Category Archives: Things most people would agree with if they really thought about it

Two Cheers for the Electoral College

It’s over. Again. Probably for good this time. On Friday, Georgia certified its official election results with Joe Biden winning the state. Today, Michigan followed suit. And after a Trump-appointed judge in Pennsylvania threw out Trump’s lawsuit over the weekend, Pennsylvania counties today started the process of doing the same.

Nevada certifies tomorrow. Arizona’s counties have all certified their results, with statewide certification set for November 30. Wisconsin will do so on December 1. But Biden doesn’t need them to win.

And now that we’ve reached this point, I want to offer up a measured, but enthusiastic two cheers for the often-maligned electoral college.

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Movie Review: 13 Hours [SPOILERS]

So last night, my wife and I made it out to see the movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. I’ve been asked by numerous people for a review of the film, so here it is. If you’ve read anything in the news about Benghazi, you know how it ends, It’s impossible to tell this story without a few minor spoilers, so while I’ve tried to keep the. to a minimum, if your intent is to go into this movie with an absolutely clean slate, this is one review you might want to skip. You have been warned.

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Planned Parenthood: The Enemy of both Life and Choice

I’ve been waiting to comment on the recent drama surrounding Planned Parenthood until more information became available, but with the release of the fifth video this week, there’s not a lot more that can be said. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the group behind these videos, says it has released less than half of the videos the organization has in its possession, and in fact some of them may never see the light of day given that a LA County Superior Court Judge and a Federal Judge who bundled $230,000 for President Obama’s last campaign have both issued temporary restraining orders against releasing videos involving certain Planned Parenthood business partners, based on the time-honored legal standard of: “you can’t do that because it might make the people I support look bad.”

These orders have not, though, prevented the group from releasing footage of Planned Parenthood staff themselves. Perhaps there’s worse footage waiting in the wings, but it seems as though any additional footage can only confirm what we already know from these first five releases.

And what, precisely, is that? In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll note here that I haven’t gotten through the several hours of unedited footage yet. I tend to be Boehner-esque in my lack of control over my lacrimal glands, so watching things like this make me start bawling, not to mention turning my stomach and just being flat out horrifying. I also have young kids at home, including a 9 month old baby, so my already-weak stomach is considerably more so when violence against small children is involved. What I have seen is incredibly difficult to watch, and would be even without a baby of my own at home. Watching it while thinking of her sleeping upstairs is next to impossible. So I haven’t watched everything. But what I have watched thus far is bad enough.

Here’s how bad . . .
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The Day I Met My Daughter

I had a brand new experience this past Friday. I met my daughter for the first time. It was exhilarating . . . unbelievable . . . mind-blowing. It was a thousand different adjectives for which the English language doesn’t have words.

When Heidi was pregnant with Tristan, we decided to be “surprised.” We never had an ultrasound and didn’t know whether he was a boy or girl until he was in our arms and we could check all his parts for ourselves. We never regretted that decision, but this time we decided for a variety of reasons that we wanted to know in advance, and seeing that little girl on the screen this morning, I’m so very glad we did.

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How Far Fallen?

Any “regular readers” here will know that I’m a graduate of Patrick Henry College, a small, Christian liberal-arts college here in Northern Virginia. Since my time at the school, they’ve established the Faith & Reason Lecture Series, described on the school’s website as a semiannual, “day-long shared experience that involves a presentation by a faculty member or guest, lunch with the speaker, small-group discussions, and an afternoon question-and-answer session with a faculty panel.”

The most recent such lecture occurred on Friday, September 13, 2013. It was given by faculty member Dr. Stephen Baskerville, and was entitled Politicizing Potiphar’s Wife: Today’s New Ideology. I was not present at the initial lecture (though I plan to attend a follow-up session for alumni later this week). However, after reading the content of the lecture, I am left with grave concerns about the state of education at my alma mater.

It’s long, but if this is a topic that interests you and if you have not already done so, please read the above link before you proceed. I fear what follows will make little sense otherwise, and I dislike presenting only my perspective on an issue without the reader having an opportunity to become familiar with the other side. If a discussion of academic rigor, logical argumentation, and what it means to have a “Christian education” does not interest you, you probably won’t care to read further, though you’re certainly welcome to do so.

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Where we are. Where we’ve been.

I woke up this morning deeply discouraged about the future of our country. Conservatives like to say that we are a “center-right nation,” but in a country where the challenger can win independents handily and still lose the election that is clearly no longer the case. Many, myself included, thought the polls showing Obama ahead based on 2008 demographics couldn’t possibly be right . . . that 2008 was a historical anomaly centered on the man himself, and that after the pendulum swung the other way in 2010, everything would revert to the norm in 2012. We were wrong. I was wrong. 2008 was a realignment, and the face of the country changed. That being the case, it’s worth looking back at the country we left behind us four years ago.

Four years ago, I wrote a post on this blog intended to calm the fears of readers on the right who were worried about the fate of the nation in the face of what everybody knew would be an overwhelming victory for Barack Obama. It’s never as bad as it seems, I wrote, and the election of a staunch far-left liberal masquerading as a post-partisan moderate is not the end of the world.

I will not be writing any such comforting words this time. This time the electorate’s rose-colored glasses were off. The far-left liberal ran as exactly what he is. He ran a small, vicious and mean campaign based on character assassination, and was reelected anyway. It really is as bad as it seems. It may be worse.

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Things my son is teaching me about my Father
(Parts 6 & 7)

Read Introduction & Part 1
Read Parts 2 & 3
Read Parts 4 & 5

(6) What matters is not where I am, but which way I’m facing.

Tristan loves to lie on the bed and play . . . he’s at that stage right now where he wants to be mobile, but is still trying to figure our how. On the bed, though, he can roll over more easily, he can grab hold of things and pull himself forward, or brace his feet against something and push off.

That means, of course, that I have to be more careful about where he’s able to get to than when he’s just sitting on his playmat or on the floor and can’t get anywhere else.

It also means that in one instance he can be sitting on the bed and I have to be worried that he might fall off the edge, but in another instance he can be sitting in exactly the same place, and I don’t have to be concerned because he’s facing (or moving) in a direction that is safer – toward the middle of the bed, for example.

I think I’m coming to find that it’s the same way with God. The entire story of the Old Testament is how impossible it is for us to actually DO everything God laid out that His people were “supposed” to do. That being the case, it seems as though the message of the New Testament – between James’ definition of “true religion,” Paul’s discourses on eating meat offered to idols, and John’s discussion of what it means to truly love God, is that what He really cares about most is not that we’re “doing the right thing” at any given moment, but that we’re gradually drawing closer in relationship with Him . . . i.e., it’s not where we’re sitting, but which way we’re facing, that matters most. Even the Old Testament hints at this in the writings of the prophets, when God tells the people that He’s sick of their sacrifices (you know, all the ones He told them to make . . . ) and just wants them to turn back to relationship with Him . . . to change which way they’re facing, so to speak.

(7) It’s ok if our relationship isn’t perfect right now.

I have a confession to make. I’m somewhat neurotic. (Those who know me are looking at their collective screens right now and thinking, “well duh!”) Part of the way that manifests is wanting to do well at everything I try . . . I don’t want to put in the work of trying and failing ten thousand times before I get it right. I don’t want to practice (badly) until I’ve done something enough to actually be good at it. I want to be good at it now dangit!!

And I see the same thing with Tristan. He wanted to roll over before he was capable of doing so. Now he clearly wants to be crawling . . . wants to be mobile and able to go get toys and other things by himself . . . but he can’t.

And that’s ok. He’s not developmentally ready for that yet, and I have no qualms against dropping everything and helping him with something he needs, until he’s developmentally ready to meet that need himself.

And I think if you read the sweeping story that is Scripture, that’s what you find as well. From the Garden with Adam, to the supper table with Abraham, to the tabernacle with Moses and Aaron, to the temple with Solomon, to the rebuilt Temple with Ezra, to the synagogues with the exiled Jews in Babylon and Persia, to the upper room with the disciples, to Pentecost with the aposltes . . . God’s relationship with us is constantly growing, maturing . . . changing. That’s a daunting concept, to realize that an unchanging God nevertheless changes the way He interacts with us, based on our own growth in our limited ability to comprehend Him.

Just as my feeling for Tristan will never change, but the ways I interact with him will constantly be growing and maturing.

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Things my son is teaching me about my Father
(Parts 4 & 5)

Read Introduction & Part 1
Read Parts 2 & 3
Read Parts 6 & 7

(4) I can do something He doesn’t like, and it doesn’t change how He feels about me one bit.

As one of my favorite authors puts it, there’s nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make Him love me less. Because it’s not about *doing*! He just loves me. Period.

Lots of parents reassure their kids that they are loved even when they misbehave, but so often we here parents say things like “I love my kids, but sometimes I just don’t *like* them very much!

I don’t get that. I’m not sure how it’s possible. If I don’t like someone, how capable am I of being particularly loving toward them?

And even if it IS possible, how can a child comprehend that distinction?

I’m so grateful God doesn’t distinguish like that. He doesn’t “like me” when I behave well, and “dislike me” when I behave badly. He just flat out doesn’t value what I DO (even the good stuff I do is like “filthy rags” to Him) . . . Instead, He values who I AM. He just rejoices in my existence, regardless of whether I’m doing what He wants at any particular moment in time.

(5) He does things just to delight me.

This one has been quite the experience for me to figure out. The more I hang out with my son, the more I realize that I want to do things for him – not to prove a point, or teach him something, or help him with something, but just because it will make him happy.

I remember a conversation with my best friend growing up, where we realized that the logical conclusion of everything we had been taught was, “if I want it, it must be wrong for me to have it, and therefore wrong of me to want it.” We’re taught that our own desires are wicked and deceitful . . . and sometimes that’s even true. It’s incredibly seductive, and dangerous, to believe something just because I WANT it to be true . . . whether it actually IS true or not.

But the fact is, the more our hearts are in tune with God’s heart, the more our desires reflect His . . . that is, the more we want GOOD things.

And sometimes He is in the habit of giving us those good things before we even realize we want them.

Take Solomon, for example. God said he could have anything he wanted, and all he asked for was enough wisdom to rule his people well. God gave Him more wisdom than anyone else who ever lived. Just because.

Or Adam, who couldn’t have possibly known that he was missing anything when he was flying solo . . . he was, after all, blissfully ignorant of such emotions as loneliness, loss or unhappiness.

And God gave him Eve. Because God knew it would make Adam happier . . . would fulfill a need in him that he didn’t even realize wasn’t being met. God knew that giving Adam the one thing he was missing would make the whole of creation, “Very Good.”

Of course that’s not to say that every moment of every day is just going to be complete bliss . . . God makes it pretty clear that troubles and difficulties are pretty standard features of a life spent in relationship with Him.

But those times when He just blesses us . . . just because . . . are pretty special too.

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Things my son is teaching me about my Father
(Parts 2 &3)

Read Introduction & Part 1
Read parts 4 & 5
Read Parts 6 & 7

2) He’s communicating with me, even when I don’t understand it all… And that’s ok with Him.

I could sit and talk with Tristan all day long. It’s so much fun to whisper in his ear all the things I hope for him . . . that I want him to always know without question that he is loved, and that he someday understands how much that means.

He, of course, doesn’t understand a word of it. Sure, he knows (sometimes) that I’m talking to him. And he comprehends enough to give me back the biggest, most amazing grins I’ve ever seen on anyone’s face, ever.

But he doesn’t understand even the barest fraction of what I’m actually communicating.

And that’s fine. As he grows more into the fullness of who he is, part of that growth will be in his ability to communicate back with me . . . to make our relationship less and less one-way, and more and more two-way. Even in the six months since he was born, I’ve already seen that happen a little bit.

And isn’t that exactly what God says? That as we grow in our relationship with Him, we move from milk to meat? We “put away childish things”? We understand, in short, more and more of what He is constantly trying to tell us?

3) When He gets angry, it’s not necessarily at us

Thus far, the most frustrating times with Tristan have been trying to get him to fall asleep, either for a nap or for bedtime. The little guy just doesn’t like to go to sleep! (I think he gets that from his dad)

It’s incredibly frustrating sometimes, particularly after it’s been three hours of passing him back and forth between me and Heidi, rocking, bouncing, walking, laying down, nursing, and generally trying just about anything and everything to get him to nod off . . . only to have him wake up again two minutes after he’s finally conked out.

But that’s hardly his fault. It’s not like he’s somehow deliberately doing whatever he can to annoy us. He just isn’t ready for sleep.

And isn’t that how we are, sometimes? I’m not talking about those times when we do deliberately engage with things we know God doesn’t want for us . . . I’m talking about those times when I’m reading the same passage in scripture for the fifth time, thinking to myself “Ok, God . . . what’s the point of this bit here??” Or the times when I’ve had a fellow believer tell me, with utmost sincerity, what they think God’s will is in a given situation, and my only thought is “I just don’t see that!” Or the times when I can’t bring myself to listen to the truth in what someone says because of ways I’ve been hurt or disillusioned by them or others in the past.

All of that has to be intensely frustrating to God. But I don’t think He’s frustrated at us. I think, in times like those, He’s frustrated at sin . . . at the separation it introduces.

He’s frustrated, in short, at the circumstances in which our relationship exists. Just as I get frustrated sometimes at the circumstances in which my relationship with Tristan exists. I think a lot of times we parents expect things of our children for which they’re not developmentally ready. We expect them to sleep easily, to behave as we wish them to act, to comprehend things they can’t fathom yet, or to communicate their feelings and needs better than they are capable of doing . . .

Isn’t it wonderful that God doesn’t expect that of us?

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Things my son is teaching me about my Father
(Introduction & Part 1)

I remember conversations with Heidi when we were expecting Tristan, hypothesizing that having him around would give both of us a lot more fodder for blogging. That’s proven much less true in my case than hers . . . until now.

Where many new parents I know worry about how they’re going to teach their kids well, I’m far more concerned over what my son has to teach me – even now, at six months old. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been realizing that just having a son is teaching me more than I could ever comprehend before, about how God wants to Father me. I’ve always had a very intellectual view of God the Father, even as I’ve grown more in relationship with his Son . . . but that’s all changing now that I’m a father myself, and it’s really cool to look inside myself and watch it happening. Over the next several days, I’m planning to post just a handful of the things my Father has been teaching me lately about Himself . . . through the lens of my own experiences at fatherhood.

1) He delights in me. Always.

When I look at Tristan, I can’t help but take joy in his existence. He doesn’t have to be playing with me, or smiling at me, or even consciously aware of my existence at any given point in time. He might be sitting there playing with his toys, blissfully unaware that anybody else exists, and I can’t help but look at him and love him. I delight in my son. period and full stop.

And I’m coming to realize God feels the same way about me. Oh, it’s not that what I do doesn’t ever make Him sad. Of course it does. But that doesn’t for one second lessen the delight He finds in me. And the joy he takes in me is not dependent on what I’m doing at any given point . . . it’s not that he rejoices more in me when I’m praying, or reading the Bible or sharing my faith with someone else, or writing a blog post. Even when I’m sitting at my computer playing a stupid game, He’s watching me, loving me, spending time with me. Delighting in me.

That’s a pretty wild thought for me. I grew up with a very behavior-centric view of God. Oh, I believed in salvation through faith, of course . . . but once saved, I thought that God’s favor waxed and waned depending on how “sanctified” or “carnal” I was at any given point in time . . . and that sanctification was measured in terms of “doing the right thing.”

I was, in short, a pretty good little Pharisee.

However, I’m currently going back through the very beginning of humanity’s relationship with God in Genesis, and I’m starting to realize the truth of Romans 5:8 – that while we were still sinners, God loved us. I’m realizing how gently God treated even the most distasteful characters in His Story. Even after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, God still showed up for their daily walks together . . . it was Adam and Eve who hid in shame. And God, even while cutting Cain off from the community he’d broken by murdering Abel, protected Cain from the vengeance of those who would take advantage of his newly isolated state.

He blessed Abram even after he essentially prostituted his own wife out to the Egyptian Pharoah.

He allowed Moses, a murderer, to witness his physical presence in a way nobody else in Scripture ever did.

He blessed and communed with Jacob, a thief and a liar.

He called David, a rapist, a man after his own heart.

He gifted Solomon, a womanizer, with more wisdom than anyone else who ever lived.

He delighted in each of them. And not just when they were “on His good side.” We tend to think of Jesus as “God’s good side.” God the Father is the grumpy old man who just needs to beat on something (someone) because He’s pissed off at sin, and Jesus is the guy who steps in front of God’s big stick and takes the hit that was meant for us. More and more, though, I’m starting to realize - to really know in my heart, where it counts, rather than just in my head – that God is nothing BUT good side! I’m coming to understand that when Scripture says God hates sin, it’s because of what sin is doing to those He loves. To me.

It’s not that he has to beat the sin out of us . . . it’s that he wants to cure us of its influence. It’s as though God needed some way to make a vaccine for sin, and Christ was the only one strong enough to bear sin and all its effects without being destroyed by it. When I look at it that way . . . God the Father and God the Son collaborating together to inoculate me from the horrific effects of sin, I can finally comprehend just how God can loathe the presence of sin in the world, yet still take so much joy in the people afflicted by it.

More to come. Stay tuned!


Read Parts 2 & 3
Read Parts 4 & 5
Read Parts 6 & 7

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