6 Prostitution Will Not Go Away

While I try not to adhere myself to political labels, I’d have to admit up front that I typically land more within the Libertarian camp than anything else. This position is not due to any particular party loyalty, I simply believe that all things being equal, grown adults should and can be responsible for themselves.

There are no easy answers to such horrors as the sex slave trade, poverty, public health issues and the other types of criminal activity that go along with the sex industry in general. However, I believe wholeheartedly that a decriminalization of prostitution would be a step in the right direction.

Taking the world's oldest profession out of the back alleys and into government regulated, taxed and protected arenas would, in my opinion, make considerable improvements in an industry that refuses to be abolished no matter what steps are taken to prohibit such activities.  The current criminalization of prostitution is a key component in the victimization of the women and men who choose that profession. For those inside it who haven’t chosen it, but instead have been sold into the industry, the darkness under which they must stay hidden provides the very cloak of oppression that keeps them in such a horrific situation. Decriminalizing prostitution would help to bring those dark places into the light of public and governmental accountability and regulation.

Governmental regulation would also mean that, like the porn industry, regular testing and governmental oversight would help protect public health much more than the aforementioned cloak of darkness. It also means a potential tax on a multi-billion dollar industry, providing tax dollars that could help educate those in the profession, assist those in need who may be choosing it out of a multi-faceted poverty structure, and also help stop sex slave trades. 

In short, prostitution will not go away. We can either continue to fight it in our current strategy and continue to lose, or work with it to minimize the casualties. If the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expect different results, then the continued criminalization of prostitution is, indeed, insane. I believe decriminalizing it would be a much better step in the direction of solving the base issues that both feed into the industry and arise out of it. 

Submitted by Shae Cotter.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Whose responsibility is it to care for the poor, the orphans, the widows and the homeless?

#1 The Church Relegated This Responsibility to The Government

Deuteronomy 14: 28-29 describes one of 3 tithes mentioned in the Old Testament. This particular tithe was taken every 3 years, and it's purpose was to take care of the poor. This tells us that at the time this was written, the church took care of the poor in this manner. This was not the same tithe that was to be used to support the temple.

It appears to me that the church relegated this responsibility to the government, who through taxes use various programs to satisfy the needs of the poor. Certainly the New Testament teaches us that we should be benevolent, but at this point in time, the church would not be able to meet all the needs of the poor.

Submitted by David Parker.

#2 Humans Have This Pesky Little Incorporation Called Individuality

This question leads one to believe that there is one answer, and that orphans, the homeless, the poor, and widows, are all in the same boat. They are not. To be clear, not all homeless people are in the same boat as each other, necessarily; and the same with widows and the poor.

The question of orphans, on the other hand, is a category all its own. It represents, to me, ultimate helplessness, especially in the instance of young children who are orphaned.

But you were looking for an answer, not a new question.

I believe that it is the responsibility of every individual to take care of him or herself in as much as that person has the ability. Everyone, of every ability level, has times when they must rely on someone else for something. That is a part of the human condition, something that forces us to enter into community with each other. The more a society learns to use each person's strengths to benefit his neighbors and to work together, the more it can thrive. But this is not something that can be accomplished on a corporate level with true success. Humans have this pesky little incorporation called individuality, and that ingredient will forever make it impossible for any society to have a utopia on this earth. That is why communism, while it sounds fantastic on paper, fails miserably in every application. It's because someone has to lead and manage, and because humans need ambition, however small, in order to be happy, and because they desire deeply, uncontrollably, to be happy. It is part of our nature to want to become something. We simply cannot peacefully and happily live in the “ideal” situation where we all work toward the greater good, as defined by someone other than ourselves.

Compassion, however, must drive us to care for those who cannot care for themselves. We must care for our own families, our own old, our own sick. Morally and Biblically, that is our obligation, and also a system which makes sense. If we all cared for our own, there would be a great deal fewer helpless who were not cared for.

But there are very very many in our world who are not cared for and need to be. Whose responsibility is to care for them? That's a very difficult question. As a citizen of our nation, is it my responsibility to care for a helpless stranger. I say no. As a human, however, and especially if you consider yourself a Christian, it is not an option to leave the helpless without help, if it is in anyway within your power to assist.

The answer, then, i think, in short, is "MINE."

Submitted by Beth Rogers.

#3 This Is What Matters!!

I believe the Bible is very clear about our requirements as God’s children to care for the Orphans and Widows.  The book of Deuteronomy has several instructions about caring for Orphans, Widows, and those unable to work, i.e. the Poor and Homeless.  The first thing Jesus states in Matthew 5, The Beatitudes, is blessed are the Meek, the Hungry, and the Thirsty.  Right after that he states blessed are the Merciful.  In James 1 and 2, James, the brother of Jesus, is also very clear about taking care of the less fortunate.  

But 1st Timothy 5:16 explains it a little further by giving an explanation of those who are truly needy. These passages explain that those who have relatives to care for them, or can work for themselves, are not truly needy of our support.  The book of Ruth is a great story about a redeemer kinsman for both the widow Ruth and her widow mother-in law, Naomi.  Ruth turns out to be the great grandmother of King David. Another example can be found in Acts 3 with the Story of Peter and John being asked by a beggar for money.  They tell him they have no money for him and offer him salvation instead.  One point is they probably had some small amount of money they could have given him, at that time the Church was strong and sharing all things with each other.  But they didn't offer the beggar a “Gift”, they offered hope and salvation.  So there appears to be some level of accountability presented in the Bible.

When Jesus was pressed about the greatest of the laws he states to Love God, to Love Others.  Two of the Fruits of the Spirit are Love and Kindness.  When you really do Love someone, you hurt when they hurt.  If you are a follower of Christ and do as he commanded you will feel a certain level of love and compassion for those who are truly needy.  The Church has always been surrounded by the poor and the needy have always been with us.  History tells us that.  It seems sometimes that the poorer or more destitute a person is, the more they realize their need for God and are receptive to hearing his voice and command.  Why is it that Jesus stated how hard it will be for the rich man to enter heaven?  Why did he say if you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor and then you will have treasure in heaven? Then come follow me?

If you open the eyes of your heart, stop, be still, and listen, you will hear the voice of God on many occasions.  I had that happen recently while on a South Dallas mission trip to help the homeless.  My Christian joy was being stunted by several silly and petty issues within my Church life.  I was having issues with the church band, the quality of music we are playing, how we are being lead in worship, and even some of our bible studies and men’s retreat topics.  These seemed to be big and important topics for me and I was not the happiest camper in the building.   While downtown and talking with some of the homeless (who really do sleep under a bridge) I had a break through moment with the Lord.  I clearly heard his voice say to me “This is what matters!!”  I could powerfully feel Christ’s compassion for the needy and lost.  I knew he was talking to me about taking care of those who are truly less fortunate than us and to stop worrying about things that don’t really affect salvation and the message of the Cross.  If you’re honest with yourself and seek, you will see the needs of poor and homeless, those who truly need our help.  They are all around us.

Submitted by Dave Forrest.

#4 Requiring People to Give of Themselves Breeds Resentment & Contempt

The easy answer to the question of who’s ultimately responsible for the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the homeless would be “the government,” but the question itself is not that simple.  In an ideal world there would be no forced charity because requiring people to give of themselves (through taxation) breeds resentment and contempt vis a vis Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%.”  Our government spends untold billions on social programs that tend to instill a learned helplessness on recipients instead of giving them the motivation to overcome their situation and flourish on their own.  Charitable giving should come via people looking within themselves and giving readily and altruistically to causes designed to help those in need.  In return these non-governmental agencies would be responsible for giving the needy a hand-up instead of a handout.  

Submitted by Neal Harkner.

#5 A Microscopic Solution to A Macro-Cosmic Problem

Aside from the fact that I feel we are asking the wrong question here, I think there is a multifaceted answer. The question we should be asking is not who, but how. Determining how we solve the problem is more vital to the solution than determining who solves the problem, and I think it would lend itself to the answer we are seeking. Nevertheless,  I believe that above all else, we have a personal responsibility to take care of our own.  Just as it is my responsibility to take care of myself and my family, it is your responsibility to care for yours.  This may seem like a microcosmic solution to a macro-cosmic problem, but starting on a small scale is an effort worth making.  Solving the problem on a larger, governmental scale, has proven ineffective.  Large scale solutions are the government’s way of placing a band aid over a gaping wound.  They offer the same assistance to all poverty stricken families without considering that not every person is needy in the same way, or for the same reasons.  If we could localize, and perhaps privatize the care that the needy receive, we could go a long way toward minimizing, or possibly alleviating the problem. Charity starts at home, after all.   

Submitted by Lauri Lenox.

#6 Rich In Material Things, But Poor In Spirit

In short, everyone's. I've spent my legal career advocating on behalf of the poor, and from experience I can tell you that the needs of, “the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the homeless,” are multifaceted and cannot be fully addressed by mere donations of money or well-meaning charities. In addition, I am of the mind that the verse from the Bible this phrase is taken from is not necessarily literal. There are those that are rich in material things, but poor in spirit. There are those that have mothers or husbands or homes in a technical sense, but not within the true meanings of those words. To me, the notion of caring for the poor, etc., speaks to the desire from God or the shared humanistic value for us to be more compassionate toward and to take care of one another, and yes, even create a government that represents that notion.   

Submitted by Amanda Love, Esq.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why Would You Vote for Sarah Palin?

#1 No, I Would Not Vote For Sarah Palin

To put it simply, I would not vote for Sarah Palin.

It is true that my political ideology and hers are often very far apart. But I do have respect for some folks on the other side of the aisle, and political ideology is not always a barrier to receiving my vote, since I believe that what is most important is that a public servant be a servant.

There are two main reasons I will not vote for Sarah Palin. Number one is her affiliation with Christian Dominionist groups. Freedom of (and from) religion is an important foundation of our country. Revisionists are always attempting to undermine this freedom, to replace it with the freedom to be any flavor of Christian, and in general, to create a soft theocracy. Palin has shown a willingness to pander to these people. I absolutely refuse to allow that. She seeks her power by walking a path that appeals to fringe extremists.

Number two is that she is a quitter. Public service is a hard thing. If it is too demanding, she should not seek public office. I have little sympathy for the litany of excuses offered on her behalf.

No, I would not vote for Sarah Palin.

Submitted by Matthew Rohr.

#2 It's Like Pizza...

Why would I vote for Sarah Palin? Well, right off the bat, the reasons why I wouldn't vote for her spring to mind.  She does, however, have one thing in her favor.  She's a Republican. That would get her my vote no matter who was on the ticket for the Democrats.  I feel the way about Republicans that I feel about pizza. Bad pizza, though it may be awful, may make you sick, may make you never want to eat pizza again, is still pizza. It's still better than brussel sprouts. A bad Republican is better than any Democrat.

Is it a good reason? Maybe not... but it's what I've got.  Now let's hope I never have to use it.

Submitted by Lauri Lenox.

#3 Passion

I can't imagine a situation in which I would vote for Sarah Palin. Voting for her would pretty much go against all of my political views. However, there is one characteristic I find in Palin (and most other conservatives) that could possibly attract my vote if the situation is desperate, passion. While I mostly don't agree with conservatives or their methods of persuasion, I sometimes can't deny their passion. Conservatives have levels of passion I wish I could regularly find in liberals. I thinks it's basically because conservatives stick to so many ideas and principles that they are able to develop passion for their familiarities. Liberals contemplate change and progression, continuous growth as a civilization. New ideas are exciting, but of course they bring uncertainty. I'm not saying it's impossible to find passion in a liberal. Look back at Obama's campaign, you can't get more passionate than that.

Submitted by Damian Trudell

#4 If Someone Held A Gun...

I'd would vote for Sarah Palin if someone held a gun to not just my head, but my entire family's. Yeah, that's pretty much the only circumstance. She's appalling in too many ways to describe, but I'll sum up my main qualm with a quote I recently heard:

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American flag and carrying a cross."

Submitted by Amanda Rogers, Esq. Visit her blog - Seven Eighty One.

#5 People Gasping In Disgust And Horror

These are my thoughts on the question and they are not eloquent; maybe some would consider them naive, but here they are nonetheless.  I might as well come out of the closet now, I voted for Palin and McCain.  While at this very moment there are people gasping in disgust and horror at the very thought, I was one those who felt it was the best decision of the two candidates.  Isn't that an amazing statement in and of itself, "I" thought it was the best..."  We as Americans have the wonderful ability to vote as our conscience so chooses.  We are not bulled or harassed, taken at gunpoint to the voters booth, or manipulated (ok, maybe a little, but that is a whole other topic all together!) into voting for someone other than OUR CHOICE.  We have the ability to research every candidate and then vote based upon the knowledge we have accumulated according to the information given.

I believe that every person who runs for President has good intentions, that they want to make our country something to be proud of, admired; a country that its constituents can stand by and most importantly believe in.  Sadly they are human, and with that humanness they make promises that are never kept; more men are sent to a war instead of coming home, our elderly are rejected medical care that is desperately needed, and jobs continue to be scarce.  Most people believe we need a President that has experience in the political arena (aka circus, yes once again another topic to be debated) or a military background, or charisma, but basically I vote according to not only research but also who I feel God is leading me to vote for.  If it is a Democrat then so be it, if a Republican then that is great as well, but essentially I would vote for Palin based upon what I stated above....information gathered and prayer.  In the end, I believe God appoints all leaders in the positions they hold and it is my duty to pray for my President to make decisions that will make this country not only great, but be a place of safety for my children and others, despite whether I voted for them or not.

Submitted by Hope Cloud.

#6 Because She Is Smoking Hot!

Really, I'm very impressed that she is not ashamed to be pretty. Though I realize this is a sweeping generality, I believe that women in politics - and power in general - often forget the importance of their femininity. The pursuit of power and prestige is not a sum-loss game with retaining one's physically attractive attributes - and Sarah Palin seems to understand that her "women-ness" is important to her success. It is almost as important as her faith and her ultra-conservative platform. How many women do you know that would vote for her - just because she is a woman? In the same way, if I were ever to have to vote for her - it would probably be, however shallow this may sound, because she is good looking.

Submitted by Jason L. Buchanan. Visit his Facebook Profile.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How Much Time Do You Waste?

#1 I Spend Way Too Much Time on Facebook

I’m not going to say that I don’t waste time. In the past two or three years I have given myself a schedule of cleaning so I can keep myself accountable to the rest of my family. As long as I do what I have scheduled  for that day of the week, then I don’t feel like the other time during the day has been wasted. Granted, I spend WAY too much time on Facebook. I am not addicted, but I do get on there quite frequently during the day. I do watch a good lot of TV. I don’t have dvr (thank goodness) or I might watch much more. Both TV and the internet are most likely a waste of my time, and maybe I will change sooner than later. I guess the real answer is: How much time do I actually use wisely?

Submitted by Amanda Bell.

#2 Walk The Middle Path

I grew up driven by a father who settled for nothing less than the best. In his mind, there was no call for "wasting" time. There were always chores, there were always jobs that needed doing. I learned from my time spent under rules like those. There are always going to be chores and jobs. Always. They aren't going anywhere. 

It took me a long time to deprogram myself. I used to get horrific headaches when I was doing anything that my father might label "wasting" time. It made it difficult for me to do anything for fun or relaxation. But I continued to push myself until I was able to take time for me, to do things specifically just for my entertainment - for no reason other than that I wanted to.

Now, I guard my free time jealously. It is important to "waste" time. One of the deep purposes of life is to enjoy living, to enjoy the process of life, to breathe in and out and smile. Your chores and jobs will always be there waiting for you.

Moderation in all things. Walk the middle path. Balance.

Submitted by Matthew Rohr.

#3 Let The Rationalizing Begin

Let the rationalizing begin. Define “waste”. I do agree that waiting in a line that isn’t moving, or spending three hours on a movie that I kept thinking had to get better, but didn’t, is a waste of time. Activities such as these that are not productive, not enjoyable or maybe even detrimental, I consider a waste of time. I don’t think I have much of this kind of wasted time. Eight hours of sleep when I could actually function on about five could account for three wasted hours daily, but I believe I function better and might possibly live longer because of it. The three to four hours I spend each week checking on a relative in a nursing home could be considered a waste of time, but maybe it’s more important than I think it is. Some would say the time I spend in church, praying and reading my Bible is a waste, but I think my life is richer because of the time I spend developing a relationship with my Creator. In general, I get more enjoyment when I “stop to smell the roses”. If I spend an occasional weekend in my PJ’s “vegetating”, I don’t consider it wasted time. We all need some “down time” in order to rejuvenate and repair. So ultimately, what is wasted time? Maybe like beauty it is in the eye of the beholder.

Submitted by Donna Buchanan.

#4 What Are You Supposed To Be Doing?

Everyone wastes a little time.  I think it's important to know that not everyone's definition of "waste" is the same. It also depends on what you are supposed to be doing with your time. If you're getting paid to write computer programs and you're playing around on Facebook, you're wasting someone else's time by not doing what your time has been intended for. In order to determine how much time we waste, we need to first ask ourselves, "What are you supposed to be doing?"

I am a housewife and a mother.  I don't have a set schedule.  I have a list of things I know I need to get done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and I know that I have to allow myself the time to do those things.  If I know cleaning the bathrooms and doing the laundry is my job for Monday, I make sure I have the time to get that done.  If it takes me an hour, and that's all I needed to do for the day, then the rest of my time is mine. I can do what I want with it. If I choose to watch a 6 hour Hoarders marathon, that is my choice. It's not time wasted, it's time well spent.

Could I change the world in those 6 hours? Maybe. But I'd rather watch Hoarders.

Submitted by Lauri Lenox.

#5 Like People That Don't Use Keyboard Shortcuts

This is a dangerous question. Am I willing to be critical of myself and reveal all of the ways in which I fail? Because honestly, I always feel like I’m wasting time. I guess I assume that if something – which I may have completely intended to do – didn’t get accomplished…I must’ve wasted time.

Wasted time is like people that don’t use keyboard shortcuts. How much time have you wasted clicking on the “File” menu and selecting “Save”, instead of simply pressing ⌘+S? Or, for that matter, how much time have we all wasted by continuing to use QWERTY keyboards?

I am reminded of an often-quoted verse from the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” In the same way, I believe there is always a better way to accomplish a task – ways of which I am not yet wise… I could spend my life pursuing better ways. But then, my pursuit of better ways would become an infinite futility…inevitably the worst way to waste time.

Submitted by Jason L. Buchanan. Visit his Facebook Profile.

#6 The Amount Is Incalculable

I have ADHD.  To some those four letters are seen as an excuse, a cop out.  To them I don't have anything physically wrong with me.  I'm just disorganized...or better yet...lazy.  In the past there have been days at work where the only thing I can concentrate on is not working.  Throw in the daily commute for the icing on the cake.  How much time do I waste exactly?  The amount is incalculable, but it's more than I know I should.  Heck I've even wasted some time writing this paragraph.  Hopefully Jason's not waiting up for this.

Submitted by Neal Harkner

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why Do You Celebrate Christmas?

#1 Someone Died Last Year Because Of It

Every year on Christmas day, I make sure to take the time to remember the purpose of the holiday and take note of the many blessings in my life. That is my way of celebrating Christmas. And that is the only part of the holiday season I enjoy. It is a time to make sure we take care of those who are truly in NEED. It is not a time to become stressed over what our loved ones WANT. It is so sad how much focus we have put on the commercialization of Christmas; even to the point that someone died last year because of it.

Submitted by Damian Trudell, Visit his blog - "My Thoughts"

#2 Christmas Is Not A Story

I am a broken, depraved person. Left to my own devices I will stumble along through life succumbing to a multitude of self-serving, self-centered, self-pleasing, actions. It is only thru the grace of God that I can be saved from myself.

Christmas is not a story. It’s history. Christmas is not a materialistic holiday (at least not to me.) It is a celebration of a birth that occurred some 2000 years ago. Christmas is a celebration of the day that God sent down his son, fully God and fully human, to save us from our sins. Born to an unwed, virgin mother; Jesus Christ entered this world not in all the splendid grandeur expected but into a humble beginning.

So yes; I celebrate Christmas. And I celebrate Christmas to honor a birth. But how do I celebrate? I celebrate by spending less and giving more. I celebrate by giving gifts to my family and close friends. I celebrate by spending time with my family, my friends, and people I don’t even know. I celebrate by spending less and giving more. I celebrate by sacrificially giving to Living Water International (this year), by serving others, and by remembering the birth of Jesus Christ.

Submitted by Brian Hummel.

#3 An Incredibly Strong Cultural Tradition

I celebrate Christmas because it's an incredibly strong cultural tradition in the United States and I happen to have been born here.  I think this is the case with most people in this country even if they are of the "Jesus is the reason for the season" persuasion.  Given how much more I hear "I've finished my Christmas shopping!" or "Just put up the Christmas tree" or "Taking the kids to get pictures with Santa tomorrow" rather than "Hey, isn't it neat that Jesus was born around this time a couple thousand years ago?" I'd go so far as to say Jesus is no longer the sole reason for the season even if one does happen to be Christian.  The reason for the season instead seems to stem from multiple sources all boiling down to a very strong cultural priority to wrap up the year in a way that celebrates family, friends, good will, and reflection (and you know, stuffing our faces with cookies, spending hundreds of dollars on stuff we don't need, and driving ourselves insane with planning).  And that's fine with me; whatever floats your boat...  What I do get annoyed with is the hypocritical nature of a lot of those who say "Jesus is the reason for the season" on one hand yet openly incorporate greed and glutony into the holiday and pass this notion on to their children (for instance, in the form of a Black Friday "win" or the latest and greatest toy being unwrapped on Christmas morning to be flaunted in front of neighbors and friends).  I also get annoyed at those people (usually the same lot) who claim the term "Happy Holidays" is an afront to Christmas or Christianity as a whole (ahem, Bill O'Reilly and your ilk) like any celebration of other holidays at this time automatically amounts to a dimunition of the importance of their religious expression.  I'd like to explain to these individuals that December 25th is not actually Jesus' birthday; the date was switched from January 7th when we switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one we now follow.  And, I'd like to explain to these individuals that historians have long agreed that even the January 7th date was likely picked out of a hat to align with already existing pagan holidays or Winter Solstice in order to more easily convert people.  I'd also like to explain that Hanukkah and Winter Solstice celebrations have been around a heck of a lot longer than Christmas celebrations, so if anyone has a right to be pissed, it's probably not the relative latecomers.  And, most of all, I'd like to explain to these people that unless you're a Muslim jihadist, there shouldn't be a battle over whose religion is more revered or important so they should leave other people be.  But, I digress... Everyone celebrates Christmas or "the Holidays" for their own reasons.  And, everyone should be free to do so...  I happen to celebrate "Christmas" (I suppose not the literal "Christ's Mass" of the word's origin, but the modern incarnation of the day) because it is a wonderful way to set aside time for recuperation, time for family, time for friends, and time for appreciating and loving one another (family, friends, and strangers alike).  Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Submitted by Amanda Rogers, Esq. Visit her blog - Seven Eighty One.

#4 Its Kind Of Like Being Republican

I celebrate Christmas for many reasons.  Celebrating any holiday, Christmas included, is kind of like being a Republican.  You're a Republican growing up because your parents are Republicans, but as you grow up and your views on the world change, your opinions about politics (or holidays, as the case may be) change and develop as well. 

I celebrate Christmas because I believe in what it represents. I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that He came to us as a baby in a manger to save us from our sins.  Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, so why wouldn't I celebrate it?

I celebrate Christmas because I believe in the spirit of it, the spirit of love and giving.  I know many people think that the holiday is all about greed and the gimmes, but I believe that if you allow yourself to truly feel the spirit of the holiday, you will realize that it really is about giving and love. And who wouldn't want to celebrate that?

Submitted by Lauri Lenox.

#5 Let "Christmas" Go And Call it "Shopping Holiday #12"

Is it OK to say I celebrate Christmas because everyone else does? I mean, honestly, how weird would I be if I didn’t celebrate Christmas? So, maybe I don’t think we really get the point of Christmas being a celebration of Christ’s birth…but shouldn’t we be celebrating that all year anyways?

I get frustrated when people feel robbed of their Holiday when someone says "Happy Holidays", instead of "Merry Christmas". Or when I see a sign that signs Merry X-Mas... I get it, the world doesn’t want to celebrate Jesus’ birthday – and yeah, December 25th isn’t the day Christ was born…sorry, kids.

In reality, I don’t want my kids to struggle with confusion of Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. I’d almost be happier if we just let Christmas go and called it “Shopping Holiday #12”.  I'd almost prefer to tell my kids about Jesus without the confusion our modern Christmas creates.

Submitted by Jason L. Buchanan. Visit his Facebook Profile.

#6 Christmas Karaoke And Lots of Champagne

Personally, I celebrate Christmas for two main reasons which are: to recognize and celebrate my religious views and to carry on the WONDERFUL traditions my family has built based on this one special day.

Let’s address the first reason. The whole idea that a child was born into such unfortunate circumstances, just so he could save my life, is simply unfathomable. I am proud to make merry this one day every year that I get to buy or make my family and friends wonderful presents, which ultimately represents, but will never measure up to, the gift that God blessed me with.

Now with that said, my family also likes to enjoy many unconventional traditions that we’ve made first-hand and will continue to enjoy with our children and grandchildren. Our ritual starts on Christmas Eve by going to Kobe’s Steakhouse for dinner and then going to see The Nutcracker Ballet at Fair Park. We finish up the evening by opening only 1 present from a family member and we also do a White Elephant Gift Exchange. The morning of Christmas, we always have my mom’s wonderful pumpkin roll (simply amazing) and we all open presents together. THEN, the real fun starts. We have our annual “touch” football game with our family and close friends. Then, we sing Christmas Karaoke and have lots of champagne. Christmas is a wonderful day for my family!

Submitted by Lindsey Averkamp