Posts tagged “torture”

Same Vocabulary, Different Dictionary

December 20, 2014   6:26 am

“Same vocabulary, different dictionary.” This is the way Skip Heitzig described false teachers in a recent sermon on 2 Peter 2. That certainly is good to remember when it comes to theological matters; think about how many different definitions, just in evangelical circles, you have of the word “worship” and of its role in the life of the church and believer.

It works outside the realm of the directly-theological as well. Take the CIA report released last week. I’ve been seeing a lot of banter back and forth over the results of the report, but relatively few questioning its characterization. Even though pretty much everyone is against “torture,” there are competing definitions at work. If we just debate back and forth without addressing the root issue, we’re simply reinforcing the “other side”'s view of us.

Now, to be fair, it’s generally the left who like to redefine things. Racist no longer means “one race is superior”; rather, it covers a host of things, from ethnically-related comments, stereotypes, or even common insensitivity, if the object has a different ethnicity from the one who is offended. Rape is expanded to include a whole lot of things that are not really rape, including simple after-the-fact regret. Marriage means something today that it has never meant throughout millennia of history. And, somewhere along the way, freedom of speech has been replaced with freedom from offense, and freedom of association has been replaced with freedom to compel.

That being said, I’m not necessarily advocating for “the right” either - it’s not about the right, it’s about being right. We cannot flourish, either as a Christian or as a society, if we do not share a common lexicon. And, until we do, it is futile to try to defeat one person’s argument with an argument that has an entirely different meaning. All you’ve got is ships passing in the night. Same vocabulary, different dictionary.

100 Day Report Card: D-

April 29, 2009   11:03 pm

Yes, in 100 days I’ve gone from “skeptically optimistic” to hoping that 3 terms of Republicans can stem the tide from 4 years of our current administration. For all of the left’s making fun of Bush, and VP Biden’s history of gaffes, who knew that the current administration would make them look downright composed? It’s Amateur Hour at the White House, and our kids get to pay billions of dollars for us to watch!

Bar Graph showing a $2T budget deficit projection for 2009, with the highest ever before being less than $500B

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Economics: F (only because F- isn’t technically a grade)

You would think that this would be the current administration’s strong spot, seeing that they won the election last year based on the crappy economy (or so they’d have you believe). Yes, the fiscal irresponsibility of the final year of the Bush v2 administration looks miserly compared with this stimporkulus and budgets we’re being asked to finance. The graph to the right gives an illustration of the impact of the current budget, compared to budgets under Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2. Just as the New Deal lengthened the Great Depression, these artificial attempts to “fix” the economy are actually doing it more harm. Then they label those who are against it as dangerous - but more on that later.

National Security: D-

This one was not an F due to his quick response to the Somali pirates who had captured the captain of a US ship. Regarding the F/A-22 cutbacks, these were being discussed even in the previous administration, and even so, the “cutback” still result in more airplanes being built and delivered to fill the order. I don’t really have a good feeling one way or the other. The F/A-22 has been in work a long time, and had a lot of money already. To throw that away, when we used its predecessor for over 30 years, seems foolish to me. However, with the services merging more and more operations, perhaps it’s smart to have a plane that’s built to specifications from all interested parties. Time will tell. The release of the CIA memos, though, was a bad move, which I discuss in the next subject below.

Foreign Affairs: F

How many ways are there to mess this up? Maybe we should bow to another head of state. Maybe we should give the Queen of England an iPod with your speeches? How about giving 25 Region 1 DVDs to someone who can only legally play DVDs from Region 2? Maybe we could use the term “England” to tick off a good portion of one of our strongest allies. And these are the people who made fun of Bush? Maybe they should’ve left some folks from the White House Protocol Office on staff to train the new folks. I know that it was Kerry’s slogan and not Obama’s, but isn’t this the party that wants to make us “respected around the world”? Ignoring years of tradition and protocol is not the way to make that happen.

And, the release of the CIA memos has made us look even worse. We have people hyperventilating on both sides over whether waterboarding is torture. The ones who do us harm know that they don’t have to do anything for a while, because we’re doing it to ourselves. What the administration doesn’t seem to have thought through is that, though in this country, it may be easy to pin all that on the Bush administration, to the rest of the world, it’s still “America” that did it. And, if they know that we don’t have the stomach for it (would it really have been that out-of-line to put a caterpillar in a room with a terrorist?), their job is easier. The CIA agents are demoralized, and the enemy is emboldened. Call it what you will - naive, oblivious, amateur hour - it’s dangerous, and it’s made our country weaker because of it.

And, to those hyperventilating - if you’re ever captured by them, you’d better pray that waterboarding is the worst thing they do to you. Because we’re humane, we’ve come up with ways to make people think that they’re being tortured, when they’re really not. Torture has lifelong implications to your health and mobility; John McCain can’t lift his hand above his shoulder - that didn’t come from waterboarding.

(Even the decision to stick by the Iraqi withdrawal timetable couldn’t raise his grade in this subject.)

Domestic Affairs: F

Janet Napolitano is a joke. “Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.” “Crossing the border is not a crime….” Tax Day Tea Party protestors are dangerous right-wing extremists, and they could easily recruit returning combat veterans. I don’t feel that our homeland is very secure - I feel that this department is now being run as a playground for political paybacks. Then there’s Hilda Solis, the Labor Secretary confirmed because the Republicans just got tired of fighting. I saw one interview on TV where she must’ve claimed “but we’ve only been here 5 weeks” about 7 different times. That’s not the way a leader talks. An amateur hour two-fer.

Social Affairs: F

I believe I covered Obama’s revocation of the Bush executive orders regarding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. (I’ve bolded the important parts, because I’m sick and tired of the liberal “You’re opposed to science!” mantra. No, we’re not - we’re opposed to the government paying for research that destroys unborn humans, especially when it has shown no signs of finding anything, but other, similar, non-lethal-to-the-donor research has. (And, check out #1 under “Adult Stem Cell Advantages.”) What you fund, you get more of - fund more experiments on dead babies, you get more dead babies. I happen to be against dead babies, born or unborn.) When Obama rescinded that executive order, he also rescinded one that allows funding of ethical experiments. A good analysis of what that means is here.

He gets a pat on the back for supporting traditional marriage; however, I think that battle is lost. The demise of marriage came not from non-traditionalists, but from people who decided that a promise of forever can be undone by a piece of paper signed by a judge.

Well, he’s got a solid 0.2 GPA headed into day 101 - nowhere to go but up, eh?

Selective Religion

October 26, 2007   10:46 pm

There is something that has been bugging me, and thanks to an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, I’m getting around to addressing it. Here is the transcript which we’ll be discussing - a strong language warning is in effect. (Quoted portions here will be sanitized.) I’ll state up front that Bill Maher is a comedian, so I understand that some of this is his schtick. I’ll also state that I’m not picking on him, just using what he said as an example of an argument I’ve heard hundreds of time. The argument is this - current practitioners of Christianity have it all wrong. Jesus was accepting and loving, not full of hate like today’s Christians.

We’ll start with Maher’s monologue…

And finally, New Rule: If the choice in '08 is between Rudy and Hillary, “values voters” must do the Christian thing and choose Hillary. Of course, I think all religion is nuts, but at least she practices it the way Jesus suggested: privately. Like a Dick Cheney energy meeting.

I’ll certainly grant him one thing - though Hillary’s husband is a louse, they are both still married in their first marriage. But, apart from that, the only time Hillary goes to church is when there’s a good photo op, whereas Giuliani has not pretended to be religious.

Plus, she’s raised an admirable daughter, while Rudy’s kids couldn’t hate him more if they were New York City firefighters.

And let’s not forget, Hillary didn’t commit adultery. Her husband did. And afterwards, she did the Christian thing and forgave him. And then she had a GPS unit implanted in his {manhood}. But the important thing is, she forgave him!

I included these just for a chuckle or two. He does make a few good points. Some may speculate about whether her forgiveness was politically calculated or not, but regardless, she did forgive him, even after the one reason given in Scripture as allowing divorce (more on that later).

Now, I bring all this up because this weekend in Washington is the “Values Voters Convention.” Three days of peace, love and hypocrisy. Where the Republican frontrunners will spend the week kissing the {backsides} of 2,000 social conservatives who despise liberals, homosexuals, Muslims, Mexicans and Nobel Prize winners. And who believe the sound of a condom wrapper being opened makes angels die.

Now we start with the elitism and name-calling. I listen to and read conservative commentary, I am friends with many conservatives, and I consider myself to be a conservative as well. I don’t despise liberals, though I do despise their viewpoints. I don’t despise homosexuals. I’ll admit that I’m a little apprehensive of Muslims, but living and working around them for four months while I was deployed certainly helped ease that apprehension. I have no problems with Mexicans at all - however, I believe they should emigrate to this country according to our laws. And the last line isn’t even worthy of a comment. :)

It’s kind of like a “Star Trek” convention, only the virgins are angry - and they think outer space is just a theory. So, Ann Coulter, if you’ve got any more “{queer}” jokes, this is the room for you.

On the contrary, most “values voters” are not virgins; they just ascribe to God’s version of sexuality. And, they know that outer space isn’t just a theory; God created it. And, most conservatives I know can parse words well enough to realize that what Ann Coulter was making fun of the railroading of Isaiah Washington and the lack of manliness of John Edwards - not using the slur against Edwards.

Moving along…

And I know that if you can look at the war in Iraq, the melting environments and the descent of America into “idiocracy,” and still think our biggest problems are boobies during the Super Bowl and the “war on Christmas,” then you don’t have values, you have issues.

We disagree on the war in Iraq. Global warming is a religion, not science, and information keeps coming out every week disproving this religion, with it’s “indulgences” in the form of carbon credits. Conservatives are also concerned about the lack of knowledge amongst the public, which is why we are in favor of trying other alternatives to the proven failed government school system. Broadcast standards are what they are - whine all you want, that’s why your show is on HBO. And the “war on Christmas” is an assault on freedom of religion, one of the bedrock principles of this country. I’ll agree, “we” have issues, but by “we” I mean this entire nation.

If you had “values,” you’d draw the line at torture. But a startling number of people who call themselves Christians don’t. And I’m pretty sure if you asked, “What would Jesus veto,” it wouldn’t be health care for sick kids.

Sure, we’ll draw the line at torture - but not your definition of torture, which is “pretty much anything that makes the detainee uncomfortable.” And I’m pretty sure Jesus would have vetoed this latest S-CHIP bill, which isn’t health care for sick kids, it’s health insurance for middle-class kids.

Let me take this opportunity for a rabbit-trail rant. What is it with liberals and dishonest euphemisms? “Taxes” become “contributions”, health “insurance” becomes health “care”, “religion” becomes “hate” (unless it’s Islam, then it’s hallowed and is not to be trifled with), and “interrogation” is “torture”. As the Godfather has said, “Words mean things.” If they were honest about their agenda, the public would never buy it. Who here is against “health care for children”? (crickets chirping) Who here is against “taxpayer (that’s you and me, by the way)-funded health insurance for children of middle-class families through age 25”? (show of hands) That’s what I thought.

But back to Bill - here it is, folks, his grand finale…

Why, it’s almost like “values voters” don’t really believe Jesus was right about anything. [in mock attack ad voice] “Jesus Christ: wrong on gays, wrong on taxes, wrong on torture, and wrong for America.”

Here’s a passage I’ve heard I don’t know how many times, used to prove this exact point. It’s from John 8, where the people brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. Their law said she should be stoned, but they wanted to see what Jesus would say. We’ll look at John 8:3-11 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (click the link to read them, if you think I’m quoting them incorrectly, or to read it in a different translation).

3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Oooh, that’s good! That’s usually where the argument ends. “You’re not sinless, so who are you to “cast stones” at me?” They interpret “casting stones” as “saying what I’m doing is wrong.” Rather than excusing sin, though, this is a prohibition against meting out punishment. Casting stones was executing a death-sentence judgment against someone. But there’s more!

8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus.

“But look! Jesus SAID ‘I don’t condemn you’!!!” Again, calling a sin a sin is not condemnation. But, there’s one part of this verse that conveniently gets snipped, and it’s the part that we as Christians believe is the most important part.

“Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

The emphasis in the above is, of course, mine. Jesus did not condemn her, but He also did not say that what she was doing was “just the way she was, and we should accept it” or “fine with Him as long as she wasn’t hurting anyone else.” He forgave, then gave her the charge of turning away from that sin. That is the truly beautiful part of this story - we don’t have to continue sinning, to continue to be a slave to sin, once we have met the saving power of Christ.

In logic, a “straw man” is a fallacious argument of an opponent’s position that is misconstrued but argued as fact. That is what people who espouse these arguments are doing. They are setting up a straw man of this religion that Jesus never taught, so they can tear down our practice of it. They’re wrong, and we should call them on it. There is a difference between being meek and defending the faith. :)

So, the next time someone tells you what Jesus would do, (as Paul Harvey would say) now you know the rest of the story.

Terri Schiavo

March 22, 2005   9:30 pm

At this point, it appears as though Terri Schiavo will be allowed to starve to death, on a court order issued at the request of her husband. This situation is particularly sad, especially with all the people around the case that disagree with the medical diagnosis that says she is in a persistent vegetative state. Opponents of her remaining alive cite the terrible precedent that has been set by Congress’s weekend emergency session. I feel that the terrible precedent is allowing someone who should have long ago ceased being her guardian using a court order to, in effect, get away with murder.

This man whom she once married and with whom she planned to spend the rest of her life - this man has not been acting either as her husband, or in her best interests, for a long time. There have been reports from nurses that she is able to swallow Jell-O and liquids even without the feeding tube. He also secretly began living with someone else, and now has two children by her. He clearly wants to move on, and her parents clearly want to be her guardians - so why is he so bent on seeing her dead?

Other thoughts about this situation (that I won’t fully develop, I’ll just put them out there)…

Others are much more eloquent than I, so rather than continue down this path, I’ll link you to some of the better articles I’ve run across regarding this situation…