God's Politics

God's Politics


Stephen Robishaw: A Family Thing

posted by God's Politics

Among the many important causes Sojourners lends its energies to, I have come to understand that “family values” hovers at the top of the list. I must confess that it took me a long while to figure this out. The single thing I most admire about Sojourners is its commitment to broadening the faith-based agenda in this country. That is, to broaden and deepen the conversation to issues such as global poverty, global climate change, and HIV/AIDS. The divisive rhetoric of so-called “family values” from prominent conservative evangelical organizations—who use it as an effective media sound bite—has disillusioned enough people from political engagement, not to mention the Christian faith itself.
I speak from experience on this matter. I’ve only recently regained my faith in Christ. Growing up in the white upper-middle class American Midwest presented some serious challenges to my developing political philosophy. Many of my close friends who attended youth group claimed to include all peoples in their faith—provided that you shared the same interpretation of Holy Scripture. I came to confuse the conditional Christianity I experienced with the inclusive gospel I read. It took a long time before I was introduced to the writings of Jim Wallis and others who share his vision, and before I started back on the path toward reclaiming my personal faith.
It has been a long and contemplative journey, but it was capped by my being received into the Episcopal Church this past spring. Although certainly not unique to one tradition, what fascinates me about the Anglican tradition is its emphasis on the “church” being defined by its people—not the institution created by them. We believe the body of Christ includes all people of God—people from all walks of life. I love the idea that I can be a part of a family that is beyond my own immediate family—the idea that I can be a part of the family of God. It is truly a blessing to be a part of what Dr. King referred to as the “Beloved Community.”
As profound as that realization has been for me, it has been further enriched by the daily interaction with the staff here at Sojourners. Engaging in the community (serving as a summer intern) with others who share the vision of a global family has not only been a blessing for me, it has also demanded more of me. The power of the idea of the global family allows me to not only care about the outside world, but to actually do something about it. My work with Sojourners has illuminated the subtle insight that God’s family is my family, too. If I can take anything from this experience, let it be that.
Stephen Robishaw worked as an intern for Sojourners’ media department for the month of June. He will be a junior at Kenyon College this fall.



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Ben Wheaton

posted July 6, 2007 at 2:54 pm


Joined the Episcopal Church, eh? And here I always thought one ought to avoid sinking ships.



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Wolverine

posted July 6, 2007 at 2:58 pm


Stephen Robishaw wrote:
The divisive rhetoric of so-called “family values” from prominent conservative evangelical organizations—who use it as an effective media sound bite—has disillusioned enough people from political engagement, not to mention the Christian faith itself.
I would dispute Robishaw’s characterization of “family values” as purely a matter of communications strategy. One may question the wisdom of Christian Conservatives and the decision to focus on handful of issues, gay marriage and abortion being among the most prominent. I have at times myself. But there is nothing anti-Christian about setting priorities in government or any other field of endeavor, and there are legitimate reasons to emphasize these in the political realm that go well beyond their usefulness as sound bites.
Sojo’s constant repeating of the meme that the Christian right only uses “family values” as a media tactic blinds them to an understanding of what really motivates their brethren on the political right.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm


Joined the Episcopal Church, eh? And here I always thought one ought to avoid sinking ships.
Depends — there are numerous solid Episcopal churches in my area.
Wolverine — That’s done primarily to raise money and passion for the sake of their own authority, hardly to propagate the historic Christian faith. What really motivates their brethren on the political right? Power. (And now that’s going down the tubes.)



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kevin s.

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:43 pm


Right, Rick. Conservatives care only about power, while liberals care only about the poor starving children. Oh wow, you happen to be a liberal? What a happy coincidence to be ideologically aligned with such virtuous people.



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Wolverine

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:46 pm


Speaking as an Anglican with strong traditionalist leanings, I can verify that there are several good Episcopal/Anglican churches in Northern Virginia and Washington DC. I can also affirm that Anglican Christianity, properly understood, is worth preserving.
Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:56 pm


Rick,
Believe it or not, a lot of intelligent people honestly do believe that abortion results in the death of innocent human beings, and see gay marriage as a possibly fatal blow to an already tottering institution of marriage. You may question their views — I have some reservations myself — but I assure you there is a rational basis for this point of view and for the vast majority of Christian Conservatives, including those in leadership positions, these beliefs are sincerely held.
Wolverine



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JimII

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:52 pm


So, there is no such thing as the Christian left is there. I mean, sure, there are Christians who are liberals, but the right has so much more energy. You read a post on Sojo, and you know that the comments will begin and end with attakcs from conservative hit men.
Such a shame. I don’t understand why people who disagree with every single thing an organization stands for will hang around and attack, attack, attack.
I guess the trick is to not read the comments, just the articles.



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Payshun

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:05 pm


Abortion I could see as rational. Gay marriage that has nothing to do w/ rationality and everything to do w/ fear and prejudice. Wolvie, no one doubts that those beliefs are sincerely held. It just that it seems that some of your more ardent members seem to want everyone to live by them.
p



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kevin s.

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:30 pm


“It just that it seems that some of your more ardent members seem to want everyone to live by them.”
To date, gay marriage is a winning issue for Republicans, which means that the majority is opposed to it.
“I guess the trick is to not read the comments, just the articles.”
Why not? You seem bothered by the dissent. Don’t read it. Or, alternately, read it and be quiet. Or, alternately, read it and engage it.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Conservatives care only about power, while liberals care only about the poor starving children. Oh wow, you happen to be a liberal? What a happy coincidence to be ideologically aligned with such virtuous people.
I’m sorry, but the vast propaganda network conservatives have built over the past 50 years leads me to no other conclusion.
Believe it or not, a lot of intelligent people honestly do believe that abortion results in the death of innocent human beings and see gay marriage as a possibly fatal blow to an already tottering institution of marriage.
And I basically agree with them. But they do virtually nothing other than propose legislation and refuse to address underlying issues that turn them into hot potatoes. Three years ago I even wrote an op-ed about “gay marriage” in my newspaper — I referred to it as the logical outcome of our romance-based marriage culture, which I consider the real culprit in the cheapening of marriage — and one guy I knew said that he didn’t recognize it as being written by a Christian. In other words, there’s no real thoughtfulness and depth to their convictions; they just react.



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Payshun

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:01 pm


To date, gay marriage is a winning issue for Republicans, which means that the majority is opposed to it.
Yah if you over 40, white and live in the midwest.
Among the younger set that is not really true and eventually all those older folks will die off.
I agree Rick there is very little depth. But I see this problem everywhere in America whether they be conservative black church goers or almost anyone that claims evangelicalism as a base for their beliefs.
p



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moderatelad

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:50 pm


There are some wonderful Episcopal congregations out there that are bible based and Christ centered. I believe that the Episcopal church in the next few years will be going through a transformation that will ultimatly lead to a split in the denomination. This will not be a bad thing…just something that has to happen. When a denomination has leaders that are seperating from the orthodox message of the Bible, the person in the pew has a few decisions to make. Some personal and some corporately as a congregation. We see this happening in the Prespertian and Lutheran churches. I know that some are greatly grieved by this, and it is sad. I look at it as a progression that we have to go through and that our focus has to be on an Almighty God and His Son our Savior. I also believe that some will make decisions that they believe are what should be done and others will make a correct decision. In the end I believe that God will reviel Himself is ways that will make it plane and will gather his children to Himself regardless of the decisions they make today. I believe that He will give His children time to access where they are and where they need to be, for it is His desire that none should perish.
Blessings everyone!
.



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jesse

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:12 pm


Rick said “and one guy I knew said that he didn’t recognize it as being written by a Christian. In other words, there’s no real thoughtfulness and depth to their convictions; they just react.”
–Rick, this is why I find it difficult to engage with you in this forum. You take one thing one conservative said and use it to smear all people (Christians included) to the right of you. Most of us here are not interested in proving who is more righteous or whether liberals are bad and conservatives are good…we’re here to debate policy. I believe there are lots of decent left-leaning people who want to help people and believe the policies they support do so…you apparently cannot allow yourself to believe the same about any conservative.
Honestly, your constant insults against conservative Christians prove nothing but your own judgmentalism.



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kevin s.

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm


“Yah if you over 40, white and live in the midwest.
Among the younger set that is not really true and eventually all those older folks will die off.”
You seem pretty excited about that Agreed, 24 year old trust fund babies in Central Park are more likely to support gay marriage. But many young folks will get more conservative as they get older. At any rate, your statement implied that only very conservative Christians oppose gay marriage. That is not the case.



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Wolverine

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm


Rick,
I once knew a liberal who tried to pass off Archie Bunker as a genuine spokesman for conservatism. But I figured my lefty acquaintance was just having a bad day.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:40 pm


Rick, this is why I find it difficult to engage with you in this forum. You take one thing one conservative said and use it to smear all people (Christians included) to the right of you. Most of us here are not interested in proving who is more righteous or whether liberals are bad and conservatives are good…we’re here to debate policy. I believe there are lots of decent left-leaning people who want to help people and believe the policies they support do so…you apparently cannot allow yourself to believe the same about any conservative.
You know full well that’s not the story. When conservatives really come to debate policy and admit that they might be wrong about some things then there might be some honest debate. But most conservatives, yourself included, start out berating the “liberals” — and that’s no way to win friends or influence people. In short, you’re being somewhat hypocritical.
I believe there are lots of decent left-leaning people who want to help people and believe the policies they support do so…you apparently cannot allow yourself to believe the same about any conservative.
Your own comments on this blog simply belie that statement. I’m the type of person always interested in honest debate and working on solutions, but the right wants to determine what the problems are and “solve” them their own way.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:42 pm


Which demonstrates what judgmental bigot you are.
No, it demonstrates that you’re in denial — I have to go toe-to-toe with a piece of that network on a daily basis.



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kevin s.

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:50 pm


“You know full well that’s not the story. When conservatives really come to debate policy and admit that they might be wrong about some things then there might be some honest debate.”
So the only way to have an honest debate is to admit that we are wrong. Are you required to do the same? No, because in your view you are empirically correct, and needn’t justify your viewpoint. You do plenty of berating conservatives here.



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james

posted July 7, 2007 at 12:01 am


Left, Right, I wonder what Jesus would blog ? I hope it would be about love, peace, forgiveness, and healing. Not many talk about the real problem,which is that we all have fallen short of what we should be. If we are to solve the problems of this world we need to start showing love for each other. Helping each other on our journey in life. On abortion do we ask, how could we help the person that is thinking about abortion? People have real problems that can,t be dealt with a political solution .



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Anonymous

posted July 7, 2007 at 1:09 am


Only one of you has responded to Stephen’s experiences in finding faith with any charity or understanding. It starts with a sarcastic remark about the church he has chosen and devolves into the same old arrogant assertions that you have to accept this or that (generally the anti abortion ,anti gay doctrines) to be a Christian. It’s like a bunch of grumpy old men sitting in a bar having the same arguments over and over again with no enlightenment. It exemplifies exactly what he talked about in his early experiences with Christians who require you to think just like them.
Like many people, I had early experinces with so-called Christians who preached that if you believed anything different from what they did, you were doomed. Like Stephen, I have been relieved to find there are Christians who are more inclusive and do not require lock-step acceptance of doctrine.



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Payshun

posted July 7, 2007 at 4:40 am


You seem pretty excited about that Agreed, 24 year old trust fund babies in Central Park are more likely to support gay marriage. But many young folks will get more conservative as they get older. At any rate, your statement implied that only very conservative Christians oppose gay marriage. That is not the case.
Me:
Yah I am actually. I have no problem w/ gay marriage and I am not afraid that it can destroy the family institution. So the less homophobia the better. I say live and let live especially for the marginalized.
p



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chris

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:04 am


ONly one person on this comment board has so far come even close to what a real Christian would say or do, and that is James. If one is full of hate or anger, nothing of any benefit will be accomplished. Unfortunately, I think that the suggestion made by another commentator that this board is like a bunch of grumpy old men is on the mark.
As James so eloquently put it, “If we are to solve the problems of this world we need to start showing love for each other. Helping each other on our journey in life.” That’s what Jesus would do. As for abortion, I personally see it as one of the many ways that God helps us to learn about the sanctity of life. Some of us (myself included) are too hard-headed to understand this and the only way that God can show us that we need to respect life is by making us endure such things. So in my understanding, being against abortion is being against God’s plan. I know I learned much from my ex-girlfriend having gone through it. I haven’t forgotten the sacrality of life since then.



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Nickerson

posted July 7, 2007 at 8:39 am


I agree with the comment about the attack style comments. Most of the comments that appear regularly after each letter come close to violating the rules of the host site, Belief.net, as well as the Christian value of judging, etc. There simply is a lack of courtesy and decency.



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David J

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:38 am


This is an excellent observation who has realized that the journey is as important as anything you can intepret from Scripture. The head and the heart can go together. God calls us to action. Stephen I think understands that feet need to be a central part of the Christian life. It’s good to hear that family values can be for all familes that one party doesnt have a monopoly on these things.



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kevin s.

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:12 am


“Some of us (myself included) are too hard-headed to understand this and the only way that God can show us that we need to respect life is by making us endure such things. So in my understanding, being against abortion is being against God’s plan.”
Do you have any scriptural or even logical basis for this? A number of folks here have lamented the need to be in “doctrinal lockstep” (whatever that means), but the Bible exists for a reason. It is not a series of myths that simply imbue the reader with some wisdom but is otherwise untrue.
If you believe that abortion does not end a human life, then there is no reason to believe that it does anything to inform us regarding the sanctity of life. If you believe it does, then there is a clear Biblical mandate against murder. What if I said that we must support the Iraq war, because it teaches us about the sanctity of life, and to oppose it is to be against God’s plan.
And if it was you who got your ex-girlfriend pregnant, your idea that this was God’s calling is disgusting and ridiculous.
Mr. Robishaw’s post begins with an attack on conservatives Christians for their support of what he calls “so-called family values”. In other words, many of the things we find important or only phony family values, while the political values he supports are real family values.
He is entitled to his opinion, and as Wolverine mentioned, many conservatives are passionate about issues that go beyond simply abortion and gay marriage anyway.
The author largely identifies with liberal politics, felt out of place in a conservative church, and so found a liberal denomination. Okay. What does he believe about Christ and how is that impacting his life?



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Brent

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:52 am


“Yah I am actually. I have no problem w/ gay marriage and I am not afraid that it can destroy the family institution. So the less homophobia the better. I say live and let live especially for the marginalized.”
Scripture marginalizes homosexuality. Obviously, liberalism, not scripture, is what determines your thinking.



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squeaky

posted July 7, 2007 at 12:37 pm


I think the point of Robishaw’s post is that family values includes more than just the abortion and gay marriage issues. But the overall theme of his post is his recount of his own faith journey.
In keeping with the tenor of his actual post, I can say I have followed along the same path he has, although I didn’t actually move away from the faith. I started off conservative, became concerned over the emphasis on just two moral issues when I was concerned over many others, and I have since moved into more liberal circles. During the transition, I have felt marginalized by those who believe Christians can only be Republicans, and so I have been happy to learn I am not the only Christian who leans left.
All that being said, the left is every bit as imperfect as the right, and my current directions are taking me closer and closer to the realization that the use of political means to bring about the Kingdom of God on this Earth is a fundamentally flawed practice, regardless of party affiliation. You can’t use the practices of the kingdoms of this world to establish God’s kingdom. So where does that leave us?



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Payshun

posted July 7, 2007 at 1:24 pm


Scripture marginalizes homosexuality. Obviously, liberalism, not scripture, is what determines your thinking.
Me:
Actually scripture marginalizes a lot of things. When I stare at a woman lustfully it says that I am committing adultery. So what does that say about my sexuality? It only marginalizes homosexuality for those that choose a form of Christianity that can and does cause death and destruction. So if that’s the religion you want then keep following it. I like the version that seeks to remove condemnation, pain and death from the marginalized. That’s what Jesus did.
p



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kevin s.

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Quick note: It seems both sides are equally interested in the abortion and gay marriage issue. I am responding to an existing conversation, lest anyone think I am only concerned with two issues.
Scripture doesn’t marginalize homosexuality, and forbidding gay marriage doesn’t marginalize homosexuality either. Simply because some people use the Bible as an excuse to cause death and destruction doesn’t mean I need to alter my theology.
“When I stare at a woman lustfully it says that I am committing adultery. So what does that say about my sexuality? ”
That you are committing adultery. Not sure how that relates.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:00 pm


Are you willing to admit that you might be wrong about conservatives?
When they change, yes, but only then.
Funny, ’cause I’m the type of person always interested in honest debate and working on solutions, but Rick Nowlin wants to predetermine the sort of person I am and berate me just because I am a “conservative.”
Droll. Push your attitude off on someone else. I didn’t make you that way, if you haven’t figured out. And BTW, it was you and others like you who came onto this site and started raising sand about “liberals,” “socialists” and the like — and some folks are getting tired of it. I’m one of those.
I really am an uncaring person just because I’m conservative.
If you support those kind of policies and identify them as conservative, that’s right, because real caring has less to do with policy and more with getting under someone’s load. Conservatives decided they were going to walk in, determine what the “poor” need without talking with them or anyone who deals with them, form policies that can’t work (because they don’t understand the history) and now wonder why people vote against them. But it turns out that they so focus on their ideology that they can’t see the forest for the trees. Unless that changes I see no reason to discuss conservative ideology.
Mr. Robishaw’s post begins with an attack on conservatives Christians for their support of what he calls “so-called family values”. In other words, many of the things we find important or only phony family values, while the political values he supports are real family values.
They’re phony only because they’re used as hot-button issues to raise money and passion (which, thank God, is no longer working). Some folks need an enemy to fight to justify their existence, and gays have been used as one of those enemies for the last 30 years, ever since Anita Bryant. Besides, some of that battle goes way beyond Biblical warrant — because it could be argued that, which the church formed, gays were in control of the culture. Scripture easily identifies people who practice such things as “of the world.”
And besides that, could it be that God in Christ works through different people in different ways than what we consider the normal “evangelical” way of doing things? It seems to me that if the church would simply be the Body and not get tangled up in cultural issues the way it has we’d be a lot more effective. Although I am myself a staunch evangelical and agree with many, if not most, conservative positions, it’s long been my contention that our attempts to change the culture have seduced us into that culture. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t speak up for truth, only that the message won’t get through if we focus to much on a “them.” I’d rather consider how much we are being transformed into the likeness of the Savior.
That, as much as anything, sparks my passion. It’s not about ideology, which is still of the world (I do not consider myself a “liberal”, BTW), but our place in the Kingdom of God, where there is no room for such things. That said, we also need to understand history, culture etc. to fulfill that mission, and if we do so in ignorance we forfeit our moral authority, and in my view ideological conservatives — the specific movement that started in the 1950s and swept up many fellow evangelicals — really do have it wrong.



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Payshun

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:06 pm


That you are committing adultery. Not sure how that relates.
Me:
Let me break it down for you. Maybe we should pass a law that forbids staring at woman. Then I think we can all be equal under the law. Better yet let’s create a law that outlaws sex for everything but baby making. So no sex for pleasure, and only baby making. Since you are for controlling how the non-traditional American family lives let’s extend more laws to curtail and maintain a more puritanical lifestyle. Oh and sex has to be quick too. I think that’s fair better yet let’s use donors and invitro that way there will be no lust involved whatsoever. I think that’s fair if we are just going to single out gay people.
p



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kevin s.

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:15 pm


” You can’t use the practices of the kingdoms of this world to establish God’s kingdom. So where does that leave us?”
We are free to apply our faith to politics, however, we must be sure that we are not sacrificing our faith to our political leanings. The target is always sharing the word of Christ and making disciples. That’s what the Bible says.
To the extent that we simply disregard the Bible because it is not convenient to our political views, that is wrong. That makes it all the more important to understand what the scripture says. When the author speaks of an “inclusive gospel”, what does he mean? Inclusive of other political viewpoints? That’s not a problem, obviously.
Inclusive of other interpretations of scripture? That depends on what they are. Sometimes, this simply means the person came from a very doctrinally emphatic church (e.g. a Calvinist church) and is looking for a place that recognizes that any theological bent has fallible implications.
Other times, it means that the person is tired of the idea that one must believe that Christ died for our sins. Or that they don’t like some of what the Bible has to say regarding sexual or marital issues or (less frequently) issues related to alcohol or drug use.
If it’s the latter, then the author is simply picking and choosing between which elements of the Bible he wants to believe in. That is his right, but I’m not going to be excited about his newfound faith.



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TimR

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:31 pm


Stephen Robishaw:
Conservatives do care about global poverty. We do not, however, require the same degree of self-gratification you do. If we do not seem as compassionate to you it is because we do not view the human race so pathetically. We are not elitist that think the only way to solve a problem like global poverty is signing petitions, watching emotionally moving documentaries, watching celebrity press conferences, and wearing rubber bracelets. When you “raise awareness” for global poverty you are really raising awareness for everyone to see your own “selfless” and “kind” heart.
The global extreme poverty rate is about a third of what it was in 1970. You’ll never hear this from liberals because they can’t point to one thing they did to make it happen. If a poor person ascends from poverty in the middle of a forest and no liberal is there to take credit for it…is that person still ascended from poverty?
I can’t take credit for the dramatic reduction in poverty in Southeast Asia. They opened their markets and created wealth the old fashioned way: working for it. So, if working an internship makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, great. But, don’t pretend that it is your great contribution to curing global poverty.
As far as gay marriage…
Marriage is a privilege. The government offers rewards to a man and a woman that are committed enough to seek public approval and acknowledgement for their relationship. The government offers rewards to a married man and woman because the people of this country have decided that a child is best raised by a man and a woman. So, the government doesn’t stop a man from living with seven women, but it does not give them the rewards of marriage because it does not look at polygamy as a benefit to society. The same thing applies to homosexuals. Now, if the people of Massachusetts decide that a child can be raised equally well by homosexuals, I have no problem with them legalizing gay marriage.



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kevin s.

posted July 7, 2007 at 4:05 pm


“I think that’s fair if we are just going to single out gay people.”
We aren’t singling out gay people. There are all sorts of folks who may not marry each other. Those laws have root in tradition in faith.
“When they change, yes, but only then.”
Rick will listen to conservatives just as soon as they agree with him.
” started raising sand about “liberals,” “socialists” and the like — and some folks are getting tired of it. I’m one of those.”
You are doing the same thing as you speak. Conservatives are racist propaganda machines, in your view.
“Unless that changes I see no reason to discuss conservative ideology.”
Then don’t. But don’t just keep repeating. “That’s because all conservatives are xxxx”. That’s exactly what people criticize Pat Robertson for doing.
“Some folks need an enemy to fight to justify their existence”
Apparently.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 7, 2007 at 4:10 pm


Wolverine
Speaking as an Anglican with strong traditionalist leanings, I can verify that there are several good Episcopal/Anglican churches in Northern Virginia and Washington DC.
Wolverine
One of my good friends out here in the Great Northwest goes to an Episcopal Church , as I did when I was a young boy . They appear to be in the process of separating and joining the African Branch of the Episcopal Church which has kept the scriptures as an important part of showing compassion and love to people . . The ordaining of Ministers who are lesbian or homosexual and having relationships outside of marriage is what appears to be the issue from what I have gleaned .
The public schools make sure what is “programed ” and the kids are desentized to any God given natural modesty in most places . . You would be surprised , but in 10 to 15 years I bet many of the states that vote for pro marriage amendments will have lost that desire to do so . This issue will be another wedge that keeps government policies and the church separated . In that sense it is good .
The Mainstream churches are just responding to the culture , and going along with it . What happens when you base your Faith in the popularity of man instead of God is my perspective on this . But it is a side issue the left has politically embraced also . They use it here in the Northwesy just like Rove did in swing states that more traditional in values .
I have a tendacy to see that homosexual marriage is the result of a cultural change , and the signifiance of it itself is not as bad as what brought the acceptance of it it in the culture and the mainline churches in the first place .
I have a good memory of my Episcopal Church , reverence of God , and the Love of Christ was taught there .



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William Wallis

posted July 7, 2007 at 4:16 pm


“Conservatives are racist propaganda machines, in your view.”
Kevin, you forgot to mention that we don’t care about the poor, oppress women, and hate gays.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:05 pm


Rick will listen to conservatives just as soon as they agree with him.
Kevin — that’s exactly the kind of nonsensical comment I’m talking about. FYI, most of my friends and associates lean to the right ideologically, but few of them are as abusive toward me as you have been consistently because they respect my views and I theirs. On top of that, I did commentary for a Christian radio show back in the 1990s, so I knew I was in “enemy” territory.
Conservatives are racist propaganda machines, in your view.
That overstates my view, but the proof is in the pudding. I haven’t seen conservatives openly denouce or work against racism and I’ve noticed those that do get nailed; in fact — did you notice that Trent Lott has been restored to the GOP leadership in the U. S. Senate? And who opposed MLK Jr. back in the day?
But seriously — why do you froth at the mouth whenever anyone utters a syllable against cultural conservatism? I mean, isn’t it subject to examination like anything else, or is it so sacrosanct that it’s above criticism? That, not so much conservatism, is my problem.



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kevin s.

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:15 pm


“but few of them are as abusive toward me as you have been”
Example? What abuse? You won’t listen to conservatives until we change our minds.



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William Wallis

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:25 pm


“FYI, most of my friends and associates lean to the right ideologically, but few of them are as abusive toward me as you have been consistently because they respect my views and I theirs.”
And that’s your problem. You don’t respect the views of the conservatives who comment here. I have found that *you* are the abusive one, Rick.



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Brent

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:38 pm


“Let me break it down for you. Maybe we should pass a law that forbids staring at woman. Then I think we can all be equal under the law. Better yet let’s create a law that outlaws sex for everything but baby making. So no sex for pleasure, and only baby making.
Since you are for controlling how the non-traditional American family lives let’s extend more laws to curtail and maintain a more puritanical lifestyle. Oh and sex has to be quick too. I think that’s fair better yet let’s use donors and invitro that way there will be no lust involved whatsoever. I think that’s fair if we are just going to single out gay people.”
Of course, gay people are not being singled out. Never heard of abstinence, education and opposition to pornography?
None of this is at all relevant to the point. I did not say to outlaw homosexual (or any other immoral) acts.
The gay marriage argument, to me, anyway, is that the rest of us should not have to recognize the legitimacy of these relationships.
And anyway, 1st century Palestine was far more “puritanical” in treating homosexuals than modern-day America. If your version of Christianity is the correct one, why didn’t Jesus get the gay-rights bandwagon going on this one? After all, he didn’t pull any other punches. Or could it be that the Jews actually had that one right?



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:48 pm


AWilliam
nd that’s your problem. You don’t respect the views of the conservatives who comment here
William it does old does it not . Intellectual exchange stops when we put people in a box . You know I do know conservatives that do hate gays , believe the Bible can be used to oppress their wives , and think because they worked hard and made a living anyone can . My word , I also know they get more media attention then the Conservative Church ever will , and when the churches like mine that get “exposed” its not about the food shelter we just stocked , its our lifting our hands and falling all over the place that gets attention . Film at 11 .
Thats just the way it is William , look at it this way . Look at it as a good thing this current culture does not embrace our Church .
Perhaps it would be good if liberal Christians and Conservative Churches communicate better , even hang out in different congregations . Thats my hope , that the church gets its act togther . Don’t expect the people who are talking to you in your exchange to go for that , but their kids , yes , we have Hope in Christ .



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:11 pm


You don’t respect the views of the conservatives who comment here. I have found that *you* are the abusive one, Rick.
Wrong — I know the difference between discussion and abuse because, as I’ve said before, I’ve experienced both. The conservatives who come to this blog simply don’t want to adjust their agenda in order to work with those who have a different view, and that’s what abusive; I’m not at all responsible for that. Oh, they can and do dish it out, but they’ve consistently shown that they can’t or won’t take it — and they need to be called on it.
Perhaps it would be good if liberal Christians and Conservative Churches communicate better, even hang out in different congregations. Thats my hope, that the church gets its act together.
My church is exactly like that, which is why I have no problems dealing with those who don’t agree with me. We haven’t talked a whole lot about politics as such, but between evangelism, foreign missions and our ministries to the neighborhood poor we really don’t have that much time or energy to fight the “culture war.”
Back to the topic: Robishaw did not write that “family values” were so much wrong, only that they often distracted from other legitimate issues. I agree with him, primarily (as everyone knows) because abortion and gay marriage raise a whole lot of money; you can actually make a career out of them. I think that’s sad.



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William Wallis

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:26 pm


“The conservatives who come to this blog simply don’t want to adjust their agenda in order to work with those who have a different view, and that’s what abusive”
WRONG, Rick! I would be more than willing to discuss issues with those who have a different view provided that you don’t ASSUME that I am like the other conservatives who have given you such a massive chip on your shoulder. And you said yourself that it is YOU who is unwilling to admit when you are wrong, and the simple truth is that YOU are WRONG about the conservatives here.



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kevin s.

posted July 8, 2007 at 12:11 am


“Kevin, you forgot to mention that we don’t care about the poor, oppress women, and hate gays.”
Sorry, I missed this comment. I was too busy chaining an impoverished lesbian to a radiator.



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squeaky

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:07 am


I think the attacks on Rick Nowlin are a bit disengenous. I have certainly seen my share of the more conservative voices here make assumptions and repeat tired stereotypes about liberal ideology (and no, I’m not going back through the blog rolls to find more). So as you point those fingers at Mr. Nowlin, I hope you will remember to more carefully gage your own comments from now on.
My suggestion is we all lay down our rhetoric and stereotypes and actually start listening to one another. Maybe those whose ideologies we don’t share actually have a good idea here and there. It would really be nice, and refreshing even, if there could actually be more constructive dialogue and less ideology on this site. Too many people prefer to tear down rather than build up and find solutions.



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kevin s.

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:27 am


“My suggestion is we all lay down our rhetoric and stereotypes and actually start listening to one another.”
Agreed.



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William Wallis

posted July 8, 2007 at 2:30 am


“I think the attacks on Rick Nowlin are a bit disengenous. I have certainly seen my share of the more conservative voices here make assumptions and repeat tired stereotypes about liberal ideology (and no, I’m not going back through the blog rolls to find more). So as you point those fingers at Mr. Nowlin, I hope you will remember to more carefully gage your own comments from now on.”
I have no problem guaging my own comments, though since I have just begun posting here it makes me see Rick’s attacks on conservatives as a bit disingenuous themselves. Your suggestion to “lay down the rhetoric and stereotypes” is welcome, though personally I’ve only seen that from one person on this blog thus far.



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Payshun

posted July 8, 2007 at 4:09 am


Brent said:
The gay marriage argument, to me, anyway, is that the rest of us should not have to recognize the legitimacy of these relationships.
Me:
Actually it’s about leaving them alone so that they can do what they want w/o you deciding how they can or cannot live. You don’t have to recognize anything. Just leave them alone to live their lives as they see fit.
p



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 8, 2007 at 4:04 pm


“All that being said, the left is every bit as imperfect as the right, and my current directions are taking me closer and closer to the realization that the use of political means to bring about the Kingdom of God on this Earth is a fundamentally flawed practice, regardless of party affiliation.”
Thanks Brent that makes sense , but here we all are on a politcally motivated blog ? I interviewed Ellen Craswell for a Citizen Alert I put out, who ran for Governor about 12 years ago in our state . She was a conservative Christian , and promoted “Family Values” She had been in the state senate a long time , and accepted Christ while in Office . She really got into the Pat Robertson deal on the late 80s and early 90s . A kind women , but she told me every bit of pro family legislation she got passed has all been changed or repealed sonce she left office . The Human Heart indeed is where God’s precepts are . Laws can protect our freedoms , but I agree with you so much about this .
In my state democrats on their web pages really are quite nasty and bigoted in their reference to Christians , I saw one that sold bumper stickers of a fish with the word hypocrit under it . Actally I don’t see the “Christian Right ” active in these parts anymore . But they do make a good scape goat , expecially on Human Rights Issues .
I ws first glad when I heard about Sojourners , thought those demcrats could use some Holy Spirit filled Folks in their ranks .
One thing I have noticed , that the more gay culture and gay marriage is accepted in an area , the more organizations like the Boy Scouts , Salvation Army , and even the military are depicted as evil . Our local media takes that stance in their editorials and articles .
I don’t believe homosexuality per say is causing the problems , but the mind set that says all ways are OK , right and wrong are up to the beholder , do cause an intolerance to those with a tradtional value system . The majority of Christians never do anything to harm or even say anything about homosexuals , but they are depicted as evil because they believe sex out of marriage is always wrong , always . That does not go along with the view that it is up to the individual to decide that . In fact the morality now is safe sex is the value , abstinence is just one of nmany choices , thay are EQUAL in merit .
I wonder why that does not bother liberal Christians ? How can you be involved with the Holy Spirit and know that is wrong , that that is a myth the eveil one promotes . Sex out of marriage causes so much heart ache and physical diseases . I don’t get it ?
Those traditional values and the religion that supports tradional Bibical undertood truths are now held as bigoted by those who support those homosexual social issues . The problem goes beyond homosexuality , and sometimes I even think the left uses that debate to further their grasp of political power . Americans on a whole I believe are fair people , no one should have to be concerned about their dignity being threated because they are gay , or go to a church that preaches the word of God .
I do draw the line on country music , those people are on their own . ;0)



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm


And you said yourself that it is YOU who is unwilling to admit when you are wrong, and the simple truth is that YOU are WRONG about the conservatives here.
After a quarter-century of hard-earned experience, including reading books and magazines, watching TV shows and personal conversations and interviews, I think I’m entitled to stand my ground. Remember, I’m not a “liberal,” and even if I were there is no hard-wired “liberal” movement in the same way there is a hard-wired “conservative” movement. If there were, believe me — the conservatives would quote chapter and verse.
You see — oh, that’s right, you don’t — the conservatives have a legacy that they either don’t want to admit to or are running away from. They as a result are quickly losing what little authority they have because they keep going back to the same, tired old cliches about an undefined bogeyman named “liberalism” when even many Christians have passed them by. And that’s what the author of this piece was alluding to.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 8, 2007 at 4:16 pm


One thing I have noticed, that the more gay culture and gay marriage is accepted in an area, the more organizations like the Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, and even the military are depicted as evil. Our local media takes that stance in their editorials and articles.
There’s reason for that. Many Christians and institutions the influence go far way beyond what the Scripture says about homosexual behavior — that is it something God’s people do not do, nothing more — and start to declare war on, or at least exclude, people in the name of “family values.” Ultimately, as people get to know gays on an intimate level they begin to see through that facade, and the “culture warriors” stop making sense after a while. That’s why, even though I’ve never supported gay marriage, I have never agitated against it.



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kevin s.

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:15 pm


I am not running from anything. I believe what I believe, and that happens to coalesce with the preponderance of conservative thought. That doesn’t mean that I agree with the actions of every conservative who ever existed, or that I believe that the movement has never erred.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:31 pm


Good riddance, jerkwad!
I need say no more. To you, that is.
I believe what I believe, and that happens to coalesce with the preponderance of conservative thought.
Can you admit that what you believe MIGHT be empirically wrong or come from a faulty premise? That is always my argument and one that has gained steam over the past few years.



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William Wallis

posted July 9, 2007 at 12:26 am


“I need say no more. To you, that is.”
I won’t miss your presumption one bit.
“Can you admit that what you believe MIGHT be empirically wrong or come from a faulty premise?”
Only when conservatism actually becomes empirically wrong or comes from a faulty premise, then, yes.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:40 am


Only when conservatism actually becomes empirically wrong or comes from a faulty premise, then, yes.
Which is EXACTLY what I’m arguing now and have done so for over 25 years. Ironically, you reacted the same way most conservatives have over the years when I’ve challenged them — dishing out personal insults that have nothing to do with the subject at hand — and thus proved my point to a T. Presumption? I don’t think so. And I’m putting you on notice that I will not back down.



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Wolverine

posted July 9, 2007 at 8:41 am


Rick Nowlin wrote:
Remember, I’m not a “liberal,”
No Rick, you’re a liberal, without scare quotes.
Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted July 9, 2007 at 8:52 am


Anyway, getting back to the original point of the article…
While I disagree with Robishaw’s characterization of “family values” as merely a sound bite, I do agree that there is a danger that the church will be so closely associated with a political agenda that the Gospel itself will get lost amid the political hoopla. The question I would have for Robishaw is: what do you mean when you speak of the “inclusive gospel”, and how does it differ from the one your were taught while you were growing up in the “white upper-middle class American Midwest”?
I know what it’s like to grow up in a too-corrupted church and have to reject large chunks of the religion you were taught as a youth, so it might be interesting to compare notes.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:38 am


No Rick, you’re a liberal, without scare quotes.
No, Wolverine, I’m not — and I’m not going to allow you to define who and what I am. A “liberal” is not necessarily the opposite of a conservative.
To answer your question, for me the Gospel has always been about reconciliation. Part of the problem with the way the “Gospel” has been preached is its emphasis on the “afterlife” and maintaining cultural values, but for me it’s far more comprehensive. God has always wanted a community of people to show the world, “This is what happens when people obey Me.”



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Wolverine

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:53 am


Rick,
This isn’t about my power to define you. This simply an application of the duck test.
You remember the duck test, don’t you? “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, odds are it’s a duck.” Whether the duck chooses to call itself a duck is irrelevant.
Well, you reason like a liberal, and you rant like a liberal. Therefore…
Wolverine



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Squeaky

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:13 am


Braveheart (William Wallis)sez:
“Only when conservatism actually becomes empirically wrong or comes from a faulty premise, then, yes.”
Seems like a pretty strong statement, bordering on idolatry. You are saying conservativism never has and (presumably) never will make a mistake. The only perfection I know of is God, and in your statement, you have put conservativism in God’s place. Whether that is your intent or not, you speak to my concern that we Christians, both conservative and liberal, border on putting politics in God’s place, especially when we view our political ideologies as the way to bring the United States up to God’s standards. Again, we can’t use the means of the World to bring forth God’s Kingdom.
Wolverine sez:
“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, odds are it’s a duck.”
Rick Nowlin asks you not to label him, and you insist on it. It’s easy on these faceless blogs to label each other, but I ask that you would refrain from that tendency and acknowledge that we are ALL far more complex than our words here might indicate. When you label someone, you make assumptions about that person, and you stop listening because you assume you know what they think. I’m seeing a lot of that in this back and forth rhetoric on this thread, and you are all far more mature and intelligent than to fall into that quagmire. You can all do better than that. Time to elevate your game, guys. Potshots may be fun, but they aren’t very Christlike–can we agree on that?



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squeaky

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:35 am


Rick Sheldon,
I agree with much of what you say, especially about country music =).
I know Christians are taking a lot of flak, and bumper stickers you describe are grievous to me. However, from my perspective, I think a lot of that is a reaction against the political aspect of Christianity. I’d like to say I agree that the majority of Christians are far more charitable towards homosexuals, but from my experience, I can’t see that as the case. I speak of personal experiences hearing fellow Christians slamming and joking about gays, even students at a Christian university, words I have heard from the pulpit, and of course, what I hear on TV. It is hard for the general public to think the majority of Christians are loving towards gay people when the worst of us make headlines (I speak of protests at military funerals by the “God Hates Fags” group, and the ridiculous statements of conservative leaders blaming homosexuals for 9-11 and Katrina). Maybe that isn’t the general case, and I hope it isn’t, but what is the average Joe or Josephine on the street supposed to make of us when that is all they hear?
“sometimes I even think the left uses that debate to further their grasp of political power”
I agree with that, but the right does it, too. I think both the left and the right would be in trouble if voters started ignoring abortion and homosexual issues. These wedge issues mobilize both bases, and both bases include single issue voters (I was once one of them). So, in short, I see little evidence that those issues will ever go away–that wouldn’t be politically prudent.
Your comments about Craswell are telling–the human heart is fickle indeed. The thing is, we can’t legislate morality. I am moving in the direction that Christians would do themselves a huge favor if they simply shut up and live the life of Christ. If we disagree with how the world lives, then let’s show with our actions and lives how Kingdom of God life is healthier and more productive than the life the world offers. Those who live in the world can’t change their lives without the power of Christ, so why do we continue to insist they do? And why are we so threatened by the actions of the world? Our reactions speak to me of a fundamental lack of trust of God. Our commission is not to rid the world of sin, but to make disciples. So where does politics fit into that? It’s a good question for a political Christian blog.



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William Wallis

posted July 9, 2007 at 12:20 pm


Squeaky, you note some interesting things:
“Seems like a pretty strong statement, bordering on idolatry. You are saying conservativism never has and (presumably) never will make a mistake.”
Actually, I was using Rick’s words against him. He was the one who said that he would acknowledge that he was wrong about conservatives only when we changed. So, I was using his reasoning against him, which, as you note, is bad reasoning. I’m simply living up to Rick’s presumptuous expectations of me. He said that he gets abused by conservatives, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. Conservatives certainly make their share of mistakes. The 109th Congress is a great example. Another example was my attempt to come here and debate issues. The moment I started here I was labeled a power-hungry conservative, which is presumptuous indeed! I had hoped that Christians would be willing to listen, but Rick has made numerous assumptions about conservatives and has stopped listening. You make a great (albeit one-sided) point about this below.
“Rick Nowlin asks you not to label him, and you insist on it. It’s easy on these faceless blogs to label each other, but I ask that you would refrain from that tendency and acknowledge that we are ALL far more complex than our words here might indicate. When you label someone, you make assumptions about that person, and you stop listening because you assume you know what they think. ”
I asked Rick Nowlin not to label me, yet he INSISTED on it from the start. I have not once used the word liberal here to define someone, yet Rick’s presumptions about all conservatives were instantaneous. Rick is like a child who pokes his friend with a stick and says you’re a bad person and then when his friend gets angry at being poked by the stick, it proves the point. Self-fulfilling prophecy at work. And he won’t back down. What’s the point of trying to discuss anything with those who won’t back down?



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squeaky

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:00 pm


Sorry–I admit I haven’t been reading your discussion in enough detail.
Well, the thing is, you will start see the labels and stereotypes from both sides, not just what you have identified in Nowlin’s comments. Perhaps you will start to see that more and more if you stay here longer.
Maybe the bigger question is why keep poking at each other at all? Isn’t it childish from all sides?
“He said that he gets abused by conservatives, and I didn’t want to disappoint him.”
Isn’t that just feeding the fire? This is a Christian blog, and why we can’t engage in honest discussion without labeling each other is beyond me. There is no Biblical or Godly support for this rhetoric. Now we are reaching the stage of “he started it”. Why does that matter? It doesn’t justify this meaningless and unproductive discussion, does it? If we really want to make a difference in this world, we will stop engaging in petty debates in the same way the world engages in them. You are all better than that. It starts with us and how we treat each other. Hopefully one of you will take the initiative to make ammends here. I’ll start by apologizing for any offense I have ever caused anyone in these discussions. I do try to word my thoughts carefully, but I know sometimes I am not successful in my efforts. So from now on, I pledge to always temper my words with the love of Christ, and ask your forgiveness when I fail. I hope you all join me in that pledge–maybe then we can have fruitful discussions…



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Wolverine

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:29 pm


Squeaky,
The word “liberal” is neither outrageous nor obscene, hence it cannot be inappropriate to apply it to an individual whose postings have almost always fit in with a liberal political agenda.
While I’m always open to a reasoned argument that I have misapplied a label, I must insist on my right to use appropriate labels. Let me explain why:
Typically sentences in the English language consist of a subject, verb, and predicate. Subjects and predicates are usually either composed of nouns or pronouns that in turn relate to other nouns. Consequently nouns are important parts of speech, and the ability to apply nouns to things or people, a process you refer to as “labelling”, is essential to communication.
If you don’t like labelling, I suggest that you beginning wrtiting entirely in verbs and modifiers. Until then, I shall continue to apply the “Duck Test” and call both things and people what they are.
In the political sense, at least, Rick Nowlin is a liberal. And no amount of airy postmodern epistemology is likely to change that.
Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted July 9, 2007 at 2:02 pm


“Can you admit that what you believe MIGHT be empirically wrong or come from a faulty premise? That is always my argument and one that has gained steam over the past few years.”
Possibly. But you cannot prove that an ideology is empirically wrong simply by casting aspersions on the motives of it’s proponents, past or present. Whether or not the movement is gaining steam is a matter of debate, but is insufficient to persuade me.



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canucklehead

posted July 9, 2007 at 3:27 pm


And thus didst Squeaky propose an abstinence pledge.
I was just thinking that didn’t Brian McLaren post something a couple of weeks ago about helpful rather than hurtful dialogue? Perhaps the nature of this thread underlines of the problems with modern North American Christianity – the problem is not that we don’t know the truth, the problem is that we (willingly?) don’t live the truth.
I’ve been as guilty as anyone here in this regard and am trying (with the help of Allah) to improve. Accordingly, and as penance, I have sentenced myself to watching The 700 Club all summer. Brethren, pray for me.



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William Wallis

posted July 9, 2007 at 3:28 pm


For the record, I apologized to Rick, but my apology was deleted by a moderator.



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squeaky

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:22 pm


Wallis–I saw that. Thanks for your efforts! What’s up with the moderator? Sheesh–try to make nice around here! Makes me wonder about the moderator’s motives! I demand an answer, oh Moderator in the Sky!
“the problem is not that we don’t know the truth, the problem is that we (willingly?) don’t live the truth.”
the problem is, the truth just isn’t very fun or exciting. Nothing like letting loose a good slam every now and then…



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Hali

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:52 pm


canucklehead:
“I’ve been as guilty as anyone here in this regard and am trying (with the help of Allah) to improve. Accordingly, and as penance, I have sentenced myself to watching The 700 Club all summer. Brethren, pray for me.”
God help you! I will keep you in my prayers :)



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Hali

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:56 pm


Stephen Robishaw:
“It is truly a blessing to be a part of what Dr. King referred to as the ‘Beloved Community.'”
Stephen, I am so happy that you found such a wonderful church.



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squeaky

posted July 9, 2007 at 5:05 pm


“God help you! I will keep you in my prayers :)”
I was going to say something like that, but then I thought people might think me a hypocrite =).



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bren

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:38 pm


TimR has said: I can’t take credit for the dramatic reduction in poverty in Southeast Asia. They opened their markets and created wealth the old fashioned way: working for it.
In fact, Tim, you as an American can take credit for sustaining high levels of poverty in Southeast Asia because of America’s economic policies both as a country (subsidies of farmers, esp. corn and cotton) and through its appointment on the World Bank and the World Bank’s REQUIREMENT for debt relief that Third World countries be open to international “investment” and to privatisation of such things as water, schooling, and so on. Why do so many African children still not attend school? Because World Bank rules say you can’t have public school, you have to pay for school. Just as you can’t drink clean water unless you pay for it first.
And where all this fits with the discussion of ‘family’ is that James Dobson has said many times that discussion of things like poverty distracts from the “much more important issues” of abortion and same-sex marriage.
Me, I’m still waiting for a wide range of Christian comment about recent racist activities in the U.S. such as the white students who designated a tree “the white tree” and placed nooses in the tree when black students dared to sit under the tree with, sad to say, only black kids getting charged by police. Are abortion and same-sex marriage really more important than how my black brothers and sisters are being treated? Are they ‘them’ (i.e., Other, not human) or are they part of the family of God? If they are family, what are the broad range of Christians doing to make this visible?



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:09 pm


Now that things have cooled down at least a bit…
My problem is not with modern conservatism itself, though I have some serious problems with it and make no apologies for saying so. But it seems that every place where there’s a discussion — and not just here — whenever someone — and not just I — criticizes it just a little bit people who subscribe to that ideology start going crazy, insisting that our opinions are uninformed or based on “socialism,” that we’re people who hate God/religion/church/America/free enterprise etc. None of these are true and most of those diatribes are completely unfair, and frankly I’m tired of that. In fact, the beginning of this thread got it started — again — because someone criticized the conservatives (but, in this case, for pushing people like him out).
Furthermore, I too don’t appreciate the “family values” folks thinking that they speak for me, and I’ve personally challenged some local people who set themselves up as the “moral arbiters” for society — in fact, though I always have been an evangelical, in the 1980s I wouldn’t worship in an evangelical church because of its general commitment to conservative ideology (in those days I went to a “mainline” church). “Non-conforming” Christians like me until recently had little role in the evangelical church, and I had to fight just to be heard in many cases. Today, however, thanks to people like Jim Wallis, voices like mine are finally being heard — and, based on their constant attacks on Wallis for his politics and even his theology, apparently conservatives feel quite threatened. To me, that speaks of a deep insecurity, that they really don’t have the courage of their convictions.
Among the unfair things said about Wallis is the charge that he’s trying to curry favor with the Democratic Party in the same way conservatives did with the GOP. It’s unfair because until recently Wallis languished in (relative) obscurity, and I’m sure that many of the conservatives never even heard of Sojourners until just a couple of years ago (I first heard about it in the mid-1980s and actually found it a tad too liberal for me). But Wallis, as I’ve said before, has been doing what he’s been doing since the early 1970s, and even if he weren’t “hot” today he’d still be doing it. He’s been around longer than Moral Majority and Focus on the Family and will continue to argue for Biblical justice even after the spotlight leaves him, as it eventually must. He, unlike James Dobson, doesn’t spend time or money raising money against some imaginary bogeyman, and his fundraising letters are hardly inflammatory (I’ve received some of them); when he does go off against the ideological right he bases his comments on items on record that no one can misinterpret. I find it amazing that he would pay tribute to Jerry Falwell, a man who insulted him because he’s not a conservative (and who would probably not do the same for him)!
On top of that, I really have done plenty of research on the political right, since the 1980s but much more recently, and to the best of my understanding everything I’ve said is true and can be backed up with multiple sources. That said, for that reason I understand how and where things will eventually go, which is why I have so little patience with it, especially today. I’m especially offended because my job is in media, who are especially disparaged for being “liberal,” and that charge directly resulted in our country now being stuck in Iraq (because the Bush administration refused to talk to “hostile” reporters).
But on a theological level, I would hope that people can appreciate Robishaw’s commentary, because at least he has returned to faith in Christ. And isn’t that the MOST IMPORTANT thing?



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William Wallis

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:37 pm


“But it seems that every place where there’s a discussion — and not just here — whenever someone — and not just I — criticizes it just a little bit people who subscribe to that ideology start going crazy, insisting that our opinions are uninformed or based on “socialism,” that we’re people who hate God/religion/church/America/free enterprise etc. None of these are true and most of those diatribes are completely unfair, and frankly I’m tired of that.”
Criticizes it just a little bit? You are said that “there’s no real thoughtfulness and depth to [our] convictions; [we] just react.”
We’re also “phony” and hungry for power according to you, and I can empathize with “diatribes [that] are completely unfair,” except in my case, they are coming from you, Rick. “[F]rankly I’m tired of that.”



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Payshun

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:10 pm


Criticizes it just a little bit? You are said that “there’s no real thoughtfulness and depth to [our] convictions; [we] just react.”
We’re also “phony” and hungry for power according to you, and I can empathize with “diatribes [that] are completely unfair,” except in my case, they are coming from you, Rick. “[F]rankly I’m tired of that.”
Me:
Yah I can see that. I would say his criticisms are valid when it comes to some issues (ie intelligent design, gay marriage, the war in Iraq, and stem cell research to name a few.) But those of us on the left are not much better, if better at all.
p



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:08 pm


Criticizes it just a little bit? You are said that “there’s no real thoughtfulness and depth to [our] convictions; [we] just react.”
Once again, you prove my point, which is precisely why I said what I did. Remember, as I have said before, I know conservatives so well that at time I can predict almost what they say and how they say it. It happened — again– on this thread, and I didn’t even start the argument.
We’re also “phony” and hungry for power according to you, and I can empathize with “diatribes [that] are completely unfair,” except in my case, they are coming from you, Rick. “[F]rankly I’m tired of that.”
Sorry, but what I’m saying is completely fair. If it weren’t I would expect a lower temperature from the people I’ve gone to “war” with — because they wouldn’t need to “defend themselves” against yet another “liberal onslaught.” When you’re looking for enemies you will find them, real or not. Remember, again, who was “slighted” at the beginning of this thread — it wasn’t the “liberals.”



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squeaky

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:36 pm


Thanks Canucklehead,
Hey, by the way, I recently drove across your beautiful country from Montreal through “northern” Ontario (Sudbury region) and into Michigan. Gorgeous country! Where abouts are you from?
Cheers,
Lea



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Anonymous

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:47 pm


“Such a shame. I don’t understand why people who disagree with every single thing an organization stands for will hang around and attack, attack, attack. I guess the trick is to not read the comments, just the articles.” – Jim II
“‘I guess the trick is to not read the comments, just the articles.’
“Why not? You seem bothered by the dissent. Don’t read it. Or, alternately, read it and be quiet. Or, alternately, read it and engage it.” – Kevin S.
It seems clear that the writer, Jim II, is NOT “bothered by the dissent,” but by the attacking nature of so much of it in this blog. It is SO very possible to have and express dissent, to engage with differing perspectives, etc., in a respectful manner and tone. Far too many posters here choose to not do so.
Amen to Nickerson’s earlier comment – all about style, tone of comments…and simple courtesy:
“I agree with the comment about the attack style comments. Most of the comments that appear regularly after each letter come close to violating the rules of the host site, Belief.net, as well as the Christian value of judging, etc. There simply is a lack of courtesy and decency.” – Nickerson
Please, people, let’s express our differing opinions and perspectives, but leave out the off-putting sarcasm, personal put-downs, etc.



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William Wallis

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:00 am


“I know conservatives so well”
Rick, you know JACK SQUAT about me.
“Sorry, but what I’m saying is completely fair.”
No, Rick, it’s not. Frankly, I’m very tired of it.
Do you realize that there is a person here?



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William Wallis

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:16 am


“It is SO very possible to have and express dissent, to engage with differing perspectives, etc., in a respectful manner and tone.”
I agree, and that’s what I had hoped for in coming to this blog. Yet the moment I got here, I was labeled as having no thoughtfulness or depth to my convictions, a phony, and hungry for power, all because I am for the most part a conservative. How can dialogue take place when I am condemned from the outset? I shouldn’t have to prove myself to Rick.



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jurisnaturalist

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:21 am


Squeaky,
“my current directions are taking me closer and closer to the realization that the use of political means to bring about the Kingdom of God on this Earth is a fundamentally flawed practice,”
Hoooooray!!!!!!!
This thread has been very silly.
Re: gay marriage. Just stop sanctioning heterosexual marriage by the state. Relinquish the “reward” it offers, and insist on equal treatment for all under the law. In other words, take away the artificial incentive, and people will automatically act more honestly.
Re: What is a liberal? Well, some would call me a “Classical Liberal” in the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, Hume, Jefferson, Jackson, etc.
Liberals tend to want to use the power of the state to force people to be nice. Conservatives tend to want to use the power of the state to force people to be good.
I want the state to have less power so no one can force anyone to do anything but respect other people’s rights.
But ya’ll keep at it. It must be entertaining or you would have dropped it some time ago.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 10, 2007 at 8:04 am


Do you realize that there is a person here?
Do YOU realize that?
You know, Martin Luther King Jr. was often accused by conservatives of being a “troublemaker” because of his campaigns and he created a great deal of resentment on that side of the political fence that still smolders today. But he would tell you that he only shed light on the problems that already existed but that some people simply refused to see, let alone address.
You have said that you came to this blog simply to exchange ideas, but your true colors have eventually shown themselves — Squeaky even brought that up. If you’re really interested in good, honest debate you need to be willing to address the flaws in your thinking rather than attack those who say that there are flaws in the first place. Indeed, as I said earlier, they do exist in conservative ideology, but so many conservatives I know defend it with everything they have and attack those who say even a peep against it — and when you do that people suspect that you’re self-deceived.
And another thing to remember: There are not always two or more legitimate sides to every issue; some things are absolutely true and others are absolutely false, and to think otherwise represents a form of “moral relativism.” Some mechanisms work; others are doomed to failure from the outset. For that reason, though I’m considered a liberal, I subscribe to no consistent ideology; I moved a bit to the right in the 1970s in some areas but found myself drifting left in the late 1990s, all depending on the issue and the times.



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Wolverine

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:07 am


Rick Nowlin wrote:
My problem is not with modern conservatism itself, though I have some serious problems with it and make no apologies for saying so.
Now I’m not a perfect grammarian, but this is just a fascinating sentence. If I read it right, Rick is saying simultaneously that he does not have a problem with modern conservatism, and that he has some serious problems with modern conservatism.
It seems to me that Rick wants to be thought of as an open-minded fellow, but in his core he is utterly closed-minded and he knows it.
And that’s understandable. A lot of conservatives were wrong about the civil rights movement (does that count as “addressing your faults”, Rick? Even partial credit?) and I have to imagine that if I were a black man I’d have a d****d hard time forgiving or forgetting about that.
But it appears to me that Rick has made this grievance the linchpin of his entire political outlook. Given the importance of civil rights — especially for a black man — this is understandable. But it is ultimately a mistake, and quite possibly a colossal one, because no matter how spectacularly wrong conservatives might have been about civil rights, that doesn’t mean we haven’t gotten a lot of other issues right.
Wolverine



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2007 at 10:51 am


Braveheart
“I was labeled as having no thoughtfulness or depth to my convictions, a phony, and hungry for power, all because I am for the most part a conservative. ”
I tried to find where Rick said that, and I can’t. Could be I just don’t see it, or it was removed by the moderator. I don’t see anywhere where he personally attacked you in this way.
If your beef is that is what you get from his comments about conservativism, please realize the same sweeping generalizations are made about liberalism, too. Perhaps you are too new to this blog to have seen that yet. Does it make it right? No, of course not, but before you take stuff so personally, realize the same generalizations come from all sides.
If you came to debate policy, my suggestion is to stop haggling over such little offenses and debate policy. There have been many great points raised on this particular thread, but you can’t get past the perceived insult you feel you received at the outset to see them–a shame, because an honest discussion could have actually happened here, but too many have insisted on debating who is insulting whom. As a more liberally-minded person, I have had to ignore the slams against liberal ideology, too, so don’t think you are alone in receiving insults. Move beyond it, and maybe you will get what you were hoping for out of this blog. Instead, you are encouraging what you hoped not to find…



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:01 am


If I read it right, Rick is saying simultaneously that he does not have a problem with modern conservatism, and that he has some serious problems with modern conservatism.
I thus probably should clarify exactly what I mean. I accept that it exists, though for very good reasons I have strong disagreements with it, in part because I fear the long-term consequences. If there were some way conservatives would address such I probably would have more respect for it while still maintaining my basic criticisms — but, in my experience, they just won’t.
Given the importance of civil rights — especially for a black man — this is understandable. But it is ultimately a mistake, and quite possibly a colossal one, because no matter how spectacularly wrong conservatives might have been about civil rights, that doesn’t mean we haven’t gotten a lot of other issues right.
The trouble is that civil rights — or specifically, the opposition to such — turned into one of the linchpins of modern conservatism pretty early on. That’s precisely, for example, how and why Southern conservatives, nominally Democratic; and, indirectly, Southern evangelicals, generally apolitical, ended up in the Republican Party. I’m not saying that conservatives are themselves racist — Barry Goldwater certainly wasn’t and to his dying day considered opposition to the Civil Rights Act one of his biggest blunders, and William F. Buckley Jr. conceded publicly a few years ago that the feds indeed did have to intervene down South — they certainly exploited the racism that already existed. When Reagan made campaign comments about “welfare queens” and Nixon beforehand talked about “law and order,” everyone knew just what they were talking about.
That’s also why you won’t hear African-Americans complain about “big government” — it was government at all levels, especially the feds, that began to secure justice. Given that history, conservative complaints even about “big government,” including court decisions, can be construed as racist. In addition, “Reaganomics” actually made the poor poorer, but since the poor really never had a voice in those days no one noticed.
I wonder if you ever heard of a guy named Grover Norquist. Officially the head of Americans for Tax Reform, he’s more accurately the de facto leader of today’s conservative movement; he has sponsored weekly Wednesday meetings of conservative activists for a couple of decades, bascially to plot strategy against those who disagree with them. Based on his public pronouncements — they’re on the record — he’s a pretty nasty, disrespectful guy. (Even up to right before the last general election he referred to Democrats as animals who had been “fixed” in referring to what he believed would be their “permananent minority status” — “They’ll get used to it.”)
As I’ve been saying all along, the conservatives thus do get a lot of things wrong because they’re committed to an unrealistic worldview; the war in Iraq remains the most obvious example but hardly the only one.



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Wolverine

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:15 am


Whoever you are, what you were looking for was right at the top.
Rick Nowlin wrote:
That’s done primarily to raise money and passion for the sake of their own authority, hardly to propagate the historic Christian faith. What really motivates their brethren on the political right? Power. (And now that’s going down the tubes.)
This was his first post on this thread, and was his response to my argument that “Sojo’s constant repeating of the meme that the Christian right only uses ‘family values’ as a media tactic blinds them to an understanding of what really motivates their brethren on the political right.”
Now he didn’t single out William Wallis, but he did make that accusation of conservatives in general without any allowance for exceptions, and Wallis considers himself a conservative, therefore…
The bottom line is that Rick Nowlin could not go one post without labelling conservatives as power-hungry phonies. Which he is allowed to do, of course, but let’s not pretend he hasn’t made the accusation.
Wolverine



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William Wallis

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:24 am


“I tried to find where Rick said that, and I can’t. Could be I just don’t see it, or it was removed by the moderator. I don’t see anywhere where he personally attacked you in this way.”
Here:
“In other words, there’s no real thoughtfulness and depth to their convictions; they just react.
Posted by: Rick Nowlin | July 6, 2007 7:26 PM”
“It seems to me that Rick wants to be thought of as an open-minded fellow, but in his core he is utterly closed-minded and he knows it.”
Exactly.



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William Wallis

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:26 am


“Now he didn’t single out William Wallis, but he did make that accusation of conservatives in general without any allowance for exceptions, and Wallis considers himself a conservative, therefore…
The bottom line is that Rick Nowlin could not go one post without labelling conservatives as power-hungry phonies. Which he is allowed to do, of course, but let’s not pretend he hasn’t made the accusation.”
Exactly.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:42 am


Wolverine — It was indeed that very first comment you made that got the ball rolling in the first place. Of course it’s ultimately about power — what else could it be? That is to say, things would be so much better if we were running things, which isn’t necessarily the case, and thus I don’t see how making that observation could be labeled as a personal attack. Now, if the desire truly was for the benefit of all I could accept and even agree with that, but they never consulted with people outside their purview and still will not do so.



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squeaky

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:54 am


And no conservative here has ever labeled liberals (you yourself have done that, Wolverine–I’ve been here long enough to see that). That is what I find disengenous about your protests. Own up to your own stereotypes if you expect Rick to do same.
You’ve spent the entire thread on this. How very, very sad. Even sadder is you don’t even see how sad it is. Case in point–I made a pretty good suggestion about debating policy if you came here to debate policy, and ignore what you see as stereotypes, but you guys ignored it completely. Instead, you decided to just keep writing on how insulted you feel.
Oddly–the comment on power started this whole thing. If politics isn’t about power, what is it about? Both liberals and conservatives are seeking power. Any election IS a power struggle. And when the political insert I saw in a church bulletin had the heading “Take Back America” what is that about if it isn’t about power? So that obvious statement by Rick sparked this whole nonsensical argument.
Please resist the temptation to point fingers or make excuses. Think about it.
Cheers.



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Wolverine

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm


Rick,
The problem is the implication of bad faith — that we don’t really believe in the causes we espouse so much as we use them as “talking points”.
To be fair, you weren’t the first. And it wasn’t me either…
Stephen Robishaw wrote:
The divisive rhetoric of so-called “family values” from prominent conservative evangelical organizations—who use it as an effective media sound bite—has disillusioned enough people from political engagement, not to mention the Christian faith itself. (emphasis added)
Which is why some lefties have expressed the opinion that it’s best to read the articles and ignore the comments. That way you get to see the accusations without having to bother with the defense.
Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:07 pm


Squeaky,
I freely admit to levelling accusations, labelling, and occasional snarkiness.
The difference is: I can back up my accusations with specifics, my labels are mostly accurate, and my snarks are rather clever if I do say so myself.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:10 pm


And Robishaw is exactly right about that; for that reason the misuse of religion for the sake of a merely “political” campaign that forces people to choose sides really makes my blood boil. But I don’t have the option of leaving; since I’m committed to the historic Christian faith — really, I have nowhere else to go — I have no choice but to fight for what I believe is right, and if it means I have to skirmish with other Christians in the process, so be it. Simply “getting along” when we’re in my view on the wrong track is not acceptable — as a said earlier, some things are right and others are wrong.



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jurisnaturalist

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:49 pm


Snark happens. It is a fun rhetorical device. It makes the snarker laugh, and the confident snarkee (fun word!) will also chuckle a bit before responding with a strong logical position. To attack the snark is to have no sense of humor, to be defensive, and to distracted by straw men.
If the medium is so completely the message all that is real is rhetoric, and ideas and logic become the straw men.
Consider carefully, which is to be preferred?
Nathanael Snow



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Anonymous

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:38 pm


I can back up my accusations with specifics, my labels are mostly accurate, and my snarks are rather clever if I do say so myself.Wolverine
You would need to, as most don’t share your view of your own wittiness.



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Payshun

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm


You know the funny thing about this conversation is that the conservatives on this board don’t really point out the alternative to Rick’s statements. I don’t understand that. If you did not want to come here and have a meaningful dialogue answer the criticism.
YOu don’t have to prove yourselves to Rick but you do have to prove yourselves period. We all do. I am the only green party hippy liberal on this board and I have been mischaracterized constantly. If people don’t understand what I write or have the guts to respond then that’s fine. But you all want a pass and not face any real criticism about your ideology. I am glad Rick is here because he constantly attacks your ideology, your philosophical framework and your political beliefs.
The bad part is that he can sometimes be percieved as attacking your faith. I can freely admit that I have done that and I am sorry if that has hurt you but there is a point to my criticisms and for that matter’s Rick’s and very few of you have had the guts to deal and write about any of them.
p



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canucklehead

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:29 pm


Hi Lea, I live in Calgary, Alberta where we don’t consider Quebec or Ontario the real Canada at all :)
Calgary (pop.= just over a mil) is 2.5 hours due north of Great Falls, Montana, in the heart of the Canadian oilpatch and on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies. Houston is our sister city and accordingly (oil) Calgary has more Americans per capita than any other city outside the lower 48.
Glad you enjoyed your visit to Ontario. I went to school in Chgo and loved the midwest, especially the colors of Fall.



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