Responsible Christians are Rare

 Do you consider yourself a Christian?  Are you a responsible Christian?  So many people today claim to be “Christian” yet don’t follow Jesus’ lead in the slightest bit.  A responsible Christian reads the Bible daily (or as much as possible) to gain constant exposure to the teachings of Christ, His universal truths of morality and civility.

Too many “idle” Christians exist in this country – this is what Jesus was referring to when he said:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Matthew 7:22-23)

Standing on the sidelines and claiming belief in Christ is simply not right; it doesn’t do justice to what Jesus has done for your eternal soul.  Sure, accepting Jesus as Christ is the first step, but too many people feel that is enough.  Do you believe?  If so, what have you done so far in the name of Christ?  Has the spirit moved you to do good works to glorify His name, or have you blocked it out?  A good place to start is the Bible. 

You may laugh, but it is astounding how many people have not even read the book of their faith.

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Wolfowitz’s Replacement

The decision has finally come been made, Wolfowitz’s replacement will be former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.  Frankly, I know very little about Zoellick, and therefore do not have a very strong opinion.  However, the world community has voiced an opinion on the matter.  It is reported that World Bank members and some U.S. lawmakers would like the decision on Wolfowitz’s successor to be open to a global pool of candidates and not another U.S. appointed individual.  I believe that this is a good idea.  According to CNN.com, Zoellick helped launch the Doha round of world trade talks.  Later on, he was the deputy secretary of state and “became the administration’s point person on China policy and Darfur”.

President Bush has claimed that he is working in the direction of positive relations with the world community.  If he wants to support this claim, it would be wise to assess a global pool of extremely qualified candidates.  Doing so would demonstrate that the United States does value and respect the opinion of other countries, and it would be a decent beginning to restoring our political influence as well as public image (which we all know is about the lowest it could possibly be).

However, recent history tells us that President Bush will not adhere or consider the world opinion, so it looks like (if approved) Zoellick will be the new World Bank President.

In wake of this, let’s have a poll:

Should President Bush open the pool of candidates to the world community?  Why or why not?

Americans believe in religion – but know little about it

I have been saying this for a while now. Why is it that Americans aren’t being responsible in their beliefs? I am willing to bet that more Americans know more about the recent American Idol competition (contestants, songs that were sung, heck, the winner) than the basic, fundamental beliefs of their faith. Pretty sad.
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The United States is the most religious nation in the developed world, if religiosity is measured by belief in all things supernatural — from God and the Virgin Birth to the humbler workings of angels and demons. Americans are also the most religiously ignorant people in the Western world. Fewer than half of us can identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible, and only one third know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

These are just two of the depressing statistics in Stephen Prothero’s provocative and timely Religious Literacy. The author of American Jesus (2003) and the chair of the religion department at Boston University, Prothero sees America’s religious illiteracy as even more dangerous than general cultural illiteracy “because religion is the most volatile constituent of culture, because religion has been, in addition to one of the greatest forces for good in world history, one of the greatest forces for evil.”

In this book, the author combines a lively history of the rise and fall of American religious literacy with a set of proposed remedies based on his hope that “the Fall into religious ignorance is reversible.” He also includes a useful multicultural glossary of religious definitions and allusions, in which religious illiterates can find the prodigal son, the promised land, the Quakers and the Koran.

The condition Prothero describes in Religious Literacy is unquestionably one manifestation of a more general decline in the public’s cultural and civic knowledge. According to polls conducted by the National Constitution Center, only one third of Americans can name even one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Is it any more startling that only one third can identify the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount?

A 2005 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that nearly two-thirds of Americans endorse the simultaneous teaching of creationism and evolution in public schools. How can citizens know what creationism means, or make an informed decision about whether it belongs in classrooms, if fewer than half can identify Genesis? No doubt the same proportion of Americans think that Thomas Edison said, “Let there be light.”

Approximately 75 percent of adults, according to polls cited by Prothero, mistakenly believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” More than 10 percent think that Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc. Only half can name even one of the four Gospels, and — a finding that will surprise many — evangelical Christians are only slightly more knowledgeable than their non-evangelical counterparts.

It is less surprising but more dangerous, given America’s role in the world, that the public knows even less about Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism than it does about Christianity and Judaism. As Prothero notes, President Bush repeatedly declared that “Islam is peace” in the months after 9/11, while the prophet Muhammad was called a “terrorist” by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. “Who was right?” Prothero asks. “Unfortunately, Americans had no way to judge.”

The book’s main concern, though, is ignorance about the role of religion in American history. Prothero dates the beginning of the long decline in our religious literacy to the Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s. The fervor of America’s periodic cycles of revivalism, rooted in a personal relationship with God rather than in theology handed down by learned clergy, has always had a strong anti-intellectual as well as spiritual component.

Yet the author also sees the Protestant-influenced 19th-century schools as an important factor in maintaining the Puritan heritage of Americans as “people of the book.” This may overestimate the religious influence of schools. It is hard to believe that religious literacy, already instilled by families and churches, needed reinforcement from the once ubiquitous McGuffey readers, which rendered the Ten Commandments in such rhymes as, “Thou no gods shall have but me/ Before no idol bend the knee.” In 1880, the average American still had only four years of schooling (although the figure was higher in cities than in rural areas). Yet 19th-century autodidacts, including Abraham Lincoln (who had less than a year of formal education) and Robert Green Ingersoll, the orator known as “the Great Agnostic,” achieved both religious and secular literacy by reading Shakespeare and the King James Bible without any prompting from teachers.

Prothero views the 20th century’s much sharper decline in religious literacy as a product of changes in both religion and society. One ironic factor is an emphasis on a bland tolerance that, while vital to pluralistic American democracy, has also discouraged our awareness of religious distinctions. A politician may intone the phrase “Judeo-Christian” in every speech, but Jews still do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and Christians do. If no one knows what “Messiah” means, though, it hardly matters. But one inexplicable omission from Prothero’s analysis is the post-1950 shift from a print to a video culture, with its incalculable erosion of all forms of cultural literacy. Many of the religious allusions and metaphors explained by Prothero in his glossary were once as common as the universal reference points now supplied by television.

The weakest part of this otherwise excellent book is Prothero’s proposed remedy: high school and college courses dealing with the historical and cultural role of religion. As the author rightly notes, teaching about religion — as distinct from preaching religion — is not prohibited by the First Amendment’s ban on “an establishment of religion.” But given the failure of so many schools to inculcate the most elementary facts about American history, it is hard to imagine that most teachers would be up to the task of explaining, say, the subtleties of biblical arguments for and against slavery. Furthermore, a curriculum that would meet with the approval of Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and nonreligious parents would probably be a worthless set of platitudes.

Prothero movingly calls on Americans to reconstruct the “chain of memory” that once made the acquisition of religious knowledge as natural as breathing. But religion is no longer the air we breathe, and it is doubtful that schools can accomplish what parents and congregations cannot or will not in a society where people read fewer and fewer books of any kind — including the book they consider the word of God.

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Christians are Missing the Point

 Reflect on these words from Paul Tillich; they carry a powerful message that all Christians and non-Christians must come to realize.

“We are all permanently in danger of abusing Jesus by stating that He is the founder of a new religion, and [hence] the bringer of another, more refined and more enslaving law…we call Jesus the Christ not because He brought a ‘new religion’, but because He is the end of religion, above religion and irreligion, above Christianity and non-Christianity. We spread His call because it is the call to every person in every period to receive the New Being, that hidden saving power in our existence, which takes from us labor and burden, and gives rest to our souls.”

Why are you worshipping Christ?  Is it because He gave us “Christianity” (a man made perception of Jesus’ life) or because of Jesus?  As Tillich points out, Jesus is above Christianity and institutions – the sooner you can realize this, the sooner you can give rest to your soul.

Consider what James Anderson (co-found of the Alban Institute) has to say:

“Much of the criticism of Christianity is correct. We are the makers of religion and we have made a very heavy burden. The Old Testament prophets called this process idolatry, a message never well received, then or now. Isaiah said those who make idols ‘feed on ashes’ led astray by a deluded mind.” (Isaiah 44:20)

Relating back to Tillich, we see that the burden Jesus wanted to take from us is the burden of religion.  It appears that sometimes our man-made institutions miss the point.

16-year Old Girl Denied Bail for “God Hates Fags” Flyer

A story I came by today; what do you think?  Violation of free speech?  Proper dealing with messages of hate?  Pesonally, I think it’s pretty horrible that the girls did this.  Let everyone know how you feel.
 
Two girls were arrested in McHenry County, Illinois last week for distributing flyers at their school that depicted a male classmate kissing another classmate and had the words “God Hates Fags” on the flyers. The two were charged with disorderly conduct and felony hate crimes. As can be expected, debate has been generated on the wisdom of hate crimes laws, debate that’s not confined solely to the right. Even gay sites are not entirely behind the arrest and charging of these girls for a minor stunt.

The ACLU, predictably, said it indicates the struggle between protecting targeted groups and free speech, which apparently means hate speech directed at whites, Christians, or men is a-ok in the ACLU’s book.

However, while the media focuses on the hate crime debate, an obvious injustice is missed that is far more concerning. One of the girls at her arraignment was denied bail for her actions, and the other was effectively placed on house arrest. It should be noted that they have not yet been tried, only charged. If the McHenry juvenile detention facility is anything like most county jails in the state, the girl will be allowed two 20 minute visits a week through a plexi-glass window with her friends and family.

In almost every single criminal case, bail is set to something. Most murders get bail. There are only two situations were bail is inappropriate: where the accused is a flight risk in a serious case and where the accused would pose eminent danger to society if released. As an illustration, in Champaign County a man was arrested for brutally raping his girlfriend with a weapon and threatening to kill her. His bail was set at $250,000.

In a Sangamon County case in Illinois, a murder suspect, Mark Winger, was given $1,000,000 bail, and, while he was out, he tried to have a key witness murdered. Muaz Haffar in Chicago was arrested for allegedly beating a victim to death with a bike lock and promptly fled to Syria while on bail.

The cases go on and on. However, in this case a 16-year old girl, who certainly is no innocent victim, has been denied bail because she’s had run ins with the police before. Those include curfew violations, having cigarettes, having booze, and once for possession of marijuana. In short, she is a mischievous teenager no different than most other mischievous teenagers. If this girl brutally raped her neighbor and then killed him, she would have bail right now as long as she didn’t say the word “fag” while doing it.

The judge, in commenting on denying bail, said that the girl’s home situation was unacceptable. It’s unclear how a judge can legally take a child out of their home simply because the child shows up in the courtroom for an obnoxious high school prank. We have the Department of Children and Family Services for that. In fact, the judge likely only spent a few moments looking at court documents (that had no home investigation) in making his sweeping judgment about the fitness of the parents. At least DCFS would conduct an investigation before taking custody of kids.

The situation of the other girl, getting house arrest, is also problematic because no adult criminal would be placed under house arrest simply by the virtue of being arrested… even in cases where such a sanction would be warranted. This is made laughable absurd by the fact that the maximum sentence the girls could get is 30 days in juvenile detention. The girl sitting in detention without bail will spend likely an order of magnitude more than that waiting for trial.

What these girls did was obnoxious, but it is certainly no catastrophic threat to society to have them out of jail. It is unclear whether the judge is using the hate crimes law or something else to enforce these ridiculous bail decisions. It is obvious to every child who is watching that society will treat them like thugs to be looked up than actual human beings. They are guilty until proven innocent. And we wonder why society is raising such dysfunctional adults.

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Feed the Hungery for Free – Click Here

To help feed a child in need of food, click on the link below (simple as that):

 Link to The Hunger Site

 (results will be posted in the upcoming days)

80% of People Believe Gas Prices Are Being Manipulated

 According to a recent poll on Daily Fuel Economy Tip, nearly 80% of people believe that oil and gasoline companies have manipulated the supply of gas in order to cause prices to shoot through the roof.

When asked, “Do you believe oil and gasoline companies have manipulated the supply of gas to cause prices to increase?” 79% of respondents stated yes; 16% stated no; and 5% stated that they were unsure.

It’s pretty easy to see how so many people could believe that gasoline prices have been manipulated:

The price of oil has remained relatively constant since the beginning of the year while gas prices are up over 40% – and it seems we set a new record high with each passing day.  Sporadic problems at refineries throughout the country that have caused major supply issues, not to mention there haven’t been any new refineries built (which would increase capacity/supply) in many years.

These huge multi-national corporations continue to rake in record billion dollar profits in the face of rising energy costs.
I think it’s this last item – the record profits – that’s causing so many people to be upset by the rising price of gasoline and lead them to believe that we’re just being gouged. It would be one thing if profits decreased or even remained flat in the face of rising costs to produce gasoline, however these profits have seemingly increased, both in percentage and dollars.

If it weren’t for these incredibly high profits, I think people would still be upset about paying more at the pump, however, they’d probably be a lot less suspicious too.

Personally, I’m in the minority here because I don’t think that oil companies have purposefully reduced supply to increase prices. While I voted that I wasn’t sure, I think the increased prices have more to do with the continued world-wide increase in demand for gasoline than it does with any conspiracy.

While there seems to be a lot of evidence pointing towards gouging, I think much of it is circumstantial.

However, the one thing that keeps me believing in the possibility of price manipulation is the fact that these companies know that even as prices shoot up we’re still going to drive our cars just as much as we did before. That being said, this probably would have also been the case 15 years ago when we were paying $1.25 per gallon. Why didn’t they jack up prices then too?

Long story short, I have no idea what to believe, but it certainly seems like most of us feel that we’re being screwed.

read more | picture from automotiveblogger.net