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

fabled

[Originally posted in March of 2010, the following infuses a potential dab of wisdom into the health care legislation currently before the court.  Note that I said “potential.”]

 

Aesop’s commentary on the current health care confusion…

 

From The Boy and the Filberts:  “Do not attempt too much at once.”  (…reason, perhaps, the American people like pieces of the bill but not the entire, massive legislation.) 


From The Hare and the Tortoise:  “Slow but steady wins the race.”  (…except, of course, when there’s not enough time to rework images prior to elections.)

 

From The Farmer and the Stork:  “Birds of a feather flock together.”  (..thus explains the fowl scent uprising from the Senate Republicans’ unanimous no.)

 

From The Man and the Lion:  “One good story is good, till another is told.”  (…why every politician must continually announce the latest dramatic saga from a supposed constituent in rural America, personally begging them as to how to proceed.) 

 

From The Goat and the Goatherd:  “Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid.”  (…why legislation should not be over 2,000 pages long.)

 

From The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle:  “Pride goes before destruction.”  (…an admonition to any in DC who thinks of themselves more highly than they ought.)

 

From The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf:  “There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.”  (So many politicians should learn this; how can you lie on some things, but expect us to believe you on others?)

 

From The Wolf and the Sheep:  “Hypocritical speeches are often seen through.”  (…there’s a reason our kids think politicians give too many speeches.)

 

From The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons:  “Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.”  (…the argument against the current, partisan reform measures.)

 

From The Two Frogs:  “Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.”  (…what’s motivating moderate Democrats to vote against the legislation.)

 

From The Shepherd and the Dog:  “How can you expect a sheep to be safe if you admit a wolf into the fold?”  (…and Washington wonders why we have trouble with representatives making decisions whose own ethics are questionable..)

 

From The Hares and the Foxes:  “Count the cost before you commit yourselves.”  (…excuse me, is anyone counting accurately… and actually sharing the information, asking what it will do to our debt?)

 

From The Ass and His Shadow:  “In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.”  (…far be it from the Intramuralist to suggest this sums up most of the debate.  I also will not comment on the animal from whom this lesson hails.)

 

Just listening to Aesop… slightly fabled, indeed.

 

 

Respectfully,

AR

slip sliding away

One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. “Master,” he said, “let me put my nose in your tent. It’s cold and stormy out here.” “By all means,” said the Arab, “and welcome” as he turned over and went to sleep.

 

A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, “I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here.” “Yes, you may put your forelegs within,” said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.

 

Finally, the camel said, “May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do.” “Yes, yes,” said the Arab. “Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us.” So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.

 

[Special thanks to CamelStories.com for “The Camel’s Nose in the Tent”]

 

The metaphorical camel’s nose illustrates the potential worsening of a situation when small, questionable scenarios are initially permitted. The allowance of the nose in the tent creates the potential for a scenario never imagined, but possibly dire.

 

Where — albeit by gradual steps — have we possibly witnessed the protrusion of the “camel’s nose”?  Help me here.  This is honest wrestling.  My desire is not to persuade nor embolden; the Intramuralist’s desire is to respectfully dialogue and thus grow.

 

Where have we permitted scenarios to exist that may potentially evolve into the camel taking over the tent?  Where have we promoted an initial, specific desire, policy, or behavior that as it progresses, manifests itself as a progression of wrongful thinking?

 

On Tuesday, we discussed the argument for after-birth abortion, the process of intentionally killing a newborn.  When abortion was legalized in all states in 1973, did the Supreme Court foresee that less than 30 years later, some in academia would seriously consider the legalization of killing babies outside the womb?  … that some would intentionally desire to reframe “infanticide,” calling the procedure “after-birth abortion” instead — in order to minimize the moral argument?  Was that recognized as a potentially offensive protrusion?

 

“If the camel…”

 

Consider the federal government’s routine practice of deficit spending.  When Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of Treasury under President Washington, arguably first proposed incurring debt for the purpose of establishing credit, did Hamilton foresee a 21st century government that is now almost $16 trillion dollars in debt?  Did those who advocated the exercise envision that spending within our means may become a secondary priority to spending itself?

 

“… once gets his nose…”

 

What else, friends?  Tell me.  Again, I do not assume to know all, but where else does the animal nose begin to reek?

 

Pick your social issue.  Pick your fiscal practice.  Pick your societal evolution.  Where has the practice gone too far?  Where has the initial acceptance been possibly ethical, but the potential progression is now imprudent?

 

“… in the tent…”

 

Borrowing from China?  Negative campaigning?  A 2 party system?  Acceptance of adultery?  Violence and sex on TV?  No prayer in schools?  … Where are the camels, friends?  I don’t claim to know all of the above.  I only ask the question in order to avoid the slippery slope of potential foolish and unethical activity.  Otherwise…

 

“… his body will soon follow.”

 

Respectfully,

AR

after birth

As a current events observer in search of wisdom (or yes, also, a lack of it), every so often an issue evolves that causes far more than a pregnant pause.  In order to accurately dissect the wisdom, allow me to first share the facts.  I will omit emotive expression… at least initially.

 

In the Journal of Medical Ethics released 6-8 weeks ago, 2 Australian philosophers argued the case for “after-birth abortion.”  Note that I did not write “partial-birth abortion.”  “Partial-birth” is a term created by the pro-life movement.  The term “after-birth abortion” was put forth by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.  They propose the following:

 

“When circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible…  We propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus… rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.”

 

The authors stated desire is to reframe infanticide.  In their argument, the philosophers suggest that any maternal interest trumps the value of the newborn.  Actually, identifying the baby as a “newborn” is not always their choice of words.  They write…

 

“If a potential person, like a fetus and a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then there is neither an actual nor a future person who can be harmed, which means that there is no harm at all…  In these cases, since non-persons have no moral rights to life, there are no reasons for banning after-birth abortions.”

 

The baby born is referred to by the 2 intelligent philosophers as a “non-person.”  Not “an actual person.”

 

The above are the facts.  Now the emotion.

 

Are you kidding me?!  

 

A “non-person”?

“No reason” to ban the practice?

“No harm at all”?

 

Where is the line between infanticide and abortion?  When does murder come into play?

 

(Note that this coming Thursday, the Intramuralist will again address society’s ethical “slippery slope.”  This will serve as example #1.  Egad.)

 

After substantial outrage, no less, to this after-birth article (which the Journal of Medical Ethics has since pulled from public viewing), the authors attempted to extinguish the growing firestorm, suggesting the proposal was never intended for public view; it was solely meant to be an “academic debate” among “fellow bioethicists” already familiar with the topic and arguments.

 

But tell me, why in academia do the proclaimed most intelligent believe the killing of life is even an appropriate debate?  Regardless for who this debate was intended, how can such proposal be deemed ethical by any?

 

The Intramuralist concludes with a few familiar refrains:  first, intelligence and wisdom are definitely not equal.  There is no wisdom in this debate, regardless of with whom it takes place and how supposedly smart the participants are.  Intelligence and wisdom are not synonyms, a fact of which academia often seems unaware.

 

And second, allow me to ask:  who are we to demean the value of someone else’s life?  Whether that be due to income?  … race?  … gender?  … or in this case, a newborn babe?

 

A person.  An actual person.  Life.

 

Respectfully,

AR

at war

Sometimes my penchant for sarcasm must be suppressed.  Sorry.  I believe in transparency.  Can someone please share with me why in the last 2-3 years, our nation continues to go to war?  We keep engaging in brand new “military conflict.”

 

There is the war on drugs, war on labor, war on terror, and war on teachers.  Not to mention the war on education, war on guns, war on Catholics, and war on Christmas.  Lest we forget the war on poverty, war on Wall Street, war on faith, and war on freedom.  Ladies and gentleman, we are a nation at war!

 

I have wondered for some time why the verbiage has regressed to such sensational standards.  Interestingly, after the shooting of the congressional representative in Arizona 15 months ago, many called for the ceasing of rhetorical combat; however, many of those who called for the cessation have quickly learned to reload and refire.  I therefore conclude that there exists something unique in the utilization of war terminology that stirs the emotions to a level that prompts action.  In particular, it prompts votes.  Sadly in this society — more than adhering to a nonporous standard of integrity — when words prompt votes, the appropriateness and exaggeration of the words seem irrelevant.

 

Our newest war?  A war on women.

 

My sarcasm is again tempted, folks.  A war on women?  A war?

 

Last I knew a “war” was when 2 different nations or states picked up their arms, attempting to blow one another up, because they had different desires for what the end result should look like.

 

The roots in the latest round in this feminine “war” began months ago with talk of contraception.  Should the government provide it for free?  Should one taxpayer subsidize it for another?  Women were divided.

 

The “war” advanced again this week when one powerful pundit, strategist Hillary Rosen, referred to Gov. Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, as having “actually never worked a day in her life.  She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and why do we worry about their future.”  Ann Romney, a survivor of both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, was a stay-at-home mom, raising 5 boys.

 

Let it be known that Rosen later apologized for her “poorly chosen” words.  Prior to that apology, however, she initially reaffirmed her claims via the world of Twitter.  (My keen sense is that most likely, the pundit failed to initially recognize the unpopular military conflict she was just responsible for escalating.)

 

Thus, the Intramuralist is left with 2 questions:

 

  1. What are we doing?  And…
  2. Why do we keep acting as if this is “war”?

 

What are we doing?  We are dividing people.

 

As best I can discern, we are challenged as a nation to respect those who are different than us.  Hence, most either accept all difference as equally good and healthy (when it might not be) — or we look down on others, thereby creating division.  Rosen — albeit arguably unintentionally — was communicating in a way that gave the impression she looked down on Ann Romney.  I don’t know Rosen nor Romney’s hearts, but we would be wiser if we wouldn’t minimize the perspective of another primarily because their circumstances are different than our own.

 

So why do we keep acting as if this is “war”?  When Rosen apologized — no doubt also motivated to move past her personal role in the “war” escalation — she said, “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”  Amen.  I agree.  There is no war against stay-at-home moms in this country.

 

But there also is no war against poverty, against labor unions, against education, or Christmas.  Remember that “war” means picking up our arms and attempting to blow up one another.

 

We could thus better “focus on the substance” if people would quit acting as if this was war.

 

Respectfully,

AR

bye, Rick…

Everyone brings something to the table.  A passion perhaps that he or she uniquely brings that’s quickly embedded into the conversation and thus impacts the emotion and dialogue going forward.  Such is true whether your last name is Goldwater or Gore, Sharpton or Nader, Clinton or Quayle.  Today my focus is on the contributions of former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum.

 

This is not an endorsement; that’s not the Intramuralist’s calling nor desire.  Just as Ron Paul prompts us to consider the limits of constitutional government — or as Ronald Reagan reminded us of a national sense of renewal and “Morning in America” — or as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama each embraced the inspiration of “change” — Rick Santorum has left his mark on the table and on the progression of our dialogue going forward…

 

Santorum reminded us that family comes first.  The involvement of his family in his decision to both enter and exit the campaign seemed genuine, more than a convenient, political photo op.

 

Santorum caused us to wrestle with the reality of life.  What’s most important?  When is life viable?  How as a nation do we desire to move forward with the government’s involvement in this deeply, divisive and sensitive issue?  While opinion varies, as a nation, we need to extinguish our infighting and discern how to best move forward.

 

Santorum modeled that quality of life is not always ours to assess.  All one has to do is look at his precious Bella.  Ok. True.  As a special needs parent — the parent of one considered “on the margins of society,” as the former senator said — Bella touches my heart immensely.  I never voted for Rick Santorum, but when I witnessed the authenticity of his love for that beautiful, almost 4 year old girl, never did Santorum catch my attention more.  He never treated Bella as if her life was somehow lesser… a judgment the most intelligent among us sometimes feel free to make.

 

Santorum challenged the standard economic thinking when he suggested that “the bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing… We hear this all the time:  cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine.  No, everything’s not going to be fine.  There are bigger problems at stake in America.”  While his words were unconventional and not necessarily garnering of votes, Santorum brought attention to the perspective that not all of the ways the American family is evolving are healthy.  Not all societal development should be celebrated.

 

Santorum taught us that money isn’t everything.  While the election bank accounts of both Romney and Obama continue to boom, Santorum began his campaign with very few financial resources.  He had so little money and momentum, that few thought he could make a splash in the presidential pool.  So Santorum instead focused on individual contact and face-to-face meetings.  Piquing at seemingly just the right time, he won the first caucus of the year.  For years to come, historians will examine Santorum’s strategy, what he did well and what he did not.

 

Don’t let me act as if Santorum never irritated any of us.  Whether it be how he articulated passionate social issues or proudly donned that sweater vest, that’s not my point.  Most all candidates irritate us somehow, in some way, about something.  In fact, if we ever feel a candidate agrees with us 100%, then we probably haven’t realized that candidates sometimes share different words in different circles, attempting to “be all things to all people” or at least generate future votes.  I appreciate that Santorum didn’t attempt to be “all things.”  Like him or not, I appreciate that he didn’t change his words as much depending on the circle.  I appreciate what Rick Santorum added to the conversation at the table.

 

Yesterday, after his official exit, Santorum was asked, “What’s next?”  To which Santorum responded, “I’d like to get some sleep.”

 

Get some sleep, Rick.  Regardless of who’s elected in the fall, thanks for adding to the national conversation.  I appreciate your spot at the table.

 

Respectfully,

AR

battle of the sexes

Man vs. woman.  Woman vs. man.

 

Now that the madness of college basketball has concluded (at least until the fanaticism of college football begins), I am reminded of a lingering issue, as highlighted again by the major sports’ media last week.  For the record, this blog is not about sports.  Hence, my respected non-sports fans, please keep reading.

 

A growing trend in women’s basketball — both college and professional — is for teams to practice against men.  This trend started several years ago, and the exercise has evolved to a degree in which many teams actually host tryouts for the male practice squads.  According to an ESPN survey of last year’s top 25 teams, 92% of the women’s teams use male practice players at least some of the time.

 

Why?  According to Kelsey Bone, center for last year’s ladies of Texas A&M, the 2011 champions, “When we’re successful in practice against guys, it helps us and gives us confidence going into the games.”

 

Or according to Bones’ teammate, guard Sydney Carter, “I think it’s made me a lot smarter; it’s definitely made me quicker.  They give me the chance to learn the game at a different level, and so when I get to the women’s game and I’m playing against women, I feel like I’m a step ahead all the time.”

 

But as perhaps some imagined, regardless of whether or not it gives the women confidence or makes them smarter and/or quicker, some are vehemently protesting the practice and asking the NCAA to eliminate the exercise.  The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics says this “violates the spirit of gender equity and Title IX” (Title IX is the legislation which requires that gender never be cause for exclusion from education programs receiving federal financial assistance; granted, athletics were never mentioned in the original statute).  

 

The Title IX aspect of the opposition has ample validity.  Some are concerned that by utilizing men, less female scholarships are offered because not as many players are needed on the team for practice purposes; hence, fewer female scholarships are offered.  The question, though, is the validity regarding “gender equity.”

 

Gender equity.  Man vs. woman.  Woman vs. man.

 

Equity.  Fairness.  Ah, a current, populist buzz word.

 

Even though most all involved admit that the use of male athletes makes practice more competitive and challenges the women’s teams in an unprecedented way, many still camp on the issue of fairness.  It’s not fair to use men.

 

Friends, when we utilize the concept of “fairness” to frame demographic differences — instead of embracing, celebrating, learning and growing my sense is that we miss the available wisdom.  While all men were created equal, the Declaration’s prudent proclamation should not be equated with God creating us male and female, each beautifully distinct.  Equal rights does not equate to equal gifting nor ability.

 

Thus, we would be a healthier, more discerning culture if we recognized that not all people are the same.  Men and women do things differently.  While no stereotype is 100% full-proof, there are certain activities that men as a whole and women as a whole do typically better or worse.  After all, as best as I can tell, only 6 women have ever dunked in a college or professional game.  Men and women are different.  In more than just basketball.

 

The point of this blog is not about dunking nor about sports.  My desire instead is to erase the notion that the differences between genders is something to be “battled.”  If we celebrated our differences instead of fighting their existence, we would be wiser.  There would be fewer “chips on shoulders” and less division in society.  My desire is to eliminate the embracing of division.

 

We certainly are a fickle society… embracing division when it serves us, but claiming “fairness” when we’re uncomfortable.  There need not be a battle of any sexes.

 

Regardless of the court.

 

Respectfully,

AR

happy easter

Pick your current event:  Politics.  World development.  Incident or issue.

Choose the life circumstance:  Profession.  Family.  Kids’ sports or education.

We are typically angry with any situation we perceive to be unjust.  As blogged here recently, we have an innate need for justice…  whatever the scenario may be…

… be that in crime scenarios…

… be that with dishonest politicians…

… be that with unfaithful spouses…

… be that with unscrupulous athletes… 

… be that with cheating coaches…

… be that with those who hurt our kids…

… or hurt us.

 

We desire justice.

 

Allow me to articulate our need in a more arguably appropriate, colloquial way.  We want someone to pay.  We want someone to pay for the injustice.

“How dare this happen!  There are innocent victims!  Someone needs to pay for this!”

From trial to tragedy — from Trayvon Martin to the Colorado forest fires — when victims exist, we want someone to pay.

 

Hence, we come to Easter.

With respect to all religions of the world, the Intramuralist finds it absolutely fascinating that Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Bahá’í faith, and the New Age Movement all agree that Jesus Christ was a real person who walked this Earth.  Most all also acknowledge that Jesus was a wise man who had a special relationship with God.  In other words, the factual existence of Jesus Christ is not in question.  What we sometimes question is what Jesus said — and what he did, being the only person who violently died and then rose again.

 

Funny, that questioning process is kind of what we do with people who say things we don’t like.  We intentionally distance ourselves from others when we don’t like what they say, because what they point out is so hard to wrestle with — be those acquaintances, friends, or politicians that annoy us.  Let’s make no mistake about this; some of what Jesus said is incredibly difficult to wrestle with.  I don’t understand it all, and some things remain a mystery.  And so what many of us do in order to diminish the need to wrestle with potential truth, is that we question an aspect of Christ’s existence instead; it removes the individual need to wrestle.

 

Christ’s account is that he came here as the long awaited Messiah, the one for whom the world was waiting to “save us” from our sins.  Interestingly, a lot of us don’t think we need any “saving.”  We’re fairly self-reliant.  Pretty decent people.  But in the same breath we’ll also acknowledge that none of us is perfect, and each of us has done some pretty rotten things; we’ve thought even worse things.

That’s the difference between Jesus and you and me.  He is perfect.  He had no dishonest thought nor unscrupulous activity nor questionable behavior.  And so around this day some 2000 years ago, Jesus came to this planet and did the one thing we all keep wishing for someone to do.

He came to pay.

He came to pay for the dishonest thoughts, unscrupulous activity, and questionable behavior in you and me.

 

The Intramuralist believes that the reason we so crave for justice on this planet — the need we have for someone to actually pay — is because we don’t fully grasp what Jesus did for us.  We don’t fully get that a perfect person would willingly pay for the imperfect.  That’s what we are.  We are imperfect people, created by a gloriously perfect God, who desires an intimate relationship with his kids, so much that he sent his only perfect kid to show us the way to that relationship.

So on this day, with recognition of the historical record, my prayer is that each of us would wrestle not only with who Jesus is and what he said, but also with what he actually did.

 

He paid.  Someone had to.

 

Respectfully,

AR

courting

In continuous search of wisdom, I am wondering anew this day.  Is there anything wrong with the following presidential exhortation?

 

“Last Thursday I described the American form of Government as a three horse team provided by the Constitution to the American people so that their field might be plowed. The three horses are, of course, the three branches of government — the Congress, the Executive and the Courts. Two of the horses are pulling in unison today; the third is not. Those who have intimated that the President of the United States is trying to drive that team, overlook the simple fact that the President, as Chief Executive, is himself one of the three horses.

It is the American people themselves who are in the driver’s seat. It is the American people themselves who want the furrow plowed.

It is the American people themselves who expect the third horse to pull in unison with the other two.

I hope that you have re-read the Constitution of the United States in these past few weeks. Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again…

But since the rise of the modern movement for social and economic progress through legislation, the Court has more and more often and more and more boldly asserted a power to veto laws passed by the Congress and State Legislatures in complete disregard of this original limitation.

In the last four years the sound rule of giving statutes the benefit of all reasonable doubt has been cast aside. The Court has been acting not as a judicial body, but as a policy-making body…

We have, therefore, reached the point as a Nation where we must take action to save the Constitution from the Court and the Court from itself. We must find a way to take an appeal from the Supreme Court to the Constitution itself. We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution — not over it. In our Courts we want a government of laws and not of men.

I want — as all Americans want — an independent judiciary as proposed by the framers of the Constitution. That means a Supreme Court that will enforce the Constitution as written — that will refuse to amend the Constitution by the arbitrary exercise of judicial power — amendment by judicial say-so. It does not mean a judiciary so independent that it can deny the existence of facts universally recognized.”

 

There has existed much vocal ruckus in regard to the healthcare law.  With last week’s hearing before the Supreme Court, the ruckus has evolved into a political jockeying in regard to how the high court will soon rule.  Please know that the Intramuralist is no expert in regard to the law’s constitutionality; however, as is no secret, I am hesitant to support any legislation that mandates purchase simply because we breathe.

Nonetheless, after his turn at the jockeying, Pres. Obama has been criticized this week, with many suggesting he is “attacking” the court — that he does not respect the court’s authority because they are unelected — and that overturning the act would be unprecedented.  Obama has been fairly vocal in his confidence that the judicial branch will not nor should not overturn a bill that Congress and the President agreed upon, even if by partisan means.

Friends, I don’t know Obama.  I don’t know if he’s attacking the court or not. I don’t know his heart nor all his motives nor if he really believes that the judicial branch isn’t “pulling in unison” with the rest of the country.  I do believe politics serve as a significant motivation for him, as Obama consistently utilizes strong rhetoric to seemingly sway public opinion (an indigenous tactic of multiple politicians, regardless of party affiliation).

But let’s remember that attacking the Supreme Court — as questionable and unwise as it may seem — is nothing new.

The above words were said by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1937.

Power impacts perspective.  Might be good.  Might not.

Respectfully,

AR