Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Theological Tuesday

~Bible Stories 38: The Stoning of Stephen (Acts 7-8)
~Is prayer only about words?
~Why did David put away his concubines?
~Was John the Baptist right to confront Herod’s adultery?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ethics: Should you have a DVD/VCR in your car?

Children watch television these days, lots and lots of television. And, as a concession to the television culture, all minivans these days come with at least the option of having a VCR/DVD player in them. But is it good to have such a device in the car? After all, it’s not as though kids have a lot of other options for the use of their time in the constrained quarters. It certainly keeps them entertained and mostly quiet. But is there a downside in terms of anything worth mentioning? And how does the presence of television alter the nature and value of a long drive, such as for family vacations? Is boredom an inherently unhealthy condition?

What’s wrong with boredom? by CS Monitor

How Is Your Spouse Weird?

Relationship books are great, especially if you are starting from a position of knowing nothing about how to relate to the opposite gender. But relationship books all have one significant flaw: they are books about spouses, not about your spouse. And, as with so many other things, what is true for most women may not be true for your woman, and what is true for most men may not be true for your man. Perhaps your wife doesn’t like jewelry or chocolate. Perhaps your husband is the talker in the relationship. So, both for the sake of a little fun and also to demonstrate this point, I’d like us to talk about some things about our spouses which don’t fit the model laid out in relationship books for most spouses.

To husbands: how to have a great wife by Andrew Tallman
His needs, her needs by Willard Harley
The five love languages by Steven Chapman

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wacky Wednesday--No-Fault Divorce Makes Sense

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~NFD stops involving the courts in whether a divorce is legitimate.
~It discourages exaggeration because no fault-finding is necessary.
~Frees up both parties to marry again.
~Avoids the taint of guilt.
~It takes two to make a marriage fail.
~No one is ever truly innocent.
~The old standards were too high. (Adultery, abuse, neglect, abandonment.)
~Makes it easier to get out of bad marriages.
~Has led to reduced rates of domestic violence.
~If a divorce is going to happen, we should try to make it as painless as possible, especially for children.
~Reduces the heavy load and difficulty of family courts.
~Financial settlements become based on need not on fault.
~Shortens the time for getting a divorce, which is good for both sufferers.

Links on No Fault Divorce (NFD):
Arizona Covenant Marriage by AZ Supreme Court

No-Fault Divorce by Wikipedia
The Issue of NFD by Cathy Meyer
FAQ on NFD by Nolo.com
Index to some readings on NFD
Has NFD made marriages stronger? by Reason.com
Don’t let divorce off the hook by NY Times
Five myths about NFD by Stephen Baskerville
A debate on NFD by Legal Affairs

Wacky Wednesday--We Should Get Rid Of Money

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~If it weren’t for money, there would be no debt (or debt collectors).
~You wouldn’t have gambling (or gambling addiction).
~You wouldn’t have prostitution (it always begins at the time of money).
~You couldn’t have bizarre financial instruments like got us into this current crisis.
~Without money, there is no possibility of having interest. God hates usury, right?
~The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. If there’s no money, then by definition there can’t be any love of money.
~There’d be no inflation.
~Money has no intrinsic worth. So getting rid of it doesn’t affect the world one single bit.
~Governments wouldn’t be able to manipulate money, currency markets, and mismanage money.
~Money entices people to do things they don’t want to do anyhow and don’t really believe in.
~If it weren’t for money, we could all do what God built us to do.
~Without money, you wouldn’t have beggars and the need to feel bad about not giving them your money.
~There’d be no taxes.
~How greedy can you be when there’s no money?
~Money reinforces the notion of desert and earning things, which translates into really counterproductive theology
~God’s kingdom is about giving and receiving, not buying and selling.
~Think of how much good could be created by all the people currently involved in the banking, finance, and even just the Treasury if we didn’t have money.
~How would you have hoarding without money?
~Money and relativism go hand in hand.
~Money gives power to the wrong people and lets value be placed on the wrong things.

Links on Money:
Home of the Brave? by Altruists.org

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Theological Tuesday

~Bible Stories 37: The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)
~Is prayer only about words?
~Did Jesus have childhood friends?
~Is church optional for Christians?
~Why did David put away his concubines?

Links on the Tower of Babel:
John Wesley’s Commentary by StudyLight.org
Adam Clarke’s Commentary by StudyLight
David Guzik’s Commentary by StudyLight
Matthew Henry’s Commentary by StudyLight
James Love sermon
Manfred Schreyer by SpiritRestoration.org
Susan Leo by BridgeportUCC.org
Don Fortner by FreeGrace.net
Peter Neale by CRBC.co.uk
HG Taylor

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ethics: Sneetches and the ethics of exclusion

Dr. Seuss was a brilliant crafter of moral allegories. One of the most well-known is a short story called simply, The Sneetches, in which a shyster comes to take all the money of a small community simply by finding a way to profit from their class divisions and class envy. It was certainly meant by Seuss as an antidote to racism, but like so many other Seuss works (especially Horton Hears a Who), he overshot unintentionally. I think there’s much broader implications to this story, especially for Christians. So tonight we’ll talk about it.

What do you love about your job?

Chances are that you don’t ask yourself this question a lot. If you love your job enthusiastically, answering this might be easy. If you don’t love your job, it could be that you’re in one that’s wrong for you, but it could also be that you’re in the right one and don’t deliberately remind yourself of just how good you have it. Me, I’m fascinated by what people do and why they do it, so I thought it would be both a great opportunity to learn about some of you and also a chance to remind people how to be happier in their own jobs to talk about this subject today.

5 keys to job satisfaction by Mary Foley
Take this job and love it by Psychology Today
Top 10 job expectations by Career Key

Anti-FOCA petition

The Freedom of Choice Act would attempt to establish abortion on demand without any restrictions as a federal right just one shade short of a Constitutional protection. It would eliminate all federal restrictions (such as the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban) and could entail the elimination of all state efforts to reduce abortion, such as waiting periods, parental consent, and government funding restrictions. Barack Obama has pledged to support this as one of his first priorities in office. Click here to sign the online petition and help stop this radical bill from becoming law.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wacky Wednesday--It’s Good For Teens To Watch Racy TV

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~They’re going to be exposed to it anyway, why try to limit it?
~What you watch doesn’t determine how you behave. Most of us watch things that we do not act upon regularly such as adultery, murder, violence, drug use, profanity, lying, and all sorts of criminal activity.
~How do you build up a tolerance to something without exposing yourself to it?
~This is how vaccinations work.
~The racy shows are the shows that everyone is watching, and keeping your kids out would make them weirdos.
~Learning how to handle it rather than how to avoid it is the key to adult Christianity.
~These are teachable moments and you can teach your children how to teach other people’s children. But if they’re ignorant, they won’t be able to teach anyone.
~It’s no different than letting them read common teen magazines like Cosmo and YM.
~Just because you see something doesn’t mean you do it.
~The Bible is full of racy activity. Should kids not read that, either?
~A massive amount of classic literature and art is about love, passion, and sexual misbehavior.
~Should children not be exposed to these things either?

Wacky Wednesday--We Should Be Fake At Church

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~Church should be a foretaste of heaven, and so we should do our best to represent heaven here and now. If we were real and honest with people, this would certainly not be a great reflection of heaven.
~“Fake it until you make it,” works. Just give it a try, and you’ll see.
~We want people to like us so that they learn to like Christ.
~We are the walking Bible for most people, when you start acting like it (even if it isn’t really true inside) people will start responding.
~If one guy smiles and shakes my hand because he thinks he’s supposed to and another guy smiles and shakes my hand because he really wants to, what’s the real difference to me?
~More people will like you.
~It’s a good witness to visitors.
~Your example will inspire others to live better.
~Isn’t this why you dress up? You’re presenting your best you to God for worship.
~Who would like you if you were really honest?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Theological Tuesday

Bible Stories 36: Desert Rebellions (Numbers 16-17, 21)
Is prayer only about words?
Does morality matter for Christians?
Why did David put away his concubines?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Do The Rich Owe Us?

I recently wrote an article on exactly this question, and I want that to be the launching point for our discussion in the second hour. Based on the response I got from some Christian forums, the idea that the rich owe everyone else is a deeply held belief that many people have. It’s even represented in the archetype of Robin Hood, who took from the rich to give to the poor. But does this belief come from an accurate view of money? Is this belief compatible with what the Bible teaches about money? Supposing that the rich do not owe us, does that mean that they have no moral obligations with regard to their money? Do moral obligations equate to an obligation?

Whom Do You Despise?

For most of us “good Christians,” our first response to this question is to say that we despise no one. After all, we are called to love everyone, and despising anyone would be a violation of that command. Okay. But back to reality. If we’re honest with ourselves (first) and others (second), most of us despise some people. In fact, it’s probably true that an awful lot of us despise an awful lot of people. So here’s a slightly easier way to think of it. Who do you look down on? And what does it mean that you look down on them? Who has the capacity to make you angry? And why do you get so angry at them? I don’t so much mean particular people so much as kinds of people. Perhaps it’s people who are wealthier or more beautiful than you. Perhaps it’s fans of the wrong sports team. Perhaps it’s people who have no taste in clothing. Perhaps it’s people who eat unhealthily. Perhaps it’s people who drive rudely. Perhaps it’s subscribers to pornography. Perhaps it’s people who preach heresy. So, today, let’s talk about who you despise and what we can learn from despising.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 Election

U.S. President:
Candidates positions on over 70 issues (excellent resource)
Presidential views by votesmart.org

Arizona State Propositions:
Note: Two years ago, I developed a new paradigm for thinking about propositions. Instead of voting Yes at 51% and No at 49% or less, I now require myself to support the proposition by 75% or more to vote for it. Here's why. When my support for a proposition is less than 3/4, the reason is usually that I don't know enough or can't properly predict the consequences of it. But this is precisely why I elect representatives to act on my behalf, trusting that they will have access to better information and the time to master it. Since I'm not a professional legislator, I don't want to tinker with things that I don't know enough about. In addition, propositions should only be used when we don't believe our elected officials can do what's necessary. Since they are a last resort alternative to representative democracy, my default setting is to vote against them all unless there is overwhelming reason to support one. Hence, anything below 75% support (sort of a personal super-majority) will now be receiving a No vote from me, and you may see me recommend against a proposition even though I support it more than halfway.

Prop 100: Property Tax Reform 97% = Yes Results Passed 77%
Prop 101: Medical Care 80% = Yes Results Failed 49.9% (Pending)
Prop 102: Marriage Amendment 100% = Yes Results Passed 56.5%
Prop 105: Majority Rule on New Taxes 15% = No Results Failed 34.3%
Prop 200: Payday Loans 05% =No Results Failed 40.5%
Prop 201: Homeowners' Bill of Rights 45% = No Results Failed 22.1%
Prop 202: Employer Sanctions 05% = No Results Failed 40.9%
Prop 300: State Legislator Salaries 95% = Yes Results Failed 35.5%

Arizona State Candidates:
Note: We have contacted all the relevant candidates for the Phoenix area for interviews. Below are the candidates who have responded to our request. The rest are apparently scared of my harsh interrogation techniques.

US House Dist 7: Joseph Sweeney (R) (10/15/08)
State Senate Dist 4: Jack Harper (R-2002) (10/13/08)
State Senate Dist 4: Robert Boehlke (D) (Declined Interview)
State Senate Dist 6: Pamela Gorman (R-2006) (10/20/08)
State Senate Dist 6: Jim Larson (D) (10/16/08)
State Senate Dist 7: Jim Waring (R-2002) (10/14/08)

State Senate Dist 7: Dennis Grenier (L) (10/14/08)
State Senate Dist 9: Karen Price (D) (10/13/08)
State Senate Dist 10: Linda Gray (R-2004) (10/15/08)
State Senate Dist 10: Martin Monroe (D) (Declined Interview)

State Senate Dist 14: Debbie McCune Davis (D-2006) (10/20/08)
State Senate Dist 14:
Mike Renzulli (L) (10/29/08)

State Senate Dist 16: Daniel Veres (R) (10/29/08)
State Senate Dist 18: Russell Pearce (R) (10/28/08)
State Senate Dist 18:
Judah Nativio (D) (10/28/08)
AZ Corp Commission:
Marian McClure (R) (10/16/08)

AZ Corp Commission: Sandra Kennedy (D) (Missed Interview)
Maricopa County Attorney: Andrew Thomas (R) (10/28/08)
Mayor Scottsdale: Jim Lane (10/23/08)
Mayor Scottsdale: Mary Manross (10/23/08)

Election Results for Candidates at AZ Republic
Secretary of State Jan Brewer Election Info
PBS 8 on the 2008 Election

Vote Smart Arizona
Arizona Republic on the 2008 Election