Thursday, November 30, 2006

When Your Money Isn't Yours

Now that Minnesota has recorded a record $2.2 billion budget surplus, liberals are telling us that the surplus shouldn't be returned to the fleeced tax payers, but instead should be spent or saved.

The Star Tribune has an editorial today trying to convince its readers that the surplus "isn't as big as it looks." The editorial's goal is clearly to persuade Minnesota taxpayers that they haven't been cheated, and that we have no claim on the little bit that is there, because we won't be able to pay enough taxes in coming years, so it is best served as a financial reserve.

Their ridiculous claim flies in the face of reason. The surplus is tantamount to robbery. The government has overtaxed us by over $2 billion dollars, and many don't want to give the money back. The budget has ballooned in the past decade and we need to exercise responsibility. Taxes should be cut to ensure this kind of surplus doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Battle Resumes

The war on Christmas has continued and this time the city of Chicago is protesting a Christmas festival's planned use of the film The Nativity Story as a part of the festival. There is a movement underway that seeks to remove Christianity from the public square. We've seen it for years and it is not isolated to Christmas. Easter is under attack as well.

The anti-Christian movement seeks to eradicate Christianity from our collective memory, and by doing so eliminate all condemnation of sin and judgment from the lives of those who reject Christ as messiah.

But as Paul Braoudakis, spokesman for the Willow Creek Association, is quoted in the article as saying, "The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ. It's tantamount to celebrating Lincoln's birthday without talking about Abraham Lincoln."

It is not so unreasonable to expect at some point, the very name of the holiday will be changed to something more palatable to our increasingly pagan nation. In fact it is more likely with each passing Christmas holiday.

The Truth About the "Praying" Imams on US Airways Flight 300

Like most, when I first heard of the six imams that were detained after raising suspicion on US Airways flight 300 from Minneapolis to Phoenix, I was confused. Was their only crime praying as Muslims do? What was it that they had done that made US Airways refuse to sell tickets to them for their return flight to Phoenix? Were those on-board so bigoted as to refuse passage to six meek Muslim imams?

Well, it seems it wasn't quite as simple as that. There is much more to the story than was first told by the media. While true that they raised suspicion by "praying very loud," the most disconcerting thing they did was to switch their assigned seats "to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin."

As an anonymous federal air marshall stated in a Washinton Times article, "That would alarm me, they now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane." The men also asked for seat belt extenders, though two flight attendants claim the men were not oversized. Rather than use the extenders for their intended purpose, they put them on the floor of the plane. Witnesses also stated that the imams criticized "the war in Iraq and President Bush," and talked "about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden."

Robert Mclean, a former air marshall is quoted in the article as saying, "They should have been denied boarding and been investigated. It looks like they are trying to create public sympathy or maybe setting someone up for a lawsuit."

Since the six imams were removed from the plane in handcuffs, a wave of publicity has surrounded them as they have had press conferences, protests were held in Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.

The eye witness accounts all seem to demonstrate that US Airways officials used wisdom and due diligence in protecting for their passengers and employees. This no longer appears to be a case of bigotry, but a proper response to suspicious behaviors.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Baby News!

There is exciting news in the Caneday household! Naomi and I are expecting our first child. We had an ultrasound performed last Wednesday and learned that we are going to have a girl! She is due on April 14th. She is doing well--currently weighing 14 oz. and is approximately 10 inches long.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, November 16, 2006

N.T. Wright, Evil, and Terrorism

I hope I am not boring my readers with yet more on N.T. Wright, but I have not adequately responded to Wright's understanding of evil. Wright states in his recent lecture, "the leaders of the western world have adopted an incredibly naive and shallow analysis of the problem of evil itself."

Wright believes it is naive because they "act as if they’d assumed that the world’s problems were basically solved, that all we needed was a bit more free trade and parliamentary-style democracy, and then any remaining pockets of evil would wither away." Wright believes that western leaders (i.e. Bush and Blair) believe we can legislate or annihilate the world's problems away.

This is not a flattering picture of American hawks to say the least. Speaking as a hawk myself, I fully understand the doctrine of original sin, and understand that humanity is fallen and will never attain perfection or harmony while sin reigns in this world. Yet at the same time, I do believe, that just as World War II rid the world of a fascist and evil dictator, we too can rid the world of the Islamofascist threat through war and the spread of democracy.

Is that a naive belief? I hardly think so. I don't pretend to think we will ever rid the world of all terrorists, but I do believe that the threat can be mostly eliminated and then controlled through intelligence operations and the spread of capitalism. Of course someone like Wright would probably be appalled that my solution is the spread of global capitalism, as that is currently represented by the "American Empire," Wright's unconvincingly thesis.

Wright believes that roots of terrorism "are more complex than politicians and the media often imply." Yet his explanation is the very one that I hear the most frequently in the American media at least, "Terrorism arises principally and obviously because individuals and groups sense themselves to be alienated from ordinary process, unable by any imaginable means to effect changes for which they long, locally or globally."

Wright even mocks those who believe terrorism can only be eradicated by killing them, by saying, "But the way to make sure that the causes of terror are diminished and if possible eliminated altogether is not – of course it is not! – to drop bombs on potential terrorists until they get the point. That is to fight one kind of terror with another, which of course not only keeps terror in circulation but tends to stir up more." It is all so clear to Wright, we are so foolish to believe that killing terrorists is the answer.

Strangely, but purposefully, I believe, Wright says "potential terrorists" rather than simply "terrorists." I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I suspect he believes American and British bombs are intentionally being dropped on innocents.

Then Wright gives us his answer to solving the terrorist problem--to talk to and understand the terrorists. We ought to, "work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick within worldviews quite unlike our own." If we can understand the terrorists' worldview, and they ours, we would be at peace. Now who is naive? I thought Wright said "evil is more radical and powerful than" bombing terrorists away, yet it is still simple enough to negotiate over?

Wright doesn't see terrorists as mass murderer's, but rather as freedom fighters--revolutionaries. In essence, he seems to view terrorists in a nuanced manner. The evil in their hearts is too complicated for the violent to comprehend, but simple enough for the disinterested observer to see right through.

Wright's understanding of evil is wholly inadequate. Yes, there is evil in the hearts of all humanity, but Wright seems to disregard the evidence demonstrating that there is more evil in the hearts of some.

N.T. Wright and the Theology of the War on Terror

I have previously discussed the politics of N.T. Wright and the War on Terror, but a larger questions looms: what is the theology driving Wright's politics? Denny Burk believes that Wright's "Fresh Perspective on Paul" "amounts to a theology of anti-Americanism," but is it this "Fresh Perspective" that drives the anti-Americanism, or is it derived elsewhere? Again, I will be examining Wright's lecture, Where is God in the War on Terror?, recently given in Durham Cathedral.

Wright correlates modern America to the Roman Empire of the early church. Wright compares the aims and intentions of Pagan Rome to what he would argue is an American Empire. Just as Rome, America claims they, “possess justice, freedom and peace and that they have a duty to share these things with everybody else.” As Rome, America is willing to believe that “violence can be redemptive,” and aims to “restore the town, the country, the world to its proper state.”

He believes that America has found its new Cold War, “with Islam taking the place of communism—an idea embraced all the more eagerly because some Islamic nations just happen to possess oil.” It is this pragmatism, he writes that is at the heart of our motive, though we use “the old ‘just war’ theory” as our moral basis for war. We claim to have God on our side, but Wright glibly counters “that human wrath does not bring about God’s justice.”

Wright is correct in one regard. Indeed Romans 12:19 states, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” But while he affirms that, he neglects or ignores Romans 13:2-5. Paul writes,

“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

This is in fact the passage that Denny Burk states that Wright somehow manages to neglect. I am curious what Burk will argue in his paper, which he will be presenting at the Evangelical Theological Society on Friday.

Wright argues, correctly I believe,

“The early Christians, and their Jewish contemporaries, weren’t particularly concerned with how people in power came to be in power; they were extremely concerned with speaking the truth to power, with calling the principalities and powers to account and reminding them that they hold power as a trust from the God who made the world and before whom they must stand to explain themselves.”

He also states, “With Jesus’ death, the power structures of the world were called to account; with his resurrection, a new life, a new power, was unleashed upon the world.”

The early church was taught by Paul, at least, that the emperor’s authority was derived from God, instituted by God, and was God’s servant for their good. Paul clearly taught that governmental authority is to be obeyed, and only feared by the wrongdoer. I also think that John Piper is right (and seems to argue in parallel to Wright) to assert that Paul’s letter to the Romans was written not just to the church, but to Caesar himself.

Piper argues,

“The confession “Jesus is Lord!” was a political statement. His lordship is over Caesar's lordship. This is why Jesus was killed. The crowds intimidated Pilate with the words, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). “These followers of Jesus, they have another king! They are subversive, treasonous.” And when he was raised he became known as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16; 17:14) that is, King over all earthly kings. So when Paul says, “There is no authority except from God,” he is talking not just about God the Father but also God the Son. Christians know that whatever authority is given to man has first been given to Jesus Christ.”

The language is similar to Wright—and I don’t think it is an accident. It is solid biblical exegesis. Perhaps it is reductionistic to think that Piper and Wright have more in common than they might think, but here it seems that they do.

Wright has much good to say, even in this lecture on the War on Terror. Much of his exegesis is spot on. His anti-American theology, as Burk calls it, does not seem to be derived by the “Fresh Perspective” on Paul, but by neglecting or misreading Romans 13. This is what is so distressing about N.T. Wright’s political leanings. Rather than the perceptive and highly original thinker his readers perceive after reading much of his theology, Wright comes off like most of the Democratic Party—willfully blind to reality.

To answer my original question, it seems that it is not Wright's theology that drives his politics in this regard, but his politics that has managed to drive his theology. Perhaps it is helpful to remember that N.T. Wright is human, and hence, fallible. We all think wrongly in many ways and on many topics ourselves. Wright’s politics seems to be a prime example of this.

N.T. Wright and the Politics of the War on Terror

I came across a recent lecture by N.T. Wright entitled, Where is God in the War on Terror? via N.T. In the lecture, Wright criticizes America and Britain for their heavy handed approach to the War on Terror. The lecture is fairly long, and a full response would be nearly as long, so I will begin by addressing Wright's politics and his perception of the War on Terror.

A cursory reading certainly supports Denny Burk's position that Wright's theology is anti-American. Clearly Wright has received that criticism frequently, and near the end of the lecture he states,

"I have said it before and will say it again: I am not anti-American when I criticise some policies of some American leaders, any more than I am anti-British when I criticise some of the policies of my own elected leaders. To suggest otherwise is simply a cheap way of avoiding the real questions; and when I said similar things to this in America a couple of weeks ago I found a great many Americans eager to agree."

I must disagree with Wright on this point (and many others). He is most certainly anti-American. His entire lecture is anti-American from start to end. In fact he is just as anti-American as the American left that we conservatives so rightly condemn.

Wright says of America, "the angry superpower, like a rogue elephant teased by a little dog, has gone on the rampage stamping on everything that moves in the hope of killing the dog by killing everything within reach. In his conclusion, Wright states that, "...we must work from every angle either to enable the United Nations and the International Courts of Justice to function as they should, or to replace them with something else that can do the same job better." Wright goes on to argue for internationalism--just as the American left. Again, he fails to recognize that America is the only Democratic nation suited for war.

Wright uses the precise rhetoric of the anti-American left in America and abroad. Wright can take the position that to label him as anti-American as "a cheap way of avoiding the real questions," but what he defends is most certainly anti-American.

It is clear there is a great political chasm between America and the rest of world. Wright does not have the conscience of an American and could never understand how offensive the notion of an "International Courts of Justice" is to us. Perhaps America's greatest challenge in waging the War on Terror is that no other nation can fully understand the threat posed by Islamo-fascism because their primary target has always been America. But I digress...

Not only does Wright state that, "The only way we could have done something wise in Iraq would have been for a force, with the energy of the whole international community behind it," (Doesn't that sound familiar?) but Wright also states, "Terrorism arises principally and obviously because individuals and groups sense themselves to be alienated from ordinary process, unable by any imaginable means to effect changes for which they long, locally or globally."

Wright continues with the Democrat talking points,

"The roots of present terrorist movements have been much studied, and they are more complex than politicians and the media often imply. But the way to make sure that the causes of terror are diminished and if possible eliminated altogether is not – of course it is not! – to drop bombs on potential terrorists until they get the point. That is to fight one kind of terror with another, which of course not only keeps terror in circulation but tends to stir up more. The way to eliminate the causes of terror is to seize every opportunity to work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick within worldviews quite unlike our own, and in short – as has been said within Iraq, but without much visible effect – to win hearts and minds not necessarily to a Christian worldview, certainly not to a modern secular western worldview, but to a shared worldview of common humanity, incoporating what the great majority of human beings want, genuine justice and genuine peace."

So rather than annihilate terrorists, we are to "work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick..." It amazes me how such an intelligent Christian leader can be so naive about the evil in the hearts of terrorists.

Again, as Burk argues, Wright's politics are anti-American despite his protestations. Wright has an altogether different perspective than conservative Christians in America on the motivation of terrorists, governmental power, internationalism, and the purposes and effects of war. But Burk has posed that it is Wright's "Fresh Perspective on Paul" that is the motivating factor in Wright's anti-American theology. Next, I will investigate Burk's claim.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Denny Burk on N.T. Wright

Denny Burk is running a series on the anti-American nature of the writings of the proponents of the Fresh Perspective on Paul.

His first post asks the question, "Is the Apostle Paul Anti-American?" He uses two quotes from N.T. Wright and one from Richard Horsley that demonstrate the anti-American nature of their writings. It is clear that neither writer is enamored with virtues of America and especially its foreign policy.

He concludes the first post by writing, "Over the next couple of days before I present my paper, I am going to introduce what this “Fresh Perspective” on Paul is and why it amounts to a theology of anti-Americanism."

His second post explains why he believes the theology behind the Fresh Perspective's is so anti-American. He explains N.T. Wright's position from Paul: Fresh Perspectives well, at least from my memory. It is a position I found very convincing, though I found Wright's anti-Americanism disturbing from one who is so otherwise rational and fair-minded.

I look forward to reading Denny's next entries, and perhaps his paper on the matter. But it seems to me that he is too generous in linking the theology of the Fresh Perspective to anti-Americanism. I am not so generous, and am inclined to believe that the bias existed prior to any textual or theological discoveries.

N. T. Wright on the whole seems to get much right, at least in my limited interaction with his writings. But his politics leaves much to be desired. He has a rather low view of we Americans, and an altogether too high view of loathsome characters such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu among others. Wright, like all of us, has his blind spots, and this is one of them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Terrorists Love the Democrat's Victory

This would be funny if the situation wasn't so serious.

Al Qaida in Iraq said, "it welcomed the Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and it added that its fighters would not rest until they had blown up the White House."

Rush and others have been saying this for years, but when terrorists give Democrat talking points, and praise Democrat victories, one ought to be able to make the connection that the Democrats are not taking the War on Terror seriously.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

When Democracy Kicks You in the Teeth

After years of Republican dominance we are now getting a taste of what Democrats have been feeling for the past twelve years. Republicans had a good run in power, but things have shifted and now it is time to figure out what went wrong.

As I write, Democrats are poised to sweep all state offices. Amy Klobuchar is getting her chance to thank her supporters and it is on every stinking channel. Oh the humanity! I thought that Mark Dayton was hard to listen to. My goodness, I think this woman is going to give Hillary Clinton a run for her money as the most annoying person in the United States Senate. Her smarmy populism and waxy smile are going to induce six years of nausea.

It doesn't end there, but if the trend continues tonight and Republicans lose the House and Senate, we're going to have two years of Congress harrassing President Bush, ridiculous investigations, and Democratic moralisms.

We're getting whipped most everywhere this time around, but I am optimistic that two years of the Democrats will turn everyone back to their senses. I just hope they don't do too much damage in the time they've been given.

It would be ironic if Republicans kept the more liberal Senate but lost the more conservative House. If trends continue, that is precisely what will happen.

It is disheartening that in twelve years of Republican power in both houses of Congress, we have done so little. We caved in on so many issues and did many things just like the Democrats had done when they were in power.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Liriano to Have Tommy John Surgery

The worst case scenario for Francisco Liriano is now reality. He will undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery on Monday. He shouldn't pitch at all in 2007, but if the surgery and recovery go well he should be in great shape for 2008.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kerry Unapologetic

John Kerry's knock on the troops in Iraq as uneducated has put him under a great deal of criticism. Many have called for him to apologize--something he said earlier he would not do. He has stood by that statement. The "apology" the press is telling us he made is in fact not an apology. They are accomplices to Kerry and the Democrats in trying to sweep this whole thing under the rug and let us forget what Kerry said so it doesn't haunt them on Election Day.

Kerry's statement reads:
"As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.

I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.

It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops."

This of course is a non-apology--something our society is notorious for and that countless politicians are guilty of making.
It is typical that rather than humbling admitting wrongdoing, it shifts blame onto those who "misinterpreted" him. His "sincere regret" is only that people misunderstood him. It is only after that statement that he apologizes to those who were offended.

So he is only apologetic because we were so foolish as to misinterpret him. Not only that, but he then shifts the focus from his offensive remarks to the Republican's "failed security policy." He couldn't make the statement without taking a shot at his political opponents.

John Kerry is not the least bit broken or humbled by the experience, but rather is as arrogant and condescending in his non-apology as he was in making the statement in the first place. What a jerk.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New Kubrick Film in the Works

The New York Times has a story today about a new Stanley Kubrick film that will hopefully begin production soon.