Monday, February 28, 2011
17"You shall not covet (Kawmad, to delight in) your neighbor's house; you shall not covet (Kawmad, to delight in) your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Text in Deuteronomy 5:21
21'You shall not covet (Kawmad, to delight in) your neighbor's wife, and you shall not desire (awvaw, to strongly lust for, wish for) your neighbor's house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'
--Don’t set your heart upon, desire, covet, lust after, wish for, imagine yourself having, scheme to get, or consider that you need in order to be happy anything that is forbidden to you because it already belongs to your neighbor.
--There are at least two parts here: wanting what you don’t have and wanting what already does belong to someone.
Friday, February 25, 2011
o I am not in the image of God the truth-teller
o This person is not in the image of God the truth-hearer
o I will trust in my ability to lie rather than in God’s willingness to protect me
o There is something in this life that I need more than God’s approval.
--Why do we normally lie?
o selfishness and
o lack of love for our neighbor and
o failure to trust in God that He will provide as we need by His mechanisms and that In Him we already have everything we truly need.
o We should all tell more truth than we’re inclined to tell because these are the main motives behind our reluctance
o Real love and relationship presupposes knownness and transparency.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
WI union fight heats up (WSJ)
St. Croix teachers may be punished for sickout (CBS)
Pension haves vs have-nots (LA Times)
State troopers sent to find WI Dems (AP)
GOP House ends Planned Parenthood funding (WSJ)
Iowa wrestler defaults rather than face a girl (CBS News)
CBS complicit in news cover-up (Boston Herald)
Somali pirates kill Bible distributors (CT)
Murder of 4 by pirates marks shift (AZR)
MI cuts Detroit public schools in half (Detroit News)
SF may ban infant circumcision (NBC SF)
ASU to offer 7½ week courses (AZR)
New AZ bills even stricter on illegal immigrants (AZR)
AZ Bill against gender-selection-abortion advances (AZR)
Ryan’s charge up entitlement hill (WSJ)
Sex economics 101 (CT)
Video game simulates path to homelessness (ABC)
Obama declines to defend DOMA (ADF)
Read the AG’s letter to Congress (Justice Dept)
Analysis: Obama shifts on gay marriage (AP)
Gay marriage policy changes Q&A (AP)
Mr. Obama moves against bias (NYT)
AZ Senate to tackle pensions (AZR)
AZ considers budget cuts (AZR)
AZ immigration bills aim for crackdown (AZR)
AZ bills a test of federal authority (AZR)
Bieber cuts his hair (CBS “News”)
Sen Reid vs prostitution (Las Vegas Sun)
Prostitution laws in US (Pro Con)
ABC says it’ll kill jobs (ABC “News”)
FB adds two gay relationship status options (CP)
Cellphone use tied to changes in brain activity (NYT)
Why Libya means gas prices spiking (NYT)
Woman pitches to MLB spring trainees (AZR)
Army deploys psy-ops against US Senators (Rolling Stone)
Cycling to work can kill you (Daily Mail)
US pushes mortgage deal (WSJ)
What really happens in a government shutdown? (CSM)
--Humans need God
--Humans need community
--Community needs shared standards
--Community needs reliable communication.
--God is really here declaring the absolute necessity and centrality of trustworthy communication for His community to work.
--And so it becomes vital to the very notion of having a community of people devoted to God’s standards that they would only tell the truth about each other’s adherence or violation of those standards. If I cannot trust my neighbor’s testimony about others, I certainly can’t trust his testimony about me to others, and the communication which undergirds community has been destroyed along with the ability to know whether the standards that define us really are or are not being honored.
--We tend to think of perjury as a violation of some individual’s rights (life, liberty, and or property), and it certainly is. But even more fundamental than this is the violation of the very nature of us having a society and having a system of justice to define and punish the violations against that community.
--Lying about another person’s violation of the standards (and in court, especially) is a denial of the very legitimacy of the society and its institutions.
--A person who commits perjury, then, is really declaring himself an enemy of the community and of the God who forms the standards of it.
--It’s an assault on the integrity of the society as incarnated in its institutions.
--Thus, perjury is really a form of treason. And of course, God is reinforcing the obvious notion that honesty in speech is a core component of His own character.
A ministry to homeless people in North Carolina has created a video game based on interviews with their people that is designed to simulate the difficult decisions and unforeseen hardships which turn ordinary people into homeless people. Although this may seem like a cruel joke, it’s actually intended to create empathy and understanding that homeless people aren’t all that different from you and me, they often just suffer a series of setbacks outside of their control. I don’t know whether people will enjoy playing such a simulation, but if it works to decrease the view that “those people” are different from “our kind of people,” it’s wonderful. After having played it, however, both Bill and I agree that it somewhat backfires. First, the things that happen seem overly pessimistic and unrealistic. Second, even with the setbacks, both of us managed to “win” the game by making frugal money decisions (despite the game not rewarding us properly for the ones we made). The problem here is that this seems mostly to reinforce the bias that “those people” are making their own bad decisions. “See, I made it work, and that’s on top of the game being so heavily rigged with unrealistic results to begin with.” Play it yourself and tell me what you thought.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
~Under the Commerce Clause, the Federal Government can regulate economic activity.
~No one disputes that buying health care and buying health insurance both constitute economic activity.
~Therefore, the Federal Government can certainly regulate interstate commerce by requiring insurance companies to treat people with pre-existing conditions.
~But in doing this, the Federal Government must also prevent the free-rider effects of people only purchasing insurance after they have already gotten injured or sick.
~The only feasible way to prevent these effects is to require all persons to carry health insurance.
~This has the additional benefit of putting everyone’s money into the pool of health insurance premiums and preventing the currently massive costs to health care providers of uninsured persons receiving emergency care at the cost of insured persons.
~In other words, in order to insure the benefits of a functioning national market for a product which is approximately one sixth of the GDP, it is certainly necessary and proper for Congress to mandate that all individuals carry approved health insurance plans.
~If they had enacted this as a tax credit for people who do pay for insurance rather than as a tax penalty against those who do not, we wouldn’t even be having this debate.
~Given that no individual can be sure he will not burden the health care system with the costs of his own care in the near or distant future, no individual should be entitled to ride for free as that system is maintained and paid for by others. This is especially pressing since health care providers are generally obligated to provide (at least emergency) care for people regardless of their ability to pay.
~We require car insurance as a condition of driving.
~This is no more intrusive (and certainly less unusual and costly) than Social Security.
~The idea that this is an unprecedented expansion of federal power against people only engaged in economic inactivity is neither supported by the language of the Constitution nor by the case law.
~The idea that Congress can only do things “expressly” given in Article 1:8 is inaccurate since the drafters of the 10th Amendment had the chance to use the language “expressly” and did not precisely because they thought it would limit the Federal Government too much.
~Congress can require people to do many things: register for the draft, participate in a jury, fill out a tax form, and participate in the Census.
~As a condition of participation in the economic system, Congress requires people to do a vast number of active things in complying with Federal workplace laws of numerous sorts.
Federal Judge: Obamacare void (Heritage)
--And in fact, I often think it would have been ideal for the Ten Commandments to each reiterate the preface before reading each new Commandment, as if it’s distributed to each of the individual commands. Like this:
--I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
--When we read it this way, we see that the root of perjury (and lying in general) is idolatry and a failure to consider who God is.
--If He can be counted upon to deliver us from all sorts of evil and bondage, then we should trust him in the way we communicate, to emulate Him in truthfulness and to trust His power to protect and provide for us rather than our own power to get what we want through deception.
--He will take revenge on evildoers (like the Egyptians) and so we do not need to take matters into our own hands (or mouths) by lying on the witness stand or anywhere else.
--At its root, lying is idolatry, placing either our own power to meet our needs above God’s or saying that what we really need is something we manufacture (like a legal result) rather than whatever God provides.
Texas looks posed to pass a law allowing both teachers and students to carry firearms on college campuses. As a former college teacher, I have no problem with this. I never sought permission to carry a concealed gun to class, but it always seemed foolish to deliberately put so many defenseless people in one place as vulnerable as a classroom. Seeing Israeli teachers with their weapons only reinforced my belief that teachers carrying arms is a useful thing. Whether adult students (college age) should have them is really a question of what we want to declare about college students. To say they aren't competent to do this safely with their own judgment (especially on a college campus, according to some critics) is either a direct assault on their maturity as citizens or an admission that college campuses are the sort of corrosively immoral place that prevents otherwise law-abiding people from behaving properly.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
--At the final judgment, The Devil will try to accuse us of all the things we’ve done wrong, but Jesus will stand there proving that whatever penalty we’ve earned has already been paid by Him.
--But in this life, so much of the time we fail to treat our fellow Christians according to this basic eschatological truth, instead playing the part of Devil’s Advocate ourselves, not in the sense that we argue deliberately for the wrong side, but in the sense that we wind up being like a prosecuting attorney taking up the Devil’s side here and now against someone whose sins have already been fully atoned through Jesus Christ.
--It’s bad enough when we do this against ourselves, feeling condemnation over our sins which the Bible tells us no longer exists, but when another Christian participates in this denial of the Gospel, we are literally being false witnesses against our brothers here and now.
Friday, February 18, 2011
--Clearly, to speak ill of a person when it isn’t true is to commit a kind of murder of their character.
--Treating our enemies with the same respect and honesty due a person on trial.
--Imagine telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when we speak of our opponents, especially when they’re not around.
--The whole idea of perjury is that you either have a personal axe to grind with this person or else you have some material interest in the case.
--So a more ordinary form of perjury would be lying gossip that damages a person for your advantage or out of malice.
--And the underlying structure of what makes this so bad is that you’re perverting communication (a tool for blessing and community) into a device to harm someone, just like perjury turns the justice system (an institution for benefitting the community and making it even possible) into a weapon against someone.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
WI teachers skip school in protest of GOP (WI State Journal)
“Holy Bible” edited out, restored in movie (Hollywood Reporter)
Protests, unrest, police reaction in
Libya: 14 killed in anti-government protests (Jerusalem Post)
The free condom app in NYC (Reuters)
CPAC winners and lowers (Wash Post)
--“I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”
--As in, “May God both help me to do this AND strike me down if I do not.”
--Bring forth everything you know as if you had no agenda or interest in the outcome of the case so that others can decipher the information without your biases.
--Obligated to tell the truth in these proceedings because they lead to the loss of life, liberty, or property of the defendant.
--Turning the system for establishing justice into a mechanism for creating injustice.
--The greatest perversion one could imagine.
--The harshest condemnations in the Bible are not against individual criminals but against kings and leaders who manipulate the law so as to pervert justice and to oppress especially the poor.
--A sort of blasphemy against God, the one true and perfectly just Judge of the universe.
--Deterrence against perjurers.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
You don’t become a person on your birthday, nor change your basic identity on that day. Celebrating conception anniversaries or born-again anniversaries or even baptism day would make a lot more sense.
Why should we buy presents for you on your birthday? Your mom did all the important work.
Parties are expensive, and bad things often happen at them with adults.
Ah, yes, the birthday. That special day where we celebrate those most well-known of Christian virtues: selfishness and self-importance.
Do people eat healthy food at birthday parties?
What day was Jesus born on, according to the Bible? Moses? Abraham? Daniel? Joseph? David?
Birthdays themselves, as well as the particular rites of the birthday are clearly of pagan origin.
Blowing out candles, what does that symbolize in a Christian worldview?
Herod and Pharaoh are the only two explicitly mentioned birthdays, and both had real problems associated with them.
According to Josephus, the Jews never were allowed to celebrate birthdays. It forces us to look backward in our focus over time rather than forward to our deliverance from this body of evil.
Bible References: Genesis 40:20-22, Deut 31:1-2, Job 1:1-5, Eccl 7:1, 7:8, Jeremiah 20:14, Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, John 10:10, Romans 14:4-6
Misc: Birthday (Wikipedia)
Misc: Birthday problem/paradox (Wikipedia)
Con: Are birthday celebrations Christian? (RCG)
Con: Should Christians celebrate Birthdays? (Radio Church of God)
Con: Did early Christians celebrate birthdays? (Church of God)
Con: Did early Christians celebrate birthdays? (Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Pro: Should a Christian celebrate birthdays? (New World)
Pro: Can Christians celebrate birthdays? (Church of Christ)
Pro: Jehovah’s Witnesses and the issue of birthdays (Spotlight)
--The Old Testament rule on perjury was that whatever penalty was to be inflicted against your victim would be visited upon the false testifier.
--This is a simple rule to understand since the person is abusing the legal system to do to someone else what would clearly be a crime if he did it directly. And so he deserves to be punished for that every bit as much as if he were simply doing the act himself. He’s using the courts as his weapon every bit as much as if he used a sword.
16"If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing,
17then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days.
18"The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely,
19then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.
20"The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.
21"Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
31"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
41"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'
44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
45"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
According to this story in the Arizona Republic, the defense attorney for Jared Loughner has blocked release of his mug shot because federal law prohibits it due to the bias it communicates to the potential jury pool of the defendant's guilt through association of guilt with being arrested and visually shown this way. I'm glad for this law and this decision. We gain nothing from seeing such an additional photo of the man, and we want to be sure in all criminal cases that we do everything to preserve both the presumption of innocence and the actual ability to have a fair, unbiased jury pool which renders a verdict on the basis of the evidence alone rather than their expectation of the guilt of the defendant from whatever sources, including a mug shot.
Another card from V-Day at PostSecret. In some ways, this one speaks for itself, and I hesitate to comment. (But since they pay me to comment...) We used to live in a culture where people said, "I'll be the first one in my family to go to college," and now I think this is a painfully reasonable for many adults with divorced parents to say about their own greatest aspiration. How tragic is it to live in a culture which makes this possible? As much ink and handwringing as people spend on not wanting to bequeath a worse ECONOMIC standard of living to their kids, what about the simple goal of not giving them a worse relational standard of living? (Or inflicting so much chaos on them by divorce that they have THIS as their big goal in life!) As a child of divorce, I can tell you there's nothing I despise more than, want to avoid more than, and yet am always fully afraid of than divorce.
Monday, February 14, 2011
16"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Text in Deuteronomy 5:20
20'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
--Most people think this prohibits lying, and they’re not wrong, but this is much more specific than that.
--This is listed after a series of commands prohibiting things for which the punishment was death (idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath violation, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, and kidnapping).
--Since no one has ever held that “mere” lying is a capital offense, it’s really more specific than that.
--This is about testimony in a court of law, and primarily about capital cases.
--If you’re going to have capital offenses (just spelled out), you have to also have a clear bright line rule telling people that lying (perjury) about such matters is itself as serious as committing these offenses.
Friday, February 11, 2011
--A fabulous encapsulation of virtually all of the Bible’s teachings about theft, work, saving, and charity.
--The underlying principle behind the 8th Commandment is the idea that we should be productive with our time, talent, and effort so as to make more value in the world.
--Instead of undermining the system of wealth creation (private property), the thief should be creating value, saving, and transacting with others, ultimately so he can give to the needy.
--One form of greed wants to steal because it wants what others have. The 8th Commandment condemns this.
--The other, equally ferocious form of greed LOVES the 8th Commandment because he can use it to stop others from demanding he give HIS STUFF to them. He wants to keep every last little dime of whatever he thinks is “rightfully his” to spend on his own selfish desires.
--But the Bible roundly condemns both kinds of greed, teaching us to work, create, save, and be in a position to give when people need it.
This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more."