Archive for July, 2012

Holy Cow over a Holy Chicken

Posted on July 28, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Government, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never thought I’d write a post about Chi-fil-A. Probably because I didn’t think there was anything really to write about. Yes, I find their spicy chicken sandwich awesome. They do make the best cookies and cream milkshakes. And Chick-fil-a sauce can cure cancer. But if you wanted to know all that, you shouldn’t read about it in a blog, you should just go there and eat the food. Even if you’re gay.

That’s right, despite what you may or may not have heard, Chick-fil-A does serve homosexuals. Dan Cathy has not made it corporate policy to hate gays. Actually, I would say I eat at Chick-fil-A more than the average person (especially when I was pregnant) and I have never, ever been asked if I was in a heterosexual relationship or even if I was a Christian. That’s why it is very difficult for me to understand what in the world everyone was so upset about this week.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-A, gave an interview to the Baptist Press in which he said he believed marriage should be between one man and one woman. In other words, a Christian man, while talking to a Christian outlet, said he believes in the Christian definition of marriage.

This is not news.

What is news is the lack of outrage that has followed. The mayors of Boston and Chicago both claimed Chick-fil-A had no place in their cities and various gay activist groups are using a lot of resources to ostracize the company in the public sphere.

In this story, there’s something that pretty much everyone can unite against. These governments are treating a private company differently because its president holds a certain religious opinion. Many activist groups are using aggressive and coercive behavior to force Chick-fil-A to change its stance – might one call this bullying? Yet the outrage is targeted at demonizing a man because he ‘hates’ gays, though the activists are the ones who want to treat him differently for having a dissenting opinion.

I fully support that private citizens have the right to boycott Chick-fil-A (just as they could boycott OPEC oil for slaughtering homosexuals in those countries), but shouldn’t we be more cautious before publicly blacklisting Dan Cathy or anyone else for holding beliefs that are different than our own? Shouldn’t a red flag go up when government is threatening any citizen for their religious beliefs? Isn’t that the Christian, or if you’re not one of those, American thing to do?

I still firmly believe that this problem like so many can be fixed with a little Chick-Fil-A sauce, which is why I’ll be supporting the company on August 1st. Not just because I agree with Dan Cathy (my readers already know how I feel about that topic), but because I also support the right for people to express their beliefs without coercive backlash from the most ‘tolerant’ in society. How about you?

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Listen Up!

Posted on July 22, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When I was in elementary school, I got pegged to train in ‘Peer Mediation.’ It was a program where students who were having an argument of some type could settle their disputes by attending (usually by adult threat of force) a mediation session counseled by two unbiased (in theory) students. If it sounds nerdy, that’s because it was from the same teachers that thought DARE would keep kids from trying drugs. But one thing they hammered in training was this: listen. Conversations will naturally produce talking, but you have to actively listen to the other party if you want a relationship.

I’d say most of us want a relationship with God, but how many of us actively listen to Him? Probably not many, but why is that?

John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” One reason we don’t listen to God might be because we don’t know what God ‘sounds’ like. When we think of God talking, I think most of us return to the story of Moses talking with the bush that was on fire but did not burn. I also think about Jacob wrestling with God – I would imagine it’s pretty easy to listen to God when he’s putting you in an arm bar. But I came across this verse this week that really spoke to me:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Too often I think we’re focused on dodging falling boulders, putting out fires, or as my husband would say, playing whack-a-mole with the alligator closest to the boat. As a result, we never tune out life’s cacophony to hear what we claim we want to hear and certainly what we need to hear.

The other reason I think we don’t hear God: we’re too busy talking to Him. My pastor recently said that he spends 95% of his prayer time just listening…Obviously, he’s a man. I think it’s difficult for anyone to just listen, but extra hard for a woman. I read once that men on average use 7,000 words a day while women use 21,000. Sounds about right.

It’s easy to become too focused on telling God all about my needs, desires, even thanking Him for what He has provided me. As a result, I forget there’s someone else I need to yield the conversation to. I actually wondered, would God ever try to interrupt me if He had something He needed to say? Then it occurred me, it’s more likely that I’ve interrupted Him when there was something He wanted to say. There’s a sobering thought for how I’ve treated the creator of the universe.

So, who would have thought after all this time that my Peer Mediation training would turn out to be useful and remind me I need to focus a little more on listening in order to grow my relationship with God. I may not get to the 95% point, but at least I’ll be more successful than DARE – will you?

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Who Do You Have A Friend In?

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cover of "Toy Story: An Original Walt Dis...

Cover via Amazon

My nearly 2-year-old son has fallen in love with  “Toy Story.” I’m thankful that the kid has good taste, considering I’ll probably be watching it a lot over the next few years. There’s great characters, an original story line, (clean) adult humor, and pretty catchy tunes. I’ve actually had “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” in my head for the better part of a week now, which got me thinking, who should I have a friend in?

Friends are interesting creatures. The meaning of the word ‘friend’ has always been somewhat ambiguous. There’s your ‘friends’ that you’re friendly with but don’t really know too well. Then there’s the ‘just friends,’ which is usually someone of the opposite sex that you want to be more than friends with. Or the ‘friend’ that sat three rows behind you in Anthropology and you didn’t even know their name until they ‘friended’ you on Facebook. And then there’s the people that genuinely enrich your life.  All of these people are defined as ‘friends.’

But what does a biblical friendship look like? How do we know who we should be friendly with and who should be our companions in life?

We intrinsically know that friends are people you enjoy spending time with and usually share something in common with, like a love of a sports team or where you went to school together. The books of Amos echoes this: “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3). Yet, Amos takes our basic understanding of friendship to the next level by suggesting friends need to have their destination and the way they are getting there in common.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think Amos meant my girlfriend and I need to agree on how we get to frozen yogurt shop, though that’s also important. Friends communicate and agree on where they want to go in life and equally important, how they plan to get there.

Most people don’t give too much consideration to where they want to be or how they are getting there. But Christians have a friendly tour guide and road map, which give us direction. Christ himself laid out who his BFFs were when he said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).

While part of me wants to pretend a friend is someone who does whatever I command, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus meant here. Instead, his words lead me to believe a true friend is someone who is doing will of our Father, someone who confides in and knows Him. I realized, a friend is someone who brings you closer to your final destination, being with God.

Look at some of the best examples of friendship in the Bible: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naoami, Elisha and Elija, Balaam and his donkey. In each of them, both parties knew they wanted to follow God by obeying his words. Through assassination attempts, deaths of loved ones, and other life trials, these friendships endured because these people (and animal) weren’t focussed on pleasing themselves or even the other person. Rather, they were focussed on God.

This may sound like a simple concept, not too many of us are friends with murderers. But it can be difficult to sever relationships, platonic or romantic, with people who drive us from God rather than bring us closer to Him. We might even be tempted to think God ‘placed them in our lives.’ But verses like 2 Corinthians 6:14 and 1 John 2:15 lead me to question if God would want me to confide in someone who doesn’t agree on my life’s route or destination.

I’m blessed to have the friends who will ensure I check myself befo’ I wreck myself  (Proverbs 27:17). It’s my prayer that you’ll take the time to reflect on the relationships you surround yourself with to ensure they are drawing you closer to your destination. Hopefully, these are the people who will be with you from now to infinity and beyond.

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The Second Curse

Posted on July 8, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Sopranos title screen.

The Sopranos title screen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband and I have been catching up on some American pop culture by watching “The Sopranos” over the past few months. I’m pretty sure we’re the last people to see the show, but in case I’m wrong, it follows the life of Tony Soprano as he attempts to balance his personal life with running the New Jersey mafia. We’ve reached the point where his marriage is falling apart after years of lies, betrayals and abundant pastel furniture have finally taken their toll. Though they are married, Tony and his wife know very little about each other.

While I don’t think that too many people are sleeping around with one-legged Russians without their spouse knowing, it is common today for people to keep things from their spouse. For some it might be thousands of dollars on a credit card, for others it might just be holding back what you really want to say. For Carmella, Tony’s wife, it’s the latter. Like many women, she focuses on her role as the dutiful wife and hides from her fears. Fear of what would happen to her marriage, her children, her friends and her future if she took a stand against her husband.

I confess, I’ve wrongly judged people like this. I pride myself on having a completely open relationship with my husband (we aren’t swingers, we just communicate frequently). I struggle to relate with people who feel they can’t or shouldn’t tell their spouse something, because I believe God calls a married couple to become one in other ways than purely sexual. But the word of God is alive, powerful, and will show me how my ego is bigger than any greasy Jersey hair-do (Hebrews 4:12).

It’s clear to me that husbands and wives are indeed called to be one, but I wonder if some of us (myself included) take this concept too far (Genesis 2:22-25). In a post-women’s lib movement, American culture says that men and women are equal and if we’re being completely honest, we’ve beat down the roll of the dominate masculine man and replaced it with a more passive, dare I say effeminate, male.

While marriage is a partnership with each spouse playing an equally important role, women are called to submit their husbands because they are the leaders of the family (Ephesians 5:22-24). Some women are uncomfortable with the idea of submission because they associate it with a dog submitting to his master. But the comparison in Ephesians is that between Christ and the Church. I don’t think any Christian really thinks the Church is somehow degraded because it must submit to Christ. The Church has a very legitimate role to fulfill, but it must do so while being subservient to it’s leader.

Others of us (this is where I come in) agree with submission in theory, but execute it poorly. At its core, when women are called to submit, we are being called to respect our husbands and the awesome responsibility God has given them. We’re called to be their helpers in fulfilling their roles as leaders (Genesis 2:18-20). But let’s face it, we think they could do a better job and have little problem telling them so. It’s always going to be that way. Seriously, it’s Biblical. When we think of God punishing Eve after the Fall, we typically think of childbirth, i.e. rearing children. But there was a second curse: “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Women will always seek for men to make them happy, and they will never fulfill them completely (that’s reserved for someone else). My husband is a strong, loving, supportive, Godly man, yet I somehow always manage to find something I wish was done ‘better.’ Sadly, an epidural won’t take this curse away; I’ve just got to learn to love God by showing respect to my husband. How’s that done? By holding the tongue:

“It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home” (Proverbs 21:9).

“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15).

Solomon has a lot to say about the nagging wife (and he should since he had hundreds of them), but none of it is good. When women share all their feelings or express their desires, even under the auspices of ‘being one’, it can often come across as just complaining and disrespectful. Though the people who hide their true feelings out of fear or apathy are also sinning, those of us who tell our spouses everything could probably learn something from couples who have mastered the art of discretion.

Ladies, we’ll always find something that we’d like done differently (a wadded up towel on the dish rack, dirty socks right next to the hamper), but pointing out all these ‘suggestions’ isn’t being a good helper or a respectful wife. I know I for one need to work on having more discretion and encouragement.  But the good news is that a woman who is a virtuous wife to her husband isn’t just some rug a husband walks all over. In fact, she gives her husband’s life meaning and is worth more to him than fine rubies, which are certainly more valuable than all the gaudy gold jewelry along the Jersey shore (Proverbs 31:1-12).

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Coverage for the Bleeding Heart

Posted on July 1, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Economics, Government, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

In the 72 hours following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, it would seem that everyone and their mother is now a Constitutional scholar. Fortunately for my readers, I’m not going to bloviate on the logic of Congress being able to tax something it cannot legally regulate. Nor will I pontificate on how the Federal government cannot coerce states to engage in behavior but can do so to its citizens. Those would appear to be a moot topics now. But I did notice some of my left-leaning friends envoking their Christian values (loving others as they love themselves and caring for the poor) to defend Obamacare.

Proverbs 18:2 reads, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Some of the most vocal on this issue are clearing relying preconceived false notions of federalism, (“Why can’t we mandate healthcare if we mandate car insurance?”) capitalism/insurance (“Those companies are making billions in profits!”), the uninsured (“Only the 1% can afford health insurance”), government (“It’ll be like Medicare for everyone!”), and general health (“People can’t help if they have….”), clearly demonstrating their ignorance . I’m not claiming to be a savant in the ways of health insurance, but I do rely on more informative sources than Rolling Stone articles and the Daily Show.

Christ called us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, which leads some to support government run/regulated healthcare. Yet, Obamacare will not achieve this goal efficiently or effectively and here is why:

Creating price caps on any product results in a lower price, but it does not eliminate the cost (it still takes just as much training to make a doctor or just as many hospitals to treat patients…but I digress). Instead, the cost appears in other forms like lower quality service and product shortages (resulting from demand for the product going up while the market supply simultaneously dropped). In a health industry, that can have terrible, sometimes deadly consequences.

The British National Health Service is notorious for it’s long waiting lists to see doctors or to schedule surgeries. In one year alone one 4,000 women gave birth in hospital waiting rooms, bathrooms, hallways and elevators while waiting to be seen by a doctor. The OECD found that 27% of Canadians and 38% of British wait more than 4 months for elective surgeries, which included some heart surgery.

But you don’t need to look abroad for other examples. You could look the VA, Medicaid, Medicare or the military health insurance TRICARE here in the US. Costs under all of these programs have exploded, while care is anything but stellar. Because my husband is a Marine, we have TRICARE. Last year, I found a lump in my breast and waited 3 weeks before I could see a specialist, another 2 for results (which were thankfully clear). Yes, the price was zero but the cost was not. I hate to think what those three weeks would have cost me if I had cancer…

Another example, my son’s doctor told me his office dedicates one person to handle TRICARE insurance claims because of the bureaucratic mess involved, while another employee handles all other insurance claims. Many doctors’ offices and hospitals don’t even take Medicare/Medicaid because government reimbursable rates are so low (certainly some costs associated with doctors not seeing those patients aren’t there?). These disincentives will only increase and will eventually back-fire leading to fewer smarty-pants wanting to be doctors, as it did in the UK. There, half of doctors are imported, many from third world countries where training isn’t first-rate, unless you include voodoo which is always a safe bet.

Don’t forget Americans get to enjoy many of the latest drugs before the rest of the world because the newest drugs are usually the most expensive (those evil money-hungry pharmaceutical companies have to recooperate their R&D costs, not to mention invest in new drugs). Single-payer systems won’t, and can’t, afford the best drugs for everyone. The price on the next-best drug may be zero, but is the cost?

Christians (and otherwise) all want their neighbors to have the best healthcare for the lowest cost. But past and contemporary history and basic economics show us following the way of the NHS and Medicare/Medicaid isn’t the way to achieve that goal. There still are ways to bring costs and prices down, such as returning insurance to it’s original intent (managing risk). But unfortunately, exploring these ideas would require politicians and the public at large to gain little discipline and understanding, rather than just concentrating on airing out their well-intentioned but poorly-informed opinions.

PS – Please feel free to air out your opinions of me airing out my opinions below.

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