The Sea of Change - A Call and a Change of Direction

Too many of my friends' relief, the short-lived RV Dream is dead. It died a quick death as a result of prayer and seeking God's will for our lives. I find the timing of the RV dream pretty funny since it was probably the dream of Regan and Lindsay while God had other plans.

I'm 31, just finishing up my MA in history, and am still discovering what God wants to do with my life. It's exciting. I had what is the most tangible calling of my life. The story is too hokey to print for the whole random world to read. If you really want to know the details, I would gladly share it with you through email or during an offline conversation. Most of our personal plans have been thrown out the window and we are leaping into what will become one of the greatest experiences of our lives.

I remember back when we moved to Lansing, pregnant with our first child and unemployed, to plant a church. Looking back, that was crazy, but God provided. I have found comfort recently in the amazing story of Mother Angelica and God providing for her to do the ministry he called her to. I know that God will not call us to do something and without providing the way, although he oftentimes waits until the very last moment to comfort us with His provisions. This new change in direction in our lives might be up there on the crazy meter with the church plant in Lansing except we are not pregnant now, just busy raising four kids.

So what is the new direction? We are going to be campus ministers. More specifically, I am going to be a campus minister and Lindsay will offer essential support from the home. We have been offered three different schools and are praying about where to go. I can't share those schools at the time because a few of them still have staff who are going to be leaving and that is not my place to broadcast on the internet. It was not until earlier this week that we made the official decision to jump. Now, we are continuing to pray a lot and have begun to work on the preliminary details that have to be done before finding financial partners can begin. Please put us on your prayer lists. We need lots of prayer for this ministry to be successful.

Campus Ministry is something I had never even considered before, but it does seem to fit me. I have my insecurities about my speaking ability which is a definitely useful for a successful campus ministry. I also have fears about providing for my family. And I need to find a team of two other people to go with me, preferably one being a woman to minister to the women on campus. (Anyone interested?) I know God will provide in all ways; it is just that we do not often find ourselves in situations where we need His sustenance. I guess that God is moving my family out of that comfortable bubble.

We are making a trip on Sunday to one of the colleges. We are excited yet nervous. We want to make sure that we go where God wants us.

I also would like opinions on this question. Would it be wise for me to dismantle this blog, especially with what can be controversial political posts, in light of this new direction?

My Favorite Christmas Album

I spent way too long the other night scouring Amazon to find a few new Christmas CDs. Eventually, I ran across Fernando Ortega's Christmas Songs. It's simple with Ortega playing just his piano and singing on some songs, yet it still is majestic like the Savior we are celebrating. It's my holiday music recommendation to get you in the holiday mood, which I hope is giving rather than consuming.

A Look Around The Web On Universal Health Care - The First Step To Improve Health Care

U.S. healthcare falls short in survey of 7 nations

"Americans spend double what people in other industrialized countries do on health care, but have more trouble seeing doctors, are the victims of more errors and go without treatment more often"

"The report said Americans spent $6,697 per capita on healthcare in 2005, or 16 percent of gross domestic product. All the other countries spent less than half of that -- $3,128 in Australia or 9.5 percent of GDP, $3,326 in Canada or 9.8 percent of GDP, down to a low of $2,343 in New Zealand or 9 percent of GDP."

A 1998 statistical display of combined public and private spending on healthcare

We top the list.

An August, 2007, article on life expectancy in the United States: US Slipping in Life Expectancy Rankings

"Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries."

"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Murray further stated, "The starting point is the recognition that the U.S. does not have the best health care system. There are still an awful lot of people who think it does."

Citi - Too big too lose

The headlines echo the headlines of the past few months. Citibank is too big too fail. They claim it would be too costly to the economy.

Why do we not start being proactive and break these companies up before they fail so that they are not too big to fail? Then we can let capitalism work itself out.

Unwise to Buy Gold Now

It is time to sell when everyone else is clamoring to buy, and it is time to buy when everyone else is clamoring to sell (as long as it is a solid investment).

Gold, like any currency, only has value if someone is willing to pay for it. In 2001, the value of gold was around $250. That was its lowest it has been in the . In 1980, gold was around $850. This morning it was trading at $798, down from its July high of when it nearly approached $1000. But the noise made by gold merchants is overwhelming. They want us to buy, and to buy a lot now.

Gold lovers argue that it will be worth more as the dollar crumbles. That it will go up when the economy goes down and people lose faith in the stocks, the dollar, and other forms of investment.

I remember people saying that you can't lose if you buy stocks, real estate, sports cards, and even comic books. We see where that got them. Never join in on the "can't lose" bandwagon unless you are getting in at a good deal before the peak. Gold has peaked. Everyone is still saying buy, but you should never listen to people screaming buy when you are on the downward side of the peak, especially when those people screaming are the ones who will profit from your buying. Wait for the valley to return if you are interested in gold.

Gold's value is dependent upon fear. The more scared people get about their economies, the better gold supposedly does. However, that is not proving to be the case. We have seen recent days where gold, stocks, and bonds have all gone down. Deflation will hit gold just as it will hit every market if it is to come. Gold has an artificial value just like any other item. Its value derives from people giving it value. Gold's advantage is that it has a longer history of people giving it value. Next year, the hot thing could be tulips like it was during "tulip mania" in Denmark in 1636-37.

The funny thing about writing this is I am sure Google will start popping ads up for you to buy gold. Ignore those gold ads. I wouldn't buy gold at this point. It was time to sell when it was over $900. The price appears inflated at the current time when it is looked at through its price in history (historical prices of gold from 1833 to present). The time to really have bought into gold and have made a killing has long passed.

Updated to add that everything plummeted the day I wrote this. The next morning when I checked gold was selling at $755.90, down from the $798 the day before. Stocks were down around 5%, oil was down 9%. The only thing immune was government bonds. They were up. Gold is not immune from deflation. It might be a good buy to secure against inflation, but deflation is another matter altogether.

Napoleon on Violence and Making an Empire that Lasts

Here is some wisdom from Napoleon:

The more I study the world, the more I am convinced of the inability of force to create anything durable. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded empires; but upon what did those creations of our genius depend? They depended upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love and to this very day millions would die for him.

Reprinted in The Reporter, Vol.2, No. 16, February 15, 1944

GM, Ford, the Bailout, and Nazi Germany

I spent more time than I should have watching the CEOs of the automakers ask the government for bailout money yesterday. That's what happens when you are on a research trip and you have nothing to do after the library closes. You sit around, read, and watch too much television.

I was against the bank bailout. If they felt that banks needed to get more money into the market, they should have given the money to the banks that actually have shown they are responsible with their money rather than send it to the banks that have shown irresponsibility and a lack of foresight.

Now comes the automakers. If we give them a bailout, why should we just stop there. What industry would come next? Although I might be for universal health care, I am not for the nationalization of private industry. GM, Ford, and Chrysler have been slow to respond to the changing marketplace. They were focused on making gas guzzling trucks in a world that has become environmentally-sensitive. Not that there isn't room for gas guzzling trucks, it just should not have been their focus.

I actually feel sorry for International Harvester. They developed the coolest gas guzzler at the wrong time. In September, they quietly killed commercial manufacturing of the Navistar CXT. I saw one in real life and it was massive, cool, and a definite gas guzzler. It resembled a semi-truck without a trailer. They are still selling them to the military. The military likes them because they serve as a generator along with being an SUV.

Speaking of the military and car manufacturers. Due to a conversation earlier this week, I have been trying to find information regarding American companies in Nazi Germany. It is a forgotten theme in history that American companies profited off of all the sides during WWII. (Kind of like Stark Enterprises in the Iron Man movie - just playing around with yesterday's comments theme.)

The evidence seems to be that the many American companies, specifically IBM, General Motors, and Ford, split into German entities at the onset of war. These German subsidiaries were still in communication with, taking orders from, and sending profits to their real owners in the United States.

Here is a link from the Washington Post.

There is nothing unusual in believing that most companies would make a profit from both sides during a time of war if they were given the opportunity. What blew up in their faces was the fact that the Nazis lost and were then rightfully villainized for their horrible treatment of the Jews. This made the companies playing for both sides look bad because of their use of Jewish slave labor, and they immediately tried to cover their tracks. How would things have turned out if Britain had never started bombing Germany and Germany had defeated the Soviets? I would bet that is what the companies were hedging their bets on, although I have read that we also made a lot of the military goods for the Soviets. Business is good for war manufacturing if you are outside of the battle lines.

The photo is of Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in July, 1938. The head of IBM also had received a Grand Cross, but he returned his at the onset of the war.

What I found interesting from the Washington Post article is that American automakers were 70% of the auto industry in Germany prior to the war. Obviously, these Ford and GM factories were then transformed into military producing machines. The serious questions are whether they were fine with that and what did they use the profits for.

Back to the bailout. If we give the automakers a bailout, I would like to see them limit executive salaries, force the automakers to make the cars in America that they sell here, and introduce into the US market some of the better gas mileage vehicles that they sell abroad; however, I really do not think the government should be managing auto companies. Combine that with the belief that I do not think they should give money without stipulations, I am left to conclude that the government should not give any money to the auto industry.

These auto manufacturers are not really American companies any more. The only thing that makes them America is that they are traded on the NYSE. They are multinational, and they have shown in the past that they have no loyalty to America, only to the bottom line. The government needs to ask why should they bail out multinational companies who are taking jobs overseas?

Our Temporary Life Of Originality

Sam wrote a post about the sorry state of Hollywood.

I would wager that it is less the quality of the movies and more the station you are in life. At one point in life, every idea seemed fresh and original (even though they weren't). We look back longingly at those days as the days of creativity (when they were actually also viewed as creative regurgitation by others older than us).

Hollywood is doing what it has always done. They make a few good movies along with a bunch of crap. At earlier points in our life we were bamboozled into thinking the crap was creative. Whether the source material is comic books, a novel, a video game, or an original screenplay is pretty irrelevant. None of it is original. Nothing can be original; it can only be done well.

It just sucks getting old and realizing that there is no such thing as originality, although there are people out there who are like we were when we thought regurgitated material was original. Oh, the humanity.

Now we do the same thing with ideas although none of them are original. They are just new to us.

Abortions and the misunderstandings of pro-choicers and pro-lifers

The very nature of government is to pass laws. When a law is passed it inevitably limits the rights of someone in order to protect other people's rights. Every law limits the rights of someone. For instance, there are traffic laws that make it so that I cannot go whatever speed I want nor can I run through red lights. Those laws limit my rights for the better good of society. Making abortion illegal would limit the rights of those women who want to have abortions, but it would protect the rights of the baby in their womb. Rights are limited but it is to protect others and create a better society. There might be a better parallel to abortion than traffic laws but the purpose of that illustration was just to show that every law limits freedom, hopefully for the better good of society. A bad law is one that limits freedom and does not provide for the better good of society.

It really comes down to one's belief on when life begins. It would be horrible for someone who thinks that life begins at conception to not stand up against abortion. Would you respect someone who justifies away murder for an individual's liberty? Pro-lifers are just doing what we would expect any upstanding person to do if they held the same beliefs.

Obviously, if one does not believe that life begins at conception, they do not believe they are murdering the baby. Both sides need to see things from the other side. A pro-lifer needs to understand that the other side believes that life begins at another point. A pro-choicer needs to understand that pro-lifers are just standing up against what they believe is murder. Both are standing up for what is right based upon their belief of when life begins. The only evil individuals would be those who believe that life begins at conception and still wants to abort a baby or those who believe that life begins at birth but wants to ban abortion.

I believe that anti-abortion activists should be more willing to pay the bill for those who they demand should not have abortions. It is the responsibility of Christians to sacrifice themselves, even for those who make irresponsible decisions. That is the example Christ showed on the cross. Christians should be willing to put their money up for the women who would not be allowed to have abortions. A pro-adoption campaign would probably benefit society more in the current environment than an anti-abortion campaign.

Also, the representatives and senators have passed anti-abortion laws that the Supreme Court has overturned. The only way to have those laws enforced would be to have a President who would nominate a Supreme Court that would allow the laws to stand in the books. Our nation is about only one justice away from that happening.

In the end, I do not know how science can answer the question of when life begins. It is strictly an ethical question that stems from one's religious beliefs, whether completely secular or based on some religious tome.

If You Voted Obama, You Better Do Penance or You Will Go To Hell

In a follow up to the church taking a stance against Obama post from the the other day, here is the granddaddy of all prejudiced churches.

No communion for Obama supporters

It's down to one issue.

Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

And here is another quote:

In fact, in this election, for the sake of argument, if the Republican candidate had been pro-abortion, and the Democratic candidate had been pro-life, everything that I wrote would have been exactly the same.

Community Nuclear Power Plants - Our Short-Term Thinking Illness

Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes

This just does not seem wise. I have been haunted by nuclear power in everyone's backyard since Sunday.

My thoughts on this are many, but my knowledge of nuclear science is limited. Maybe someone can help.

With uranium not being a renewable resource, is it possible that uranium can become scarce if we make a massive shift to nuclear power? What would happen to the cost of nuclear energy then?

What are the chances of fallout from a problem on these personal reactors? They state that a Chernobyl-type disaster is impossible but is another sort of disaster likely? The more personal reactors we have located throughout the United States and around the world, the more likely that a disaster would follow. The odds would eventually catch up with themselves.

How much wind, water, or sun power could be created with a $25m investment?

What are the future expenses of a reactor like this?

I would love to see investment in our energy structure, but it seems like putting our eggs in another basket that is not renewable just does not make sense. Wind, Solar, and Water energy needs to be our focus. If nuclear helps with a temporary need, then we should utilize it. But it should not be part of the long-term solution, and we need to start thinking long-term.

We live in a short-term society. Executives are worried about short-term profits. The President thinks in a two-term cycle. Representatives think of getting re-elected in two years. The short-term always needs to be good in order to prosper in the now. Our focus is personal gain in the now at the expense of the future. That is one of the ailments of our nation. Personally, as a family, we are sacrificing in the short-term as I go back to school in order to prosper in the long term. I think our society should do the same in some areas. There is nothing wrong with sacrifice in the short term for the best outcome in the long term. It is admirable to leave the nation to the next generation better off than you found it.

More energy efficient appliances, utilization of our renewable resources, and creating a non-exportable energy industry is the solution to the problem. That will not happen overnight though the development of an alternative energy industry will help the economy through the creating of jobs while providing future generations with an energy that can last. We need to stop the short-term thinking and begin thinking about how we can hand off a better nation to our grandchildren with clean and home-grown energy. It might mean we have to make sacrifices, but that has been asked of us before as Americans. We can do great things, but only if we stop the short-term thinking.

Let The Holiday Season Begin

Obama is a Comic Reader

50 Facts About Obama

Due to my hobby and profession, I find it nice that Obama reads comic books. He like Spider-Man and Conan.

Just in case you were wondering, I used to like Spider-Man and still enjoy many Conan books. Also, I do not carry around any lucky charms.

A Post From GenCon on the Christian Children's Fund Controversy

GenCon director of Event Programming attempts to set the record straight.

Thanks to sethra007 for the link.

Obama's Gas Problem

Gas prices have been tumbling. They are reaching the prices that I paid when I was an undergrad ten years ago. Incredible.

But this puts a kink in Obama's plans. He intended to tax the windfall profits from the oil companies and use that money to pay for his social agenda. Now, the gas companies have lowered their prices and won't receive those record breaking profits that they received under Bush's laissez-faire policies. This voluntary lowering of the gas prices prevents Obama from setting the precedent of a windfall profits tax on the oil companies and also hampers his social spending plans.

The first post-election chess piece was being moved before the election. Now, we will wait and see how Obama responds.

Bush's Legacy and Comments Not From David Letterman

I received the following in an email It is purpoted to be from David Letterman. (edited to add that Tom Keaney from the Late Show with David Letterman posted in the comments to say that they are not from David.) Not only are they faulty comments about Bush, but the author lied about who wrote them. Good stuff.

'As most of you know I am not a President Bush fan, nor have I ever been, but this is not about Bush, it is about us, as Americans, and it seems to hit the mark.'

'The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some Poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, 'What are we so unhappy about?'

A. Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week?

B. Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?

C. Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?

D. Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

E. Maybe it is the ability to drive our cars and trucks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state.

F. Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?

G. I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough either.

H. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

I. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home.

J. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family, and your belongings.

K. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to
defend you and your family against attack or loss.

L. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and

M. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?

Maybe that is what has 67% of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but
complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same
president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the 'Media' told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an 'other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans?

Say what you want, but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by 'justifying' them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way......Insane!

Turn off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad. We are among the most blessed people on Earth and
should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.' 'With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, 'Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?' -David Letterman

It was good until he finished making his lettered points.

First off, I doubt it was written by Letterman. If it was, he should definitely refrain from any future non-comedic political commentary. (edited to add that David does a good job with his comedic stuff. He is my late night host of choice, but I hardly stay up that late.)

Here are a few quotes with my thoughts.

"Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11?"

Bush was the was the President who compeletely dropped the ball after 9/11. Instead of encouraging us to be better people and to become more loving, he encouraged to go out and consume more products and his decisions led our military around the world to kill people. Consume and kill is his 9/11 legacy.

"The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession?"

If what we are currently experiencing is "out of recession", I would hate to be in one. His economic policies and military decisions, combined with America's propensity to spend money it does not have, have led us into what is the worse period in American economic history since WWII. Now we are blessed, but those blessing have nothing to do with Bush. His presidency oversaw this great economic decline.

"Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom."

They have not died for my freedom nor yours unless you are reading this from your home in Afghanistan or Iraq. I am pretty sure that the Iraqi war has nothing to do with my freedom to worship the way I want, say what I want to say, and spend my money how I want to spend it. The Afghan war might have something to do with those freedoms in the sense of that war being fought against Al Qaeda.

"Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen."

Actually, we can dislike our President and think he has done a bad job due to the state of the nation before he took office and at the end of his presidency without being spoiled brats. We can be content in less prosperous times. Our evaluation of his presidency has nothing to do with whether I am grateful for the conditions I live in. They are two completely different subjects. I can think he did a great job as President and personally be miserable. On the actual hand, I think that Bush will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history, but personally I am very happy with my life right now. No complaints here although I live with less than most Americans.

Another Response from the Christian Children's Fund over the D&D fundraising controversy

The other day I posted a reply from the Christian Children's Fund concerning the refusal of money donated to them from an auction at GenCon Indy, the nation's largest gaming convention.

The Escapist did a story on it. CCF Explains Refusal of GenCon Donation.

Cheri Dahl, vice president of international communications and fund raising at CCF, stated, "This decision was in no way intended to be a reflection on Mr. Gygax, gaming enthusiasts or the game Dungeon and Dragons. We have the utmost respect for the gaming community and were touched by the generosity expressed through your auction."

The Hawk, The Squirrel, and The Crow

I had a strange experience today. I left the Swarthmore College Peace Collection for my lunch. As I walking across campus, I was startled. Five feet away from me was a hawk, next to a Magnolia tree, standing over a dead grey squirrel. At first I thought it might be a statue because the situation was just so surreal. But then I moved and the hawk moved his head to keep his eyes on me. He was staring at me. We stared at each other for an eternity. After about two minutes, some students arrived with their camera. Apparently they had seen the hawk and squirrel and wanted to get pictures.

I stood around for a few minutes watching the photographers shoot their pictures. Eventually, I left the hawk and his dead prey. About a hundred yards later, I see another hawk. This one is flying across the rugby field. This hawk lands in a tree. A nearby crow does not like the hawk being in the tree. I stand there and watch the crow dive at the hawk for about forty-five seconds. Eventually, the hawk gives away his position and flies away.

It almost all seemed so dreamlike. Very Strange. Does it mean anything? Is it just a coincidence?

This is what you get since election season is over.

Election Day

I received an email after my post yesterday on churches and voting pointing me to a blog post that points out that socialism is against the Ten Commandments. What Would Judas Do?

I would say capitalism is against many of the commandments too in the sense in which the writer is approaching the commandments. I think there is a reason God did not come down on the side of any economic system. It's because he does not really care. Just based on his desire for Israel in the Old Testament, he wants a society where the poor, widows, and orphans are not oppressed and are given equal treatment under the justice system. He never really deals with how to give the wealthy fair treatment. It did not even come on God's radar in the Old Testament.

Capitalism, if the corporate owners are not greedy, can do that. Socialism, if the gifted are not selfish and lazy, can do that. Neither system is perfect. Both appeal to our better selves to work. Also to note, we do not operate under pure, or even close to pure, capitalism.

Happy election day to you all. Tomorrow you wake up to socialized America. (Just kidding. You're already in socialized America. It's just socialism for the wealthy in many cases.)

White Guys Training With The Palestinians

The text from the BBC reads, "Palestinian police hold a training session in the West Bank city of Ramallah. In the background is the security headquarters, destroyed during conflict with Israel."

I just wonder who the two white guys are. Are there white Palestinians?

Vote Your Conscience - Churches Telling Us Who To Vote For

I received this email from my brother Sunday.

Regan, what is up with our churches trying to tell us who to vote for. I missed church because I had to open the Glenbrook store but I think I would have walked out because our pastor was trying to tell us who to vote for. Then Sara comes in to work from church and she says the same thing. They are working around the system by not saying names because they aren't supposed to tell us who to vote for. I'm not even registered and I super ticked. Sara said her church said she is bad christian if she would vote for O. Brandi is not even sure if she wants to vote now.

After talking to my brother over the phone, he thinks he is going to quit going to the church he has been attending. If you are a minister or a leader in your church, is it worth losing believers because of a secular election? What about young believers who do not know better? If you are going to turn someone off to Christ, let it be because of the gospel and a complete, radical devotion to it. McCain/Palin is not the gospel, not even close.

Churches should not endorse candidates. It's not good for their parishioners. You can be a democrat or republican and still be a Christian, and a church should never make you think otherwise. They can deal with all of the issues Jesus would be concerned with, but they should leave the candidates alone. (And Jesus probably does not care about gun rights, might actually be a fan of free trade, and is probably not a conservative when it comes to immigration.) They could even have a class over the issues, the biblical approach to those issues, and the candidates positions on those issues. Now I know that some churches would have a really short class because it would not take all that long to deal with abortion, but there is much more to a well-rounded Christian approach to voting than abortion.

So here is my advice. Pray about what and who you are going to vote for and vote your conscience. You will have to be answerable for your own vote. Make sure your vote is your own conviction and nobody elses.

The Economist Supports Obama

A shocker to me. The Economist endorses Obama. The Economist is one of my favorite magazines and usually espouses conservative economic principles. Here are some of the highlights:

The Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as “agents of intolerance” now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday...Rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right...

...Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying...It is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them...

...There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and out-fought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right...

...Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well...

...This cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

Well-thought out and pretty unbiased of an endorsement. The Economist, like myself, prefer the McCain of six-months ago compared to the McCain of today. They point out the strengths and flaws of both candidates. My civic deed was done on Friday with an early ballot. Now I am just waiting for the results.