Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thoughts...

Today is the last day of a relatively long vacation from work. It has been good to be able to devote some more time to school, both the learning part and the social part. Tomorrow I go back to the craziness that is full time work and full time school. Amidst the flurry of activity, this will probably be my last chance to share my election thoughts. (I know you've all been holding your breath...)

My prediction: It will be a landslide for Obama and it will be called very early in the night. The media is trying to create a story that McCain is closing in, but they have to do that in order to get people to tune in on Tuesday night. It's better for their pocketbooks than if people think the election is a done deal. Oh, and also, it'll be called early, probably by 10:00p.m. All it will take is for either Virginia or Florida to go Obama's way. After that happens, then McCain will have to win several states that Bush lost in '04 in order to make up for the losses.

Now, for my (perhaps surprising) analysis...

When Wednesday comes, it will be a great moment for America. I really believe that. Though our historic demons of racism will always be with us in some form, they will have been relegated to the shed out back where we put things to collect dust. A large part of our reputation that has been squandered over the past eight years will be restored and the leaders of the most rogue countries of the earth will have a harder time convincing their people that the United States is as evil as they had once thought. I truly believe an Obama administration will help foster a higher level of political discourse that makes it more possible for things to get done.

Oh, yeah... When Tuesday comes, I will cast my vote for John McCain. I am one of those ubiquitous single issue voters that get derisive looks and snickers wherever we go. Those who look down on us believe it asinine to quarantine a single issue and to make it the deciding factor. Those of us who do this see it as a no-brainer. Especially when it's the issue of abortion. It's ok to call me silly, but only if you think it is silly to believe that life begins at (or sometime very soon after) conception. If you think life begins only after the child exits the womb and begins breathing (and there are many intelligent people who believe this,) then I think you are morally obligated to consider me a buffoon for picking this issue to be my trump card. But if have similar views about life as me, then please save your ire for something more worthy. I'm often baffled at those who say they believe abortion to be murder, but that it's stupid for that to be the only issue you use when deciding who to vote for. Really? If someone runs on the platform that we should not judge or prevent people who want to point a gun and shoot Craig Nash, please, for the love of God, make it the only issue you vote for.

Wow, I didn't plan on writing that much. But there you have it.

That's all I've got. But if your itching for more, you should read THIS ARTICLE about Sarah Palin. It's written by Eugene Robinson, a very smart guy that I rarely agree with, but who always has insightful things to say.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think one issue voting is okay because looking at just one issue can often show the character of a man. I want to vote for someone whose thoughts and ways most closely align with God's will. I actually think that there are more issues than the abortion one that put McCain in that bucket. I think you turned somewhat anti-Bush during his presidency, but I am still a supporter. I hear from some pretty good sources that he is a God-fearing, praying, scripture reading man. I believe that someone like that is in-tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit in his decision making. That's the #1 best quality in a president, if you ask me. I'm not sure if McCain falls into that category, but I think it's more likely for him than Obama...and I really think Sarah P. might be there.

Patrick said...

Very well said, Craig.

Single-issue voting - especially when that issue is abortion, is quite the can of worms, but I think your approach is honest. And I think the fact that you can see the good in someone who disagrees with you on your most important issue says a lot about you.

Craig said...

I don't think anyone who listens to or reads my political comments can call me "anti" anyone. I have not become anti-Bush. There are things he has done with his presidency that have been great. He will never get enough attention for the monumental amount of effort he has put into helping Africa. He has appointed two justices to the Supreme Court that are not only great ideological choices, but who have proven to be legal giants. There are other things I could name. But it is hard to ignore his failings as well. He has not been conservative with domestic spending. He obviously, in his first term anyway, did not handle our international affairs in a humble or effective manner.

As far as him being a great Christian man-- I don't doubt that. But I want my president to be able to balance what they feel they are hearing from the Holy Spirit with a healthy amount of skepticism concerning their motivations, as well as with a healthy amount of intellectual thought and true consensus among our allies.

Aaron said...

I always think of it this way: if there were two candidates running for office, one of whom was "pro-life," meaning he favored protecting Jews from murder, and another who was "pro-choice," meaning he favored allowing people to kill Jews if that was their choice, then being pro-choice in that scenario would be a deal breaker for me and for any sane person.

Now, let's ask ourselves, what is the difference between a Jew and an unborn child, in terms of moral standing? Is the unborn child not fully human? How could anyone ever prove that claim? And besides, that's exactly what the Nazis said about the Jews.

Single-issue voting, when it pertains to abortion, is just clear moral thinking.

Anonymous said...

Hi Craig...i'm real sorry to hear about the break-in at your home. I can actually relate. A bit of advice, travel to the nearest pawnshop with the detective from your case and point out all of your missing items. I got a drumset, some guitars, and a watch back this way. Good Luck.

As long as i've known you, you have been a man of un-questioned character...and i think your appreciation for a candidate whom you might not agree with shows this character. I find one small fallacy with single issue voting. There is no single issue that can be tested on it's own. Example being abortion. Nobody is Pro-Abortion (just Pro-Choice) and so we bury ourselves to the core issue, which inevitably is the untimely ending of a humans life. Now there are many issues that deal with the untimely ending of human life; capital punishment, military conflict, ect... And so i find that believing this is a sole isolated issue only allows us to create competing theology around related events. (how can one be pro-life without being anti-capital punishment) So i guess i just feel that single issues are a narrowing of ones understanding of the whole, and decisions shouldn't be made from the pieces rather the picture...but i've been wrong before and will be again and many smart people disagree with me. take care craig, i hope you have a blessed day.

Aaron said...

Anonymous,

I agree that being pro-life has to do with more than just the fight to protect the unborn, but I take issue with two things you said:

(1) That being pro-life is inconsistent with favoring capital punishment. The difference has to do with the moral standing of the one who is put to death and with the authority of the executioner and the purpose for the execution. In the case of capital punishment, a guilty criminal is receiving the punishment sanctioned by God (Romans 13:1-7), to be wielded by the state, for the purpose of maintaining justice in society. In the case of abortion, a woman and a doctor, who have no authority from God to take life, are executing an innocent child for the purpose of convenience. The two situations are drastically different.

In fact, I would argue that capital punishment represents a stronger commitment to life than does the view that opposes capital punishment. A society that demands that criminals who have taken life pay the ultimate price for their crimes shows thereby the high value it places on the lives of those who were victimized. Genesis 6:9 makes a similar argument, that because humanity is made in God's image, one who takes a life must pay the highest price imaginable: he must lose his own life. This defends the sanctity of the victim's life and honors God.

(2) Don't be so sure that no one is really pro-abortion. If that were truly the case, then why would abortion rights groups oppose requiring women to have ultrasounds before deciding to abort? Why wouldn't they support measures that enable women to make the most informed decision possible? I'll tell you why: because they know that fewer abortions will result, and they can't stand that outcome.

People are afraid to say that they are pro-abortion, but if you accept their presupposition that a baby is not a human being until it's born, then why think that abortion is something you shouldn't be for? What is the tragedy involved in the routine surgical procedure that removes the growth inside a woman's body, a growth that is not human and therefore has no moral standing? Why hide behind the rhetoric of choice when the logic of your position entails that the procedure is not just acceptable, it is morally praiseworthy in many circumstances? I'll tell you why: it's because deep down, they know that this is not a good thing. They know they are messing with something sacred, and they are ashamed to name their position for what it is: pro-death.

brian (for real?) for real said...

My brother and dearest friend is a single-issue voter, fixated on the same issue as you are. I still love him more than I love most other people.

jenA said...

This is a comment section run amok, Craig. Nonetheless, as a woman with two (untested but supposedly) fully-functioning ovaries and a disdain for laws that legislate morality and how one treats one's own body, I must comment.

I think that of the women who argue they are not pro-abortion but pro-choice, many may do so because it is not a choice for themselves; rather, they are pro-choice because they do not feel compelled nor qualified to deny another woman the opportunity to make the same choice for herself. It's a free-will issue.

I do agree that if pro-choice groups were true advocates of choice, they would be advocates of educated choice. I don't believe anyone who is pro-choice and rejects an ultrasound requirement does so because it would thwart their plans to inhibit population growth.

If that were the case, they would in fact be pro-sterilization -- a position that clearly takes away any reproductive choice and which is not in line with the current movement.

That said, whether you support a woman's legal right to choose abortion or oppose the state's protection of the procedure, voting on or even perpetuating this issue is still closing the gate after the horse is out.

Businesses go under when their services are no longer needed, thus eliminating the need for regulation. Make abortion unneccessary.

When the community itself can teach women and men that children aren't burdens and pregancy isn't an accident or an inconvenience, and when we can convince men and women that sex is not a commodity, and when we stop assigning it an incremental dollar value and start talking about it matter-of-factly in the church without assigning guilt or shame, and when we start teaching teens how to be parents, babysitting for free while they're at school and paying for their college educations so they don't bring up another generation on welfare, we might actually end up with fewer people who take their shame out on their kids and who are actually equipped to be decent parents.

Aaron said...

Jena,

I agree completely with the last paragraph you wrote. But even if the church does all these things, abortion will not become unnecessary. At best, the church will be a counterculture of life, but that still leaves a culture of death where the government, charged by God to punish the evildoer and uphold righteousness, has deliberately abdicated its role to protect a certain class of people.

There were many in the American South prior to the Civil War who said slavery could not be legislated away. It had to be phased out gradually as hearts were changed. They seemed to be on the wrong side of history. I think history will prove the "change hearts, not laws" position wrong again on this issue.

Also, abortion legislation is not legislating morality anymore than anti-lynching legislation is legislating morality. As Dr. King said, no law could have made someone else love him, but a law certainly could keep someone else from lynching him, and that's pretty important too. I'm not saying we can pass laws to make good mothers. But we can pass laws to keep mothers from killing the human beings inside their wombs.

Craig said...

Hey all,
Thanks for all the comments. It's been a while since any of my posts elicited such passion. But, again, abortion is an easy issue to do this with.

I think the country is in a better place with this than it was ten years ago. The vitriol has subsided and everyone has stopped pretending that the issue is simple. I guess that's one thing you should all know, is that I don't believe the issue is as black and white (either politically or theologically) as I have perhaps made it appear on this post. I just believe that if there is any question whatsover about when life begins, then the community (mediated through the government,) should err on the side of caution. Isn't it worth it?

Aaron said...

Exactly, Craig. The burden of proof is on those who would allow life to be taken. If we aren't sure what it is in the womb, and there seems to be a good possibility that it's a human being, then we better have darn good solid proof that it isn't before we kill it. This is why I don't buy Obama's "above my pay grade" excuse. If he lived consistently with that statement, then he would ban all abortions immediately simply because he would be facing the possibility of sanctioning murder.

J said...

I think what one of the comments points us to is that being pro-life has to be much more than being anti-abortion. For me, I would say that Obama's stance on reducing abortions is a good compromise on this devisive issue while his other stances on the economy, war, and justice tend to be far more pro-life than McCain's.

Being pro-life has to involve more than the womb. It is hypocritical to say that you support the state sanctioned death penalty while supporting abortion. (Aaron's Roman's verse can be turned around to say the govt is carrying out God's sanctioned will in killing off unborn children. Jesus even rejects the state sanctioned death penalty.) I find it hard to see how the pro-life side can support an administration or candidate that supports war. And how do we separate quality of life from being pro-life? So this talk of being pro-life is really nothing more than being anti-abortion.

But if we're really pro-life across the board that's a start. Yet I still don't think that necessarily mean we line up with GOP. For instance, there's a difference between a sin and criminalizing sin. But I suppose that if you're ready to lock up sixteen year old girls, their boyfriends, and the doctors that perform abortions... that's your agenda. But I don't think criminalizing it is the answer. The Catholic Alliance study found that economics and education are the biggest factors in abortion. So we see the left wanting to attack these two issues rather than just making it illegal. How long can one hold up the "pro-life" banner while ignoring these major factors?

I just don't find much integrity in telling people in difficult situations that we're going to punish them unless we're willing to walk that road with them as an alternative. So I would ask whether you're willing to take the single mother to the doctor each month, have higher taxes, vote for healthcare coverage, and adopt the kid... that seems to have some substance to it.

Where I'm sitting it seems like a lot of "pro-life" folks really don't care what happens to the kid as long as it exits the womb breathing. Yes, abortion is evil. But to say that it is somehow more evil than these other stances that involve taking life just doesn't make sense to me. I would hope that we get back to a more holistic view of the sanctity of life instead of just the wedge issue of abortion.

Aaron said...

J, I'm sorry, but this is hopelessly confused:

"Aaron's Roman's verse can be turned around to say the govt is carrying out God's sanctioned will in killing off unborn children."

Where can you get that from Romans 13, which specifically speaks of punishing the evildoer, not the innocent?

"Jesus even rejects the state sanctioned death penalty."

Where does Jesus do this? The only place I can think of that might be read this way is John 8:1-11. The problem with this, however, is that John most certainly didn't write it. It is a spurious text that was added to the Gospel of John at some time in the Middle Ages (in some manuscripts it actually appears in Luke, but in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts it is simply missing; none of the church Fathers refer to it in their writings either, showing that it simply wasn't there during their time).

Now, it is possible that the story itself is early (even though it is not authentic Scripture). Some extra-biblical evidence suggests this; it is even possible that the story of the adulterous woman is an authentic Jesus tradition. But even so, we have to ask what is going on here. Does Jesus repudiate the death penalty? Far from it. He calls the bluff of the potential executioners. He knew that they weren't ready to follow through with the act (the Jews rarely executed anybody, especially during the first century when Rome virtually removed that power from them) and that the whole thing was not really about honoring the Mosaic Law at all but rather about testing him. He saw that they were using the woman as a pawn to get power over him, and he called their bluff. And this is the sense in which he says, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," i.e., referring specifically to sin in the matter at hand. By saying this, Jesus exposed their sin of having a sham trial and hiding their opposition to him under the cloak of zeal for justice.

Obviously, you are coming at this from a pacifist point of view. Several points need to be made here:

(1) President-Elect Obama is not a pacifist. He has talked very strongly about going to Afghanistan and Pakistan and hunting down Bin Laden. He has not criticized war per se. He has argued that we need to wage war in a smarter way. Do pacifists think he is just lying here, and that he won't really follow through with this?

(2) Pacifists have no business telling the pro-life movement what it means to be pro-life. Nothing in the pro-life philosophy requires a repudiation of war. In some cases, war is necessary to protect life, even though it must take life in the process. In surgery, the body must be mutilated before it can be healed. But surgery is, nevertheless, a healing process. When a legitimate authority, exercising its prerogative to wage war against an aggressor, does so in a just manner, the scenario is completely different from a woman going to an abortion clinic.

I'm not arguing that we lock up sixteen-year-old girls and their boyfriends. I am not saying we should enact retroactive laws. When you say it that way, you assume that the law will have no effect on behavior. But I believe that it is precisely by passing laws that we shut down clinics and we deter this kind of behavior. And then, after the laws are instituted, we should lock up the few who might go on with the behavior, deliberately breaking the law.

I am utterly sick of this Obama pro-life nonsense. Mark this down, because this is the straight-up truth: abortions will go up if Obama has his way. The man said the first thing he would do as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. If that day comes, we can expect an increase in abortions by at least 125,000 a year. If we can't see the plain truth about the man we have elected, then we are a naive nation. And it seems like we are. How else could millions of people find inspiration in a vague, recycled cliche like "Yes We Can"?

Aaron said...

Oh, I forgot to address these matters:

"I just don't find much integrity in telling people in difficult situations that we're going to punish them unless we're willing to walk that road with them as an alternative. So I would ask whether you're willing to take the single mother to the doctor each month, have higher taxes, vote for healthcare coverage, and adopt the kid... that seems to have some substance to it."

Well, I'm not for government solutions to healthcare, not because I don't want to help people but because I believe when the government gets involved it only makes things worse. I have said this many times, but it is simply unfair to accuse conservatives of not caring about people simply because we don't share the same big government philosophy about how to approach the problem. The government has been fighting a "war on poverty" for forty years now, and we have created a society of dependence and entitlement that has destroyed the family, especially among African Americans, and has led to the high abortion rates that we see today. Again, we are simply naive to think that compassion equals higher taxes and more government. The government is a wasteful, inefficient, beauracracy that often rewards the very things that are a detriment to society: out-of-wedlock pregnancies, refusal to work, etc.

Also, I am astonished that you see the pro-life movement as nothing more than a Washington interest group that doesn't care about real people. Are you aware of the explosion of crisis pregnancy centers across the nation that has occurred in recent years? My wife has worked at two such centers. These places are founded by pro-life people, supported by pro-life donors, and staffed by pro-life volunteers, and they provide all kinds of resources to women facing difficult pregnancies: counseling, education, resources for the baby, etc. People keep saying that the pro-life movement needs to start working to change hearts, but to me it is plainly obvious that the pro-life movement is already doing that. Abortions have gone down in recent years precisely because of this.

(And oh, by the way, Obama supports tax dollars to pay for abortions, but he opposes having any tax dollars go to these kinds of crisis pregnancy centers; that's just FYI.)

Pro-life people are leading the charge not only with crisis pregnancy centers but also with adoption ministries as well. My wife and I have talked about adopting ourselves, and it is something that we envision happening somewhere down the road (although, if a certain situation turns out a certain way, we might find ourselves adopting sooner than we had planned; let it suffice to say that, if it comes to it, adoption is on the table for us in the not-so-distant future).

The pro-life people that I know are people who love God, who love the church, who love their neighbors, and who are fighting this battle on all fronts. These are the people who are mourning now for the fact that we have elected a President who will set us back legally, perhaps for another generation. These are the Wilberforces of our time who pour their hearts into protecting innocent children and whose hearts are broken right now because America fell for a silver-tongued, quasi-messianic celebrity because we looked first to our checkbooks and decided, foolishly, that bigger government is what we need at a time like this.

Take these things into consideration before you lambast a whole group of people with a charge that simply isn't true.

jenA said...

Craig, perhaps you should institute a volley rule on your blog?

J said...

Aaron,

Rom 13 refers to the authority being given to and established in the state by God. Hence, with this narrow reading of scripture, it would be assumed that the govt's laws (which it calls us to submit to) is in accordance with God. Again... i don't find this to be a justifiable reading. But it's the same as justifying the death penalty by it. Might as well justify torture.

I was referring to the woman caught in adultery. I think your reading of the text is really doing some hermeneutic backflips, but that's your call. If you don't consider it "true scripture," that too is okay and a valid point. (But I'd be interested to know how many years after the event before it's written down for it to be considered scripture for you? You may throw out a good portion of the Torah if you're not careful.) The death penalty was an option. Steven anyone? Jesus took it off the table. But perhaps your version of Jesus is one that would happily kill the killer.

According to all the statistics, we saw abortions drop at a far more dramatic rate under that heathen clinton than bush. Why is this? But I suppose if we continue feeding our unicorns and waiting, we'll eventually have Roe v Wade overturned. However I don't find this to be the most appropriate approach to reducing abortions.

Of course Obama is not a pacifist. But he doesn't saber rattle like the right. He doesn't encourage invading countries without extreme caution. So it seems pretty clear that he's far more cautious in taking life than his counterpart.

Comparing war to surgery is a sick comparison. There is nothing similar. If in your surgery you end up killing another person, you would never justify that surgery. The metaphor has nothing to do with being prolife. The only reason war is ever an option is because you fail to think of other options. You failed at creativity. But as long as you think that killing is an answer to killing, killing will not stop. Violence begets violence.

This pro-life movement that you speak of is not one i've seen. I and the world have no idea about this. Perhaps you're not making it up, but it's not the face of pro-life. I'd love to be proved wrong. But even in your description, i don't see where people are doing much more than offering a bandaid for a truly deep problem.

Although I think this is an entirely different subject, I find your argument for the government making things worse to be entirely hypocritical. You want the government to wage war on evil doers, but you say the war on poverty doesn't work. You now want them to wage war on abortion. Perhaps it will be as successful as the war on drugs. Here's to hoping...

Aaron said...

I'm going to finish up my end of this here. Romans 13:1-4 reads:

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have fear of the one in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the evildoer."

Several truths stand out here:

(1) Government wields a measure of divine authority, because all authorities are appointed by God.

(2) In their wielding of divine authority, the government's primary responsibility is to punish evil, thereby upholding justice in society and restraining sin.

(3) By doing so, governing authorities mete out a measure of God's wrath against sin (note that Romans 13 follows right on the heels of Romans 12:19-21, which urges Christians not to retaliate against their enemies but to leave it to the wrath of God. The implication is that the wrath of God is revealed, in part, through the government's authority).

But Paul is not saying that everything the government does is good and right. He is speaking in general terms, but he is explicit about the fact that the government has the power of the sword from God for the purpose of punishing those who do evil. This is where I get my philosophy of government. God established the state, not to give everybody healthcare, not to pay for college tuition, not to regulate retirement accounts, not to do all these things that the private sector can do much better. God established the government to restrain evil by punishing it.

This is why I am so adamant about this, because our government has abdicated its role to protect the most vulnerable in our society and has instead devoted its efforts to all kinds of things that government should not be doing. When I criticize the government's efforts, I am not saying the government cannot and should not do anything; I am saying it cannot and should not do those things that are not part of its God-given role. If I go to a mechanic and he wants to listen to my heartbeat and prescribe some pills for me, I'm going to tell him that he is incompetent to do that. But that doesn't mean I don't think he is competent to fix my car. The same with government: I don't think government can or will eliminate poverty, but it certainly has the power to restrain abortion. Not only can the state restrain abortion, it is morally obligated to punish the evildoer and put a stop to this holocaust.

On John 8, what I am saying is that John the Apostle did not write it, nor was it included in Scripture during the time period of canonization. But even so, I'm curious to know in what way my reading of it is unjustified. Stephen was executed by the Jews on the charge of blaspheming the Temple. That was the one charge that the Romans allowed the Jews to retain for carrying out the death penalty. That is also why, at Jesus' trial, the witnesses against him tried to accuse him of speaking against the Temple, so that the Jews could go on and execute him on the spot. But because their testimony was contradictory, the Jews could not make that charge stick, and they were forced to take the matter to the Romans. The Jews did not normally execute people for adultery in the first century, certainly not on their own authority. All of the standard commentaries on John that treat this passage will confirm this point (see, for example, D. A. Carson's excellent treatment of the passage, though I disagree slightly with his understanding of Jesus' point about sin). Jesus is not a modern day liberal. He never repudiated the death penalty, nor did he repudiate war. In fact, he is the one who is depicted as the most vicious warrior in all of Scripture (see the book of Revelation). I don't say that because I deny the other elements of his character (his love, mercy, grace, kindness). I am just saying that if we picture Jesus as a first-century hippie, we have swept away a good bit of the New Testament witness to him.

Tim said...

Thanks Craig for letting me feel again what it means to vote pro abortion. It is so easy to forget (even though we should know otherwise) how big of an issue it is. People in Hong Kong were following the election and have high hopes for Obama (kind of like a Messiah figure). When I heard Obama's acceptance speech, I had tears in my eyes. I was very uncomfortable with them - but I felt the hope all the people have in him. Another reason why I was uncomfortable is because it brings back memories from German history (I am German). I grew up not being allowed to be proud of my country. The type of excitement that I felt and saw in the crowd in Chicago made me think of Hitler rallys. Don't freak out! I don't think that Obama is Hitler - I just get scarred when people put so much hope in one person.
Grettings
Tim