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« Empathy on Steroids | Main | To Whom It May Concern »

April 23, 2007


Definitely a time for prayer.

It's such a hard balance because on the one hand we as Christians do not put all our hopes in this life. We certainly don't put our ultimate hope in politics.

At the same time, we are accountable for our part in doing what we can to see that God's righteousness is held forth in this broken and lost world.

I repeat: what would be just wonderful is if Congress passed a law allowing abortion and Roe were overturned. Then we could all get political electing favorable members of Congress (and if we get it wrong, try again next time) instead of having to luck out with our 9 robed masters (whose words are infallible, so we only get 1 chance to get it right).

As usual, most votes will be cast "against" someone, rather than for someone. Sadly the cause of conservatism has been greatly damaged by the buffoonery of the incumbent - on many fronts. Definitely a time for prayer.

You americans never cease to amaze the followers of Jesus in the rest of the world with your reliance on this world's system. Bush and the so called conservative republicans played you like fiddles and still the lessons aren't learned. No wonder when Christians from developing countries come to america many don't believe most professing US Christians are even saved, you seemed to be conformed to this world in so many ways.

Cameron -

Your comments don't make sense in the context of the posted subject matter. The post is about why the coming elections matter. Although Bush could have done more to nominate conservative justices, that could always be said. However, in light of the recent ruling on partial birth abortions, it appears Bush's nominees tipped the scales in favor of the innocent and defenseless. Certainly protection of the innocent and defenseless is a Christian virtue.

So in what way is that being conformed to the world? I'm sure in some way I am conformed to the world. And although I don't know you, I'm sure in some way you are too. I suspect until Christ comes back there will some part of me and some part of you that always is conformed to the world. I think that is why we ultimately that Christ can finish His work in us. It's just that, that charge does not fit, given the context of this post.

Are you sure you posted that comment in the right blog posting?


It is almost certain that both Stevens and Ginsberg will go during the next President's term (if not before). Both of these Justices come down firmly in the pro roe v. Wade camp.

I believe the Court has stepped outside its Constitutional authority in a number of areas (Kelo, Lawrence, Roe v. Wade and others) and needs to have a more "originalist" approach.

This is most likely impossible with a Democrat in office and certainly not assured with a Republican!

Cameron -

I am not even sure what you were trying to say here.

Hey Melinda,

I was just wondering if you get all your news from mainstream media. It seems you get all your information from sources like CNN, Fox News, etc. I am not asking this in a derogatory manner, I was just interested.

Cameron was quite clear, at least I understood him. I wish more Christians like him (and Alan P.) would post here more often. I can understand that most here would disagree with him but to not understand simply shows how sheltered and in denial some Christians in this country are.

Alan, the STR Blog is not about politics (though we occasionally have posts that discuss political decisions when they touch on Christianity, ethics, and/or philosophy), and yet you consistently turn every comment section away from the post subject about which we are trying to raise discussion to politics and George Bush. Now you're shaking your head at us, claiming we're too politically minded?

Trust me, I would much rather the discussions on this blog actually centered around the subjects we're presenting, so if you have a problem with politics being discussed on this Christian blog, then the answer is for you to stop hijacking the discussions when they have nothing to do with George Bush, the Iraq war, or politics. That would go far in correcting this problem you're so concerned about.

There are plenty of political blogs out there for you to comment on without having to make ours political as well. Please find one of those or start your own so you can freely discuss George Bush in every post. People are very respectful of you here and allow you to consistently change the subject to politics. But then to accuse us with Cameron of being too dependent on this "world's system"? It's too much.

Hi Amy, I do appreciate the openness on this blog to folks like Tony and myself as many conservative blogs are far less tolerant of contrary opinion. And I will take this opportunity to apologize should I have been harsh or unfair to anyone - I am always open to correction.

That having been said; What are you talking about? Do you actually read this blog? Did you actually read my post?

There are currently 12 threads in the present line up. Eight of them are overtly political. The title of this one is "The Stakes in the Next Election"; help me here and explain how this thread isn't about politics. Accusing me of steering non-political threads into politics as opposed to steering political threads in a direction I see relevant is simply not true - at least I try not to do that and will gladly accept rebuke if I stray. With 75% of the current threads concerning politics you have certainly given me a target rich environment.

Does it scare you that believing Christians may also have a problem with the politics your side has helped foist on this nation and the world? One of the things that I find disapointing is the the only dissenting voices around here are a couple of heathens. Doesn't the lack of diversity bother you? Would you really be happy with Melinda posting a "Hallelujah" to a critical Supreme Court decision without at least one effected person demurring and pointing out that the underlying law is poorly written (btw, had you even read the law before I posted it?) and that the decision is poorly reasoned and has broad implications beyond merely affirming 18USC74

I was merely expressing wonder that anyone could fail to understand Cameron's point. STR helped to elect George Bush; had things gone well you would have been happy to bask in the glow. I understand, given how things in general have actually gone, that you would rather not hear about it but doesn't accountability figure in somewhere?

The use of the term "world's system" seems to have really set you off. I confess that I glossed over that phrase in Cameron's post without much notice and I'm not exactly sure what meaning either he or you assign to those words. I suppose he could be referring to the unprecedented corruption of the past six Congresses and the scandals currently being uncovered in the present Administration - perhaps he will enlighten us further.

I will allow that I may have been a little unkind when I shot down your "DMV" meme in your first post awhile back but as you didn't respond I will assume that I was also on target.

Iron sharpens iron Amy, and Paul, William, John, Aaron, Patrick and my other friends on this blog seem to enjoy kicking me around. I would also suggext you audit the threads. Absent Tony and myself you would largely have an amen chorus. Is that what you really want? Rather than ask me to go away, why don't you engage Cameron and his "world's system" charge?

Alan, for what it's worth, I'm glad for your presence here. It keeps us conservative/classical/orthodox/whatever Christians honest.

Except when you are a bit too strident, which seems to be the case here.

Let me be crass and compare you to Tony M. As I read his posts, I always picture Tony with a whimsical look. I usually envision you as frowning.

That said, I've probably written some snarly things myself. But it's more important for you to "have an attractive manner," since you are one of the main folks representing the loyal opposition. I'm just another sheltered Christian living in denial. :-)

Alan wrote in response to Amy: "Rather than ask me to go away, why don't you engage Cameron and his "world's system" charge?Rather than ask me to go away, why don't you engage Cameron and his "world's system" charge?"

I don't think Amy was asking you to go away Alan. But I can see why you might think that. You actually prove her point quite nicely; you are myopically tuned to see every post through an unoriginal list of liberal talking points. There is no intelligent achievement in vitriolic criticism of leadership....of our country or any other organization. An eighth grader can stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at the strong men in the arena. True leadership provides rational, realistic alternatives. With a few exceptions, almost every democratic leader, political pundit and liberal blog poster I read sounds exactly like you. It is unfortunate that the democratic party has been hijacked by a very anti-American radical strain of the culture. I understand from listening to others older and wiser then I that the democratic party wasn't always that way.

As I'm sure you're well aware I see political issues through my own worldview as well. At times, when certain issues of deep conviction are at stake - like the intrinsic value of all human life - I can also be myopic. I have an Agenda too. However it is not political in nature. My Agenda is one that was given to me, that I did not create, rather discovered and is, in a sense - my life's work.

I feel such a deep sense of satisfaction and absolute awe at being chosen to participate in advancing this Agenda, that I truly understand your aspirations and perseverance to advance your own cause. In that sense we share common ground.

It is also in that the common ground...that thing we share....our humanity that is rational and goal driven, that I am troubled for you, because the focus of your agenda is something fleeting. It is something that will not ultimately prevail. Please don't misunderstand me here. I don't think "my side" wins - politically speaking in the end. I've read the back of the Good Book and although the Good Guy wins in the end, I think it actually gets worse before it gets better.

However, the back of the book isn't all there is. And thank God for that!...the back of the book is a tough read. The heart of my Agenda - my "talking points", if you will - are actually much clearer.

1. Genesis
2. Are you a good person?
3. And the resurrection.

We were created; "things"...the world and especially human beings are not as we should be....something is broken AND Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead.

Seems to me the reasons for believing the first and third points are significantly better then the alternatives. From those two - everything else follows. As my buddy Cliff articulated in another recent thread here, liberal or conservative - doesn't matter in the wider context of sound theology.

It is in that field - the field of theology - that you have my attention, my concern and my time. What is at stake in the next election, is meaningless compared to what is at stake when you pass from this world to the next my friend. If I'm wrong about politics, I can change my mind and vote differently in two four years....maybe eight. If you are wrong about Christ, if you are wrong about Him you do not have the same options. Right?

As the second point - the fact that "things aren't as they should be" under girds the very context for your political better society, the environment and your fellow human beings, does this not cause you to pause and ask yourself "why"?


Well, are we far enough off topic yet? Sigh...

I understand that it requires patience and discipline to stay on topic. Perhaps the lack of this skill is related to the political climate that we are suffering through.

Indirectly perhaps this is also partly responsible for the increasing reliance on the Court to settle what is, in my view, outside their authority.

Another case for the list I think was decided contrary to the intent of the Constitution was McCain/Feingold.

I don't see the Court being in a balance of any sort. Assuming a Democrat wins the presidency and replaces Stevens and Ginsburg, the character of the Court would likely remain very similar.

A third appointment (I am not sure which justice might go next)would clearly involve serious political struggle because it would make a major difference in the direction our society will develope.

While I share your sense that Alan seems to turn every post hear to a debate about politics and the Bush administration, the timing and context of your objection is unfortunate. This was one article where such political responses are most appropriate. This was a post which spoke to the importance of the presidency, so therefore although he was wrong again, it was for ONCE an appropriate occasion for Alan to speak to the political issue.
Having said that, Alan, I wouldn't make too much of Amy's lack of response to your comment to her post, as I have never seen any of the STR folks who post here respond directly to comments, which is not to say they don't.

BTW, STR, do you have a standing policy about direct responses to the comments on your articles?

Alan, don't ever go away. Just try to keep an open mind. I for one will try to do the same.


G.K. Chesterton said "The purpose of an open mind is the same as that of an open mouth - to close it again on something solid."

Food for thought :)

Hi William, the loss of O'Conner was apparently pivotal for cases involving women's rights. The next election may turn on the effect the decision has on moderates who are pro-choice yet voted for the Republican based on the assumption that abortion rights were safe.

The anti-abortion side was very skillful here; it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The pro-choice side will have to craft and communicate a message that accurately describes the implicatons of Gonzales, while the other side will have to encourage the base without alarming les autres.

John, before you trust "those wiser" re: the Democratic party then and now, you might want to go over to Mark Thoma's blog and read the discussion that developed between him, Bruce Bartlett, Paul Krugman, and Brad DeLong over the trajectory of Keynesian policy in the 1970s. When it comes to history, even scary-smart, honest people can differ.

Hi Cliff, the gulf may be too wide so it is probably hard to tell when I am frowning or not, I actually do laugh sometimes, just less these last few years.

I do keep an open mind Daniel, and I can understand that while to me, abortion is just another issue to be balanced within a big picture, others, perceiving murder, might see the issue as beyond politics.

One can't learn unless one is willing to poke and probe (or bite) and I understand that some can find that unpleasant.

Hi, William, interesting discussion on Rosenberg's "The Hollow Hope" (proper role of the courts in effecting social change)over at Jack balkin's blog.

>>And I will take this opportunity to apologize should I have been harsh or unfair to anyone - I am always open to correction.

Alan, no need to apologize for that. This honestly is not about you being harsh or unfair, and this certainly isn't a personal vendetta because of a DMV comment. And I apologize if I missed responding to you on something. There's no official policy about not responding to comments, but we tend not to, and the general issues are time and a desire to let you all have your say in the comments and interact with each other.

Yes, I read the blog, and yes, I read your post. And yes, this particular post is about politics, and we've had several to do with partial birth abortion because of the recent decision. I certainly don't deny that. What I was reacting to was your agreement with Cameron that we were too dependent on politics. However, in light of your response where you said:

>>The use of the term "world's system" seems to have really set you off. I confess that I glossed over that phrase in Cameron's post without much notice and I'm not exactly sure what meaning either he or you assign to those words.

I think, then, you may have been agreeing to something you didn't mean to agree to. In general, when a Christian says another Christian is too dependent on the "world's system," he's referring to the idea that we shouldn't be so concerned about politics or try to change anything through politics. So I suppose my reaction to your complaint was based on a complaint you weren't really making, so I withdraw the reaction with my apologies

But yes, it is true that you steer the posts away from their subjects. Have you not seen comments on previous posts that marveled that you were able to turn things into discussions about Bush, or comments about your "six degrees of separation" game moving everything to a discussion of George Bush? Often we'll have a post that discusses a philosophical issue relevant to a political event, and then you start talking about the Bush Administration and/or the Iraq war when the subject is the philosophical issue.

For example, I just put the STR URL and "Bush Administration" into Google, and came up with an example as the first choice on the list:

On a post about Peter Singer's view that humans are not valuable, you said, "Shortly before the issue hit the big time the Bush Administration and the Republican leadership in Congress conspired to lower Medicaid benefits."

A more relevant disagreement would be to argue that Peter Singer is correct, that we should discard our view that humans are valuable, etc. But you start arguing about the Bush Administration. I'm saying that's off topic. And while there's nothing wrong with discussing the Bush Administration's view on Medicaid--and in fact, these things should be discussed and debated, this forum was not created to discuss those things.

And just take a look at the recent "Abortion Revolt" post about how doctors in the UK are starting to refuse to do abortions, and see how quickly you turned it to a discussion about the Bush Administration, the Schiavo case, and the Iraq War, saying things like, "Does starting an unnecessary war that you have no plans to win and letting an American city drown have any place in your "pro-responsibility causes"?"

I don't want to see discussion on the topic at hand suffer because of a rabbit trail--no matter how important that rabbit trail. This is bound to happen occasionally, and that's no big deal. But this has been consistent, and that's not fair to the people who came to discuss the ethical, religious, and philosophical issues. It's no secret that you're here to change people's political views and speak out against the Bush Administration. And that inevitably comes out in your comments. That's why I suggest that if that's really your agenda, maybe you should go to a blog that exists to talk about conservative politics.

I absolutely do not want you to stop commenting on the blog as long as you're engaged in the topic. (For example, Tony's only agenda is to show where we're wrong, so he stimulates discussion in the same direction as the post.) I agree with you that disagreement is key for a good discussion. What I really want to see, though, is disagreement about the subject at hand. I know you don't see yourself doing this, and you haven't noticed people commenting on you doing this before, so all I ask is that you keep this in mind for the future and just try to stay on topic. (For example, I agree that discussion about the Supreme Court decision was appropriate for the post on the Supreme Court decision.)

>> STR helped to elect George Bush; had things gone well you would have been happy to bask in the glow. I understand, given how things in general have actually gone, that you would rather not hear about it but doesn't accountability figure in somewhere?

This has nothing to do with my not wanting to hear something. All I'm saying is, comment on George Bush when we write a post about George Bush. I don't want to talk about George Bush when he is not the subject of the post.

One more off-the-topic point, if that's okay...

Alan, you made some sort of comment that silence implies agreement. I.e., if your points go unanswered here, then we don't have a rebuttal and you must be right.

At least in my case, I have a day job and many other responsibilities. Sometimes I go upwards of a week (gasp!) without reading the blog. And every time I spend an hour composing a post here, I tell myself that it will be the last one... :-)

Just wanted to set the record straight.

Hi Cliff and Amy, I don't think I meant that, but if I wasn't clear, I didn't - sorry if I phrased it badly. I have other things to do also so I take your point.

I wish Cameron had hung in here. His post doesn't turn on the phrase "world's system" for me but I am on the outside and I guess to someone on the inside that phrase takes on an importance it doesn't have for me. While I would be tickled pink if most of you didn't vote, there is no way that I can criticize you for exercising your rights and responsibilities as citizens.

Amy, I will try to be more careful. No one, myself included, likes to have their mistakes rubbed in continuously and I will allow that I have been guilty here.

Just a short clarification with the example you used. Steve referenced an article by Peter Singer that discussed end-of-life issues. Steve invited comments on the article. My point was that with a cohort of geezers in the wings we weren't going to solve a looming problem with pieties alone; at some point, sooner rather than later, we need to confront the issue of how we pay for it. There is a massive contradiction in passing a law to keep someone "alive" while cutting the funding that person uses to stay "alive".

I was actually on point with that one but I will think a third time in the future.

Most conservative blogs, at least the ones I have seen, are useless (Cowen, Mankiw and the like excepted). Str's blog is in a class with DeLong, Kleiman and Balkin where one can actually learn something and the commenters are mostly civil.

Alan, thanks for your kind words about the blog. It means a lot that someone who disagrees would say that.

Hmmmm. I'm somewhat at a loss here. From your comment it seems that you still don't understand what I'm asking for or why I'm asking, so let me see if I can explain with an illustration. Hopefully you can help me find a constructive way forward with an answer to my question at the end.

Imagine there's a political blog out there, and I go over there to be part of the discussion. The blogger posts a critique of the actions taken by certain senators to introduce a piece of legislation intended to reduce crime. People come on to debate the morality of their actions and which legislation would really work best.

Then I come on and say, "You say you're worried about crime and corruption, yet you don't address the fact that we're all sinners! We have a real problem because our hearts are not right with God, and we tend to do bad things. If we don't go to Him to change us, no crime legislation will end crime in our country. See these links to find out why everything that I'm saying about Jesus' death and resurrection is true. You support people denying Jesus; why can't you admit what denying Him has done to our country?"

At first, it's no big deal, but pretty soon, after a few comments like this one, the discussions start to center around whether or not Jesus died for our sins, whether the Bible is correct, etc. Since God is relevant to every part of my life, and I think about Him constantly, I naturally bring up how every issue relates to Jesus and the truth about Him, and post many links that explain why other people should also take the view that Jesus was who He said He was.

Some of the other commenters engage me in the discussion, and some--including those who wanted to disagree on the original topic--just go on to the next post because they're not interested in the discussion; that's not what they came to the "Politics, Politics, Politics!" blog for. So they move on, looking for a post discussing the senators. The blog starts attracting more people who want to debate Jesus and repelling those who want to debate politics.

Eventually, as I do this in post after post, the blogger realizes that the blog is becoming something different and he misses the discussions they used to have about the topics he was presenting. He's also confused since I keep insisting that he's against Jesus and offering reasons against his anti-Jesus position when he doesn't post tirades against Jesus. He doesn't believe in Jesus, as it happens, but that wasn't the purpose of his posts (though he sometimes discusses the issue of Jesus with friends and on other blogs), and he didn't have Jesus in mind when he wrote them. He has other things he wants to discuss on the blog because he has a mission in mind for that blog. He has arguments against Jesus, sure, but he doesn't want to get off track from what's really important to him.

Eventually, he asks me to try to discuss the legislation instead of my evidence for Jesus. He's even more baffled when I respond, "I still say I was on topic. My point was that you're not going to solve the crime problem with legislation alone. At some point, you're going to have to confront the issue of how only Jesus can change a person, and the evidence shows that he's real. But I will try to be more careful about talking about the truth about Jesus. I understand that no one likes to face his sins and the truth about God--I didn't either, so I'm sorry that reminding you of this bothered you."

How should he respond to me?

Great post Amy.

“Such is the tragicomedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. . . . In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” - C.S. Lewis

View on present SC

(copy lineto link)

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