pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 21, 2013

MLK and Inauguration Day 2013

If you don’t live under a rock, then you know that today was both the presidential inauguration and the public celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Much was made during the ceremonies in Washington D.C. of the way Dr. King’s “Dream” was on display as fulfilled in the re-inauguration of the United States of America’s first Black president. But that’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it.

To quote King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Like it or not, there were plenty of people who voted for and against Barack Obama just because he is Black. Interestingly enough, he’s actually bi-racial. King’s dream wasn’t that Black people would overtake White people in positions of power and influence. The dream is that people’s moral character will be seen for what it is without reference at all to the color of their skin. The dream is not reached until we stop talking about the first Black, Latino, Asian, or whatever whoever. When a person’s race doesn’t enter into the equation of how good a man or woman someone is, then we’ll be on the way. (Side note: My point here isn’t to argue for or against President Obama’s character.)

I’ll happily admit we’ve made a lot of progress. And of course, first [insert race/gender] [insert significant achievement]s occur as a sign of that progress. My own denomination elected Fred Luter as President of the Southern Baptist Convention this year; he’s the first Black President of the SBC. However, we have not arrived in a post-racial America until the hype is all and only about a person and not his or her skin. We have not arrived in a post-racial America until people stop throwing “he’s Black” into conversations when it isn’t actually important to the story being told–you know what I’m talking about. We have not arrived in a post-racial America until there’s a recognition of the fact that Black folks and White folks and Asian folks and every other kind of folks do in fact have some real cultural differences but that we’re all, more importantly, just folks. Folks created in the image of God. Folks diversified into many nations, tribes, and tongues by God and for His glory. Folks who all need salvation from their sin by Jesus the Son of the one true and living God. Folks who will all one day bow their knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Pray for President Barack Obama; not because he’s Black, but because he’s the President of the United States of America.

November 5, 2012

Presidential Election Prediction and Commentary

I’ve pretty much held my tongue until now. Perhaps a grassroots movement would have begun if I put this forward sooner, but I doubt it.

Barak Obama will win. Let me tell you why. Democrats are still all going to vote for President Obama. Republicans aren’t all going to vote for Romney. Remember all those Christian Republican voters who didn’t come out and vote for McCain? Many of them aren’t coming out to vote for Romney either. Many independent voters who would go Republican for a strong candidate aren’t going to vote for Romney. Independent voters who typically go Democrat certainly aren’t going to flip for Romney. And then you have people like me.

I voted for Bob Dole, I voted for George W. Bush twice, and I voted for McCain. I kind of liked Dole, but I probably didn’t know as much about him as I thought I did. I don’t know if I’d vote for him if he were up this year; it’s possible. I liked the W. No, he wasn’t a perfect president. I didn’t like all he’ll be remembered for, but I still think he is a good man – – perhaps evidenced best in his withdrawal from the political scene after his presidency. I didn’t like McCain. McCain was a big-government, Washington-tainted, moderate Republican. I did appreciate the fact that he had actually served in the military. At any rate, I voted for McCain because I bought the “lesser of two evils” argument. However, I knew Obama was going to trounce McCain.

My mind has changed. In what way does choosing the lesser of two evils actually make sense to the Christian worldview? Given that choice, shouldn’t we choose neither? If you lock me in a room, duct tape a gun to my hand, and force me to shot either my wife or my son; I’m not pulling the trigger. But the situation isn’t that limited. We’ve been lied to by both democrats and republicans telling us we have a two-party system. We don’t have a two-party system. We have a system that is dominated by two parties, and that’s not the same thing. Did you know that you can vote for anybody you want to who meets the constitutional criteria for being president? Anybody, even if they aren’t a party candidate, they don’t even have to be on the ballot. You can write someone in. So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m writing in Ron Paul.

Why Ron Paul? It’s not because I agree with him on every issue. It’s definitely not because he has any chance at winning. I’m voting for Ron Paul because he’s the one guy I can think to write in that might show up in some statistically significant way in the polling data. I’m voting for him in an attempt to say to the Republican party, and in a small way to the Democrats too, that I’m sick of them picking some loser who’s been doing nothing but running for president in step-by-step fashion for the last twenty to thirty years. If the best you can do is put up a moderate guy who adopts Obama’s winning strategy of saying whatever you tell him the people he’s talking to at that moment want to hear, then I’m just going to vote for someone else.

Here’s the reality folks. I’m more afraid of 8 years of Romney, or 4 years of Romney followed by 4-8 years of some other liberal Dem, than I am of 4 more years of Obama. Obama is fighting a Republican House of Representatives, and he could be about to face a Republican controlled Senate too. I’m pretty sure the more-or-less-conservatives will keep him in check for his next term. Hopefully they’ll have the intestinal and testicular fortitude to live up to their constitutional duty to throw down some checking and balancing on his executive ordering and declaring ways. But can you imagine what a mess of nonsense would get pushed through by Romney and a piggy-eyed Congress (especially if it’s both houses)? Now, if Obama wins AND Republicans lose the House and stay the minority in the Senate…maybe the Mayans were on to something. If Romney wins and the Democrats get both houses, then we’re back to Romney losing in 4 years to an all lady Clinton/Pelosi ticket or something equally maddening.

Please go vote. Vote for whoever you want to be your president. I don’t want either of the front-runners, so I’m voting for someone else.

Whatever you do, don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe Fox News, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, or anybody else when they tell you why Mitt couldn’t unite the Republican base…unless they say “Gotcha, we knew he’d lose! I can’t believe you let us pull this off. Will you let us convince you Obama 2016 is a good idea too?”

Don’t believe hype, no matter who is feeding it to you.

P.S. For all you Christians rocking a Romney/Ryan sticker on you bumper right over your Jesus fish, think about this. Obama may be pro-choice and in favor of redefining marriage, but when Romney says “God bless America!” he has a completely different definition of the nature and identity of that God and how he relates to humanity than you do.

SomebodyBetter2016

February 1, 2011

We Can Be So Stupid Sometimes (vol. 2)

I receive emails from AFA (American Family Association), mostly because I want to know what ridiculous or hypocritical thing “Christians” are upset about currently. (I put Christians in quotation marks not to signify that I doubt the faith of members of the AFA, but because I think it is patently false to say that what the AFA represents is a truly Christian response to the world around us.) I’m all sorts of tempted to jump on a number of soap boxes here. However, I think it’s better that I just let the AFA’s latest email and my response to it speak for itself.

[This is where the text of their email begins.]
Subject: The Home Depot doubles funds to gay activist group
January 31, 2011

Dear Paul,
The Home Depot Foundation funnels money to gay activist groups.The Home Depot, through its Foundation, is now matching donations by its employees to further homosexual activism.

GLAAD (a politically active gay group) announced on its website that The Home Depot has agreed to match all contributions made by company employees, despite a company policy to the contrary.

The Home Depot policy states it will not match funds to “political groups” or “groups that have a primary focus of changing laws.” GLAAD is heavily involved in promoting same-sex marriage.

GLAAD and The Home Depot make is easy for company funds to “Go Gay!”Through its “Matching Gifts” program, The Home Depot is willing to violate its own policy to help promote GLAAD’s top agendas – homosexual marriage and more gay characters on prime-time network TV.

AFA is asking you to join a boycott of The Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in cultural issues.

TAKE ACTION
1. If you have not done so, sign the Boycott Pledge at BoycottTheHomeDepot.com.
2. Call your local store manager. Let the manager know that you will not be shopping at The Home Depot until the company stops supporting the homosexual agenda. You can find the number here. (click “Store Finder”).
3. Print the paper petition and distribute it at Sunday school and church.

Take Action Now Sign the Boycott Pledge Now!

It is very important that you forward this alert to your friends and family members.

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association

[This is where their email ends, followed by some other info and links. If you don’t trust me, you can view the email on the web at http://action.afa.net/email/online.aspx?cid=1216&mid=21995980&tid=aa&utm_source=smAFA&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1216]

[This was my reply…which I doubt ever gets read or responded to. But a brother has got to try.]

Dear Tim,

Your stated goal for the boycott of Home Depot is that they would “remain neutral in cultural issues.” For any thinking Christian, it is evident that they have already met your desire. According to Home Depot’s gift program policy, they match gifts to ANY 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That’s about as neutral as it gets. According to the way the IRS defines such organizations, they are “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.” Unless I’m wrong, AFA is a 501(c)(3) and is therefore just as eligible for matching gifts as GLAAD is. Neutrality is achieved! You win. Now, let’s stop being contentious in the public square with those who need to hear the Gospel.

In grace and peace,

[That’s it.]

What do you think? Should Christians spend their time, resources, and energy on changing the culture of our country? Or in this case, should we attempt to counteract the time, resources, and energy others spend on influencing our culture in an ungodly direction? I think we can be both personal evangelists and culture warriors, but I know it’s a lot easier to boycott, wear t-shirts, and send emails than it is to sit down and share the gospel with someone. And I think that we (or at least those who claim to be motivated by the same beliefs we profess) sabotage our efforts at the latter by being perceived as doing too much of the former.

January 5, 2011

A Resolution, and a Remark

Filed under: Culture,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 12:13 PM
Tags: ,

I am resolving to post something to my blog at least once a week. Here is “something.”

This post inspired by a Hearitfirst.com “Question of the Day” on facebook:The soap opera “All My Children” premiered on ABC in 1970. Do you have a favorite soap? (We promise not to tell.)

Soap operas have begun dying out. NBC only has one left, CBS still has two, ABC still has three, but Guiding Light and As the World Turns were canned in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The fade out is expected to continue in years to come.

I got sucked into Days of Our Lives for a while when I was a teenager because my older sister watched it. I got into All My Children for a while in college because my TV would only pick up ABC and I wanted something to watch while I ate lunch.

I’m glad to see them go. Soaps were pretty much the lowest form of entertainment our culture had to offer for many years. They played into our base desires for (especially in bored housewives) scandal and sexual fantasies. However, I’m sad that the reason soaps are dying is that we have so many “Real” people to watch throwing their lives away. The American media is making a transition here, but it’s more about switching to a more cost-effective format–unscripted “reality” doesn’t need a staff of writers–than it is about providing a higher-quality content.

What do you think about it?

January 26, 2010

Late Night TV and Three Party Politics

Filed under: Culture,Politics — pecaspers @ 12:00 PM
Tags: , ,

Through the years, there have been two parties struggling for power. Some will tell you that this is the way it was always meant to be, that it can work no other way. Could this system be on the verge of breaking? FOX hopes so.

No, I’m not talking about FOX News–not yet, at least. I’m talking about the FOX broadcast network which will likely be picking up NBC’s cast-off Conan O’Brien. FOX has been effectively out of the late-night talk-show game since Arsenio’s fall in the early ’90s. Mr. Hall is the one shining star in FOX’s after-the-news talk-show sky of dim bulbs.

But now… ooooooo. Conan O’Brien, who rejected FOX a few years back because NBC execs were promising him The Tonight Show, who has always appealed to a younger demographic than Leno or Letterman, he has now been rejected by his native NBC and is again being wooed by the younger-tilting FOX network.

So the denizens of PM talk are about to get shaken up. Instead of having Leno and Letterman dukin’ it out with Jimmy Kimmel picking up the towels, we may soon have a three-way battle to be king of late night–with Jimmy Kimmel still picking up the towels.

My question is this: Does this herald the possibility of a shift–logically connected or not–in the political possibilities of a third party making a legitimate run at the presidency? In my twenty-nine years on this planet, I’ve noticed that shifts in our entertainment industry usually portends what will come in US culture. Hollywood and NYC are “forward thinking” places producing entertainment in keeping with their thinking which we all consume. Have you ever noticed that when you watch an 80s movie now, you see attitudes portrayed in it that you don’t remember being popular THEN but are NOW widely held? And I’m not only talking about moral issues. Remember that in the movie Demolition Man (1993 with Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, and lots if Taco Bell) Arnold Schwarzenegger was President because he had been California’s governor (which he didn’t become until 2003) and they amended the Constitution so even foreign-born citizens could serve. (No one is suggesting that the Governator WILL become the Presinator, but the discussion of allowing a naturalized citizen access to the presidency has been circulating for years.) I’ve observed parallel events in pop-culture are often followed by occurrences in other totally unrelated areas. For example: Halle Berry, raised by her white mother, became the first–and thus far only–black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for Monster’s Ball in 2001; in 2008, Barack Obama, raised by his white mother, was elected the first black US President.

Here is my prophecy, mark it down: IF CoCo can cut out close to a third of the late night market-share and hold it, THEN within the next ten years we’ll see a presidential election that has to go to a run-off between a third party candidate (not an independent, but a full-fledged party) and a candidate from one of the two we currently have. In this, the opinion-show hosts of FOXNews will likely be a major cheerleader, since the third party candidate will most likely be a small-government social-conservative fed up with the big-government social-moderate machine the GOP has become. And, if he(/she?) doesn’t win in either 2012, 2016, or 2020; then he(/she?) will win in 2024 or 2028.

Why? Because I’m not voting against the liberals again. I’m voting for somebody from here on out. And I think there will be a growing number of voters who will only “throw away” their vote on a GOP/DNC candidate once or twice more before they too raise their cup of tea and stop drinking the Kool-aid.

[completely unrelated: I happened to look at the contact page for the White House, and the text image used to verify that an actual person is entering the information said “cowering always.”]

July 30, 2009

Response to “See the Show, Be the Show” on pluggedinonline.com

Filed under: Responses to Articles — pecaspers @ 4:06 PM
Tags: , ,

Find the article I’m responding to at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/read/read/a0004658.cfm

Adam R. Holz states,

“Most of the scientists involved in this research would say that airtight cause-and-effect relationships are notoriously difficult to prove because the mere correlation of two things doesn’t scientifically prove causation. After making that disclaimer, however, the same researchers would have no problem saying that there’s a strong link between the entertainment people consume and the choices they make, especially in the case of young people.”

Let me suggest a bit of an alternative. People most likely to engage in a certain behavior, are most likely to be entertained by that behavior. The results being:

Sex:
Students who are having sex by age 16 are going to be the ones who will also be consuming a lot of sexualized content in movies, television, and music.
Their peers who are more restrained (or even just restricted) in their sexuality are also not going to find sexual humor and/or acts to be appropriate forms of entertainment.

Violence:
Again, flip the assumption of causation around and it makes a safer bet that violent people expose themselves to more violent electronic media because they like violence.

Smoking:
I’ve got to say, this one I’m pretty much on board with. I’m a big fan of old movies…like really old, 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s stuff. I’ve sat there watching Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant smoking a cigarette and thought to myself, “Man, that’s got to be the coolest thing in the world. Why don’t I smoke?” And you think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not. I’d love to sit and smoke Marlboro Reds with Clint Eastwood until my lungs turn black if it meant that my voice would be as gravelly and awesome as his.
At the same time, we need to consider the shift of the prevalence of smoking in movies from back then up through the ’80s and those put out in the last twenty years or so. Mostly these days, it seems it’s only the bad guys who smoke. Not that that’s a true solution, Dora’s foxy nemesis rubbed off on the article’s author’s son. Still, I’m holding to it that smoking is less something everybody just does in movies now, and is more often related to the development of the characters themselves–almost universally displaying some flaw.

Now let’s look at how we can easily misread the data if we don’t understand what we’re looking at:

If it seems that not much good comes from much of the media kids consume, well, that’s exactly what researchers at the National Institutes of Health (working with Common Sense Media) concluded after examining 173 studies involving entertainment and behavior. Government researchers found that 80 percent of those studies linked media (defined as TV, movies, video games, music, the Internet and magazines) to adverse outcomes among children, including obesity, sex, smoking, drug and alcohol use, attention problems and poor grades. One of the five study reviewers, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, summarized, “The research is clear that exposure to media has a variety of negative health impacts on children and teens. … We found very few studies that had any positive association [for children’s health].”

I’m constantly amazed at how educated people miss the obvious. Check this out. “…after examining 173 studies…” “…We found very few studies that had any positive association.” Duh! You can’t get grant money for studying to see if kids learn manners from watching Sesame Street. It is FAR more profitable to be against something bad than for something good. They don’t have congressional hearings on how to increase sharing among preschoolers which leads to government funded studies the way they do regarding teen smoking. It’s kind of like saying that more people like Pepsi than Kool-Aid because Pepsi beat Coke in nation-wide blind taste tests. The dataset isn’t what is required to back up the statement being made.

Beyond the Behavior
We can only act on the information we have. No abortion-minded woman ever decided to keep her child without first being confronted with the fact that there was a child to keep and not just a mass of tissue she could have surgically removed. Stories, whatever form they take, have always been a great way to put forth arguments and information in a non-threatening way that by-passes people’s defense mechanisms.
As for the upsurge in the popularity of witchcraft, kids (including teens and adults who have no better way to spend their time) like to emulate their pop-culture heroes. It just so happens (and sadly so) that playing at or reading about being a witch leads you into dark and dangerous places that doing so with cowboys, astronauts, princesses, or kid detectives likely won’t.

And to those who say, “I don’t listen to the words, I just like the beat,” I gotta say that you can find just as good a beat without the vile words. My wife likes pasta, but she doesn’t like tomato sauce. She doesn’t just eat the marinara sauce, disregarding her dislike for it; obviously, she orders alfredo, which she enjoys, instead. That “old saw” is really a cover up for, “All my friends like it, and I am asserting my independence by being just like them.”

Asking Quarrelsome Questions
There is a difference between rejecting the idea that people do bad things because they are entertained by bad things and saying that morally abhorrent entertainment is a societal good.
I’m with Skipknot’s lead singer, Corey Taylor, (and I think it is pretty theologically sound thinking from a worldly mouth) when he says “At the end of the day, there are always going to be mental disorders and people who cause violence for no other reason than the fact that they’re f—ed up and lost.” See folks, we’re born sinners. Cain didn’t need Tony Soprano to make him want to kill Abel. Hitler wanted to take over the world without ever playing Scorched Earth. Men and women are completely capable of inventing all kinds of ways to be evil without any outside influence.

But don’t misread what I’m saying. Eve might not have eaten that fruit if the serpent hadn’t told her lies about it, about herself, and about God. Sometimes we DO do evil things in response to hearing, seeing, or reading about anothers evil actions. That doesn’t mean someone else caused it. See, this argument of causation is based on another cultural lie; it’s a subtle way of mitigating our own (or someone elses) responsibility. “He was a good kid, but those video games he played corrupted him.” “She was such a sweet girl, but then she got into that rap music, and now she dresses like a video-girl, ‘hooks up’ with random guys, and disrespects her parents.” Don’t be fooled. “He” was corrupted before the video games, and “she” was depraved before the first beat was dropped.

I’m also with screenwriter Mike White when he questions the notion that Hollywood should “give life to our most demented fantasies and put them up on the big screen without any hand-wringing.” And I do wish more entertainment providers would, “before cashing those big checks, …at least pause to consider what [they] are saying with [their] movies [etc.] about the value of life and the pleasures of mayhem.” I think we’d be much better off with artists of all kinds self-filtering their work for the betterment of society. But I’m not holding my breath because most people aren’t in business (entertainment or otherwise) for the betterment of society but for the Benjamins. So, it then becomes MY responsibility to not consume soul-destroying entertainment and to confront its influence by offering myself and others something better to think about.

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