fanfare

In case I have somehow failed to be transparent, allow me to briefly reveal that the Intramuralist is a diehard Reds fan.  Diehard.  I love them.  Growing up in the era of the Big Red Machine (and as a child, opportunistically desiring to root for a winner), I have long followed their failure and success.  Hence, when in the bottom of the 9th with loaded bases and 2 outs Sunday, when former MVP, Joey Votto, hit a walk off grand slam to win the game, I was literally jumping up and down.  It was awesome!  (… with all due respect, newfound Washington National fans…)

 

Yet perhaps what was most awesome about Sunday — and what’s most relevant here (for even the non-sports fan) — is not Votto’s all-star performance; it was not the fact that the dramatic game winner was actually his 3rd round tripper of the game; rather, it was how Votto spoke about his exceptional performance thereafter.

 

He didn’t boast.  He didn’t brag.  He didn’t chastise his opponent.  In the immediate post-game interviews, where superlatives were generously cast upon him, Votto resisted all attempts to affirm his own performance and his worth to all others.  Contrastingly, he complimented the opposing team’s pitcher, noting how difficult he is to hit, and then calmly spoke in regard to how all the fanfare wasn’t his forte.  Votto said, “Moments like this, this is kind of the icing on the cake, but all the little grinder type things are more my style.”  In other words, when the lights were on and the camera was rolling — with nothing scripted — Joey Votto displayed genuine humility.  In a moment where he could have bragged and could have boasted and we all would have listened — he intentionally chose not to.  He chose to be humble instead.  That, my friends, is something from which even the non-sports fan can learn.

 

We speak much these days about desiring unity — how if we were somehow more united in purpose and pursuit, we would be wiser; we would be more productive and successful.  And yet, we routinely abandon that which is our greatest unifier.  Unity is absolutely dependent on humility.

 

And so in Washington, intelligent men and women say they desire unity, but then they…

 

… blame all lack of success solely on someone else…

 

… use “I/me/my/myself” in a speech more times than we can count…

 

… say their top political priority is to deny one person a second term…

 

… and/or take credit for an outcome that was contributed to by many…

 

Friends, these actions reek of arrogance.  There are too many people touting their claim to their desired icing on the cake.  There is no humility in these actions.  When there is no humility, regardless of intentions uttered into a public microphone, there exists no unity.

 

Then again, perhaps that’s the actual bottom line.  Perhaps unity is merely an exercise in lip-service for environments extending beyond the Reds’ clubhouse.  Perhaps unity is simply something that sounds good — that many say they want — but in actuality, is merely the desire for others to cede individual opinion.  Thus, I conclude that many who boldly proclaim sincere unifying efforts often wish most to squelch opposing opinion.  That’s not unity.  If we desire unity, we must instead begin by modeling personal humility.

 

After Sunday’s Reds’ game, it was not only Joey Votto who donned a seemingly ceaseless grin.  The entire team was elated — the veterans, the rookies, the coaches and local media.  Age didn’t matter.  Experience was irrelevant.  The Reds’ clubhouse was completely united in their joy.

 

Were they united because they were victorious?

 

Were they united because Votto hit a walk off grand slam?

 

To some degree, yes.

 

But they were perhaps more united because of how Votto spoke about his role in the victory.  In the unscripted moment of truth, Votto affirmed others and focused on much more than his own accomplishments.  He demonstrated great humility.

 

(Did I mention I love the Reds?)

 

Respectfully,

AR

special

There are some days that put life in perspective.

 

… a day when the weight of the world seems secondary… when we forget about the future consequences of today’s actions… some that will be good… some that will not… many of which are not discernible no matter how loud the proclamation of the passion…

 

… we forget those days the increasingly inimical polarization… the attitudes that boldly call opposition arrogant… forgetting that when we steadfastly announce the arrogance in others, we oft foreshadow the conceit in ourselves…

 

Hence, we are thankful for those days that put life in perspective — as yesterday was for me.

 

A couple hundred athletes.

A grandstand full of fans.

Spirited competition.

Multiple events.

And vocal enthusiasm for absolutely every athlete — every adult and child — who crossed the finish line.

 

The first Special Olympics was held in 1968, after a Chicago P.E. teacher approached Eunice Kennedy Shriver, JFK’s sister, about funding an Olympic-style athletic competition for people with special needs.  Today the competition provides opportunity for more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries, offering year-round training and competition in 32 Olympic-style summer and winter sports.  Yesterday was the track and field competition in our city.

 

Initially, I stood in quiet awe — witnessing the sustained, contagious cheers from the crowd regardless of placement, regardless of time necessary for individual completion.  As the runners sprinted around the track — some stopping for breaks when necessary — I was touched by their ability, perseverance, and determination.

 

Better yet was the look on the faces of so many.  Atypical of most competitions, a majority of participants sprinted and jumped with a countenance of great, great, obvious joy.  It was amazing, and it, too, was contagious.  (“All competitions should be that way,” I thought… for kids… adults… with or without a disability… sports, politics…)

 

A couple of quick personal notes…

 

First, I’m proud of my son.  This parent cries more these days than I ever imagined.  Thanks much in part to Josh, those cries are also full of joy.

 

Secondly, we owe significant thanks to the coaches and teachers who have walked alongside our Special Olympians.  From each of us who is blessed to parent a special needs child, we are overwhelmingly thankful for those who selflessly invest in our kids, encouraging both them and us along the way.

 

Yet perhaps the most poignant perspective of the day was offered by one teenage runner.  She had great form, solid strides, and was swift around the track.  As she ran an entire 400 meters, the crowd seemed well aware of the amazing accomplishment.  She was good!  She was fast.  The 14-15 year old girl was accompanied by another gal, to whom she was loosely tethered.  But in her we were each reminded of the beauty of these games — and the meaning of the moment…

 

As their mission says, the Special Olympics gives athletes “continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”  Such was obvious in this one, young runner.

 

She strode around the track with speed, grace, and that unprecedented joy, anchoring her team’s relay.  Each of us watching paused — clapped — amazed.

 

She was blind.

 

Respectfully,

AR

good politics?

In case you missed it:

 

First, background info, prior to Sunday…

 

  • In 2004 then State Sen. Obama said, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” and “I don’t think marriage is a civil right.”
  • When campaigning in 2008, Obama and VP Biden opposed same-sex marriage.
  • Gay marriage is legal in D.C. and in 6 states, while Maryland and Washington have referendums pending in November.
  • With the ongoing state marriage debates, gay rights activists have pushed Obama to vocally advocate for same-sex marriage.
  • Obama has said his position is “evolving.”
  • Historically, a majority of Hispanic, African-American, and Catholic voters don’t support gay marriage.

 

Then, beginning Sunday…

 

  • Biden appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying he is now “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage; his office immediately began clarifying the VP’s comments, saying they reflected no change in policy.
  • Both left and right leaning news outlets believed Biden’s latest verbosity was intentional, with the President wanting to “have it both ways.”
  • On Monday, White House Press Sec. Jay Carney attempted to clarify Obama’s position, saying, “Marriage is a state issue, and the states have the right to take action on it.”  Carney added that Obama’s “views on LGBT rights are crystal clear.”
  • Left and right leaning commentators continued debating Obama’s views, with CNN’s Anderson Cooper saying, “The president’s position on gay marriage is anything but precise.”
  • On Tuesday, swing state North Carolina voted 61% to 39% to ban gay marriage in their state constitution.
  • On Wednesday morning, Obama said he was “disappointed” in North Carolina’s vote.
  • On Wednesday afternoon, Obama said his position on gay marriage has now evolved, saying, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”  He also stated that the states have the right to decide.

 

Shew.  Sorry; that’s a lot to follow.  Know, though, that all of the above is fact.

 

The Intramuralist understands that this is a sensitive issue; it is hard to discuss well.  Almost all conversations end up with someone on both sides spewing scorn in the name of passion (as in the Colorado state legislature Tuesday, where one civil union supporter yelled, “I hope you f***ing die!”).  I was amazed, too, for example, at the number of persons who boldly identified the North Carolina vote as the manifestation of bigotry.  Hold fast to your opinion, but is one automatically a bigot if they oppose same-sex marriage?  Is that what Pres. Obama was considered the first 3 years of his term?

 

Allow me not to digress, friends.  The point of this post is not to debate the legality nor morality of same-sex marriage.  We have addressed both advocacy and opposition in previous, respectful posts.

 

The concern I have this day is the factual timeline shared above:  the supposed “evolution.”  The entire transpiration of how the administration is approaching gay marriage looks like, feels like, smells like, quacks like…

Politics…  the motivation for this policy feels like it is completely political.  There is no cultural conversation — led by the federal government — as to what is wise and what is foolish.  What is good.  What is moral.  What is the long term impact.  What evolution of the policy will be good.  What evolution of the policy will be destructive.  How the Constitution supports government’s involvement.  The primary motivator is what makes for good politics.  Egad.

 

Now don’t let me act as if politics serving as the primary motivation is indigenous to Pres. Obama.  The Intramuralist believes this happens all over the place, across all party lines, transcending all issues, and most of the time, we’re all oblivious.  Issues and advocacy is passed off as prudent policy, when the reality is that the motivation for the policy is purely political.

 

Truth?  I can’t tell how Obama feels about gay marriage.  Does he really support it now — or does he feel he needs it to please and thus shore up his so-called “base”?  Did he really oppose it before — or did he feel as if he couldn’t be honest because it might negatively impact the Hispanic, African-American, and Catholic vote?

 

Change the issue.  Change the politician.  Are they being honest with us?  Or is their support or dissension based most upon what they believe to be good politics?

 

I said it before; I’ll say it once more…

 

Egad.

 

Respectfully,

AR

the equity error

With eager politicians sensing an enticeable electorate, an ageless maternal mantra is being systematically extinguished.

 

“Life isn’t fair” is the frequent refrain.  The challenge is that we each take turns dismantling the mantra.  We say it isn’t fair, yet we act as if it should be.  Therein lies the equity error.  It’s rampant; it’s all over — amidst all demographics.  Call it the fallacy of fairness…

 

During the 2008 presidential primary season, when attempting to discern the plausibility of a Barack Obama presidency, I was struck by Obama’s foreshadowing response to ABC moderator, Charlie Gibson.  When Gibson asked why Obama desired to raise the capital gains tax when the lower tax rates advocated by both Bill Clinton and George Bush netted measurable, increased government revenue, Obama replied, “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”  At the time, I remember thinking that perhaps since Obama’s background is in law, his economic understanding was momentarily lesser.

 

Since that time, however, we have witnessed “fairness” manifest itself in proposed policy.  Regardless of effectiveness — let me say that again — regardless of effectiveness — policy and advocacy are being promoted on the perception of fairness.  That’s why this portrayed stab of equity is in error.

 

We discussed this briefly in regard to the Occupy Movement.  The movement has a fairly firm — although initially incongruous — list of demands.  Yet the bottom line of these clearly, disillusioned capitalists is that they believe happiness is their right; they have confused possessing happiness with pursuing it.  Hence, in order to be happy — which they see possible through free housing, education, income, and medical care — they believe it’s appropriate to take from someone else.  They believe it’s fair.

 

In France on Sunday, the French elected a new president, Francois Hollande.  Hollande is a socialist.  In fact, he intends to increase spending, borrowing, and taxes, even though the European nation is already deeply in debt. For those making in excess of $1.35 million annually, Hollande proposes taxing them at 75% (you read that correctly), as    seizing the income of the wealthy is only fair.  Socialism is another manifestation of the equity error; the government then serves as the discerner of fairness.

 

Since when do we have a right to that which belongs to someone else?

 

Income?  Opportunity?  Even inheritance?  Should that which is someone else’s good fortune be shared with me?

 

Follow me briefly for a relevant side note…

 

My oldest son plays high school baseball.  He does very well.  3 weeks ago I ran into into a fellow baseball parent in the check-out lane at the nearest grocery; our sons play on the same team.  The parent enthusiastically shared with me that her son had been elevated to the next highest team at the high school.  What was my reaction?  Elation!  Congratulations that their son was asked to play on a better team!

 

The reality is that in that moment, I had 2 possible ways of reacting:  (1) looking at the situation from the perspective of how it affects their son; or (2) looking at it from the perspective of how it affects me.

 

When we look at life from “how it affects me,” we lose sight of reality.  Their son’s progress, for example, had nothing to do with me; it had nothing to do with my son.  Their son was rewarded.  Excellent!  I need to celebrate the success of their son as opposed to falling prey to comparing them to me.  I need to celebrate the success of others as opposed to labeling them as “greedy,” “arrogant,” or even “opportunistic.”

 

In other words, fairness is irrelevant.  But that’s hard to admit; it’s far easier to dismiss the maternal mantra of “life not being fair” than it is to wrestle with our own circumstances.  “Equity” becomes bigger than reality.

 

Whether capital gains tax or high school baseball, the success of someone else need not be shared with you and me.  Life’s not fair.  My mother once told me that.

 

Respectfully,

AR

the pursuit

While May Day came and went last week, one movement is attempting to stay — to stay relevant, that is.  First taking their message to the streets last September, the Occupy Wall Street protest seemingly lost momentum and attention in recent months, as winter weather and erratic behavior obscured the message behind the movement.

 

Hence, the Occupiers are hoping to now recapture what was lost.  They called for convergence on May 1st, International Workers’ Day, a day historically associated with opposers to capitalism.  Yet with vocal but sporadic response last week, OWS is calling for more organized demonstrations next Saturday.

 

The Intramuralist believes it’s important to look at the root of the Occupiers’ pursuit.  As first discussed here last fall, here is the movement’s purpose — in their own words:

 

“Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants…

 

We demand, firmly but without violence: social justice, wealth distribution and an ethic of commons. We condemn poverty, inequality, environmental devastation and corruption as tools of subjugation by the powerful on society.”

 

In order to minimize the emotion of this movement, I will refrain from addressing the erratic protestor behavior — the violence, the destruction of public property, and the negative impact on multiple small businesses.  Allow me to address the following instead.  Here are my questions…

 

How can you assume that the so-called 1% is greedy?

Do you know their hearts?

How is the individual wealth of others an obstruction for you?

Are you not able to work or do you not desire to work?

Are any of the so-called 99% greedy?

Where is the value of personal responsibility?

What about hard work?

What role, if any, does religion play in your pursuit?

Is there any submission to the God of the universe?

Is there submission to anyone?

How do you embrace the Arab Spring concept but distance yourself from the violence that accompanied the approach?

What are the limits of wealth distribution?

Are your protests truly socially just?

What do you believe you’re entitled to?

 

Note that suggested entitlements have included college, cars, housing, medical and dental care, etc.  Many also desire a guaranteed living wage regardless of employment.  All debt also should be forgiven.

 

Now… my 17 cents…

 

While some of the demands and expressions of the Occupiers seem outlandish and arguably extreme, the reality is that there is a segment of society which has become disillusioned with capitalism.  I believe it’s wise to ask why.  From my perspective, some have equated “happiness” with its pursuit.  The Occupy Movement is the manifestation of this equity error.

 

“Happiness” is not a right; it is not included in the unalienable rights boldly outlined in our Declaration of Independence.  Rather, it is the pursuit of happiness which is our prerogative.  We are a free people.  We are free to pursue our individual callings, callings that allow for both risk and reward.

 

Capitalism encourages that pursuit… to be successful… to seek and thus find… to be responsible… to realize the value of hard work… to submit to a divine reality.  People have opposed capitalism — and instead advocated for increased entitlement (and less individual liberty) — because they have failed to realize that the pursuit of happiness is sometimes wiser and better and more life-transforming than happiness itself.  The pursuit is good.

 

Ok, make it 18 cents.

 

Respectfully,

AR

wonderful

Far too wonderful for me…

 

Recently I was struck by that phrase.  Perhaps you’ve noticed it embedded in a few semi-humble posts.  I must admit:  the concept is often a little inconsistent with how I think.  I mean, I’m not a rocket scientist nor student of microbiology.  But I do have 2 B.S.’s and a fairly decent grasp of contemporary culture.  The Intramuralist is a pursuer of wisdom.  And as a current events observer, I now concede that yes, there is much that is far too wonderful for me.

 

I pondered the meaning of wonder… wonderful…  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand…  stronger than me…  so high I cannot reach it…  beyond me…  lofty.  I can’t attain it.

 

We think of “wonderful” as good.  “Wonderful,” however, instead equates to the extraordinary — extraordinary and thus incomprehensible… too difficult to understand.  As I survey the news of the day, that could be good.  Sometimes tis not…

 

From the most recent headlines:

 

“Former NFL star Junior Seau was found shot to death at his home Wednesday morning in what police said appeared to be a suicide. He was 43.”

 

Seau was well-respected and had young children.  He was the founder of the Junior Seau Foundation, established in 1992 for the purposes of educating and empowering young people through the support of child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile delinquency efforts and complimentary educational programs.  And yet yesterday, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his chest.

 

It’s incomprehensible to think of what actually drives a person to kill oneself.  A life with no hope.  Period.  It’s grievous.

 

“Buccaneers Sign Paralyzed Ex-Rutgers Football Player LeGrand.  Eric LeGrand, the former Rutgers University football player who was paralyzed from the neck down during a 2010 game, was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 90- man offseason roster by coach Greg Schiano.”

 

Playing in the NFL was once LeGrand’s dream.  The dream was shattered instantaneously.  And yet yesterday, one coach had the gracious compassion to reach out in an unprecedented way.

 

It’s incomprehensible to think of how much that had to mean to the former football player.  Great love.  Unparalleled grace.

 

And then in what can only be described as a slow news week, I observed the Bin Laden brouhaha, the on-again, off-again, who’s using what for political gain…

 

Obama’s campaigning… Obama’s not campaigning… He’s using Afghanistan as a campaign backdrop… he’s not…

 

Geepers.  Sorry, but the back-and-forth wears me out.  It’s too wonderful for me; it’s hard to discern between fiction, fact, and valid perspective.

 

The reality is that we live in a country in which politicians are constantly engaged in impression management.  They go to great lengths in order to be well-liked by a clear majority of voters.  Hence, they use what they can to create the impression they can.  Hence, if there’s fault with the Afghan political backdrop, there’s greater fault with the evolution of the system.  Impression management is never pure.

 

Just a few musings this day…  an observance of current events…

 

Many, which yes, are far too wonderful for me.

 

Respectfully,

AR

bin laden

Osama Bin Laden died one year ago.  Kudos to the Obama administration for leading the efforts which seized the terrorist leader.  Kudos to the Bush administration for implementing the effective strategy.

 

On this day my desire is to revisit why Bin Laden attacked us.  I must tell you now, this will not be politically correct.  We will water down nothing, but we will also be respectful and factually accurate.  The Intramuralist believes that political correctness often evades wrestling with the complexity of the truth.  Hence, that will not happen here.  Wrestling is wise.

 

Let’s allow for little interpretation.  Here are Bin Laden’s own words:

 

“Every Muslim, from the moment they realize the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews and hates Christians. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans.”

 

Osama Bin Laden pursued the obliteration of America and Americans based on his Islamic faith.  Not all Muslims believe that.  Bin Laden did.  He hated Americans, Jews, and Christians.  His hatred was directly tied to Islam.

 

“I’m fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans.”

 

He believed that his efforts were blessed by God, that God would look upon his intentional, vengeful killing as appropriate and necessary.  He believed he would go to heaven, meet God, and that encounter would somehow be good.

 

“In today’s wars, there are no morals.  We believe the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans.  We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian.  As far as we are concerned, they are all targets.”

 

He considered Americans terrorists.

 

I have no insight into the intelligence of the fully-named Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden.  He studied econ, business, and possibly also civil engineering and public administration; attainment of a college degree is disputable.  Regardless, the Intramuralist will continue to assert that wisdom and intelligence are two totally distinct attributes.  I do not see any semblance of wisdom in Bin Laden.

 

Bin Laden advocated hate, vengeance, and murder; those are not compatible with wisdom.

 

Allow me to say that first part again:  Bin Laden loudly and vocally advocated hate, vengeance, and murder.  He justified that support based on his interpretation and application of Islam.

 

Hence, I ask the following:

 

Does the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, encourage violence?

 

How far-reaching was Bin Laden’s interpretation of that violence?

 

And as Americans, does our political-correctness in how we currently address insane acts of violence prompted by any religious interpretation impede our ability to wisely wrestle with the truth?

 

In July of 2009, 4 men in the Bronx plotted to bomb 2 synagogues and shoot down an American military aircraft with a missile.  When authorities and then media became aware of the criminal machinations, very little attention was publicly articulated in regard to the religious background of the 4 men.  While in prison for either theft, drug-related, or other charges, each converted to Islam while incarcerated.  There was significant evidence that “Islamic fanaticism” stoked their strategy.  In other words, their religion was relevant to their crime.

 

The question that our country continues to struggle with this day, is:  how relevant was the religion of Osama Bin Laden?  And if relevant, is such still in fierce opposition to the serenity and stability of America today?

 

The war on terror, dear friends, is not yet over.  That’s what we need to remember today. Sadly, we also need to remember that still tomorrow.

 

Respectfully,

AR

savage

“The Bible.  We’ll just talk about the Bible for a second.  People often point out that they can’t help it, they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying ‘cause it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.  We can learn to ignore the bullsh*t in the Bible and what it says about gay people, the same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullsh*t in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation.  We ignore bullsh*t in the Bible about all sorts of things.

 

The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document.  Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during Civil War and justified it.  The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave, and Paul doesn’t say, ‘Christians don’t own people.’  Paul talks about how Christians own people.  We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong… if the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong?  100%…

 

People are dying because they can’t clear this one last hurdle.  They can’t clear this one last thing in the Bible about human sexuality… [continuing, as dozens are quietly now walking out..]  It’s funny as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react.” 

 

Such were the words of Dan Savage, an anti-bullying advocate, especially in the gay & lesbian community, speaking at the National High School Journalist Conference in Seattle on Friday.

 

Friends, as said here several times, human sexuality is a tough issue; it’s tough to handle well.  The Intramuralist has friends engaged in multiples lifestyles, and as some of us have discussed, this is hard to talk about; people confuse disagreement with disrespect.  They aren’t the same.

 

What concerns me most about Savage’s words — founder of the “It Gets Better” project, an encourager of gay teens to persevere, supported by various celebrities, activists and politicians — is not his stance on homosexuality.  It’s his savage approach.

 

When we disagree with other people, is it appropriate to attack them?  Is it appropriate, in a sense, to verbally bully them?  … to disparage them or to regard or represent them as being of little worth?  Savage not only demeans the people who disagree with him, but also to embolden his point, he denigrates and distorts the source.

 

Choose not to believe in the Bible.  Choose this day who you’ll serve.  Choose to agree or disagree with it’s teachings.  But to suggest that the chances of historical scripture being wrong are “100%” means one also inherently proclaims that oneself is infallible.  The lack of humility within that proclamation thinly veils an unfortunate foolishness.

 

I am not suggesting that Savage is right or wrong in his passion regarding the lack of limits on human sexuality; he is entitled to his passionate perspective.  He is, however, factually inaccurate in how he presents the contents of scripture, especially, for example, in regard to slavery.  The Bible does not condemn slavery; neither does it advocate the brutality and dehumanization that has manifested in the minds of contemporary culture.  The Bible teaches against slavery as we know it.

 

I thus wrestle with the reeling discomfort when Savage or any man claims to be more knowing and knowledgeable than God.  I wrestle also with the distortion.

 

Friends, I have many flaws.  Contrary to not-even-popular belief, I don’t know it all.  And there are things within the Bible that are far too wonderful for me, that I cannot even begin to comprehend.

 

But never will I equate my lack of comprehension to a personal omniscience…  me, this fairly insightful, witty blogger knowing exactly what is right and exactly what is wrong… me, knowing more or better than God… me, knowing it all… me, being able to claim a lack of comprehension of scripture as a definitive proclamation.  I will never proclaim a wisdom all according to “me.”

 

So in those areas where each of us disagree — where our passions and experience have challenged us in varied manners and ways — I make one promise:  I will never call you “pansy-assed.”  I won’t think it either.

 

Disagreement is not the same as disrespect — and the intentional employment of disrespect and distortion only decreases the validity of one’s perspective.

 

Respectfully,

AR

transforming the ruthless

He was ruthless.  By his own admission.  He lacked integrity.  By his own admission.  He was definitely not gentle.

 

Twice later I heard him speak, and I also read several of his books.  He was intelligent and certainly articulate.  Last weekend he passed away at the still spirited age of 80.

 

While blessed with the gifts of writing and speaking, those skills are not what attracted me most to Chuck Colson.

 

While undoubtedly a powerful political operative — albeit unethically shrewd — that insight is also not what attracted me most to Chuck Colson.

 

What attracted me most to the powerful Nixon administration figure was the undeniable,  unmistakable change in his heart.  He was a life transformed.

 

Prior to serving his sentence for obstruction of justice in Watergate-related charges, the Nixon aide (aka “hatchet man”) embraced Christianity.  He felt he had figured something new out; he made a commitment to follow his faith and serve his savior in a previously, unprecedented way.

 

When news of Colson’s conversion leaked to the press in 1973, the surplus of doubters was vocal and vast.  The Boston Globe reported, “If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.”  Many, in fact, believed that’s Colson’s conversion was simply another shrewd ploy in order to minimize his negative image and maximize future potential, as he was nearing the onset of his 1 to 3 year prison sentence.  As naysayers oft exercise, many doubted the authenticity of Colson’s conversion.

 

“Show me.  Prove it to me.  Let’s see the transformation of your life.”

 

Colson did.  He was changed.

 

In 1976, Chuck Colson founded Prison Fellowship, through which partnering with churches of all denominations, has become the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families.  The ministry is now active in 113 countries around the globe.

 

In other words, instead of utilizing his fame for self promotion, Colson used his fame and thus influence for the provision of others.  He didn’t choose for whom he would advocate based on political likemindedness.  He didn’t provide for persons based on income, race, gender, or any stereotypical demographic category.  No, Colson sought after the least of these, those without a known second chance.  As CNN commentator, William J. Bennett penned, “He fought tirelessly on behalf of the forgotten and condemned.  He defended the defenseless.”

 

To fight for the forgotten — to defend the defenseless — might be something a person does for a day or assumes for a convenient photo op.  Colson, however, served in this capacity for the past 35 years.  Those 35 years are evidence of a life transformed.

 

I appreciate his wisdom…

 

“Politics is nothing but an expression of culture … so if things are bad, don’t think it’s going to be solved by an election.  It’s going to be solved by us.”

 

“May the Christian church never be regarded as a special interest group.  We’re here because we love our neighbor.”

 

“The Bible – banned, burned, beloved.  More widely read, more frequently attacked than any other book in history.  Generations of intellectuals have attempted to discredit it; dictators of every age have outlawed it and executed those who read it.  Yet soldiers carry it into battle believing it is more powerful than their weapons.  Fragments of it smuggled into solitary prison cells have transformed ruthless killers into gentle saints.”

 

Transforming the ruthless into saints…

 

My sense is that Colson would have never desired for us to elevate him to sainthood status, but I have an additional sense he’d be thankful and proud of a life transformed… a life that gives hope to us all.  Well done, Chuck.  Well done.

 

Respectfully,

AR

warning: may contain traces of nuts

[Originally posted in June of 2009.]

 

Yes, I am fearful we are going nuts.

 

There are all sorts of them.  Cashews, almonds, walnuts, brazils, filberts, peanuts, pine, and pecans…  There exist immeasurable means of preparation.  Dry roasted, honey roasted, salted, shelled, redskin, blanched, granulated, not to mention that wonderful cinnamon glazed.

 

Next we must choose what form we desire the protein to come in… whole, half, pieces, mixed…  It certainly makes it hard to choose.  Some are grouped together via creative packaging; some are not available at the local grocer; some are available only from preferred networks.  And some people, too, are allergic, making eating and obtaining nuts currently impossible.

 

I am sorry to say, but the cost of nuts has soared.  I remember boiled peanuts from Plains, Georgia being significantly less expensive 25 years ago.  It is challenging to continue paying more for protein… something that gives us the energy to go on and keeps our bodies in solid shape (thank you, Dr. Atkins).

 

And so perhaps we should control the ebb and flow of nuts in this country.  Perhaps we should socialize both its production and availability.  If we overhaul the nut system in this country, perhaps we could save billions!  Hail, Plains!  We need our nuts!!

 

Socialism has said to work.  At least somewhere.  Europe maybe?  But aren’t they now severely struggling financially?

 

Hmmm… forgive my tinge of sarcasm, friends, but the Intramuralist is concerned with the promotion of socialism in this country — government ownership and control of industries…  especially now, as I foresee 2 significant hiccups (in addition to the gestational reactions):

 

Hiccup #1:  The nut system overhaul claims to save us billions but cost us trillions.  It is money we do not have.  Do you know where our government currently finds its bill-paying, auspicious pot of gold?  We continue to borrow money from China, and frankly, the Chinese are not known to be crazy about our nuts.  (They have also been known not to be crazy about our human rights.)

 

My friends, no single entity in this country is allowed to operate at a continual, annual loss without either being eliminated or going bankrupt.  For the US government to continue borrowing — and to justify specific entitlements being an exception to the rule — it is worrisome indeed… even if it is simply about nuts.

 

Hiccup #2:  If the government controls the nuts, the government will discern which nuts are worthy — and which are expendable.  Since the initial nut costs are nothing short of outrageous, they cannot afford to take care of the nut-eaters who are a perceived financial drain on the system.  In other words, the government will be picking out the pistachios.  Perhaps, in fact, the pistachios will no longer exist.  We will then as a country miss out on what even a green, little nut can contribute to our culture.

 

People who need nuts should get nuts.  Even Macadamia.  But government assuming control of everyone’s protein choice seems arguably Orweillian.  If the control seizing also entails the utilization of a checkbook with zero money left in the account, then financial foolishness is an added, incredibly valid question.

 

Time to snack on the Thai lime chili cashews in my cupboard.  Perhaps the break will enable me to refrain from acknowledging all the nuts involved in this process.

 

Respectfully,

AR