31 October 2008

James Dobson’s ‘Letter From 2012 in Obama’s America

The following can be found on Jim Wallis' blog called Sojourners. It's in response to a letter, published by Focus on the Family, from a citizen of America in 2012. As Wallis points out, the letter attempts to stir up the worst in people, not the best. I echo his sentiments of shame that people who identify as Christians would stoop to such slander and fear-mongering. Our faith is one of hope and love. There is no place in Christianity for hate and negativity toward other people.

Here is Wallis' response:

"James Dobson, you owe America an apology. The fictional letter released through your Focus on the Family Action organization, titled “Letter From 2012 in Obama’s America”, crosses all lines of decent public discourse. In a time of utter political incivility, it shows the kind of negative Christian leadership that has become so embarrassing to so many of your fellow Christians in America. We are weary of this kind of Christian leadership, and that is why so many are forsaking the Religious Right in this election.

This letter offers nothing but fear. It apocalyptically depicts terrorist attacks in American cities, churches losing their tax exempt status for not allowing gay marriages, pornography pushed in front of our children, doctors and nurses forced to perform abortions, euthanasia as commonplace, inner-city crime gone wild because of lack of gun ownership, home schooling banned, restricted religious speech, liberal censorship shutting down conservative talk shows, Christian publishers forced out of business, Israel nuked, power blackouts because of environmental restrictions, brave Christian resisters jailed by a liberal Supreme court, and finally, good Christian families emigrating to Australia and New Zealand.

It is shocking how thoroughly biblical teachings against slander—misrepresentations that damage another’s reputation—are ignored (Ephesians 4:29-31, Colossians 3:8, Titus 3:2). Such outrageous predictions not only damage your credibility, they slander Barack Obama who, you should remember, is a brother in Christ, and they insult any Christian who might choose to vote for him.

Let me make this clear: Christians will be voting both ways in this election, informed by their good faith, and based on their views of what are the best public policies and direction for America. But in utter disrespect for the prayerful discernment of your fellow Christians, this letter stirs their ugliest fears, appealing to their worst impulses instead of their best.

Fear is the clear motivator in the letter; especially fear that evangelical Christians might vote for Barack Obama. The letter was very revealing when it suggested that “younger Evangelicals” became the “swing vote” that elected Obama and the results were catastrophic.

You make a mistake when you assume that younger Christians don’t care as much as you about the sanctity of life. They do care—very much—but they have a more consistent ethic of life. Both broader and deeper, it is inclusive of abortion, but also of the many other assaults on human life and dignity. For the new generation, poverty, hunger, and disease are also life issues; creation care is a life issue; genocide, torture, the death penalty, and human rights are life issues; war is a life issue. What happens to poor children after they are born is also a life issue.

The America you helped vote into power has lost its moral standing in the world, and even here at home. The America you told Christians to vote for in past elections is now an embarrassment to Christians around the globe, and to the children of your generation of evangelicals. And the vision of America that you still tell Christians to vote for is not the one that many in a new generation of Christians believes expresses their best values and convictions.

Christians should be committed to the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of America, and the church is to live an alternative existence of love and justice, offering a prophetic witness to politics. Elections are full of imperfect choices where we all seek to what is best for the “common good” by applying the values of our faith as best we can.

Dr. Dobson, you of course have the same right as every Christian and every American to vote your own convictions on the issues you most care about, but you have chosen to insult the convictions of millions of other Christians, whose own deeply held faith convictions might motivate them to vote differently than you. This epistle of fear is perhaps the dying gasp of a discredited heterodoxy of conservative religion and conservative politics. But out of that death, a resurrection of biblical politics more faithful to the whole gospel—one that is truly good news—might indeed be coming to life." --END--

I am anxiously waiting for this election to be over. While it is certainly entertaining, I am looking forward where we can be unified as a people--as Americans, but more importantly as Christians.


27 October 2008

Yes we Carve!

I have never put election day and Halloween together in my mind, but they're mighty close this year! This, of course, is very exciting news for me. My wife happens to absolutely love Halloween and we are both very anxious to vote and have this whole election cycle behind us. While scrounging around on the internets today, I discovered YES WE CARVE. This is a site dedicated to pumpkins carved to promote Barack Obama's bid for the presidency. They're having a contest for the most creative pumpkin and on the site you can find dozens of pumpkin stencils to make your supportive gestures easier.

If you're interested, you should come on up to Pottstown and we can carve some Barack O'Lanterns.

O, don't forget to vote next Tuesday. It's pretty important.

full disclosure--I googled 'McCain Pumpkins' and Zombie Pumpkins was the first result. They have a McCain stencil, if you're so inclined

21 October 2008

Grammar Bonanza!

I am so excited about this. I realize that I am several weeks late in talking about this, but Slate posted a fantastic article about the sentence structure of some of the things Sarah Palin has said. I will admit that if someone decided to diagram much of what I say aloud, it would look fairly ridiculous so I can give here the benefit of the doubt on most of this. However, a couple of these diagrams are out of control.

I love this article because it's a combination of two of my favorite things: poking fun at politicians and language. Thanks Slate for making my day a little bit brighter.

18 October 2008

Breaking News!

John McCain is a ninja*!

*Please do note the throwing star.

17 October 2008

A foray into economics

More often than not, I shy away from discussions of anything beyond basic economics. I am a competent bank teller so I'm a whiz at counting and doling out cash, but beyond those and similarly simple financial transactions I am typically woefully ignorant. I have decided to try my hand at economics this morning because it's an important part of our cultural landscape and it's something I want to better understand.

To make matters easier, Paul Krugman, the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, has written a fantastically lucid op-ed outlining his best plan to pull up on the levers of our steadily sinking airplane of an economy. Krugman is a self-professed liberal (his NYT-hosted blog is called "The Conscience of a Liberal") so his political bent aligns with mine and he has disagreed with most of the Bush fiscal policy and hasn't shied away from letting that be known. But more importantly, he's a brilliant economist.

The basic gist of his plan follows:

1.) The Fed should continue to cut the rates, but that won't be enough. Increased government spending is necessary to turn this economic ship around.

2.) The government should work to buy up existing mortgages and restructure the terms. Krugman disagrees with McCain on the notion that they should be purchased at face value.

3.) It is now more important than ever to boost the economy by investing in rebuilding our infrastructure.

These solutions seems almost too easy to be true because most of what it seems to be only throwing money (probably imaginary money, at that) at problems hoping that they go away. I don't believe, though, that that is the solution Krugman is calling for. He believes that this downturn is worse than the technological bubble burst because there is no foreseeable bubble on the horizon.

I don't believe that we should take any one person's opinion, but I tend to take the opinions of people with awesome beards more seriously.

16 October 2008

Helpful e-mails

So I got this e-mail today from Karl Rove:

Karl Rove to me

show details 10:11 AM (7 hours ago)

Dear Ian,

Time to relax!

Obama is way ahead in the polls. It's time for you to take victory for granted, and to stop paying attention.

And there's definitely no need to spend one more minute volunteering.

You're probably thinking, "But Karl Rove, why would you—the mastermind behind the stealth get-out-the-vote program that powered George Bush's victories—be advising us not to get out and talk to voters?"

That is a good question. (And by the way, I prefer "Evil Genius" to "Mastermind.") It is true that voter outreach can tip an election. But Obama's ahead in the polls, and they never lie.

So relax! Do some yoga. Check out the new season of Project Runway. Sip white wine lattes, or whatever it is that you people like to drink.

Barack does not need you out talking to voters in Pennsylvania this weekend—so there's finally time to tie-dye the seat covers for your Volvo. In fact, you probably shouldn't even bother to vote.

Please forward this to all of your Democrat friends. Don't send it to Republicans, though. Thanks!

–"Karl Rove"

P.S. Again—no volunteering! Don't click this link to sign up to help Obama in Pottstown:


P.P.S. Our lawyers made us promise to tell you that Karl Rove didn't actually write this message—but we're pretty sure this is what he'd write if he had.

Well done, moveon.org. Now I feel like I have to volunteer this weekend just to spite Mastermind Rove.

15 October 2008

Stephen A. Douglas was a great debator

... but Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator.

Yesterday at a fund raiser, speaking about the debate set for tonight, John McCain said, "I hope to do about half as well as [Sarah Palin] did against poor Joe Biden," (I heard this on the radio this morning, and can't find an appropriate link for it) and I sincerely hope that he means it. If McCain hopes to do half as well as Palin did, then he should immediately drop out of the race for the POTUS. To her credit, Palin didn't do too terribly and she met or exceeded the expectations set for her--though they were incredibly low.

As all polls and most pundits have said, Biden handily beat Palin in their debate so I'm not exactly sure what McCain meant by that statement. Perhaps he is conceding that Obama is that much better than McCain, perhaps McCain is sweet-talking his running mate so soften the blow of her resounding defeat at the debate, or maybe McCain will say whatever it takes to make his audience happy. I would bet on the third assessment, but I'm not sure that any of them aren't true.

Unfortunately, I have class until ten tonight and I will not get home until around eleven. Here's hoping that my professor will want us to be politically aware and will let us go very early so I can watch it and be informed, conscious American voters. I'm not holding my breath, though--he's British.

08 October 2008

Vote for That One

On Monday I walked from work to campus on my lunch break to visit the library and try to catch a few professors (no such luck) but I was wonderfully surprised to see at least a dozen different people registering voters on campus. I gleefully told different volunteers that I had already registered after being asked and I've never felt better about blowing off a street hawker. Monday was the last day to register to vote in the state of Pennsylvania and it's an important state in the election. Polls show that Obama has a comfortable lead, but I certainly hope that Obama supporters won't see us as a foregone conclusion.

On a different note, no matter whom you support, please vote. Let's revel in our democratic freedom!

ps--Last night's debate was terribly boring.

03 October 2008

Nobel Outrage

On Tuesday, I read an article about the continentalism evident from the actions and words of the Nobel Prize in Literature selection committee. Really, the word 'continentalism' may not exist, but it's exactly what Horace Engdahl is displaying by saying, "Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States." I have been struggling all week to think of way to express my disgust with this comment; lucky for me, Slate.com did it better than I ever could have.

Not only are Engdahl's comments culturally ignorantly, they're also patently false. Kirsch's piece does a nice job of pointing out exactly why the European elites no longer much care for American culture. Having been the global hegemon of commerce and trade for many decades, America has come of age as a culture of art in the last few decades as well. For the most part, American authors who have been awarded the Nobel prize in Literature have been lauded in Europe for portraying the folksy nature of the former colony, but that's no longer the case. American authors such as Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, and (of course) Don DeLillo have produced much better work than many of the Nobel Laureates of the recent past, but those at the Swedish Academy cannot seem to accept that.

All this having been said, I don't believe that any one nation's literary power is greater than any other. The best attribute of literature is that it can deftly cross cultural borders and bring impossibly diverse groups of people to a better understanding of one another. I happen to be very fond of American literature and I plan to devote my scholarly and professional life to the study of that which I am fond; but I never want to isolate myself from the word of the world.

So Swedish Academy, you can award whomever you want--it doesn't really matter anyway.

02 October 2008


I don't know if I can express how excited I am for the VP debate tonight. I'm fairly certain that I like Biden and I'm anticipating a good performance. At the same time, I think I'm more anxious to see how Palin reacts to the spotlight. After watching her in several interviews (albeit filled with softball questions), I am quite prepared to see good things from her. According to some who have debated her before, she is quite a good debater--not because she's a brilliant thinker, or because she knows all the facts, but because she is uniquely able to get away with not giving any answer at all.

I would love to live-blog the event here, but realistically, too few people read this to make commenting worthwhile. I'll be quite content to quietly watch it at home with my lovely wife. Enjoy the political sparring!