Friday, February 29, 2008

This Week's American Idol Pick!

Here are my picks for the best female and male American Idol performances

Carly Smithson

Dave Archuleta

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What on Earth is The Emergent Church?!

"In a variety of voices, this group of friends is attempting to sing a song a together."--Tony Jones on The Emerging Church.

What is the Emerging Church?
I've heard this question asked rather frequently as of late. No matter how I try to explain it, I feel like I haven't quite satisfied the inquiry. Part of the reason is because The Emergent Church is so diverse that I never feel like a flat two to three sentence definition suffices. Another reason is because I usually feel a bit on the defensive since I find that people who do not even know what the emerging church "is" are wary of it, have already formed some negative preconceived notions, and are sometimes flat out against it. Since the Emerging Church is diverse and more of an ongoing conversation or movement than a denomination of "the church," people have a hard time pinning it down. However, I came across this post from Mike Clawson over at Emerging Pensees that sums up the history, evolution, various contributors, and main streams of thought of what is known as "The Emerging Church." He also does a superb job of defining some of the "key terms" and principles of Emergent thought.

Here is a more indepth article by Scot McKnight, a professor of religious studies at North Park Theological Seminary, that dismantles some of the prevailing stereotypes levied against Emergents and examines five streams within emerging faith: prophetic, postmodern, praxis-oriented (how faith is lived out), post-evangelical, and political.

Any thoughts? Emergent folks, do you feel this is an accurate summary of The Emerging Church? Traditional folks, does this give you a better understanding of what the Emerging Church is?

And just for laughs, here's a little cartoon dealing with stereotypes....

Larry Norman: RIP

"Jesus told the truth, Jesus showed the way. There's one more thing I'd like to say. They nailed him to the cross, they laid him in the ground, but they shoulda known you can't keep a good man down. I feel good every day, I don't wanna lose it. All I wanna know is why should the devil have all the good music? I've been filled, I feel okay, Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away."--Larry Norman.

Art is more engaging than propaganda.--Larry Norman

Larry Norman, known as "The Father of Christian Rock," passed away on Sunday at age 60. He was the original christian rocker who set out to abandon image, so I must pay omage to this unique figure in my faith ancestry.

With songs like Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music? (a playful, old-school, fifities' sounding rock song), Larry Norman challenged the prevailing notion that "christian music" couldn't have a beat or edgy, current lyrics. My personal favorite tunes from him are: "The Outlaw," "Reader's Digest," "Righteous Rocker," "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus?" and I Wish We'd All Been Ready. His lyrics were candid, raw, purposely composed in "the language of the people," and would surely be banned in today's world of CCM. He openly sang about drag queens, drugs, alcohol, sex, contracting 'gonorrhea on valentines day', and people 'looking for the perfect lay' (Now I'd love to hear that on Christian radio).

Listening to Larry Norman's music in 2008 may sound outdated and corny now, but his lyrics still pack a punch. At the time, in the late sixties and early seventies, his style was revolutionary in christian circles. He was beloved by the young hippies involved in the Jesus Movement and loathed by "traditional" church folks, who deemed hymns as the only appropriate and valid type of worship music. He paved the way for diverse musical art forms to emerge from the christian community: rock, rap, r&b, pop, punk, ska, alternative, and even contemporary. That is, before commercialism and IMAGE pigeon-holed the mainstream christian music industry. This reality drove Larry Norman into mainstream self-banishment for many years. He once said:

I feel that Christian music is now a subculture directed towards the Christians. It's not really being exposed to non-Christians and it's not really created for non-Christians, so non-Christians almost never hear any of this music.

Larry Norman didn't really have a "singer's voice," but his message to the world and influence over methods of "christian" art is something that should be remembered and learned from. He often said he was only visiting this planet. Now, he's finally gone home. Rest In Peace Larry!

This video is a comical parable from the creative mind of Larry Norman called "The Tune."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nothing From Me

I have been sick the last week and curled up on my couch for the most part. It's also been a trying time for my family back in New Jersey, to put it mildly. Living so far away has left me feeling a bit helpless. As a result, blogging hasn't exactly been a top priority. So, until I bounce back (which should be soon), I thought I'd bite off the talent of my fellow bloggers. :)

Here are some posts that struck a chord with me. Enjoy! Discuss!

Julie Clawson over at Onehandclapping has a great series going on right now on the validity of intellectualism in the life of Christian faith. Some good stuff.

The basic flaw in the argument, in my opinion, is the assumption that people can’t worship or connect with God through books, discussion, and theology. Those things apparently teach one about God, but only prayer, contemplation, and worship can help one actually get to know God. This is an argument that I’ve heard many times before and one I strongly disagree with. I do connect to God through things like books and theology and I find things like singing and contemplation forced and hollow. I’ve been told my whole life that the only real way to connect with God is through those acts and that there must be something wrong with me if it wasn’t working for me. And when I did draw closer to God through intellectual pursuits I was informed that I wasn’t really engaged in worship or true relationship. It all served to make me feel rather inadequate as a Christian. But those assumptions just aren’t true. My experience and the experiences of others I know demonstrate that intellectual paths are just as meaningful and valid ways of relating to God as the more emotional and mystical.

Read the rest of the series here....

Wilsford over at TreeReach wrote up an excellent AND pithy piece on the subject of judgmental responses to sin and compassionate responses to sin.

To put away judgmentalism is to practice grace. It's the recognition that if you experienced your neighbor's situation as they experience it, that you, too, might sin as they sin. In terms of your religious practice, grace doesn't change the terms of sin. It does change, however, your response to sin. And isn't that what love is supposed to be about?

Read the rest here...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My American Idol Picks!

Ahhh....The competition part of American Idol has finally begun! So every week, I am going to post the best performances from one guy and one girl.

This week, the best male performance goes to Michael Johns!

I actually hate this next song and it's not the best overall performance from this girl, Carly Smithson, throughout the entire show, but I really like her and think she's going to do amazing things with her voice....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Insight From Reality TV?

Reality TV has earned a reputation for being the lowest form of television entertainment. It has become a goldmine of cheaply-produced programming that rakes in billions, heavily relying on exploiting everyday people (or washed-up celebrities) by setting up outrageous destined-to-fail dating shows, humiliating competition-driven shows (i.e. eating cow testicles for 50 grand) where participants are encouraged to sell each other out, cut each other down, and be as ruthless as possible. But every now and then, a show or a moment on a show can capture something real. A moment that teaches you something about people as well as yourself.

This is the case with Vh1's Celebrity Rehab

VH1 teamed up with Dr. Drew Pinskey, a renowned drug counselor, to create Celebrity Rehab, a reality show documenting the raw process a group of celebrities go through when they enter an alcohol and drug rehab. The show attempts to de-glamorize the allure of drugs by revealing where drug addiction leads, the unbelievable pain an addict must go through to get sober, and the deeper issues they must face to maintain sobriety.

When I first saw the preview for Celebrity Rehab, my initial thought was, "Oh boy, a bunch of spoiled celebrities whining about how hard it is to be rich." I figured these people had silver spoons in their mouths, never heard the word 'no', and lacked self-control. (I was really on a high horse that day...geesh). But as I watched, I found myself moved by the stories of these fallen celebrities, crying along with them and empathizing with their pain. Their addictions have little to do with an over-indulgent life of debauchery, but are more the external manifestation of their horrendous pasts, filled with abuse, illness, and abandonment. Most of them utilize their addictions as a means of escape.

Here are just a few of the back stories from some of the cast...

Jessica Sierra, a former American Idol contender, was busted for two DUIs and cocaine possession. She was a mess when she entered rehab, difficult and filled with despair. As the group therapy session progressed, Dr. Pinskey encouraged her to share about her past. Her mother abandoned her as a baby and didn't come back to see her until Jessica was thirteen. It was then that Jessica learned her mother was hooked on drugs and prostituting herself to pay for her habit. Jessica lashed out and told her mother she hated her. A few months later, Jessica's mom was found dead in a ditch, dying from a drug overdose.

Jeff Conaway, famous for his role as Kenickie in the 1970s hit musical Grease and as Bobby Wheeler in the sitcom Taxi. Conaway, an addict for nearly 30 years, has been reduced to a shaking, tempermental, stuttering man, confined to a wheelchair most the time as a result of chronic pain. It turns out at the age of four, he was tortured: locked in trunks, hung from buildings, and beaten severely. At age seven, he became the victim of child pornography. Ever since he's used drugs to numb his pain and escape reality, and has battled suicidal thoughts.

Mary Ellen, a porn star, was abandoned by her father, left to care for her bi-polar mother. A few years ago, her mother attempted suicide by flinging herself off a four-story building. Mary Ellen prayed to God and said if He let her mother survive she would quit porn and turn her life around, which is why she entered rehab.

Watching this show made me realize how judgmental I can be. It is so easy to look at the outward behavior of people and think we know what's going on underneath. As I was thinking about my first impressions of these drug-addicted celebrities and how drastically it changed after taking the time to listen to their experiences, I wondered how many other people I have made snap judgments about, thinking I know exactly why they are the way they are. The reason shallow judgmentalism is so dangerous is because it strips us of the opportunity and call to have compassion for others. The author over at the Tree Reach blog wrote this insightful post on compassion versus judgementalism. This post sums up perfectly the need to put ourselves in each other's shoes and to exercise compassion instead of judgment.

Kudos to VH1 for taking on a show that reveals the truth about drug use: the dire consequences and the long, long road to recovery.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Semi-Good Theology From Stephen Colbert?

Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, is an outrageous satirically-sharp late-night comedian. He coined the term "truthiness," which is perfect when discussing the kind of truth that's involved in politics. Most people think he's actually parodying Bill O'Reilly, it's very funny indeed.

The other night, he sat down with Phillip Zimbardo, author of The Lucifer Effect, who has an "alternate" take on how things went down between God and Lucifer. Colbert schools Zimbardo with a theology similar to that of many in the Christian church. However, just when you want to applaud Colbert for doing so, he promptly finishes with an ironic expletive, which I totally confess to cracking up over. Most cussing doesn't really offend me (there are a select few words that make me wince), but for my friends with "virgin ears," I wanted to give you fair warning. The video bleeps it out. Inappropriate or not, it still made me laugh. :)

I always find "theological" discussions in unexpected forums, especially on national television and on a "secular" comedy show, to be of interest. It's a unique window into the perceptions of outsiders (really, just the kind of people most church folks never take the time to know in real life or listen to their perspectives). Plus, Colbert counters this guy pretty well. So, I thought I'd share....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Ahh... The best show on television, LOST, returned with more mystery and excitement than ever! The long-term mystery of the show frustrates some, but I love it. The complexity of the characters and their interactions with each other is the real meat of the show anyhow, and the mystery aspects are just a means for each individual character to face the demons of their past and hopefully experience redemption.

Plus, my middle-eastern man, Sayid, is back in full force! (My, how I have missed you!) And I have a soft spot in my heart for the ever-so complicated Saywer.

So, watch Lost on Thursday nights on ABC. Catch up on episodes by renting seasons 1-3 on DVD. You won't be disappointed!

A Unique Tag!

I've been tagged by Terry. The premise of this tag is to reach for the book closest to you, flip to page 123, find the 5th sentence and post that sentence and the 3 following it. Kinda fun!

The book closest to me at the moment is The Return of The Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, by Henri Nouwen.

Page 123:

"Perhaps the most radical statement Jesus ever made is: 'Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.' God's compassion is described by Jesus not simply to show me how willing God is to feel for me, or to forive me my sins and offer me new life and happiness, but to invite me to become like God and show the same compassion to others as he is showing to me. If the only meaning of the story were that people sin but God forgives, I could easily begin to think of my sins as a fine occasion for God to show me his forgiveness; there would be no real challenge in such an interpretation. I would resign myself to my weakness and keep hoping that eventually God would close His eyes to them and let me come home, whatever I did. Such sentimental romanticism is not the message of the Gospels."

Ok, I cheated and included an extra sentence, deal with it!

Anyway, I love Henri Nouwen. He was a remarkable man with incredible insight, who fought the good fight. He finally received the homecoming he was looking for.

I tag Mike, Erich, Christy. Tonya, and Catrina.

Monday, February 11, 2008

God DOES Have a Sense of Humor

"Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer." ~Douglas Adams

I am not a morning person. I hate mornings. I wish the world would function at night. I told my good friend Maura that I would get up early today (8-ish) and spend the day with her until she had to go pick up her kids at school. Maura knows when we make morning plans, she will most likely have to call me a hundred times to make sure I'm up. Otherwise, she'll show up at my house and I'll be snoring away in my pajamas. Anyway, I wanted to make sure I woke up when she called, so I put the phone right next to me when I went to bed the night before. However, I woke up in the middle of the night to reach for some water and knocked my phone behind the bed. I was way too tired, too comfortable, and too lazy to get out of bed, get on my hands and knees and grope for my phone in the dark. I knew I would not hear the phone ringing or my alarm on my phone come morning. So, I said a quick, "Oh God, just please wake me before Maura comes over."

Sure enough, Maura called twice without me stirring. I slightly awoke to hear Scrappy, my Chihuahua, behind me coughing. The next thing I know, I feel a warm sensation spreading across my back. Scrappy had thrown up ALL over me!!! Eww! This, of course, propelled me out of bed, wide awake, and dropping a few expletives. Thirty seconds later, my phone was ringing and Maura was a few minutes from my house. So, God, being the multilayered Almighty He is, answered my prayers and gave Himself a good laugh. Next time, I'll be more specific to the how of my request. :)
Scrappy: a tiny, vomitting messenger of God.

"Amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us. "--Maurice Maeterlinck

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Created To Be His Help Meet?

God has set the type of marriage everywhere throughout the creation. Every creature seeks its perfection in another. The very heavens and earth picture it to us. -- Martin Luther

Created To Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl is a book about how women can make their marriages heavenly. She and her husband, Michael Pearl, put together a variety of writings on marriage, family, gender roles, and children training (I am least familiar with their advice on childrearing, because I am childless and don't read much on that subject). While I have found that the Pearls have some helpful and insightful things to say, I part ways with them on a number of issues and foundational beliefs (i.e. some of the way they interpret scripture). I would never discredit their ministry on a whole and I respect them as fellow christians who mean well and do a lot of good.

So, I'm not bashing here, I just wanted to make that clear before Deann pulls out her nine and busts a cap into my brain... hehe!

Anyhow, Created To Be His Help Meet is a beloved book among many wonderful women in my church. I love and respect these women and their devotion to their husbands, children, and God. And because I value their perspective, I am curious about what they think of this blog. It's put together by a married couple, much more conservative than I, who share a lot of common ground with the Pearls, and do not personally attack them or berate them. They do, however, question some of their teachings, examine some of the claims put forth in Debi Pearl's book and the scriptures used to support those claims.

Here is a summary of the points this particular site examines as it appears in the blog's introduction. Ladies, if you so wish, pick the ones that most interest you and share your thoughts. Others, who have constructive input, may also weigh in. I want to be fair to the Pearls. I would like to hear from people who agree with them and people who do not. I want to know if the people who admire them and are better acquainted with their teachings find these criticisms to be fair, a cause for concern, or invalid and the reasons why. But let's keep it nice! :)

Point 1: CTBHHM takes away the very heart of a woman’s identity as a child of God, created in His image, by Him and for Him. It takes a wife’s God given role – being a help meet to her husband – and asserts that for every woman, being a help meet (as defined by Debi Pearl) encompasses her sole purpose for existing and her only true identity. It goes so far as to state that Eve was created in the image of Adam rather than in the image of God.

Point 2: It presents a woman’s husband as a mediator, a kind of high priest, between herself and God.

Point 3: It consistently asserts that a woman/wife bears responsibility for a man’s/ husband’s sins, going so far as to say a husband’s complete sanctification and deliverance from temptation is provided to him through his wife and her actions. It seems to teach that women are deceived by Satan but men are not, and that men’s primary weakness is their desire for (or to please) women. Therefore, women cause men to sin (or not) by their actions and submission.

Point 4: Its use of Scripture often seems wrong or out-of-context—so often that we frequently feel as though the author is stretching to find scriptural support for her own pre-determined conclusions. We feel it is more appropriate to first study the scripture and let it guide the conclusions.

Point 5: It discourages women from spending time in prayer, Scripture study, or meditation on Scripture, hinting that a woman’s spiritual connection to God is primarily determined and built through her actions towards her husband. It asserts that that there is no woman in Scripture who is commended for doing “spiritual” things (i.e. praying, reading Scripture, etc.)

Point 6: The book itself is full of inconsistencies and can be very confusing.

Point 7: CTBHHM advice to women involved in an abusive situation (it advocates enduring in silence for the glory of God) is not only Scripturally suspect, but is also potentially lethal. The book also suggests that when a woman is abused by her husband, it is usually her fault.

Point 8: The writing often lacks grace and compassion towards those struggling, calling women names that should never be used to describe human beings made in God’s image.

What Would Reagan Do?

"Don't be afraid to see what you see."--Ronald Reagan

"What would Reagan do?" That seems to be the standard among conservatives these days. Reagan's apparent brand of conservatism has become the ruler by which all other aspriring conservative leaders must be measured. Yesterday, I actually defended John McCain, not because he is my pick, quite the contrary actually, but because of the way he is being criticized by "hardcore conservatives." If they whip out the Ronald Reagan card one more time, I'm going to puke.

It's as if a collective amnesia plagues conservatives, in which they can only recall the big promises, high ideals, the inspiring speeches, and then completely disregard Reagan's actual ACTIONS once he got into office. I'm not implying that Reagan was a liar or a bad guy, but like most Presidents, he learned to compromise (such a dirty word, gasp!) and worked with the "other side" because the other side is comprised of Americans, too. But Reagan's legacy is being held up as proof that real conservatives will support deporting all illegal immigrants, will NEVER raise taxes, will slash government 'entitlement' programs, will drastically reduce the size of the federal governemnt, will appoint judges that are committed to make abortion illegal (I wish that one were true), and would NEVER "cut-and-run" like those cowardly democrats.

But consider these aspects of Reagan's Presidency:

On Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is the hot-button topic among conservatives (and the most potent reason for their opposition to McCain). Ironically, Reagan not only supported a pathway for illegal aliens to earn citizenship, but signed "amnesty" into law in 1986. Does this quote sound like something current conservatives would jive with?

“We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”--Ronald Reagan, upon signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Reagan's immigration stance was not an automatic path to citizenship. The legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam, and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar? These are pretty much the same provisions included in the bill John McCain supported to promote a secured border, take away incentives for employers to hire illegals, but also provide a pragmatic solution for long-time illegals to earn citizenship through a series of fines, going to "the back of the line" for citizenship, having to maintain employment, etc. etc.

Black's Law Dictionary even notes that "the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country."

On Abortion

Reagan signed California's 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act on June 14, 1967. From a total of 518 legal abortions in California in 1967, the number of abortions would soar to an annual average of 100,000 in the remaining years of Reagan’s two terms — more abortions than in any U.S. state prior to the implications of Roe v. Wade.

Once Reagan was President, he appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court. This move puzzled and dismayed conservatives (especially the Jerry Falwell crowd that campaigned for Regean in the hopes that he would do everything within his power to make abortion illegal).

Joshua Green, editor of Washington Monthly, recalls the confusion and opposition over Reagan's unexpected judicial appointment:

President Reagan, however, did not govern as radically as candidate Reagan preached. Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor infuriated conservatives, who doubted her commitment to eradicating abortion and blasted her support for the Equal Rights Amendment. Michael K. Deaver, the image-oriented deputy chief of staff, and a principal White House pragmatist, said the president liked O’Connor’s “kind of moderate approach'' because ''she had not been an activist'' regarding the ERA issue or abortion. Delighting in the man-bites-dog political twist, the Washington Post headline proclaimed: “REAGAN CHOICE FOR COURT DECRIED BY CONSERVATIVES BUT ACCLAIMED BY LIBERALS."

On Taxes

1982: Reagan signed into law two major tax increases. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year and the Highway Revenue Act raised the gasoline tax by another $3.3 billion. In 2003, former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett wrote in the National Review: "According to a recent Treasury Department study, TEFRA alone raised taxes by almost 1 percent of the gross domestic product, making it the largest peacetime tax increase in American history."

1983: Reagan signed legislation raising the Social Security tax rate. This is a tax increase that is still in place. It initiated automatic increases in the taxable wage base. As a consequence, those with moderately high earnings see their payroll taxes rise every single year. In

Bruce Barlett also admits that:

In 1984, Reagan signed another big tax increase in the Deficit Reduction Act. This raised taxes by $18 billion per year or 0.4 percent of GDP. A similar-sized tax increase today would be about $44 billion. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 raised taxes yet again. Even the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was designed to be revenue-neutral, contained a net tax increase in its first 2 years. And the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 raised taxes still more.

Joshua Green adds,

He [Reagan] did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly--but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year's reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike--the largest since World War II--was actually "tax reform" that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn't count as raising taxes.)

On "Cut-and-Running..."

How history repeats itself.
And because history repeats itself, it's imperative that people living in the present do not forget it or rewrite it to accomadate our own agendas. Instead of turning flawed human beings into untouchable, idealistic figure heads to sanctify our own ideology, we should learn from the mistakes of the past, learn the difference between principle-clad rhetoric and real-life dilemmas that are no where near as cut and dry or always require the same response. We should recognize that such labels as "conservative" and "liberal" are broad terms, subject to debate, and leave room for some diversity. Geesh, Ronald Reagan himself doesn't even live up to "Ronald Reagan Conservatism!"

So, know what you believe, know why you believe it, and be fair to those with whom you disagree.

Friday, February 8, 2008


"Facts are stubborn things,"--Ronald Reagan

I am about to defend John McCain. Yes, me, the "liberal," who will not even give my vote to McCain (for a number of reasons), is about to defend him and "dethrone" the Republican Messiah, Ronald Reagan. The far-right is throwing such a temper tantrum over the prospect of John McCain becoming the republican presidential nominee that they have resorted to shock antics (big surprise), slander (bigger surprise), and rewriting history.

I take no issue with people who honestly disagree with John McCain's politics. I disagree with many of John McCain's politics myself (probably for different reasons than my more conservative friends). Conservatives who disagree with McCain should ABSOLUTELY voice their opposition, but it should be done in a civil, logical, and HONEST fashion . Alas, this is a foreign concept for the far-right pundits (ann coulter, rush limbaugh, laura ingram, sean hannity, michelle malkin, etc.) that have made it their mission to discredit everything about Senator McCain anyway they can.

From claiming McCain is masquerading as a republican but is really more liberal than Hillary Clinton (they dropped the dreaded 'L-bomb' on Senator McCain), to belittling his 'honor' as a WILLING prisoner of war, to claiming Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave at the thought of McCain becoming the new face of republicanism, wild claims have erupted from the furthest far-right corners of the republican party.

Just to quickly clear up the "Hillary and McCain are the same" complaint: the American Conservative Union gives John McCain a lifetime grade of 83 percent on conservatism (Since 2005 he's rated with an 80). By contrast, Hillary Clinton scores 9 percent on conservatism. So yes, he is a moderate. He is willing to work with people on the other side of the political isle (which is necessary to actually get things done. Part of the reason America can't seem to get anything done is because our political parties are SO polarized). Conservatives are completely entitled to disagree with McCain, but to claim that McCain is Hillary Clinton's political twin is just factually FALSE.

While personal attacks and slander are usually what drives me insane, it's the rewriting-of-history offense this time that is making my blood boil. For all you political junkies out there, I'm sure you've noticed how most of the republican candidates have been worshipping at the altar of "Ronald Reagan Republicanism." In every debate, they ooow and aahh, while reminiscing over his legacy and pledge to revive Ronald Reagan's brand of conservatism. They are one step away from sporting a "What Would Reagan Do?" bracelet. That EXACT question has been posed several times during these debates. (gag)

In light of Ronald Reagan lifted up as the beacon of "true conservatism," the claims that John McCain just doesn't measure up become all the more bizarre. Ronald Reagan's legacy has become so legendary among conservatives, that it has now crossed over into the realm of myth. The memory of Ronald Reagan has become a puppet for far-right pundits to dangle beside their pet agendas, to justify them as marks of "true conservatism." Ronald Reagan's name gets tossed around constantly to advocate stances on massive deportation of illegal aliens, lowering taxes, massively minimizing the federal government, eliminating 'entitlement' programs, illegalizing abortion (that one, I support), and to denounce a "cut-and-run" (another loaded term) response to war.

But a quick and honest study of Ronald Reagan's legacy will reveal that John McCain is more in line with Reagan's politics than the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world.

(The following is not meant to denigrate Ronald Reagan, but to show the hypocrisy employed by conservative bullies and to show that a person can hold a variety of positions and still remain a conservative.) Here are some facts about Ronald Reagan that are conveniently forgotten in conservative circles that I will elaborate on in a follow-up post tomorrow.

He supported "amnesty" for illegal aliens.

He raised taxes numerous times.

He pulled a "cut-and-run" from Beirut in 1983.

He signed legislation in 1967 (BEFORE ROE V.WADE) that made abortion LEGAL in California.

Supported a bi-partisan effort to fund Social Security (another entitlement program) to save it from bankruptcy in 1983

The size of Federal Government EXPANDED during his administration.

He appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the supreme court, who made no commitment to overturn roe v. wade and who supported the Equal Rights Amendment (legislation conservatives and EVANGELICALS loathed).

More to come....

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Love Is In The Air!

I'm in love with Anderson Cooper, there I said it!

I used to love Bill O'Reilly, umm, in a more, shall we say, platonic sort of way? :) But sadly, Bill has lost his ever-loving mind with the war on christmas (that gets longer and longer every year) and sensationalizes the "culture war," becoming a polarizing force, instead of a balanced one.

So, lately I've been watching some Anderson Cooper over at CNN, and well, I loveth him. He's smart, articulate, passionate but respectful, and he let's his guests talk (a novel idea!). He consistently puts forth multiple points of view and questions positions and issues without belittling or demonizing people. Oh, and he's not just a talking head that sits behind a desk and reads from a prompter. He's brave. He's been all over the world, voluntarily going into war zones and unstable regions to shed light on pressing current events.

And seriously, look at those eyes! :)

So, he might be going into my top five. (Friends fans, you know what that means, wink).

Anyway, that's my plug for A-Coop. He's breath of fresh air among the increasingly sensational, slanted, and cowardly mainstream media.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ann Coulter Endorses Hillary Clinton?

It's no secret that I find Ann Coulter's political views and public demeanor to be an inflammatory polarizing force, as well as an utter embarrassment to all fair minded people (dems and repubs alike). She shamelessly demonizes democrats and gives the good-hearted, reasonable republicans a bad name by pretending to speak for all them. But I have to concede this...she's freaking unpredicatable. I did not see this one coming...

You know you can't go any further down the right wing, when even John McCain is too "liberal" to get your vote. I respect John McCain and share some commonground with him, but the precise reasons I most likely will not be voting for him are for some of his more "conservative" stances, not because he's too liberal! (I hate to have to brand some of these issues as liberal/conservative because many of the issues trandscend partisanship and find support/opposition on both sides, but when it comes to talking about Ann Coulter, she doesn't leave much room for any other labels, eh?)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Favorite Song Done Gospel Style

"Faith in Christ has not given me all the answers, it's given me a whole new set of questions"--Bono

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2 is possibly my favorite song of all time. I came across this video of U2 teaming up with The Harlem Gospel choir to transform this rock song into a gospel song. I love gospel choirs: put that together with my favorite band and you've got musical GOLD! :) Just another moment when a U2 concert feels more like a worship service.

The background and rehearsal.

The final product.