Thursday, March 25, 2004

Israeli Restraint

Something that really bothers me in the discussion I hear about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is this sort of "they're both equally bad" attitude. I just can't understand that attitude.

This is what would make the two sides equally bad: If the Palestinians blew up a bus filled with unarmed Israeli civilians (men, women and children) and then in retaliation the Israelis dropped a bomb on a marketplace filled with unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. That would be close to equivalent, but not quite since the one who started it is more to blame.

But I'm not seeing that. When Palestinian terrorists blow up buses, I see the Israelis trying to attack just the terrorists. I see restraint in the face of the most brutal provocation.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Europeans and Cowboys

The latest disagreements between the U.S. and Europe remind me of how some Europeans think they can insult Americans. They call us "cowboys."

I've never really figured this one out, and it suggests to me a real ignorance of American culture.

What's weird about the insult is that the mythology of cowboys in America is very positive. The cowboy is a tough man who can make it on his own in the wild, he's a hard worker, he loves the outdoors and horses, he has a straightforward sense of justice, he's honest, he treats women with respect, he's polite in an unaffected way, he panders to nobody, he's cool under pressure, and he's a man of few words but strong actions.

Granted that real cowboys probably didn't (and don't) often live up to this ideal, but it's the ideal we Americans have in our heads, and its really hard for us to feel insulted when we're accused of being cowboys. We're more likely to be secretly flattered, even if we know it is intended as a put-down.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Pray for Denmark

As I mentioned earlier, a friend and I have started a little Web page called Pray for Denmark, a site for those who want to pray that Jesus will revive his church in that land. It's pretty rudimentary at the moment. We'll have a better design and more pages shortly, but we wanted to get it up and running. Stop by and visit, and say a prayer. Thanks!

Saturday, March 06, 2004

What's the Problem?

Something I am trying to figure out in the current uproar about homosexuals wanting to be married is this: What do they gain from it? What rights are they being denied?

Inheritance? I don't think so. Homosexuals can leave their belongings to whomever they please, just as everybody else can.

Insurance? This is a matter for employers and insurance companies. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't know that there are any laws that require companies to offer insurance at all; or if they do offer it, that it needs to cover spouses.

Taxes? Not exactly my area of expertise, but for a while there were complaints about the "marriage penalty," because married couples actually paid more taxes than two singles.

Maybe there is some material loss homosexuals suffer from not being able to marry, but if so, I'd like to know what it is. And if it exists, I'd like to know why it couldn't be corrected by simply changing the relevant law or laws.

Unless I can be convinced that homosexuals suffer some specific, material loss that can't be corrected by narrowly aimed legislation, but only by marriage, then I have to think that the whole movement for homosexual marriage is simply an effort to dilute the meaning of marriage.

What I mean is this: If marriage is not just between one man and one woman, but can also be between two men or two women, then by what logic can it even be limited to that? Why can't three men and a woman be "married?" Why can't polygamy be considered a legitimate form of marriage? Why can't a whole frat house be married? If "marriage" means any living arrangement among human beings, then marriage means nothing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Geneva Collars

A friend recently wrote me about some people he knows who have left evangelical churches to join more traditional churches, such as Lutheran and Orthodox churches. I don't know that there is a flood of this going on, but I would certainly say it's a trend.

I wonder if the reason is that there is a longing for structure. When I became a Christian (early 70s) there was a lot of rebellion against authority and its structures. The cry was that, "Jesus can set you free." Now, I think that longing for freedom has spent itself, possibly because there don't seem to be a lot more freedoms to get. I think people are free to do just about anything they please, including - they percieve - in their Christian lives. Perhaps now people are missing a sense of structure, and insofar as churches have structure - and I think more ritualistic churches at least appear to have it - they will attract people. Maybe it's time to bring back the black robes, Geneva collars and candles.