Liberal Grace

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bill O'Reilly's bogus war on Christmas

If schlocky mall music and relentless merchandising weren't enough, you now have another thing to loath about this holiday: Bill O'Reilly's "War on Christmas"

If you watch Fox, you know about the supposed "War on Christmas." If not, here's an article about it: What 'War on Christmas'?

I have two points to make about it:

1) There is no war on Christmas.

2) If there were such a war, I wouldn't want Bill O'Reilly fighting it for me.

Conservatives like to imagine themselves under attack because it justifies their aggression. So, they exaggerate or invent attacks. This is especially true for religious conservatives who need to justify their crusade or jihad or other holy war.

The most I will concede Bill O'Reilly is that there is some silliness about de-religifying Christmas -- "Xmas" this or "Holiday" that. But it's not war.

As a liberal, I am generally against governments or corporations making speech-codes. But, I can understand why Walmart would prefer their employees say "Happy Holidays" since the last thing any business wants is to do is irritate their customers.

As a Christian, I wouldn't mind de-nationalizing Christmas. Turning it into a an unofficial holiday like Easter might allow us Christians to wrestle it back from the merchandises. Of course Bill O'Reilly would have a hissy-fit to end all hissy-fits, but that's just a bonus!

A much better system is for businesses to give their employees something like five days off holiday for religions observances to use as they see fit. I imagine that Jews would rather have time off for Yom Kippur than the much less meaningful Hanukkah. Muslims would appreciate the flexible off-time for Eid which can fall any time of the year. Pagans can use it after the solstices to find their clothing ;-). Non-religious people could use it for retreat or family time.

Even with five added days of vacation, American workers would still be behind most developed nations. The average in the EU is 36 days!

My new CDs for Christmas 2006

What I'm listening to this year.

Collecting Christmas music has been a hobby of mine for years now and I have a big collection since I buy a few every year. Here's what I bought for 2006.

Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas

You'll find Sufjan Stevens listed under "Punk" or "Alternative" but this five disk boxed set (yes, that's correct -- a five CD box set for $20) is folksy and minimalist.

What strikes me is how respectful Stevens is of the holiday. I have other "punk" Christmas CDs which mostly take a poke at the holiday since that's the punk thing to do. In contrast, I get the impression that Stevens is trying to personally revive the holiday on his own terms through music.

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Dig That Crazy Christmas & Boogie Woogie Christmas

The other artist I've discovered this Christmas is Brian Seltzer of the Stray Cats fame. Probably like a lot of people, I kind of forgot about him but I realize that he has been actively pursuing his music, including an interesting revival of swing music, infusing it with rock and roll. He has two Christmas albums in this genre and they both are great swingin' rockin' fun.

This is the one I'd play at a Christmas party, for sure!

Some people say the second one is better but, honestly, they kind of sound the same to me -- a good sound but not much different. I'd recommend buying whichever is cheaper. Or buy both!

This is his first Christmas release that you have to buy used.

This is the current one that's still in active release.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For the love of God, don't go long!

"Go home" or "go big" but for the love of our troops and the Iraqi people, don't go long.

The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.

Insiders have dubbed the options "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home." The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said.

Pentagon May Suggest Short-Term Buildup Leading to Iraq Exit

My first question about this report was how much die we pay for this so-obvious advice? I hope there's a lot more to the Pentagon suggestions than what was leaked this week. But maybe Bush needs a simple sports analogy to make a decision.

Please Bush, don't go long! For the love of God, America, the troops, Iraq and all that's good, don't go long.

I'll use another sport analogy: "fish or cut bait" but don't let the sharks kill and dismember our guys for year after year as we slowly bring home a few minnows.

And for the love of American, don't let Karl Rove in on the decision. His evil mind will figure out the best way to use this for wedge politics, rather than what's best for Americans and Iraqis.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Iraq war is set-back for ME democracy.

Pro-democracy movements have taken a big-hit from Bush's bungling of the war on terror.

The loss of America's moral authority that was an expected result of a dubious war has real-world consequences. One of those is that the indigenous pro-democracy movements -- especially the pro-western moderates -- are label as "pro-American" and slapped down. Bush's Iraq war has set secular, moderate pro-democracy movements back by a generation, at least.

Look at how Nasrallah demagogues the fact that he's not happy with the central government:

Beirut: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in remarks broadcast yesterday, called on his followers to prepare for peaceful protests to topple what he described as a US government in Lebanon.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah and other opposition forces could protest for days or weeks "until we impose, via our peaceful, civilised and democratic means, the downfall ... of the illegitimate, unconstitutional government - the government of (US ambassador Jeffrey) Feltman, not the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora."
He described US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a "blood sucker" and said the anti-Syrian ruling majority had banked on Israel destroying Hezbollah during the conflict.

Nasrallah calls for street protests

If your' re a moderate, secular advocate for Democracy in the Middle East, you're weighted down with all the baggage of America's debacle in Iraq -- which was justified in the name of moderate, secular democracy.

When I warned of this back in 2003, my conservative friends replied like this: "You just hate Bush and love the terrorists."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Another liberal plan for Iraq

Fox News beat us liberals over the head with this "Democrats have no plans for Iraq." Who are they kidding? We have TONS of them!

Like so many claims on Fox, this isn't just wrong... it's the opposite of the truth.

We libs have lots of plans but I have tended to favor the Peter Galbraith plan: The "End of Iraq : How American Incompetence Created a War Without End" even though I shudder at the thought of a partition and the likely bloodshed that will follow. But even Galbraith says this is the least-bad option Bush has left for us.

I just heard Polk interviewed on NPR and he seems like a very solid guy with a very solid plan:

Book Description

Former senator George McGovern and William R. Polk, a leading authority on the Middle East, offer a detailed plan for a speedy troop withdrawal from Iraq.

During the phased withdrawal, to begin on December 31, 2006, and to be completed by June 30, 2007, they recommend that the Iraq government engage the temporary services of an international stabilization force to police the country. Other elements in the withdrawal plan include an independent accounting of American expenditures of Iraqi funds, reparations to Iraqi civilians for lives lost and property destroyed, immediate release of all prisoners of war, the closing of American detention centers, and offering to void all contracts for petroleum exploration, development, and marketing made during the American occupation.

We'll succeed unless we quit

There is something religious about Bush's "faith based" logic.

A lesson Bush leaned from the Vietnam war was:
"Yet, the world that we live in today is one where they want things to happen immediately,'' he said. "And it's hard work in Iraq… We'll succeed unless we quit.''
Bush finds Iraq lesson in Vietnam

I recognize this kind of "faith based logic" from when I grew up in my fundamentalist church.

It's a kind of closed circle logic that makes sense if your in the system. But this same logic loudly begs for questions if your outside.

At the church we had bumper stickers like, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."

We also used this kind of logic among ourselves, "The bible is inerrant because it is the word of God." or "I believe in God because he exists." or "I trust in God because he faithfully answers prayers." or "I believe in Jesus because he raised himself from the dead."

One of my great mental shifts when I became a liberal Christian is to just simply admit that my faith is primarily that: faith. I suppose there is some empirical evidence for truth Christianity but, honestly,

I don't care much about evidence anymore since it's irrelevant: I already believe and I seriously doubt that anyone hostile to Christianity will be converted because of the "overwhelming" evidence.

Back then most of us carefully studies books like Josh McDowell's "Evidence That Demands a Verdict." I don't know of a single former-skeptic who was converted to Christianity because of such books. Instead, we mostly just affirmed ourselves.

So, maybe that's why Bush's logic "We'll succeed unless we quit" strikes me as religious.

It's a huge leap of faith to think we would have succeeded in Vietnam had we just stayed long enough. It's an equally huge leap of faith to believe we'll succeed in Iraq by just staying there longer -- without a MAJOR change in strategy.

Boehner appointment is an insult to bipartisanship

Who can take the conservative talk about "bipartisanship" seriously when they appoint this big jerk as minority leader?

Bush and the cons talk a good line about bipartisanship then they give us the finger with Boehner's appointment.

He's the big fat jerk who said this:

“I listen to my Democrats friends, and I wonder if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people,” Boehner told reporters yesterday." Republicans, Dems trade jabs on war

What a big gigantic insult. How are we supposed to work with somebody who accuses us of being pro-terrorist and anti-American?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Enough of the "next six months" already!

General Abizaid doesn't want more troops or less troops... he just wants another six months. No! Not another six months! I want a major change in course this week!

Pressed by Democrat Senator Jack Reed on how much time the US and Iraqi governments have to reduce the violence in Baghdad before it spirals beyond control, General Abizaid said, "Four to six months."
US commander decries Iraq timetable

Enough of this "the next six months will be critical" stalling tactic! You've had enough "another six months"!

They've been stringing us along, six months by six months, for three years now.

Here's how it all started. The whole war was only going to take six months... on the outside!

On Feb. 7, 2003, "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy: "It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
Confronting Iraq

And then check out these all these "another six months" quotes by one-time Iraq war apologist Tom Friedman:

"The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time."
(New York Times, 11/30/03)

"What I absolutely don't understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of—I know a lot of these guys—reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent people, everyone wants to declare it's over. I don't get it. It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what's the rush? Can we let this play out, please?"
(NPR's Fresh Air, 6/3/04)

"What we're gonna find out, Bob, in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war."
(CBS's Face the Nation, 10/3/04)

"Improv time is over. This is crunch time. Iraq will be won or lost in the next few months. But it won't be won with high rhetoric. It will be won on the ground in a war over the last mile."
(New York Times, 11/28/04)

"I think we're in the end game now…. I think we're in a six-month window here where it's going to become very clear and this is all going to pre-empt I think the next congressional election—that's my own feeling— let alone the presidential one."
(NBC's Meet the Press, 9/25/05)

"Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time."
(New York Times, 9/28/05)

"We've teed up this situation for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three parts or more or whether it's going to come together."
(CBS's Face the Nation, 12/18/05)

"We're at the beginning of I think the decisive I would say six months in Iraq, OK, because I feel like this election—you know, I felt from the beginning Iraq was going to be ultimately, Charlie, what Iraqis make of it."
(PBS's Charlie Rose Show, 12/20/05)

"The only thing I am certain of is that in the wake of this election, Iraq will be what Iraqis make of it—and the next six months will tell us a lot. I remain guardedly hopeful."
(New York Times, 12/21/05)

"I think that we're going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding. In which case, I think the American people as a whole will want to play it out or whether it really is a fool's errand."
(Oprah Winfrey Show, 1/23/06)

"I think we're in the end game there, in the next three to six months, Bob. We've got for the first time an Iraqi government elected on the basis of an Iraqi constitution. Either they're going to produce the kind of inclusive consensual government that we aspire to in the near term, in which case America will stick with it, or they're not, in which case I think the bottom's going to fall out."
(CBS, 1/31/06)

"I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq."
(NBC's Today, 3/2/06)

"Can Iraqis get this government together? If they do, I think the American public will continue to want to support the effort there to try to produce a decent, stable Iraq. But if they don't, then I think the bottom is going to fall out of public support here for the whole Iraq endeavor. So one way or another, I think we're in the end game in the sense it's going to be decided in the next weeks or months whether there's an Iraq there worth investing in. And that is something only Iraqis can tell us."
(CNN, 4/23/06)

"Well, I think that we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we're going to have to just let this play out."
(MSNBC's Hardball, 5/11/06)

Iraq's 'decisive' six months have lasted two and a half years

Enough of the "the next six months" already! After every "the next six months" the war is worse than the last six months!

To reverse Rumsfeld: "I want a massive correction in the war... or get out. Not the next six months. Not the next six weeks but.... OK... I'll give you the next six days. But no more.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Irritating little Bush lecture.

Bush's mid-term butt-kicking hasn't stopped him from being any less of a jerk.

I heard this little sound-bite of Bush lecturing the Democrats and the old "Bush flipping us off" irritation set in:

"...when you win, you have a responsibility to do the best you can for the country."

Battered Bush forced to embrace changing times

This is just a pisser coming from a guy who has horribly ABUSED that responsibility. The guy lecturing Democrats now is the same guy who invaded a country without doing even the minimum amount of homework.

By the way, has anyone briefed Bush that the Democrat win doesn't change the fact that Bush remains Commander in Chief of the military? The responsibility of the war still lies with him. He's not free to start shirking that responsibility off to Congress.

If America tortures you, it's classified and you can't speak about it.

This is a cruel circular piece of Bush logic that was missed during mid-term hubbub.

Here's how our government's collective mind works: If America kidnaps you and tortures you, then you shouldn't be given a lawyer because you might reveal what happened, which is classified.

Terror suspect 'could reveal CIA secrets if given civilian attorney'

Washington: A suspected terrorist who spent years in a secret CIA prison should not be allowed to speak to a civilian attorney, the Bush administration argues, because he could reveal the agency's closely guarded interrogation techniques.
In recently filed court documents, the Justice Department said those methods, along with the locations of the CIA's network of prisons, are among the nation's most sensitive secrets. Prisoners who spent time in those prisons should not be allowed to disclose that information, even to a lawyer, the government said.

"Improper disclosure of other operational details, such as interrogation methods, could also enable terrorist organisations and operatives to adapt their training to counter such methods, thereby obstructing the CIA's ability to obtain vital intelligence that could disrupt future planned terrorist attacks," the Justice Department wrote.

The documents were filed in opposition to a request that terror suspect Majid Khan should be given access to an attorney.

Khan, 26, immigrated from Pakistan and graduated high school in Maryland.

Take a moment to let the perversity of the Bush Administration's logic. They can horribly abuse your civil rights (Majid Khan grew up in Baltimore) and then classify those abuses, forbidding you to talk about it.

Sure, Majid Khan seems guilty but all these guys seem guilty when you only hear the governments side of the story. That's why he needs a lawyer and his day in court. But the Bush administration wants to deny him that.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Big Ideas for a Watershed Time

It was a Fox mantra, "liberals have no ideas" but Americans realized this is big fat lie.

Here are my top-ten priorities.

1) Get the hell out of Iraq.
We need an concrete exit plan and it must get rolling right away. Today. Now. Bush should cancel all vacations, all bike rides, all fundraising and politicking -- heck -- pull all-nighters until it gets done.

The best I've heard is the "Peter Galbraith Plan" which involves a partition with some US troop presence in Kurdistan.

I predict that partition will be bloody and horrible but it's still better than Bush's "stay the course" to a horrific hell on earth and a possible regional war.

2) Public Financing of Campaigns
Unless we can get big money out of politics, we'll never get anything done for the middle class. Nor will we save the environment, bring back consumer protection or break our dependence on oil.

3) Universal Health Care
Fifty million uninsured Americans is just unacceptable for the richest country in the world. Plus healthcare is just insanely expensive.

The best liberal idea I've ever heard is to simply extend medicare to the whole population. We could phase it in, starting with under 18 and over 50, or similar.

4) Massive Switch Over to Renewable (aka green) Energy.
This solves three of the biggest issue in the world: wars for oil; global warming; and funding of radical Islam by the Saudis. It also helps our foreign trade deficit and creates a whole new industry to stimulate the economy.

The best liberal idea I've heard is to end the tax breaks subsidies of oil companies and use those billions on an energy Manhattan project.

5) Full Funding of Education from Pre-school to Graduate School
This is not socialism -- it's infrastructure for capitalism. In the new global economy a country's population is its #1 national resource.

The Republicans sold tax cuts because they supposedly would pay for themselves in increased revenue. (total nonsense) But funding of education does pay for itself in increased tax revenues. Better educated people earn more and then pay more taxes. Better educated people are also less likely to end up in jail, which saves us tax payers a bundle.

6) Fix Social Security and Balance the Budget
Social Security is one of the most successful and best loved government programs. It's no wonder that America rejected the neo-con's raid on it. But they will support making it fiscally solvent.

Social Security's going broke and our huge national dept are the same problem: politicians don't have the political nerve to either raise taxes or cut spending.
The proposals that make sense are practical and relatively minor: a slight increase in premiums and income tax; an increase in retirement age by a couple of years; and ending the waver for the rich.

7) Win the "War on Drugs"
Remember the War on Drugs? I think we lost it -- or maybe we called a truce -- but drug abuse is as bad or worse than ever. It's a scourge on society that at least equals the threat of terrorism, in my mind.

I recommend the carrot and stick liberal response: readily available treatment for addicts and aggressive law enforcement against pushers. I, personally, am not for legalization but decriminalizing pot would probably not have horrible consequences.

8) 21st Century Bill of Rights
Technology has created privacy issues far beyond anything the founding fathers could imagine -- heck it's far beyond anything we could imagine in the 1970s, let alone the 1770s.

We need a new bill of rights. We've lost our bearing on where our rights start and the government's ends.

Is our email is private? Do we have the right to walk down the street without being electronically monitored? Who owns our private information? Does the government have the right to track who we call, where we shop, what we buy? Does a business have the right to keep our credit card number forever just because we shopped there once?

9) Get Serious About Homeland Security.
Bush and the conservatives have talked a big line about homeland security, but they've really done very little. It's just insane that we inspect only 5% of containers coming into our ports. We need to infiltrate terrorists networks. We need to find and deport visa jumpers. Basically, we need to implement the 911 Commission recommendations.

The almost two billion dollars a week we're spending in a Iraq will go a long ways towards real homeland security.

10) Solve the Illegal Immigration Problem
This is my one common ground with Bush: we need a guest worker program. But Bush and I want it for different reasons: he wants it for super-cheap labor to exploit; I want it so that the guest workers can unionize, get good wages and health benefits.

I'm not against some sort of symbolic fence but it won't make a dent in the problem. It will cost us untold billions of dollars.

A far better use of the money is on employer enforcement to dry up the demand for illegals. If the Pacific ocean can't keep illegals Asians out, a couple-foot wide fence won't keep Latinos out. Drying up job opportunities will keep them from wanting to come.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Victory for Traditional Religious Values in Minnesota

I applaud Minnesotans for electing a Muslim to Congress. It's a great victory for all people of faith.

First Muslim elected to US Congress

Nov 8: Keith Ellison, a Democratic candidate from Minnesota, on Tuesday became the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress. With results from 99 per cent precincts announced, Mr Ellison got 135,519 or 56 per cent of the votes while his rival, Republican Party Jewish candidate Alan Fine received only 51,896 or 21 per cent.

My own religious stock is from the "Northern Bible Belt" which has Minnesota as it's buckle. For the most part, we're pretty conservative in our personal faith but, because were tolerant, we inaccurately get called liberal.

I'm an evangelical Christian and I certainly disagree with much of Muslim theology. However, I would eagerly vote for a Muslim candidate if I thought he would do a good job.

I assume that's exactly what happened in Minnesota. I applaud them.

The way for liberals to take the religious high ground away from the Republicans is to be strong in our own personal faiths while being inclusive as a political movement. Don't ignore religion -- celebrate it! But welcome all religions to the party.

Besides, this is the real traditional American value of religion.

I devoutly worship my Lord and I respect how my neighbor worships (or not). If I just can't bring myself to respect his religion (let's say I live next to Tim Cruise) then I at least keep my mouth shut and skillfully change the subject to the weather. This is a middle American religious value, which is in glaring contrast to the southern bible belt culture of fighting over religion.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Third of White Evangelicals Voted Liberal

When I reveal that I'm a liberal evangelical, I'm often seen as some sort of crazy contradiction. Hardly! There are millions of us.

Yes, the aggressive (and cynical) courting of white evangelicals by the Republicans has worked but it's a relatively new thing and never was a total take over. As recently as 1988 evangelicals were evenly split between Republican and Democrat. In 1999 it was as close as 39% Republican to 26% Democrat.

In this article from the AP, about today's election it notes:

"In a sign of a dispirited GOP base, most white evangelicals said corruption was very important to their vote — and almost a third of them turned to the Democrats."

So good news. Some evangelicals are coming to their senses.

A Minor Point: I don't mean to be split hairs but it wasn't a full-third that "turned" to the Dems. Not even close. Millions of us never turned away.

According to this helpful article by Pew, 30% of evangelicals voted against Bush in 2000 although that dipped down to 21% in 2004. So, the "swing" is not the full 33%.

But the swing is larger than these numbers suggest because of the designation "white." The general "evangelical" designation includes a lot of black people who are faithful liberal Christians.

Clinton nails the GOP message.

Goodness I miss this man!

He's funny. He's articulate and -- he hits the GOP message right on the head. He missed just one point: and after tripping on the illegal immigrant, a lesbian will steal your wife.

Here is the video in wmv format.

The video is from Crooks and Liars

Slate's Slime Awards for the worst TV spots.

Just when you didn't think the 30 second political spot could get any sleazier, this year may have been the slimiest yet!

See the top three worst at Slate:

Slate's 2006 Slime Award

Man, this stuff just stinks. Sadly, too many Americans will be attracted by the smell.

All it would take to rid America of this shameful trash is for voters to stop responding to it.

He doth protest too loudly

Does the Ted Haggard scandal show, once again, that "values conservatives" are all a pack of moral hypocrites?

Gays like to tease the anti-gay crowd, saying that only self-loathing closeted gays protest that loudly. Straight men, comfortable in their orientation, just can't get worked up like that.

As a lifelong fundamentalist and evangelical, I have to agree.

The loudest Christians tend to be the most troubled.

I'll use myself as an example: I have never had any sort of gay experience, whatsoever. So even when I was in the fundamentalist church, I could never get very hot under the collar about homosexuality. It was all abstract for me and, in my mind, gays were not in some especially despicable category. They were just sinners like any of the rest of us.

So why would someone stand up in public and get all red-faced, spitting, condemn-them-to-hell mad about the gays? Because homosexuality is not abstract to them, obviously. Because homosexuality very likely might be their own personal demon.

I'm not sure this is what's happening in Ted Haggard's case.

I'm not highly familiar with Haggard but he struck me as a fairly cool guy, for an Evangelical.

His Evangelical Climate Initiative even struck me as progressive. He didn't seem like a Jimmy Swaggart character, strutting and weeping while wagging his thick bible at the evil sinners.

But one has to wonder why a (presumably) bisexual guy like Haggard wouldn't just join a liberal church that accepts him for who he is. Wouldn't that significantly reduce his cognitive dissonance and resolve the hypocrisy issue? Wouldn't it just be easier?

I think Haggard doesn't want someone to tell him he's OK. He probably likes the moral certitude of conservative religion. Perhaps he wants people around him who agree with his internal self-loathing.

It's no secret that black and white morality is a major appeal of conservative religion but I wonder if an even different dynamic is at play with Haggard -- one that I don't hear talked about very much.

In secular counseling, there is the concept of the "wounded healer" i.e. emotionally damaged people who go into counseling as part of their own healing process. This is generally recognized and can be turned into a positive thing if dealt with openly.

When I was at seminary I wondered if similar moral dynamic was happening -- that a significant number of seminarians were there to tame their own moral demons. I have no empirical data to back me up but my anecdotal experience makes me thinks this is true: pastors are more likely to have (or had) some serious moral conflict in their lives. They didn't get into the pastorate because they were "holier than thou" but because they were less so.

Of course, this doesn't make pastors evil people or even hypocrites when they condemn the very sin they, themselves, are struggling with. But it does mean that you shouldn't put pastors on pedestals. It certainly means that pastors shouldn't voluntarily crawl up on those pedestals.

I think it could even be a positive thing -- if dealt with openly. In the case of Haggard, it strikes me as very sad.

The Theology of Disgraced Leadership.

The fall of a trusted leader is painful but it doesn't directly conflict with Evangelical theology.

OK, conservative Christians often say they are morally superior. They often act like they are morally superior.

But moral superiority is not a theology I was taught in my fundamentalist church nor in the highly conservative bible school I graduated from.

Christians should be morally superior, as a testimony to the authenticity of our faith. We Christians are commanded to act with moral integrity and transparency in all aspects of our lives.

But I was never taught that Christians are guaranteed moral superiority. In fact, we were taught something the opposite: nobody should let their moral guard down, especially church leadership, who face a special onslaught by The Enemy.

So, Haggard's fall isn't a theological "gotcha" for Evangelicals.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The veil -- what it means to Muslim women.

The Muslim veil has become a lightening rod. Here's an interesting article about it by Muslims.

Most newspaper articles turn this into a black-and-white debate. This article gives more of the cultural side of the veil.

Demystifying modesty

The Quran says that all Muslim men and women must dress modestly. This is translated from the concept of hijab (meaning ‘covering up' in Arabic) that widely interprets male modesty as wearing loose clothing and covering the area between the navel and the knees and female modesty as covering everything except the face, hands and feet in the presence of men they are not related to.