Final Questions and Answers

To close out the year, we’ve been watching the last episodes of From the Earth to the Moon.

As each new year brings changes and developments, I can’t help but feel that we have stepped back from human potential. I’m not writing as a humanist, but rather as someone who sees human progress as a positive thing – a greater use of God given talent and ability.  At least by this end of 2008, we are promised the mission of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to once again map out the surface and find good places for human to land.

2007 was a eventful year, There’s no need to recount all the major news that happened in the world. For me it brought a new job.

What 2008 we don’t know. There is talk of economic recession. There is an American presidential election. The only thing we know is that at this time next year, God will still be on the Throne.

The thing I wonder is whether anyone else’s life will be better because I was there. Will I be a better husband? A better father? A better teacher? Will I demonstrate any human progress of my own? Will history repeat itself and will I chalk these aspirations up as failures this time next year? Or is this the year I make my big move to difference? Will I stop asking all these questions?

I hope that you, the gentle reader, had a good 2007 and wish for you a better 2008. But whatever happens, remember, God is still on the Throne.

Remember That You Were Strangers

Once again, I’ve been found using “Mike Huckabee theocracy theocrat” as a search string. It is always hard to tell if this is used by someone who thinks any Christian values in civil government is the equivalent of theocracy, or whether it is someone who can use it in the more specific sense of a particular set of views within Christian theology.

Since the former is really a straw man argument, it is pointless to argue with it. However, I am pretty sure that Huckabee would not fit within the usual bounds of the theocratic view, which is used as a synonym for – or close relative to – theonomy or Reconstructionism. That is not to say that he hasn’t been influenced by it – or even that he doesn’t have books by R J Rushdoony on his bookshelf, but he has not come across as a theonomist.

That being said, he does take the most theonomic view when it comes to the hot-hot-hot-button issue of immigration. It is one of the few policy areas where the other Republicans can “fault” him. After all, Tancredo and Hunter helped build the wall in California. Guiliani is protesting as much as he can that he didn’t run a sanctuary city and Romney that he didn’t hire undocumented aliens to work for him. Huckabee just keeps explaining over and over why he chose the policy about in-state tuition in Arkansas.

In my view, Huckabee is the only one approaching a biblical view on immigration. I don’t think he has one or supports one, but he comes the closest. I think he put the bar too high on the in-state tuition. I think a child of an undocumented adult who is domiciled in the state, has always lived in the State, and has no personal connection to any other jurisdiction should automatically get in-state tuition, whether or not they achieve a level of academic excellence not required of other children in the state. “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” (Exodus 12:49)

The treatment of aliens in the Old Testament, both legally and spirirtually, is a matter of God’s keen interest. They are not to be oppressed. “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.” (Deut. 24:14-15)

Just like the Israelites, we should remember that we were and are aliens. We were alienated from God, yet Christ died for us and gave us citizenship in heaven. And now that we have that citizenship, we have become strangers and aliens in this world.

One blogger criticised Huckbee as ridiculing the religious views of his opponents because they disagreed with his policy toward immigrants in Arkansas. Well, I’m not going to ridicule anyone; I’m just going to say they are wrong. There is no place in the heart of the believer for Nativism. It is a tenet of that form of idolatry known as American Civil Religion.

It is a patriotism that fails to acknowledge that every founding father was a stranger and an alien. They showed up in a place that didn’t belong to them without being invited, and in many cases stole the land from the previous inhabitants, driving them out with a combination of conventional and biological warfare. Native Americans were not even legally recognised as people until 1879 and did not have the full rights of citizenship until 1924.

The current influx of strangers in the land may have an impact on the current culture, but not nearly as much as the previous culture was impacted and nearly obliterated. How conveniently that is forgotten.

God doesn’t forget. He hears the cry of the oppressed and answers them. Those who fail to recognise this will have a lot to answer for.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Real Limited Government

I was looking at the Facebook profile of one of my new Facebook and old blogging friends and he described his political views as “apathetic”.  Another Orthodox friend recently mentioned that his wasn’t sure if the third party he usually supports has a candidate for President yet. As much as I like to blog about and otherwise support political (and in this season, particularly presidential) candidates, I can understand their feelings and attitudes.

Too often we expect too much. While I do think it is important that a nation be led by godliness, and various candidates may reflect that in various ways, as hopefully we all do, no President of the United States or any other elected (or non-elected) official is going to create an environment perfect for [insert constituency here, whether it is Christians, the unborn, the family, everyone, the planet] because they can’t. It is not within their power.

Beyond that, for Christians, our citizenship isn’t even primarily here anyway. Mike Huckabee probably shouldn’t run a TV saying that, but it’s true. We’re just passing through on our way to a city whose builder and maker is God.

But in whatever phase of our eternal life we are in, our hope is in the name of Lord, who made heaven and earth. We have to live out our faith in active ways, but we still have to remember God is in control.  Whoever gets elected president may be the most powerful human on the planet, but the world is still ultimately run by an absolute Monarchy.

Character and Moral Leadership

I wish I could remember which blog (or blog combox) I read that said Mike Huckabee seems to be running for America’s pastor rather than American’s president. I don’t do lots of blog surfing, so it may be a sentiment that has been oft-repeated or picked up from an MSM expert or pundit.

Tonight as I was washing the dishes, I realised that if that’s what Mike is trying to do, then he has the right idea. What are Americans looking for in a president? They are looking for someone who is caring and comforting in time of need. They are looking for someone who can articulate a vision and inspire hope and courage. They are looking for someone who is not afraid to call evil “evil” and good “good”; someone with a fixed moral compass.

Should voters care about a candidate’s view on foreign policy? Not really. It doesn’t change much from administration to administration, because each has to deal with the exigencies of the day in a pragmatic way. Bush policy didn’t different much from Clinton policy until 9/11 and there’s nothing to say that Gore dealing with post 9/11 would have done it any different than Bush. Would Gore have been more forbearing of Saddam’s flagrant disregard for sanctions and the no-fly zones? Frankly, we don’t know who he would have had running State, Defense, and the NSA, so we don’t know which ways he would have been pulled. Had he invaded (an idea most everyone loved at the time), would he have been stuck in the same mire as the Bush administration? Probably so.

So much of the hype and focus by the MSM is based on red herrings. I would hope for more honesty in the blogosphere. From what I can see, the bloggers of the Northeast and the West Coast, as a few wannabes caught in the Red States in between, are stropping around the blogosphere, furious that a lot of Republicans don’t want gee-everyone-makes-mistakes-like-two-openly-adulterous-relationships Guiliani. They can’t for the life of them understand why Americans might not want a contest between a pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion Republican and a pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion Democrat.

Both sides know that these issues and others have little to do with the Presidency. It’s like Mike Huckabee’s answer about evolution. Why is somebody asking this of a candidate for president when it has nothing to do with the presidency? Those asking the questions are trying to show that Huckabee is a religious idiot – that’s what Blue Staters want to see and will see regardless of how he answers questions on evolution. No one in the Red States believes in evolution anyway, so all it does is convince them that Mike’s their man.

And for all of Bill Clinton’s “It’s the economy stupid” slogan, the Chief Executive actually doesn’t have a lot of control of that either, the OMB and the Departments of Treasury and Commerce notwithstanding. At the end of the day, it is about character.

It is not about competence. Just about every candidate running in the two main parties is competent to be president. All the Republicans want to be like Ronald Reagan and he slept through much of his second term, still managing to combine his moral leadership with that of some pastors in Eastern Europe to being down the Iron Curtain.

All the Democrats want to be like JFK, whose presidency was about fiascos and philandering. Oh, and he got himself killed. Assassination is the civil religion equivalent of martyrdom, so he’s now a saint.

No, it’s about character. It’s about moral leadership. I’m a firm believer that elections give the electorate what they deserve. If the Red States lose their focus on values, they deserve to get a valueless president.

The Real Mike

Well, I’m about to do it again. I’m not going to become a habitual YouTube embedder. Honest.

The commercials of Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee are funny and effective. They are easy to find. Enjoy. Really, the video I’ve embedded here is easy enough find, I suppose. It is much more substantive than the one-minute Chuck Norris ads.

For those afraid of what they think is theocracy or any candidate for whatever office with a clearly defined faith and no fear about how that faith makes them the person they are, watch so you can tremble with unfounded terror, even though it is not a political speech. If you want to see what the Christian Right is about and what very clearly distinguishes Mike Huckabee from the wishy-washy stuff that Mitt Romney came out with in Texas yesterday, watch it. If you want to see pastor talking to pastors about what really matters watch it. If you have 42 minutes – or 40 minutes if you don’t bother with the intro clips at the beginning – watch it.

Who Instead of How

Mike’s got ’em worried. One of the searches that turned up my blog for someone was “huckabee (theocrat OR theocracy OR theoc. . . ” – it cuts off after 40 characters. After all, nobody wants a theocrat, unless he worships their theos. Everybody has one, even if they think they are a-theos. They are usually autotheist.

As a former Baptist pastor, it’s not surprising that Huckabee’s view of evolution is of interest to that handful of Americans who find it a convincing theory. I’m usually not one to embed YouTube videos, but I’ve added this one:

Changing Horses

I was a bit surprised to see prominent reports about the CNN/YouTube GOP debate in the UK press. I was especially surprised to see positive press for Mike Huckabee. After all, he’s the one candidate about whom there’s never been any question with regard to the place of religion in his life and if there is anything hated by Brits, it is religious politicians.

As a result, I had to watch the debate on YouTube. I was also quite impressed with Huckabee. For now I am switching my support from Thompson and following the lead of Chuck Norris in endorsing Huckabee. I’ve no doubt his campaign will be excited to learn of this. I’m not switching because he has the best chance of getting the nomination – even if he is leading in Iowa. He is the most principled candidate in the race.

I think Huckabee could be what George W Bush wanted to be. He has a vision for the compassionate conservatism that got derailed by 9/11 and Iraq. He is also a tremendously better public speaker. Let’s face it – many of Bush’s image problems, just like those of Dan Quayle, are rooted in a stumbling communication style. Mike doesn’t have that problem.

Even while running for President, the former pastor of First Baptist Texarkana still finds time to preach. He doesn’t visit a church to give a political pep talk and press the flesh, like so many candidates who, as my dad would say, wouldn’t know Jesus if he rode up on a pinto pony. Though the amateur camera work is terrible, you can get an insight into the real Mike Huckbee by watching his sermon at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas  back on November 4.

Ron Paul Baseline Support

The thing about moving to a new neighbourhood is that you have to make new friends. Sure, some of your old friends come with you, but others fall by the wayside – and if your are in the blogging witness protection program that’s not a bad thing – so the stats barely register.

But what’s the blogosphere coming to when you can mention Ron Paul and have no one respond to the tag or search? It has always been a good jump-start topic, drawing in the curious supporters of Dr No. Is his bump in New Hampshire above Fred Thompson enough? Fred’s on the slide and Ron’s up to 8% in a CNN poll from last week. But Romney, whose Massachusetts proximity certainly adds favourite son pull is at 33%.

I hope I’m not becoming less interested in the Thompson because of the MSM. It seems to me that he is floundering under his own lethargy. Maybe I have it wrong. It’s one thing to talk as slow as molassess. It is another to move that way.

I’ve always been interesting in Ron Paul more as a novelty. I think he is a good Congressman. I appreciate his ideas, but I don’t agree with enough of them, nor do I think his views will translate well enough outside his hardcore following.

The True Huckabee and the False Novak

I haven’t heard much about what’s going on with Ron Paul lately. This could be due to my absence from the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, but most of the stirring beneath the Giuliani and Romney jugernauts seems to be coming from Mike Huckabee.

What’s Dr No done with the fruits of his historic online fund-raising drive on Guy Fawkes Day? I haven’t even seen his numbers on the imported American MSM, but then that’s not a big surprise.

Seems Huckabee has been outed as a fake conservative. But Robert Novak defines conservatism on a purely libertarian economic basis. “The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.” Reagan was anti-abortion, anti-gun control and no doubt would have been anti-gay marriage. Who cares about Goldwater, frankly.

Novak says, “Calling global warming a ‘moral issue’ mandating ‘a biblical duty’ to prevent climate change, he has endorsed a cap-and-trade system that is anathema to the free market.” We can disagree on anthropogenic global warming (and it looks like I might disagree with Huckabee), but Huckabee does have the concept of stewardship of the earth in mind. Should businesses be allowed to polluted at will, in the name of present economic benefit? If you say no, you are anathema to the free market.

Conservatism is not biblical. Libertarianism is not biblical, any more than liberalism is. The biblical duty of government is often compatible with classic conservativism and libertarianism. Usually significantly more compatible than with liberalism. Many of the ideas of the former harken back to an age when the idea that the Bible is the source of worldview was undisputed. Most of the ideas of the latter are sourced in philosophy that was purposefully pitted against Christianity, though some of them were later co-opted by the Christian left.

When candidates start talking about biblical duty, both sides of the political spectrum start flying the red flag against theocracy. Well, against any theocracy but that of their own secularist idols. For candidates who fundamentally believe in a biblical worldview (and given the variety Protestants, there isn’t just one)  they must interpret their politics through the same lens as the rest of their life. Pretensions of cubbyholing religion are just that. It’s just that no one outs the secularists, or those who worship the conservative-libertarian model, forcing them to defend their worldview.

Dying for Socialised Medicine

A lot of Brits I talk to can’t understand why Americans don’t flock to Hillary Clinton because of her favourable views about socialised medicine. After all, there’s nothing Brits are more proud of than the NHS.

Sure Britain has some of the worst survival rates for cancer in the Western world, but no one has to worry about paying for it. But as they say, you get what you pay for.

Socialised medicine in a country divided up into Primary Care Trusts (PCT) equals the post code lottery. In other words, each trust decides how it’s going to divide up it’s little slice of the health care funding pie. Each local board of bureaucrats prioritises which patients deserve to live and which ones don’t. In a rationed system, a few people get paid a lot of money to play Lifeboat every day.

When it comes to cancer, I’ve drawn one of the short straws. To preserve my anonymity, I won’t say exactly how much is spent per cancer patient per year here. I will tell you that the top spending PCT spends three times as much as the lowest. I could say that my PCT spends less that £10,000 per patient per year, but out of 159 PCTs, only 39 spend more. No, my PCT is comfortably in four figures and comfortably in the bottom 10%.

I suppose I can’t afford to stop eating my fruit and veg and grains. You can’t afford to elect Hillary.