Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why I Support Ron Paul...

I know, I don't write at all. I'm a very bad blogger. Facebook takes up too much of my time, I'll freely admit that. ;) But this is extremely important. Probably the biggest change since my last post is I now teach swing dancing. Which has sort of become my life (exampled by my weekend -- I'm teach Thursday, maybe Friday and Sunday, and going dancing Thursday-Sunday nights). I'm so glad there isn't such a thing as too much dancing. ::grins::

No other presidential candidate can claim the following record:
Dr. Paul...
has never voted to raise taxes.has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
has never voted to raise congressional pay.
has never taken a government-paid junket.
has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
voted against the Patriot Act.voted against regulating the Internet.
voted against the Iraq war.
does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.
supported Ronald Reagan against Gerald Ford in 1976.

Man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.

Every politician on earth claims to support freedom. The problem is so few of them understand the simple meaning of the word.

I'm going to be a little confrontational here. So unless you want to debate me on this, I would suggest not commenting or specifically saying that you don't care to discuss this any further than your comment. Because I will challenge your position, and ask for you to provide evidence for it.

You can't possibly tell me you're a true Reagan consverative and vote for a liberal like McCain, Romney or Huckabee. It's a complete non-sequitor. I've said it in many places, I'll say it again -- I will vote for Obama before I ever vote for McCain or Romney (or even Huckabee anymore).

And just so you know, I'm by no means anti-military (I only say this because it's the very first argument I hear every single time). I'm anti-unconstituional wars. I'm anti-unconstitutional ANYTHING. I would say over 2/3rds of my friends and family are currently in or have served in the military. I love the military more than anyone else I know. I've spent years working to get better things for them from our government. So you can't say I'm anywhere near anti-military. Isn't it curious to know that Ron Paul has received the most military support? And not just the wackos who think their time in Iraq was a death sentence or something like that. I mean honest to goodness real American patriots who serve in our armed forces and will continue to no matter what, but they would like to see the Constitution followed always, not just in declarations of war.

A good place to look (and I'll grant you, it does have a very strong Dr. Paul bent---but this doesn't come close to negating the truth of it) is here: http://www.knowbeforeyouvote.com/. Perhaps the most telling thing I've ever seen is this: http://www.ntu.org/images/2008pres_total.png. I wonder if, by some miracle (that miracle being that the American people stop being blinded by the political rhetoric and lies of other candidates), and Paul were to get the nomination, if Fred Thompson would come back as VP... now that would be a happy ticket. :D

I believe in the power of prayer. All my Ron Paul supporting friends -- you NEED to be praying today. Pray that God's will be done, and do all you can today to get out the vote for the Ron Paul revolution. I can't expect great things, but I can hope for them. Change like this will be resisted until the end, if not by our fellow citizens, then by our government. I don't expect even one "victory" tonight in the caucuses and primaries around the country, but any vote for freedom and restoring the Constitution is a victory in it's own right.

-- Sarah

Saturday, October 20, 2007

::catches breath::

Life has been INSANE. My work as the Executive Director for the Hearth Fund is really picking up. I'm the office manager for two state Representatives come January (working two days a week in Denver... and probably more at home) and working as the assistant to the best campaign manager in Colorado. :D God is very good to me. When I'm not working on politics, I'm a regular ol' dancing fool. I've been dancing several hours a week, I can now do aerials! I'm also trying out (and most likely not making) for a competitive swing dance team at the Air Force Academy (they have spots for six civilian girls). I feel like I'm always doing something (and when I'm not, I'm wasting time on the internet...), but it's not a stressfully busy feeling. Which is good.

Annnnnnnnd. I've been tagged. Here are seven things you shouldn't know about me already:

1) I'm terrified of public speaking. Go ahead and laugh. Yes, I still do it, and I enjoy it sometimes, but the build up to it almost makes me sick...

2) I can tell where someone in Britain is from by their accent down to the county in most cases. Not every time, but a lot of the time.

3) I've written my own actual Constitution that I think, with a few minor adjustments, could actually work in the real world.

4) I am so afraid of spiders that I've actually cried at the sight of them.

5) I'm not a big fan of chocolate (I rarely can eat it), but I love really sugary candies (like Bottlecaps, Sweettarts, Skittles, et al.).

6) I have an IQ of 129 according to a test on facebook...

7) My (new) favourite songs to dance to are Song for You by Michael Buble (for blues) and Zoot Suit Riot by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (for general swing).

Friday, August 31, 2007

Yesterday and Update

I have a post (rather lengthy) on Predestination, but life happened, and it keeps getting put off. ::sigh:: As soon as it's ready, I'm going to post it. Promise.

You ought to read this. My mom posted it. I don't feel like recounting it all right now, and she did it justice. http://amusedmomma.blogspot.com/2007/08/compassion.html

I will add that I never do things like that. I think about doing it, I regret deeply not doing it afterwards, but I never actually do it. Until yesterday.

I don't know what happened, but I can honestly say I didn't even realize what had happened until it was all over.

I'll never forget the look in that man's eyes. It makes me want to cry even now. The desperation and despondency of this world has hit me really hard since then. It always hits home for me. Too close to home. And it hurts.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Sacrament of the Altar

Although this began in a discussion here, I thought I'd bring this over and post it here as well. And just for the record, I haven't forgotten about my theologically charged post due on my xanga, but seeing as I only got two responses, I didn't think most were very interested so I'm taking my time with it. In the interim, read this. It's really well done. For more about Spirituality of the Cross, which EVERY CHRISTIAN should read, you can read here. Also, if you want to look at the Small Catechism, as the post suggests, you can use the link he provides, google "Luther's Small Catechism" or try here, which is my personal favourite translation of it and I want very badly in book form, but I have to settle with the 1946 translation for now. So without further adeiu, the post.

From Augsburg with love
John H Sunday 6th May, AD 2007

Josh’s comments on evangelical converts to Roman Catholicism (as quoted in my previous post) have provoked discussion in a number of places, ranging from Kevin Johnson’s highly critical response at Reformed Catholicism, and Michael Spencer’s surprisingly positive comments (”Get out the cameras. I think Pirate’s insight on this entire subject is, frankly, brilliant…”).

Chris Atwood picks up on some of Michael’s other comments to revive a question he has asked before: namely, why are the doctrines characteristic of “Augsburg evangelical” theology only found within those churches that derive from the German and Scandinavian Reformations. In other words, Can you be [Augsburg] Evangelical without being Lutheran?”

There is then a third question, one which Josh posed in the comments thread to Kevin Johnson’s post: why are many Reformed Christians far more scandalised by the Lutheran practice of closed communion than by the equivalent practice in the Roman Catholic Church? My own attitude before joining the Lutheran church could have been summarised as follows: “The Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is blasphemous nonsense, and it is scandalous that they won’t let me participate”. I suspect I was far from unique in this.

All these questions find at least part of their answer in the following: the difficulty many Reformed Christians seem to have in comprehending how different the Lutheran teaching on the Lord’s Supper is from their own, and how this difference then colours all aspects of Lutheran theology and spirituality.

The Lutheran Supper: it’s more different than you think

Reformed Christians who take a “high”, Calvinistic view of the sacraments are undoubtedly far closer to the Lutheran position than the outright Zwinglians sat in the pew alongside them, and so it is Reformed Christians of this sort that I principally have in view here (specifically: me, circa 2001). Such Christians tend to say to Lutherans, “We agree that we receive Christ and the benefits of his saving death in the Supper, so why should we divide over what precise explanation we give for this?”

So for example, Mike Shea at the BHT highlights the third question from the Small Catechism’s section on the sacrament of the altar. Since Calvinists and Lutherans can agree that “forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words“, then “to what degree [does] faith in this promise require believing anything about the bread and cup themselves?”, he asks.

However, this argument misses (or attempts to sidestep, perhaps) the Catechism’s first question:

What is the Sacrament of the Altar? It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

Note what we are saying here: the Lord’s Supper IS the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This goes far deeper than simply disagreeing over what happens within the Lord’s Supper. It is not simply that Lutherans say, “At the Lord’s Supper, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ”, while Calvinists say, “At the Lord’s Supper, we feed on the body and blood of Christ as we receive the bread and wine”. If that were the case, the Calvinist argument that the difference between us is one of methodology would carry considerable weight.

Rather, it is a case of saying: if you have bread and wine that are not actually the body and blood of Christ, then what you have isn’t the Lord’s Supper. Full stop. End of story. We’re not disagreeing over mechanisms here: it is a case of saying, “You Reformed Christians say that the bread and wine in your Supper are not the body and blood of Christ. Fine. We will take you at your word. But in that case, what you have is not the Lord’s Supper. So any comparison between what it means and how it works compared with the Lord’s Supper in our churches is meaningless, because we are not talking about the same thing.”

So at the heart of Reformed incomprehension over the strength of Lutheran feelings on this issue is this basic difference: Reformed Christians think the discussion is about what happens at the Lord’s Supper, while Lutherans think the discussion is about what the Lord’s Supper is in the first place.

Mis-underestimating the difference

This “mis-underestimation” of the difference between us regarding the sacrament of the altar then goes some way to explaining the phenomenon that Josh described, of evangelicals going to Rome to find truths that would be far more readily available to them in Wittenberg.

To put it simply, Reformed Christians don’t really think there is that much difference between Lutherans and themselves (the slightly odd Lutheran teachings on the sacraments clearly just being the result of Luther not rethinking his medieval presuppositions with sufficient thoroughness, and his followers being reluctant to contradict him). That is why they are outraged when we reply, “Actually, we think there is, and we think the differences are sufficiently fundamental to necessitate a breaking of altar fellowship”.

But that is also a key reason why Reformed Christians looking for “something different” are going to end up in Rome (or possibly Constantinople): because they don’t see Lutheranism as “something different”. Lutheranism is seen as a synonym for “German Reformed”, and we’ve already had enough of the Swiss/Westminster versions of Reformed theology, thanks. (My own, slightly hazy, view of Lutheranism five years ago was that it was basically middle-of-the-road Anglicanism with longer hymns.)

Is non-Lutheran Augsburg evangelicalism possible?

I think there is another, related, reason why Reformed Christians looking for “something else” tend to overlook Lutheranism in favour of Rome for inspiration, even if they remain in the Reformed churches. Chris Atwood summarises the essence of “Augsburg evangelicalism” as follows:

  • Justification by faith alone;
  • baptismal regeneration;
  • the real and substantial presence of Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion;
  • the relative indifference of polity as defining the being of the church; and
  • Scripture as the only binding norm of faith and practice.

Now, this seems to be exactly the sort of agenda that a “Reformed Catholicism” should be pursuing: a return to the mainstream of historical church teaching on the sacraments, while retaining the insights of the Reformation as regards justification and the role of Scripture, and regarding bishops as some considerable way down the list of priorities.

However, as Chris goes on to point out, these five distinctives are, in practice, only found in conjunction with “the whole kit and kaboodle of the Lutheran tradition, from the Book of Concord to Law and Gospel sermons to Waltherian congregationalism to Reformation Sundays to Concordia Press to beer”.

So the invitation to consider the tenets of Augsburg evangelicalism is inevitably heard as an invitation to become Lutherans, in the sense of buying into the whole package. And I can well understand that a Reformed Christian would be reluctant to do this: after all, the LCMS is a very imperfect organisation, and (in the UK) the ELCE, while perfectly formed, is undoubtedly very, very small. In human terms, to become a Lutheran looks very much like edging into an obscure niche, rather than finding the purest expression of the catholic and apostolic faith.

The effect of this understandable reluctance to become Lutheran is that people overlook the insights of Augsburg evangelicalism, in favour of a “Reformed or Rome” dichotomy. When that is the choice presented to us, it’s inevitable that many people will choose Rome, especially when their local Roman Catholic church is five minutes walk away, and their nearest church confessing the Augsburg evangelical faith is an hour’s drive.

The challenge to Augsburg (and other) evangelicals

The intention of this post is not to bash Reformed Christians over the head and say, “You idiots! Haven’t you ever read the Small Catechism?” Rather, the challenge is to Lutherans, to ask how we can engage more effectively in commending the basic principles of Augsburg evangelicalism to Christians from other traditions - not with the aim that they necessarily end up members of Lutheran congregations, but so that these teachings can be a blessing and a help to other Christians even as they remain in their own traditions.

I came within the Lutheran orbit initially through receiving Lutheran insights while still being a Reformed evangelical Anglican. The proper distinction of law and gospel and the doctrine of vocation, for example, are teachings that can be tremendously liberating and helpful for Christians of any tradition. The Lutheran understanding of the Lord’s Supper can attract more opposition, but stands witness to the fact that moving beyond a Zwinglian or even “high Calvinistic” view of the Supper needn’t involve embracing the erroneous teachings of transubstantiation or the “sacrifice of the mass”.

This isn’t about “winning the argument”, let alone winning “converts”. If we really believe these teachings to be true, then we believe them to represent a blessing to all Christians, even if we don’t see any increase in “our” numbers. The spirit we should display is perfectly summarised by Gene Veith in the first chapter of his brilliant introduction to Lutheran teachings, The Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals, as he disclaims any intention to engage in “sheep-stealing”:

I think any Christian could draw on the spiritual insights of the Lutheran tradition that will be described here, though of course there will be points of disagreement.

For Reformed (and other) Christians reading this, I would say this: do read the Small Catechism. I’m sure you will find much of it a blessing to you (it’s been described as the only Reformation catechism that can be prayed). It will also help you understand our points of difference more clearly, particularly as regards the sacraments - but even there, I hope you will find a perspective that enriches and challenges your own views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and makes each of those more of a blessing to you in your own experience. And do read Veith’s book as well: it is superb, and written in a gracious and eirenic spirit.

But equally, it is only fair for me to continue as Veith continues in the paragraph quoted above:

The full dose of Lutheran spirituality can only, of course, be found within the day-to-day life of a Lutheran church … Spirituality, after all, must be lived, not merely intellectualized, and its locus is the mysteries taking place in an ordinary local church.

Monday, May 07, 2007

We Have Forgotten

It seems like I'm overdue for a new post. And I feel the need for a good political rant, so here it goes.

I just recently watched the World Trade Center movie. Extremely well done, I applaude the director and script-writer. And EVERY American needs to see this movie. And they need to see it now.

I have to admit, I didn't actually want to watch it at first. I didn't want to remember, to open up again the freshest wound our country now bares (at least in my opinion). But my mom made me. And I have to say, now I'm ashamed of my thoughts beforehand. It's exactly what's wrong with this nation -- we don't want to remember, we just want to move on. I can understand that, but it absolutely destroys us.

As soon as I finished watching the movie, I was so angry. I wanted to fly to New York right away and hold a rally. I wanted to yell at Congress. "Don't you see? THIS IS WHY WE'RE IN IRAQ! This is why we're in Afghanistan! How is it that you've forgotten so soon? What about the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field? Why can you not remember? Why will you not remember?"

I can't begin to understand why people have forgotten. Yes, I didn't want to have such a visual reminder myself, but I definately haven't forgotten. Not by a long shot. However, I do believe Congress has forgotten.

We need to pray for a change of heart. If we leave Iraq, we hand the terrorists the victory. We might as well just surrender. There is no way to win a war like this when we retreat! It's a war of ideologies. You cannot surrender to that. You simply cannot. I just... I can't believe that America, the victor, the amazing nation we are, will give up so easily. How can Congress be so blind? My stars, what is wrong with left-wing Congresspeople?

Where's Martin Luther when you need him? We need people who will stand for their convictions, not just bloviate. We need a reformation, a revolution in thought. As the next generation, we need to act now. The unpleasant realities of our world demand this of us. Clog D.C.'s switchboard. Flood their post offices with letters to Congressidiots. Spread the word. Pray. Communication is our most powerful weapon in this. And I'd like to challenge anyone who reads this to use their voice to make the line in the sand: "Here I stand, I can do no other."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Resurrection Day

Just a short post. First and foremost, I want to wish anyone who reads this a blessed and glorious Resurrection Day!

I wanted to take a brief moment and discuss what seems like almost a symantics issue until you really look at it. The use of the term "Easter" versus "Resurrection Day". Here are my reasons for not using Easter:

1) Easter comes from the Ancient British name for the goddess of the dawn (Eastre). It's also where we get the word east from. To me, this makes it much too common. And it's strictly pagan in it's roots

2) Resurrection Day is much more precise and accurate. It's not a celebration of the dawn, or spring (as Eastre actually translates from Old English to mean Spring).

So basically, in using "Easter", we short-change the absolute awe of that day... that someone, the Son of God who was completely sinless and blameless, would die for the world, and then was raised on the third day, on Resurrection Sunday. We equate it with a pagan festival, a pagan goddess, when it is something so much more wonderful and amazing.

May God richly bless you this Resurrection Day and always!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Most Hated Song

I know I've been horrid about posting regularly on here. I'm hoping to change that soon...

Those who know me (even semi-well) know that I hate hate hate hate with a passion contemporary Christian music or praise music. Here's a great explanation why. And please make sure to read all the comments (just skimming through them would probably suffice). While I don't quite agree about Awesome God, I have to say two of my most hated, me-centered CCM/praise "songs" are definately Shine Jesus Shine and Heart of Worship. One more I would add to that list would be Lord I Lift Your Name on High.

I hate to say it, but most of modern Christiandom is watered down and pathetic, at least as music goes. I'm not trying to be harsh, but I believe it to be the absolute truth. If a song has no direct link to the Bible (every hymn in my church's hymnal cites the verse(s) it comes from), and if the action of the verb is driven by YOU not GOD, then it is me-centered and at the very least, doctrinally unsound (if not completely false). The push for semi-Palegianism (the thought that you can have something to do with saving yourself) is prevelent in CCM/praise "songs", and I think that is very sad.

So now, I'm curious. What are your most hated songs? If we're not talking about "Christian" music, I would say She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy by Kenny Chesney and My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion and London Bridge by Fergie top my list of hated secular songs. *gags*