June 30, 2004

Religion and the Presidency

Jay Ambrose on why religious conservatives shouldn't be caricatured as extremists.

Some quotes, including the final paragraph, from the editorial:

It is always a mistake, in my view, for people of faith to think their religious and moral insights necessarily give them policy insights. Those on the religious left - and some secularists - are at least as unlikely in their socialist urgings to recognize this fact as the religious right.

News accounts tell us that people who go to religious services regularly, no matter what the faith, are more likely to vote for Bush than John Kerry, and that those who see themselves as not religious are more likely to vote for Kerry. Some of this has to do with stances on specific issues, obviously, but I think it also has to do with people seeking out sensibilities they think are akin to their own. Those among the religious who find Bush a kindred spirit are not thereby fools who will wreck the country.

(Link via Christianity Today's Weblog)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2004

News from the UUA General Conference

Five discussions from UUA GC2004, all on a similar theme - Secularism is a religion too. Which of course makes it impossible to eliminate religion from public life - since worshipping nothing is just making "Nothing" an object of worship.

What's Intelligent About Intelligent Design?

The UU Answer to Vacation Bible School

Science and the Search for God

A Discussion on Science and Unitarian Universalism

Toward a Humanist Language of Reverence

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Awesome ultrasound advance

New technology shows vivid pictures of unborn babies in the womb.

(Ten more pictures in slideshow)

The more we can see inside the womb, the more ridiculous the claim that "it's just tissue".

(link via Jason Steffens Antioch Road, and a lot of others)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2004

More reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11

from Christianity Today

from Matt Labash, for The Weekly Standard. He admits to an anti-war viewpoint, and still thinks the movie is an "offal-laden piece of junk."

and Jonah Goldberg for National Review Online. He hasn't seen it (nor does he plan to), but doesn't think he needs to; he compares it to not needing to see a p**n movie to know it's worthless.

and from Susan b. at Lilac Rose, who links to several others, including Fahrenheit Fact, a blog dedicated to fisking Moore's rant.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

God's calling

Dawn Eden has an excellent post telling of her childhood experience playing telephone with an autistic child, and relating it to God's call to us.

I can relate to her experience. I don't know exactly how Amy and I wound up as followers of Christ. I remember one conversation back around when we were married where we agreed it would threaten our marriage if one of us "went Christian" on the other. Then three years ago, on June 21, just what we had talked about happened. And yes, it did rock our marriage, but after a few months, we decided to follow Christ together.

Yet even though I don't know all the details of God's call, I definitely know that God was calling me. A lot of little things occured, starting with the pangs of conscience accompanying the things I did to weaken our marriage, but also a realization that what a lot of Christians said started to make sense to me. Over a period of about three years, I actually started to believe that God's judgments are "true and righteous altogether". Yet I continued to resist, hanging onto the thought "I can't give this up". God said over and over to me, "Why not give it up? It's worthless. Let it go, I'm all you need." One day, I stopped fighting, believed in Him, cleaned up my house, and felt a huge weight lifted off my soul.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2004

Quiet week

I generally try to criticize ideas, not the people who articulate them, following the saying, "if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all." I will, with no guilt, link to someone who does though. I've got mixed feelings about Christopher Hitchens. I thought it was great that he severed his ties to The Nation, basically for the same reasons he fisks Michael Moore so severely. I don't care for his secularist outlook, but I've been there, so maybe I'm just ahead of him on the same road.

That reluctance to criticize explains some of the quietness on this blog lately. A lot of the news has been taken up by our past President, and I'm not commenting because I haven't read his book, nor do I plan to. I will say this though: In 1998, I was a registered Democrat. In 2000, I was a registered Republican. Not to say that I've voted straight party line though. I voted Republican for for my House Representative, Chris Smith, back in 1996, along with a vote for the Democrat nominee for President.

I'm going to take some time off the blog. Just a week. We are enjoying the long days of summer, and blogging has become kindof repetitious and stale lately. Maybe I'll if something catches my eye, but otherwise I'm going to reread Lee Strobel's The Cast for a Creator and finally put up a review of it starting next week.

Go read The Dawn Patrol, a great blog by Dawn Eden, who I noticed thanks to Susan b. Lilac Rose, who also has a great blog, but she's taking a break too.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:31 PM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2004

Religion, Politics, & blogging

Jollyblogger has an excellent post about religion and politcs.

I'm a pretty conservative blogger, yet I've never claimed that one must be a conservative to be a Christian, though some might think I do. I've never claimed that my belief in small government and free-market capitalism is a requirement to be a Christian. I go to church in a pretty liberal denomination, the United Methodist Church. In my own congregation, there is no standard for political belief, all we require really is that we love and worship the Lord in unity. While we are united in our worship, we have a lot of diversity with respect to politics. In my own congregation we have people who support American involvement in Iraq, and those who oppose it. We have people who shoot guns (like me), and people who are active in the gun control movement, including our District Superintendent. Bottom line is that the Christian faith has a lot of room for different political beliefs.

(link via Lee Anne Millinger - Such Small Hands, and Joshua Claybourn)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

Kerry's advisers advice silence on religion

John Kerry's advisers tell him to keep quiet on subject of religion after questions are asked about his new directory of religious outreach, Mara Vanderslice, a former Unitarian who has a background of involvement in left-wing causes. It seems to me that her appointment is intended to use religion as a stalking horse for leftist political causes.

A few days ago, I noted Tom Teepen's observation that the Bush administration's policies "do not reflect the broad practice and values of most mainstream Christians but rather the dogmas of conservative faiths." He may be right on the conservative part, but wrong on the broad practice and values. Left-wing political activism is a lot more divisive than promoting traditional values. Kerry's advisers are wising up to that fact and telling him to keep mum on it.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2004

Jehovah's Witnesses banned in Moscow

Moscow court rules against Witnesses.

Even though I have no sympathy for the JV belief system, I believe that the actions of the Moscow court are a blow against freedom.

(link from Christianity Today's Weblog)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

Political Activism by the Religious Left

Liberal Activists Launch Initiative for “Progressive” Religious Leaders.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2004

Religion and the Bush Administration

Tom Teepen applies a religious test to the Bush administration. His verdict: it's ok for one's religious values to influence their actions in politics if they are a liberal, but if one is a conservative evangelical, then it's just wrong. Why? Bush policies do not "do not reflect the broad practice and values of most mainstream Christians but rather the dogmas of conservative faiths." I don't know why that's a defining measure for why it's right or wrong though - if you consider abortion to be a human rights issue, as I do, then religious doctrine is just an aside. Today's religious conservatives have as much right to speak up on right-to-life issues as nineteenth-century abolitionists (also a minority) did to speak out against slavery.

And just another little fact: if abortion is an unalienable right due to the words of a Supreme Court decision, by that standard, ownership of slaves is also an unalienable right - another decision by our Supreme Court from our past. Of course the latter proposition is ridiculous. What isn't said very much nowadays, but should be, is that the first propostion is ridiculous also, for the same reason.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

From NRO today

Two columns of note from National Review Online today:

first on how abortion advocates are too ashamed to call it what it is,
Rich Lowry: The Right that Dare Not Speak Its Name..

And a conversation between Michael Newdow and another parent on the recent Pledge of Allegiance case,
William F. Buckley Jr.: The Playground, a conversation about "Under God."

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

Can the Church disclose voting records?

Boston archdiocese tells parishioners how their representatives voted, then becomes target of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

It seems to me that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights here, by the AUSCS folks. The First Amendment is not a restriction on rights of the people, but rather a restriction of the power of government. Basically, what it says is that the government has no constitutional power to regulate what churches do, nor can it establish a church (the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution, but does appear in Thomas Jefferson's private correspondence, which of course, is not the supreme law of the land, though Barry Lynn of AUSCS seems to think so). That, combined with the principle of freedom of speech, makes the action of the archdioce perfectly fine.

(link via Mark Shea - Catholic and Enjoying It)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2004

As Grown Up As Ronald Reagan

Joel Fuhrmann’s 6/7/04 blog “More thoughts on Ronald Reagan” reflects the experience of many of us of the Baby Boom generation, in that we despised Reagan when young, but now, having matured -- we revere him.

How to account for this?

I was in my 30s when Reagan was President. He appeared to me as a lousy actor: an obvious con, a melodramatic and embarrassing “front man” for his millionaire handlers. Like an old vaudeville performer with bad makeup and a cheap toupee, Reagan’s delivery and quick humor couldn’t pass him off as anything other than a political Roy Rogers of cheap sentimentality and rightwing kitsch. He was an “idiot,” on top of it. I used to think, “How could anyone support him?”

In those days, I believed that those who had an intellectual appreciation for complexity, and a scathing dose of cynicism: owned wisdom. College-educated and supposedly sophisticated, I decided that everything about the USA and its traditions was inauthentic. My mockery of “straight” values was a sign of my superiority. I thought social reality was something I could see through.

Frederick Turner, in an article at the web site Tech Central Station on 6/9/04 -- “Growing Up With Ronald Reagan” -- said:

“It is a weak child's way to blame his parents when someone bullies him, to run to them tearfully and rage against them when they tell him to fight his own battles. The rage should rightly be directed against the injurer, but the weak child respects only the one he fears. And since he dare not rage against the injurer, he rages against his authority figures, whom he does not fear because he knows they love him, and whom he does not respect because they will not harm him. This is the pathology of our ‘baby boomers’ -- or that part of them who yearn for and can never grow out of the Summer of Love, the happy time when the parents were indulgent enough to give them everything they wanted, but fuddy-duddy enough to be dismissed as competitors. Those who never grow up in our society always blame our own responsible officials when something goes wrong. Reagan taught us to place the blame where it belonged, on the enemy, and to make peace with them as our enemies -- without firing a shot, as Margaret Thatcher put it. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

By probing “beneath the obvious” and seeing “for real” the ironic and sour truths of life (which we were thrilled to find) -- by accusing the American culture of horrible crimes without, ourselves, ever having to do any work to create alternatives (all we had to do was deride “the system”) -- we Baby Boomers were able to obtain what we really wanted: the realization that we must be the enlightened ones. We confused the passive activity of seeing through surfaces -- with the hard work of wisdom. In fact, the two have almost nothing in common.

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is the ability to discern the value of what is in front of our eyes. It is not discovered, but earned through the difficult experience of realizing costs.

Once we understand the meaning of death -- and that it will cost us everything we hold dear -- we appreciate the value of life. When young, we haven’t been tested by years and hardship -- so we really don’t know what is worthy. Socialism is our dream because it promises that everyone can have everything they want without struggle; that only those businesspeople and property-owners are keeping us from utopia. Revolution is our ideal because it’s easy to break down what has taken so many years to build up. To immature minds, costs never have to be considered -- because everything is free.

Once we understand the cost of making decisions, of making a living, of growing food, of protecting the innocent, of creating institutions, of building something new, of living responsibly, of suffering through wars to defend our way of life -- we understanding the value of growing up.

That’s what Ronald Reagan stood for. He challenged us to be as grown up as Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Rick Penner at 02:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2004

When I left work yesterday...

I had to get home by 6pm. Just had to. Late interruptions notwithstanding, I got in just at 6:05, kissed Amy and hugged Rebecca, and with Rebecca, went straight to the basement (where we keep our TV - discourages careless TV viewing), and saw the casket on the caisson. Several minutes later we saw the horseless rider, and I just broke down crying. Rebecca is too young to understand, but I wanted her with me all the same. I'll tell her about it again when she's old enough to understand. We watched for about forty minutes, until the flyover, and little "squirmin' fuhrmann" just had to be fed. I said out loud, "Goodbye Mr. President", then turned off the TV and went back upstairs.

Life goes on, and for the better due to the actions and faith of this great man.

Ben Domenech describes his experience in Washington, and also has a post I hope he'll link to from his main page forever: quotes from President Reagan.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2004

Ronald Reagan, Faith, and Communism

Rob Moll interviews Paul Kengor, author of God and Ronald Reagan.

From the interview:

Who was Rev. Cleveland Kleihauer, and how did he encourage Reagan's opposition to communism?

Reagan was an after-dinner speaker, and he would give this speech blasting Nazism. This has always been a problem with the left, they're fantastic about going after racism and Nazism and fascism, but then when they come to communism, that other totalitarianism, they're just not as tough on it. Reagan changed that speech at the suggestion of Rev. Kleihauer, and he started saying that if communism ever becomes a similar threat, he's going to condemn it just as strongly. And he left the stage to dead silence, when typically he left to shouts and cheers. Reagan had stumbled upon that fault line of the Hollywood left naiveté to communism and in some cases even sympathy.

That was an awakening for Reagan, and he got it from a minister. His crusade begins there. Reagan's crusade begins in a house of God when a man of God alerts him to the communist threat.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

David Frum on Bill Clinton

David Frum would like to hear what Bill Clinton would have said at Ronald Reagan's funeral. Nice sentiments, but I disagree. Clinton may have made kind remarks at Nixon's funeral, but that was before all semblance of political civility came to an end in 2000. The Reagan family is justified in not giving any opportunity for this to turn into another political rally like the egregious example set in Minnesota at Paul Wellstone's funeral.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:02 PM | Comments (6)


Rod Dreher confesses to being a teen-age Reagan hater, and finds out from readers that many more people admire Reagan after his Presidency ended.

Two notable exceptions, Jonah Goldberg (who tells us what neo-conservative really means - finally!) and locdog.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

Faithful Democracy

Susanna (Cut on the Bias) notes that leftists are co-opting faith in order to promote their views.

Related to that, the Unitarian Universalist Association (and many other religious organizations) are urging Faithful Democracy. It's really ironic, having heard all the previous attacks on the "Religious Right" from these same people, that this faithful democracy is exactly what religious conservatives have been doing in America for a long time now.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2004

More thoughts on Ronald Reagan

Sunday morning I promised to write more on Reagan's impact on my philosophy. I feel at a loss for words though. I've read lots of other bloggers' words, and find pretty amazingly that many of us conservative bloggers were actually liberals in the 80's, and changed our views later on. I also feel older, as most of the bloggers I've read were too young to vote when Reagan was President, yet I was 23, almost 24, when he became President.

So, why'd I turn around and start voting for Democrats, including the one who served as veep under President Carter? I started believing a lot of the media hype about the "religious right", that Christians were taking over the Republican party so they could control the way we live (as if liberals don't want to either - ha!). I was also failing to follow the wisdom of Psalm 37, and "becoming envious of the workers of iniquity". I was working with a bunch of young people who loved to go out and have a wild and fun time, and while I resisted the pull at first, eventually my hormones, lack of self-confidence, and desire for excitement pulled me into a hedonistic and secular lifestyle (well mostly secular - there was a lot of dabbling in different philosophies and things encouraged by that UU principle known as a search for truth and meaning - which eventually led me back to where I started from, when I realized I had turned my back on the truth in first place).

Some reflections on Reagan's philosophy and its impact on my life:

On Peace through strength:
I used to think that the nuclear arms race was mad and irrational, but now I don't think it was so much. I mean, if we have enough arms to kill everyone n times, why not build more if your opponent is going to build more and point them at you and demand you drop yours? That's the point that Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn made in speeches. The point was that if your opponent got enough weapons to make them think they could wipe you out first, it could be all over without a war even ever starting. There are people of course who think that it's all a moot point if civilization ends - I can't disregard their point entirely, but you also don't just roll over for tyranny and let it win cheap. It's no good to have peace if you're living under a tyrannical government, where the government is effectively at war with its own citizens, as it is today in the Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Cuba.

The really clinching point for me on peace through strength though was what happened later, in the 1990s, when the people of Bosnia suffered so much at the hands of the Serbs. And why did they suffer? Because anti-war people did not allow those people to get the arms they needed to defend themselves. They thought we could create peace by disarming the people, completely disregarding the arms obtained by the other side through other sources. The Bosnians were defenseless. That's the reason I took up target shooting, and disrespect the gun control movement so much; and why I strongly believe that the Second Amendment does indeed recognize the right of individual American citizens to keep and bear arms.

On leadership:
In my period of unbelief, I used to scoff at President Reagan whenever he talked about America and its heritage, his vision of a great country. It took a long time, but I finally saw that there is a big difference between leadership and management. Back before Reagan, we had Presidents who were mere managers - tweaking things here and there to make it work: Nixon and his price controls, Ford and his "Whip Inflation Now"program, then Carter with his continuation of price controls and economic micro-management (down to the level of telling us where to set out thermostats, and talk of only letting people drive their cars every other day). And as far as Communism went, the policy was to just live with it - it's here to stay. As far as I'm concerned, the greatest thing Reagan did was to shatter that type of thinking. Price controls gave way to respect for a market economy. Paul Volcker raised interest rates to drive a stake into the heart of inflation, while people got tax cuts to allow them to keep the product of their work without wasting it on failed government programs and class warfare. And of course, Reagan offered the vision of not tolerating Communism, but ending it and relegating it to its proper place: the ash heap of history. Reagan was a true leader, stomping out the status quo in order to achieve a far greater thing: liberty.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

Comment cleanup

I've decided to deal with comment spam by closing commenting on any post too old to show up on the main page, and by not allowing HTML in comments from now on.

I'm also starting a policy of deleting any comment that does not contain any discussion of the post it is attached to. Any posters who just say "Great site" will be deleted. I'm tired of people using flattery just to put up a link to their site.

And regarding the discussion: I don't mind people attacking my point of view, in fact, I love it. But the language has to be civil, without name-calling. Ad hominem arguments will be deleted.

My apologies to those of you who got trackback pings due to me resaving some old posts.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2004

Remembering Ronald Reagan

I am sad to hear of the passing of Ronald Reagan. His presidency is one that transformed America, though I think a lot of influence he had has been lost due to a resurgence of political correctness in the last twelve years. We would be wise to reconsider the wisdom and legacy of this man.

I'm starting to write a post on how his presidency impacted my life, but it's rapidly turning into a autobiography, and I'm not sure I want to post that. I want it to be more about him than me. Let me just say quickly for now that my very first vote as an American citizen was for him in 1980 when I just recently graduated from college, but I didn't vote for another Republican presidential candidate until 2000. I didn't recognize Reagan's wisdom until after his presidency. I had to consider the views of the other side for about twenty years. I'll have to expand on those thoughts later. My sister, Glenda, has been visiting us this weekend, and I've got to get her on a train to New York this morning.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2004

D-Day anniversary

I neglected to post last Memorial Day, being away from home and away from a computer while in the Poconos, and posting a day late seems really lame. But now that I'm back, and the anniversary of D-Day draws near, I'll attempt to make amends here by linking this article which seems to commemorate both Memorial Day and D-Day.

For God and Country

About one year ago, a friend of mine Denton Layman passed away. He served at D-Day. While he and I disagreed on many political issues, we were always able to laugh at our differences in the end. Thank you Denton, for serving your country sixty years ago.

And another thank you, to Tony Tucker, another friend who served then, who is still alive and well.

And of course, thank you, Dad, for your service during World War II.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

Partial truths

Thomas Sowell on partial truths.

Newspapers aren't being objective in their reporting if they only report the "politically correct" side of the story, even if their stories are factually correct.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

but this one was wrong

that the Stanley Cup Finals would be over on Memorial Day. The Flames surprised me. They actually look like the better team.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

This prediction was correct...

but it was about as easy as predicting that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Pro-life bishop threatened with IRS probe.

What I said on May 14.

Barry Lynn says,

"Bishop Sheridan's letter is code language that says, 'Re-elect Bush and vote Republican,'" charged the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "Everyone knows Bush and Kerry differ on the issue of abortion. Sheridan is using a form of religious blackmail to steer votes toward the GOP. The IRS should look into this immediately."

Back in 2000, I heard a Unitarian Universalist sermon where the pastor exhorted his congregation to vote to preserve abortion rights. That seems like code language just as sure as the Catholic bishop's words, except with one major difference: the bishop is just clarifying who may receive communion, while the UU minister was literally telling people how to vote. Of course, Barry Lynn will never criticize the UUA for its abortion code-language, but he should. His silence just proves that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is just another brownshirt, pro-abortion outfit.

Of course any time a Christian opens his or her mouth to suggest anything pertaining to religion or morality in the public square, the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (and people like Michael Newdow) will be there to suppress them. They seem to think the First Amendment is a statement limiting the rights of citizens rather than the powers of the state. They're wrong -- the First Amendment is a limitation of the powers of the state, as shown by its opening "Congress shall make no law..." The First Amendment does not take away the rights of Christians, or anyone else for that matter, to speak their views.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2004

Is faith a valid reason for legislation?

The Unitarian Universalist Association, which is a tax-exempt religious organization which believes very strongly in the separation of church and state, recently conducted a three-day workshop on political lobbying. Here's a link to a description of the event by the Minister of Religious Education at my former congregation.

I love the irony of these two consecutive paragraphs (emphasis added):

But the highlight of the three days was attending an event for religious leaders that Rush Holt had set up in Washington so that we could start talking our values and faiths across, rather than against, our different traditions. It was an excellent program that addressed the need to keep working to not let the blur between church and state grow more than it has. People spoke out against programs such as Bush's faith-based initiatives and some of the discrimination that these initiatives allow.

One of the highlights of the day was listening to Representative John Lewis talk about how faith and politics are connected, and his experience in the civil rights movement. Legislators, as much as anyone else, need to have their work and their deliberation process grounded in their faith, in their sense of the goodness of people and their sense of what is possible in becoming a more just and compassionate world.

So in the UUA worldview, it's perfectly ok for a legislator to legislate according to their faith, but they can't tolerate any breach of the "wall of separation of church and state". If the source of one's faith is the Christian church, then one is not qualified to let their faith influence their legislative actions.

The UUA professes belief in "The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large", however, by speaking out for the liberal agenda while stating that their conservative opponents cannot speak out for theirs is a violation of that principle.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

PBA ban overturned

I'm disappointed in this decision, though I have to read more about the reasoning. I think it is dishonest of the pro-abortion side to ignore the issue of pain, however. I know some people who are adamantly pro-abortion, yet think that fishing, hunting, and factory farming should be banned because they cause pain to animals. They actually have more sympathy for animals than for unborn human beings.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)