Tag Archives: Christian

Porcine Problems

As I travel the country, I am exposed to many different kinds of people. Some of these people share similar ideals and tastes as me and we get along quite well. Others have differing viewpoints and we deal with each other in a cordial manner as often as possible. Whenever people congregate, it is important to be respectful of other’s sensibilities. To that end, those in polite company try to avoid intentionally and deliberately offending others. This was a lesson I—and many of my peers—was taught growing up. It is the polite thing to do. It is not, however, mandated by law. Imagine a world where anything found to be offensive to anyone could subject one to stiff penalties including flogging or death. No one would ever interact out of fear for their life. Thankfully we live in a country that protects free speech. Or do we? The media is filled with stories of people taken to task for the crime of uttering their personal beliefs. Perhaps we will soon face the troubles plaguing other countries. A family in the UK had to deal with a particularly onerous issue when confronted on a bus by an Islamic woman wearing a hijab.

According to a story in The Daily Mail, the young couple was trying to comfort their autistic 15-month-old by singing the theme song to the popular children’s show Peppa Pig. The show is about a family of pigs and the song features snorting sounds. The Islamic woman approached the couple and expressed her offense after which the bus driver told the couple to leave the bus two miles from their stop.

In a land that celebrates free speech, who is in the wrong here? Is it the couple trying to comfort a child? Or is it the woman expressing her outrage at what she deems an offensive song? In my opinion, it is the bus driver for sticking his nose in the matter. Both parties have the right to express their opinion and they did so, but to eject a person from a public bus for inadvertently offending another is the real crime here. If the couple intentionally sang the song knowing that in doing so they would inflict emotional harm on another, then some kind of sanction might—and I stress MIGHT—be in order. But even then, free speech is protected by law, so the sanction could not be by the state or any representative of the state.

Now, as this happened in the UK and I am not up to date on British law, I cannot address the legality of speech in that country. If this happened in the US, however, I would recommend that driver be removed from his post and the Islamic woman be strapped down and forced to binge watch Peppa Pig episodes until she sings the song in her sleep. But I digress.

Lately it seems that people are so self absorbed that they cannot acknowledge others. So self absorbed that they focus only on their own sensibilities to the exclusion of everyone else. What this means is that they feel their needs supersede the needs of others, and that they are more important than anyone else. This creates a morbid sense of entitlement that threatens to shatter social decorum.

If something creates any degree of offense, no matter if it was intended or not, it is the equivalent of committing a mortal sin worthy of death. People have opinions and just as no two people are exactly alike, no two opinions are the same. A collection of opinions forms an ideal. Quite often the ideals are diametrically opposed to the point that they may cause offense. This is where the problem lay.

A lot of progressives and liberals will shout the mantra of inclusiveness and diversity from the rooftops until they encounter someone whose ideology runs afoul of theirs. They cry for society to be tolerant of Islam while they browbeat Christians. When Muslims cry out in offense, liberals demand that society accommodate them. When Christians express offense, liberals slap them with separation of church and state.

Now we face situations where one group of people is trying to dictate what the rest of the world can and cannot do. While Christian students are banned from praying in school, Muslim students are given a special room to use to pray. Students in many schools have to abide a uniform policy that dictates what they can and cannot wear; Muslim students are exempted from this. Soon, schools may be forced to remove food items from the menu that offend Muslims. We may find our entertainment dictated by the auspices of these ideologues. Peppa Pig may get cancelled by Sharia law.

If a mother cannot comfort her child by singing a song because it offends one person, then we are already on the path to the end of our society. The best that we can hope for is that liberals realize the door swings both ways. Tolerance does not apply only to Muslims. Everyone has to be able to express themselves as they see fit, even if that way is to sing a song about pigs on a bus full of Muslims.

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Social Activism or Self Promotion?

Hash tag activism is the latest buzzword forged in the wake of the geopolitical flashpoint surrounding the kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria by Muslim extremists. Social activists are claiming that creating the hash tag puts the issue before the people and could—emphasis on could—motivate the Nigerian government to do something to facilitate the release of the students. Many people, on the other hand, feel that the celebrity promotion of the hash tag is nothing more than grandstanding and ineffective in the long run of doing anything to help the victims and serves only to promote the celebrity in question.

The Nigerian government has been woefully inattentive to the plight of the kidnap victims, despite the kidnappers posting videos of the girls recanting Christianity. The media in the US did not spend a lot of time covering the issue, nor did the rest of the world. It was only once family members in Nigeria created the hash tag and saturated social media with it did it become a trending topic that garnered the attention of an ADHD world.

For the uninitiated, a hash tag is a social media tool originated by the social site Twitter and now used in almost all forms of social media. It is a way of discovering messages about a specific topic by using the keyboard pound symbol (#) in front of a simple word or phrase written together with no spaces. Some people make status updates that are nothing but a hash tag that is 140 characters long, which can be difficult to decipher.

It became fashionable to pose in a selfie with the kidnapped girls’ hash tag featured proximately in the picture, even to the point that first lady Michelle Obama had the Whitehouse photographer take a picture of her in the Whitehouse posing with a hand-scrawled sign (probably done by the Whitehouse calligrapher) touting the hash tag. Other celebrities followed suit and now the selfie itself is a trending topic. There are those who think that this is the key to motivating change in the world.

There are also those who decry this kind of promotion as pointless. A marine took a selfie with a sign saying that a military intervention is the only way to secure the release of the hostages, parodying the hash tag theme. Bill O’Rielly has spoken out against the first lady and others who promote the hash tag as being nothing more than self-serving self promotion, designed to do nothing more than make the famous seem concerned and interested in the plight of the unfortunate.

They are both right.

Those celebrities who pose with the hash tag signs are doing nothing more than bolstering their own image in the name of a “greater good,” and are no better than those who flock to disaster areas for photo ops showing their good deeds. These celebrities could keep the hash tag trending by simply retweeting it without the selfie, but they don’t. They have to photo bomb the hash tag to keep themselves prominent.

But the hash tag is doing some good. Public awareness by itself is a pointless goal, to be certain. That people know about varies issues does nothing to resolve the issues. Awareness driven action, on the other hand, can accomplish something. The Arab Spring is proof that social media can drive people to do something about social issues, even if it does not have immediate, tangible results. The Nigerian government has indicated a greater willingness (for whatever that’s worth) to take more action on the issue.

I, like many people, get frustrated having these issues drilled into my consciousness at every waking moment by both the regular and social media. My Facebook feed gets littered with cries to keep the hash tag issue of the day going (as well as way too many requests to like this cute kitten or like the poor unfortunate person who lost everything in a disaster or the long-lost soul looking for birth parents) and twitter keeps chirping and my mailbox blows up. Add the news covering these “trending issues” and my tolerance for hash tagging—never real high to begin with—drops to non-existent.

I tweet, I blog and I update Facebook. Since I am social media savvy, I not only know how to use hash tags, I actually use them quite regularly; just not to the extent of those who do nothing but hash tag. No one, however, will see me holding a sign promoting a social issue hash tag—unless it’s about me.

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What Special Time of the Year?

     This is an open letter to all retailers, mall managers, and shopping center moguls.  I fully understand the financial significance of the time period historically referred to as the holiday season.  I know that many retail establishments show annual profit for the first time each year after Thanksgiving when most people head out to shop for Christmas gifts.  I also know that the advent of Internet shopping has cut into this revenue stream in recent years.  Beyond  these, I know that every year the shopping season gets moved back further and further from the holidays so that it no longer has any real connection to any holiday.  This concerns me for several reasons.  First, as I mentioned, the increasing separation of the shopping from the season that spawns it; second, the undermining of the reason for the season; and third the detraction of other holidays which can lead to confusion for the shopper as to what month it actually is.

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     People have historically spent more money in the weeks leading up to Christmas than they typically spend all the rest of the year.  This shopping has historically happened starting the Friday after Thanksgiving where crowds rush the malls, shopping centers and big box stores trying to get the perfect gift.  Retailers have fueled this frenzy by offering significant savings on select items to entice shoppers into their stores.  This commercialism, while often rightfully criticized, is understandable.  Retailers need to make money.  There is no other reason to be in business.  The problem is that the retailers, in an effort to garner more profits, have figured that since they make so much money in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, surely they could make even more if customers would shop even earlier.  Now several retailers are opening on Thanksgiving day–typically a holiday where all stores would close so employees could spend the holiday with family–and offering the sales that would normally happen on Friday.  This is offensive.  The hapless employees, working for near minimum wage, are being forced to miss time with family; miss time off work to relax and enjoy the holiday and miss an opportunity to give thanks for the jobs they have just so they can work that job.  This is pure unmitigated greed.
     Christmas is a season special to Christians.  While many secular activities have become affiliated with Christmas, it is still primarily a Christian observance.  It draws its name from Christ, its purpose is to celebrate His birth and honor Him by giving gifts much as the Maji presented the Christ-child with gifts.  The amount of gifts and the dollar value of the gifts are not the most important considerations.  As more non-Christians celebrate the holiday, the true reason for the season gets lost amid the cash flow of excess and avarice.  Some of these people express offense at the religious connotations of Christmas.  The media, in an attempt to pander to the most viewers as possible introduces the term “Holiday Season” to describe Christmas and Thanksgiving and urge people to wish each other “Happy Holidays” rather than the more religious sounding “Merry Christmas.”  This is pure unmitigated political correctness.
     One of the more pleasant memories many people have of their childhood Christmases is going shopping for gifts (after Thanksgiving) and seeing the stores festooned with Christmas decorations of glittering gold, bright red and festive green while Christmas carols played over the store speakers.  It, more than any other sign, indicated that Christmas was just around the corner and Santa would soon stop by their house to leave presents under their Christmas tree.  These decorations would go up immediately after Thanksgiving for the Christmas rush.  Today, these decorations are up before the end of September.  This is ridiculous.  There are still two holidays to go before we get to Christmas.  One aisle of the store is filled with Halloween costumes, paper witch door decorations, annoying fake spider webs and enough candy to put California into insulin shock while the next is filled with glitter, pine wreaths, fake trees, lights and wrapping paper.  One goes to a WalMart and has to check one’s calendar app on the smart phone just to figure out what month it is.  Memorial City Mall is having their tree lighting show the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Why? I don’t have an answer.  This is pure unmitigated confusion.
     So, big retail executive/store owner/manager, I say to you: step back and let people enjoy the holidays as they come.  Let the Halloween candy be eaten and the Thanksgiving turkey digested before we get bombarded with Christmas sales.  Let’s not make the entire year nothing more than an extended Christmas shopping season.  To that end, I am making this pledge and encouraging all my friends and family to follow suit: I will not patronize any store that has Christmas decorations up before Halloween ever again.  This means that once the decorations come down after Christmas, if they go back up before Halloween, I stop shopping there.  Yes, this includes WalMart and the Malls.  I will resort to shopping at mom and pop stores, downtown retailers and online e-tailers for all of my Christmas gifts before I subject myself to listening to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” being played over the speakers while being visually bombarded by Christmas decorations in October.  It pure unmitigated commercialism driven by greed and political correctness that creates confusion and ruins the Holidays for many Christians.

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The Reason for the Season

‘Tis the Season. This is a phrase that has been used to introduce what the media is euphemistically referring to as the “holiday season,” because the true name of the holiday in question is no longer considered politically correct. Stores have holiday sales, and people say Happy Holidays as a greeting to each other. Even the phrase “Happy Hanukkah” is more accepted. Congress has been admonished that they cannot express any salutations on official correspondence that refer to the holiday. There is a concerted effort to marginalize the holiday (a term referring to a Holy Day) that is significant to Christians, and this attack is coming from humanists, atheists, agnostics and muslims among others. These assaults are both direct in the loss of the saying “Merry Christmas” and indirect in the abandonment of the holiday traditions because of the commercialization. They use the very symbols of Christmas to argue against Christian observation. The enemies of Christianity’s victory will not come when Christmas is outlawed, but when Christians surrender Christmas.

Many Christians have decried the commercialization of Christmas which seems to be growing more blatant every year. Retailers set out their decorations earlier, sales get bigger and hyped with more enthusiasm as retailers look for the biggest profits, and people are bombarded with opportunities to donate to any number of charities. This year, Black Friday was actually Black Thursday as many retailers opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps they do this to try to marginalize another Christian holiday in Thanksgiving.

Jesus was most likely not born on December 25th. The Bible doesn’t say it and a scientific study of the scripture indicates that it is more likely he was born in September or October, although it is still a matter of discussion and debate. Some claim that the December 25th date is set to coincide with the pagan ritual of saturnalia, but many Christian scholars hold that Constantine, the first Christian emperor, set the holiday date. To refuse to celebrate a Christian holiday because it may fall during a one-time pagan observance is to say that I should not celebrate my birthday because it also happens to be Adolph Hitler’s.

Santa has been attacked by many Christians as a false god or an idol that represents the commercialism that is distracting people from the true meaning of the holiday, that of celebrating Christ’s birth. Some shun Christmas decorations as a pagan ritual. All these reasons may seem a noble cause to shun the traditions of the season, but all that serves to do is to promote the commercialization, humanization and de-Christianization of Christmas. Santa Claus in his popular jolly form with the bright red suit and white fur trim is the creation of the Coca Cola marketing department and was introduced in the 1950’s. He is the quintessential marketing tool and has been one of the most successful in history. Kids wait up all night on Christmas eve looking for Santa’s reindeer to land on their roofs.

Beyond Coca Cola’s Santa Claus is the actual story of Kris Kringle. The name Kris Kringle actually comes from the German KristKindle, which translates Christ Child. According to Wikipedia, Kris Kringle was promoted as a gift bringer during the reformation to replace the figure of Saint Nicholas, a catholic priest known among other things for leaving coins in the shoes of children. So Santa Claus is not a pagan symbol, nor is he an idol or false god. He is the personification of Christ’s love and based entirely on Christian principles. Christians should continue to welcome Santa into their homes every year. The moral implications of telling children about the reality of Santa and the truth of the spirit of giving and its origins in history are an individual issue.

The tradition of decorating for Christmas is not based in the pagan rituals, although some would compare it to a Yule tree to try to remove any reference to the Christian holiday. Some accounts ascribe the origins of the Christmas tree to a representation of the paradise tree, honoring the tree that provided the apple that Eve gave to Adam. Other origins are associated with more modern interpretations in northern Germany of celebrating around the tree, then burning the tree at the end of the festivities. Granted, festooning one’s house in light bulbs and garland may seem garish and commercial, but it is an opportunity to enjoy and pass on a shared family tradition. This helps draw a family closer together.

The commercialization of Christmas is rampant and not just for commercial reasons. Granted, businesses want to make as much money as they can. The term black Friday is a reference to the fact that many retailers operate at a loss (negative ledger balances are usually written in red ink) for most of the year and their ledgers finally run in the black (positive balance) for the first time the day after Thanksgiving when more people head out to begin their Christmas shopping. Retailers have marketing companies working year-round to help people find gifts to give. Man’s greedy nature has reversed the onus so that more people make wish lists of wants rather than lists of gives. The practice of giving gifts may seem disingenuous to the solemnity of the Holy Day, but it is based in the historical Christmas story. The magi brought the baby Jesus gifts befitting a king; gold for its value, frankincense, an incense symbolizing prayer and myrrh, an oil for anointing. Christians give gifts at the holiday in honor of that spirit of giving.

Opponents of Christianity want nothing more than to strip America of all things Christian. They try to purge our history books of any Christian references from our founding fathers. They try to twist the first amendment—the one right that guarantees our right to our Christian faith—to silence us as separation of church and state. They try to strip our recognition of our savior’s birth by making it a commercial celebration.

When Christmas is no longer a Christian celebration, then it is nothing more than a 2-month long advertisement and sale with no significance other than how much people can buy for how little money. It is imperative that Christians remember not only the origin of the day—Christ’s birth—but also the traditions of the holiday. Put up a tree, put up a Santa, tell your kids the story of Christ’s birth. Once we surrender our claim to the traditions, we surrender our claim to the season. Keep Christ in Christmas, keep Christmas in your heart, and keep the traditions alive. Tell everyone you meet “Merry Christmas” eschew saying Happy Holidays and worry not about political correctness. The first amendment gives every Christian the right to say Merry Christmas. Use it at every opportunity.

Christmas is a Christian holiday; may it always be so.

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The Trouble in Praying

There’s trouble, friend. Yes, there’s trouble. I say we got trouble. Right here in Houston. There’s some politician preachin’ in the stadium, and that spells trouble with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for preaching.

Well, for some people it seems to be trouble anyway. Texas governor Rick Perry has been backing a national day of prayer event called “The Response” for the past several weeks and it has the political left all up in arms. This prayer event is being held in Reliant Stadium near downtown Houston on Saturday, August 6th. Rick Perry will be in attendance and will speak and I imagine, will pray.

The news has been replete with stories of “activist groups” who oppose the event, oppose Perry’s backing the event and oppose his speaking at it. Some call it an anti-gay event since some of the religious groups sponsoring it are opponents of gay issues.

The most vocal have been the agnostic/atheist groups who claim that Rick Perry’s involvement somehow violates the separation of church and state. This is the claim that gets to me. The supposition seems to be that, once you become a political leader, you cannot express your faith at all. The Response is not a mandatory thing. Rick Perry is not forcing the citizens of Texas to kneel and pray. He is not decreeing that Christianity is the new state religion. He is not saying that people of other beliefs cannot pray in their own fashion.

Governor Perry is simply asking for those who wish to participate to pray for the future of our country.

Rick Perry is Christian. The organizers of The Response are Christians. The event is a call to prayer to Jesus Christ. This is a Christian event. Should political leaders abandon their faith just to satisfy the left? What’s more, Rick Perry is not a minister. He is no preacher, just a man of faith who wishes to freely exercise that faith.

If you choose not to pray, then don’t. But it seems that the anti-Christian movement is actively trying to deny Christians their constitutionally guaranteed right to pray. The leftist agenda has long been trying to water down Christianity by insisting that any public expression of faith MUST include all faiths, which is kind of ironic since it is tantamount to a state-enforced religious structure.

I recommend to every Christian to pray, even if you cannot make it to the stadium. God does not need the stadiums PA system to hear prayers. Pray wherever you are. Our nation desperately needs our prayers, especially at a time when so many are trying to silence them. That’s the real trouble not only here in Houston, but all over the country; trouble with a capital ‘T’.

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Silencing The Masses

The march toward the end of the Unites States has taken another step forward this weekend with the asinine utterances of Senator Lindsey Graham, ( R ) of South Carolina. It is even more scary in that Graham is a republican, the party usually decrying the abridgement of our constitutional freedoms. Graham was on Face The Nation Sunday commenting on the burning of the Koran by Florida fundamentalist preacher Terry Jones which sparked violence across the middle east. Graham joined Senator Harry Reid in saying that congress should investigate the incident. “We’ll take a look at this of course. As to whether we need hearings or not, I don’t know,” he said.

What is there to take a look at? No crimes were committed. No laws were broken. At least no American laws. If we broke some Sharia law, who cares? This is the United States. We have our own laws that are for our citizenry. If another country does not like our laws, so be it. They do not have to live under them, just as we do not live under theirs. This is why we have our own country, so we do not have to answer to a foreign government of which we have no say. We as citizens—or should I saw “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES” have written our laws to govern ourselves. We elect representatives from our communities to be our voice in government. In this country, we have a say in governance “IN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION.”

Islamic countries’ laws are based on their religious system. Sharia law is right out of the Koran and is much more limiting than our constitution. These people can never appreciate a government working under the auspices of the separation of church and state. For these countries, state is controlled by the church. Their laws are based on religious precepts. They cannot abide our freedoms and want to destroy our system and implement theirs. These are not the extremists as we have been led to believe, rather these are the mainstream. Only the “Americanized” muslims really claim to embrace the American ideal of separation of religion from daily life and these are the minority.

They have figured out the best way to undo our system is from within. They use our own freedoms against us by claiming that they must be allowed to practice their faith openly. We let them, even when their faith demands societal control that is far removed from the constitutional freedoms we enjoy. The goal is to destroy our freedoms. One of the best ways is to subvert and abridge our constitutional rights, such as the right to free speech or our right to privacy or our right to a fair trial of our peers. Many lawmakers who support the suspension or abridgement of our rights do so by saying that it is for the greater good. We have surrendered our protection against illegal search and seizure when we travel at airports in the interest of national security. This is also the same excuse used when the government intercepts our private messages and phone calls as they look for terrorist communications.

Now Reid and Graham want to take away our right to express ourselves because some Muslims in some foreign country are offended. Is burning a book a good thing? Ordinarily I’d say no. I would become incensed if someone tried to burn a Bible. Do I offer the same idea for the Koran? No. I really do not care about the Koran. It is not the inspired word of God. But, here is the kicker: do Americans have the right to burn either of those books. Yes, they do. It is not a hate crime. It is an expression of personal ideology—one of the primary principles upon which this nation was founded. If Christians become outraged at the burning of a Bible, no one in congress raises an eyebrow (which is sad in and of itself) but let some Muslims cry foul when a preacher organizes a Koran burning and now congress wants to look into preferring charges? Ridiculous! It does not matter if there is a war on. It does not matter if all of Islam shouts out against it. It is an American freedom; one that hundreds of thousands of men and women have spilled blood and died for.

This is still the United States of America and it is still a country based on individual freedoms as outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If other countries don’t like it, let them try to take us down the way that other countries have for more than 200 years. We won’t go without a fight. They know this which is why they have changed tactics. Don’t let them destroy us from within by attacking our base principles while we let them under the guise of tolerance. We have to fight to keep our rights.

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