Friday, October 31, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened While "Treat or Treating."

This afternoon, Paige, Ellie and I drove to Knoxville to visit some family and friends who had invited us down. Ellie is about a year older than one of the daughters and they wanted to go out "trick or treating" together. For those playing along at home, I now call this activity "treat or treating" because I don't see the point in offering a choice.

In order to join in on the fun, Paige reprised her monk outfit and I transformed into my alter ego, Pastor Percy Love. All of the children and the women folk walked through the neighborhood and I divided time between riding in the chase vehicle and working on my John Travolta walk. When we would happen upon a group of people, Pastor Percy didn't miss a chance to share the love.

At one point we walked past a group of ladies and one, who I later assumed drew the short straw, approached Pastor Percy. "Didn't we used to date back in the '70's?" she asked with a smile.

Pastor Percy didn't skip a beat and replied, "Baby, if we had dated, there would have never been a 'used to.'" She shrieked with laughter and ran back to her posse.

Good times.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Time Is Now...

It has been one month to the day since my last blog post. I am not very proud of that fact. There are a variety of reasons, none of which are all that good, but suffice it to say when I am motivated to make a post, I make a post- and today I am motivated.

I voted today. It is the last day of early voting in the county in which I reside. Paige and I stood in line for about 35 minutes to do our duty. I am relieved that I have that behind me. I have been looking forward to this election day finally getting here ever since the first campaign talk started up MORE THAN TWO YEARS AGO! Frankly, I have been sick of the whole mess for quite sometime. No matter where you go or what you watch, read or listen to, you have not escaped the palaver regarding this election. "This is the most important election in our lifetime." I have heard that thrown around so flippantly. The last election was the most important one in our lifetime... the next one will be the new, most important election in our lifetime. The important thing here is that every election is important. Every election affects everyone in some way or another for good or for worse.

I am making this post because I have got to get some things off my chest. The first thing that you need to know about me is that I am a white, male, middle-class, conservative, registered Republican, Christian. In two of those six characteristics I had no choice in the matter. I make no apologies for being who I am. But our media-driven culture would have you believe that I owe somebody something because I am who I am. There are a number of influences in my life that have shaped my opinions: my East Tennessee home, my family, my biology, my life-experiences, and, most importantly, my faith in Jesus Christ. I registered as a Republican during the 1988 election in which George H. W. Bush was the GOP candidate running against the Democratic candidate, Governor Michael Dukakis. I did so because I had a basic understanding of some of the major cornerstones of the Republican Party: (1) smaller, less intrusive government (2) less taxes (3) states rights (4) pro-life (5) stronger national defense to name a few. Since that time, while my education and knowledge of the issues have changed, my opinion has not.

Meanderings On Things That Are Bothering Me:

Why do Democrats and other liberal thinkers claim that they have cornered the market on being concerned with the environment? I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, life and everything else that is. It was God who gave man the power and inspiration to "create" the things that we claim to have created. The other side of this belief is that God gave man dominion over His creation and the responsibility to care for it in a manner befitting Him. I am absolutely in favor of conservation, preservation, reasonable restrictions on pollution and searching for cleaner, cheaper energy alternatives. Democrats, the Green Party, et al, do not have a monopoly on these things. At the same time, I am NOT for returning to the stone age and trying to reverse the advance of civilization. We can ALL be smart, work together and find ways of taking care of this world while living in it. This is not an issue that only one party has figured out.

Economy and Entitlement
Why do people think that socialist agendas like "spreading the wealth around" and increasing taxes on the rich are new and novel answers to our economic plight. For nearly 50 years, the welfare and social security systems, which sought to answer these same problems, have been in place. Have they helped people? Yes, by all means. Have they also contributed to the problems that we have today? Yes, by all means. The creation of these programs also added to the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent today. Some people think that the government exists to make sure that they have food to eat, money to live on and medical care at their disposal. Government was not formed to take care of any of those issues and if you believe otherwise you are sorely mistaken. People have that understanding precisely because government continued to increase in size and took on those responsibilities when they never should have. Food, clothing, shelter, money, medicine and the like should be offered to those who cannot obtain them on their own- but they should be offered by their families, their neighbors and most importantly, the church. By the "church" I mean the church of Jesus Christ, in general.

Concern For The Poor/Role Of The Church
We are living in trying times. There have been trying times in the past and there will be trying times in the future. The economy is sluggish. Gas prices are high. Energy concerns are of great import. For all of these reasons and many more, I think we are at a crossroads as a people of faith. The time is now! This could be our finest hour! When money is tight, things look bleak and hope seems lost, Christ-followers need to be all the more Christ-like. I am tired of people assuming that because I am a Republican, I am unconcerned with those who are (and I hate this term) less fortunate. My concern for others has absolutely nothing to do with my party affiliation and everything to do with the calling God has placed on my life. I am not speaking of my vocation as a minister of the Gospel. I speak of the calling God has placed on my life and the lives of ALL Christ-followers. We need to rise up at times like this and reach people with the love, grace and mercy of Christ. If that love needs to take the form of money, material needs, medicine or morsels of food, so be it.

Political Process
I am tired of people of faith thinking that because our allegiance is to Christ, we are somehow above needing to be concerned with government and, by extension, the political process. Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" thereby giving credence to that which was already accepted and established. God ordained that governments be formed to take care of the things that only government could take care of. Among them: national defense, roads (interstates), law and order, communications and the like. Government, when limited to the roles that it should have, is a beautiful thing. In order for government to run, a fair tax system is an absolute necessity. In order for governments to exist in a free society, they must be freely elected. These elected officials are to represent the people who elect them and they should have the people's interest at heart. Because of all this, Christ-followers have no choice but to fully participate in the system. Since man is involved in the system, the system is flawed and prone to failure. However, our flawed system of government is the best and most successful system in the world.

Bottom Line In This Election
The great theologian, Popeye, said, "I am what I am." Because I am what I am and I believe what I believe and I serve WHOM I serve, I voted for John McCain/Sarah Palin. Here is a comparison of the two candidates and why I voted the way I voted:
  1. I watched Obama take ten minutes to try to explain his views on abortion and his belief of when life begins. McCain answered the same question in fifteen seconds. Life begins at conception. Life is precious. Life is given by God. The unborn have no voice to make a choice of their own. Obama can't even back a ban on barbaric partial-birth abortion. Advantage: McCain.
  2. Giving a "tax cut" to those who make less than $250,000, er uh, $200, 000... or was it $150,000- half of whom don't even pay taxes to begin with- and "spreading the wealth around" does not an economic plan make. Giving small business a $5000 bonus to hire someone is totally ludicrous when you consider that hiring someone and paying them a $35,000/year salary will cost that small business person about $50,000/year. What kind of incentive is $5000? McCain wants to spark the economy by giving tax breaks to those who are actually paying taxes, as well as, cutting other taxes like the death tax and capital gains taxes. These make sense. These things have in the past and will continue to be genuine economic stimuli. Advantage:McCain.
  3. Obama's experience in government consists largely of a few months actually involved in the senate and many months on the campaign trail. McCain has a long, proven, tested career of public service. Advantage: McCain.
  4. While I am not capable of judging a man's heart, I have the ability to see the fruit of his labors. Obama's Christian faith claims are not quite as loud as those with whom he surrounds himself. My momma always said be careful who you hang out with. I don't trust Obama as far as I could throw him, though I think I could get him to the other side of the room. Advantage: McCain.
  5. I would prefer substance with style. That is not available in either candidate. I will settle for substance over style. Advantage: McCain.
  6. Biden is an arrogant, erudite, Yankee with some bad plastic surgery. Palin is hot. I can't be all serious. Advantage: McCain.
  7. McCain sacrificed much for a country that I think he genuinely loves. I have a hard time gleaning any love of country from Obama's hate speech. Instead, I think he thinks we are evil. Advantage: McCain.
I don't ask that you agree with me. I ask only that you think about what you believe and why you believe it.

On Tuesday, November 4, go vote!