Attempting To Vote For The “Better Christian” For President In 2012

September 1, 2012 at 12:09 am , by 

21 months.

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, then you know that A) I talk about my son a lot and B) I love discussing politics.

This election is epic! Here we are, deciding which man we believe best represents our own code of morality and decision-making.

For me, the most interesting part is regarding the discussions I’m hearing about the religious beliefs of the candidates, particularly from conservative Protestant Republicans.

Up until 3 years ago, before becoming your neighborhood friendly Ron Paul supporter, I was a Republican and I voted that way every four years.

Like many other conservative Protestants I knew, I voted for the Republican candidate, if for no other reason, because he was pro-life.

While I am still very pro-life, my focus is no longer on choosing the “better Christian,” or in other words, the most conservative Christian candidate.

Here’s the irony: Many Protestants don’t consider Mormons to be Christians; some of the biggest reasons being because Christians believe that Jesus is equal to God and that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. (My understanding is that Mormons don’t believe those things.)

In other words, certain Republican Protestants are voting for the “better Christian,” though, by their own definition of what it means to be a Christian, the man they will be voting for is not actually a Christian.

Instead, they’re voting for the man who best represents their particular Christian values.

This is the first election in a long time where Republicans don’t have a Protestant Presidential candidate to stand behind.

(The only Catholic President in American history was JFK, who he was a Democrat.)

What if Mitt Romney was a conservative, pro-life agnostic instead of a Mormon?

How “non-Christian” can a Republican Presidential candidate be and still be backed by the conservative Protestants as the “better Christian” candidate?

Of course, I keep having to put “better Christian” in quotation marks just to be clear that I personally I am not publicly judging their allegiance to Christ; I think if I did, it wouldn’t be very Christian of me.

Similarly, I think it’s unfair to demonize a President just because he’s with the “wrong” political party.

President Obama is not evil. Nor was George W. Bush. They just happened to be the first two Presidents we’ve had since the Internet has been relevant to mainstream America and since blogs have been subconsciously influential to the masses; so these recent Presidents have been much more rapidly criticized.

It can be so natural to call their actions evil when you’re part of the opposing political party. In the process, the whole other political party in that case becomes evil too.

In other words, either half of America is evil; it just depends on which side of the fence you’re not.

Like I said in the beginning, we as a nation, as parents of children whom we are trying to instill our own morals into, are trying to vote for the man we believe best represents our own code of morality and decision-making.

Sure, our own personal religious beliefs should play into that. But at least for conservative Protestant Republicans, it’s not as simple this time around as choosing the “better Christian.”

So, will America choose a Christian or a Mormon for President in 2012?

 

Top images: US Republican and Democrat, via Shutterstock.

Bottom image: Two voodoo dolls, via Shutterstock.

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New Infographic: Firework Safety- July 4th In America

It’s now common knowledge that we as parents in 2014 can’t raise our own kids the same way we were raised back in 1984. A lot has changed in 30 years!

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An easy example is how it “used to be okay” to ride in the back of a pick-up truck; or even ride in a car without a seat belt- it’s actually against the law now.

My personal pet peeve in this category is, on Facebook, seeing pictures of a child on a riding lawnmower with their grandfather or dad. I’ve seen 2nd hand a couple of stories (which is too many!) of the child falling off and being seriously injured from the incident.

Some of those things that were once normal and acceptable, and even American, are now headed towards the status of taboo.

Right now I can’t not mention fireworks. Just a few weeks ago I was talking with my parents and my sister about how ridiculously unsafe the fireworks were that we used to play with back in the 80s. The concept of sparklers alone… Really?

Granted, I’m not against fireworks. In fact, I am very much looking for to using them next weekend for July 4th with my family.

In particular, we are trying to get our hands on some of those stupid made-in-China chickens that explode; along with some tanks. (Nothing says “Happy 4th of July” like celebrating with flags and fireworks that were made in China, while driving cars dependent on fuel from the Middle East. Oops… too political, sorry!)

This perfectly-timed infographic, “July 4th In America- Firework Safety” is worth checking out. In case I haven’t established this fact yet, I love infographics!

So enjoy your fireworks next Friday, and if I have anything to say about it, please keep your kids off of riding lawn mowers. I know I will.

 

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Infographic Source: Instant Checkmate.

 

Popular (Yet Subtle) Songs Dealing with Abortion

Pop music finds a way to safely put into words what we sometimes can’t easily speak.

Yesterday as I was driving home, a song came on the radio that I had never heard before- “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw.  I’m the kind of person who always listens carefully to the lyrics of a song; and part of the 2nd verse caught my attention: We were young and wild; we decided not to have a child. So we did what we did and we tried to forget and we swore up and down there would be no regrets.”

It’s important in songwriting to say something without actually coming out and saying it.  In Aerosmith’s 1989 hit, “Janie’s Got a Gun”, the words “rape” and “incest” are never used, but for anyone who has halfway listened to the song before, it’s pretty obvious it’s a story about a girl who is sexually abused by her father and eventually takes revenge by killing him.

Abortion is such a heavy and delicate topic; laced in political, moral, and religious factors.  It’s an extreme thing- typically people are either hard-core against or for it, while there are obviously some in the middle who believe abortion is excused from their opposition reasons in the event of rape, incest, certain death of the mother, etc.  But to never bring it up in the entertainment genre of music would be odd, given that it’s an event that happens every day- an event that has affected many people, most of whom I am not personally aware of who they are.

So I find it very interesting to see songs become hits that deal with abortion.  Aside from “Red Ragtop” which went to #5 on the Country charts, there are two particular songs I want to examine.  It was only a few years ago I found out that in these songs the protagonist’s girlfriend gets pregnant and has an abortion.    They were both performed by alternative rock artists and were popular while I was in high school.  And the songs both have a strong emotional tune to them while straightforwardly telling their stories with lyrics that evoke shame, sadness, and a sense of regret and guilt mixed with the realization of the need to move forward in life, despite their personal choices.

The first of these songs is “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe which rose to #5 in 1997.  While this song is officially about a guy dealing with guilt after his girlfriend commits suicide, I can’t deny the fact that some of the lyrics paint the picture of abortion as well- which according to Wikipedia, is the actual story behind the song: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Freshmen_(song).  Here are some lyrics from “The Freshmen”.

When I was young I knew everything
And she a punk who rarely ever took advice
Now I’m guilt stricken, sobbing with my head on the floor
Stop a baby’s breath and a shoe full of rice

I can’t be held responsible
‘Cause she was touching her face
I won’t be held responsible
She fell in love in the first place

For the life of me I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise
For the life of me I cannot believe we’d ever die for these sins
We were merely freshmen

We’ve tried to wash our hands of all of this
We never talk of our lacking relationships
And how we’re guilt stricken sobbing with our heads on the floor
We fell through the ice when we tried not to slip, we’d say

The other song, more surprising for me, is “Brick” by Ben Folds Five, which also was a hit in 1997: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brick_(song).  Below are lyrics from the 2nd and 3rd verses.  After reading them, the reality of this song becomes much clearer.  I had always thought of “Brick” as a decently happy song; at worst, a song about a happy guy and a depressed girlfriend.  But it’s obviously much more than that:

They call her name at 7:30
I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers
And sell some gifts that I got
Can’t you see?
It’s not me you’re dying for
Now she’s feeling more alone
Than she ever has before

As weeks went by
It showed that she was not fine
They told me son, it’s time to tell the truth
She broke down, and I broke down
Cause I was tired of lying
Driving home to her apartment
For a moment we’re alone
Yeah she’s alone
I’m alone
Now I know it

So beyond our own personal convictions on abortion, the songs mentioned here give us the gravity of it: Even dressed up in a catchy song, the truth is, the subject of abortion itself leaves a feeling of sadness and regret.  The narrators of these songs have been deeply affected by their decisions.  It appears they’ve learned to forgive themselves, even if under the guise of “we were young and irresponsible”, yet they aren’t able to forget; as consequences resurface.

The Paradox of Claiming to Be Humble and the Irony in Bragging on Your Integrity

While in college at Liberty University, I noticed that I literally walked past thousands of other students every day, most of whom I’d never stop to have a conversation with.  We would recognize each other in the cafeteria as a person who saw while walking to our 9:00 class, but there was no reason to know anything more about each other.  So I messed with the situation.  I started putting on a nametag each day with different information about myself.

Like one day it said “5’ 9”, and another day, “Alabama native”.  Eventually, I started running out of solid facts about myself, so would sometimes use dry humor.  One day, I wrote on my nametag, “VERY HUMBLE”.  Most of my classmates and friends got the joke.  But there were a few that responded, “You’re humble?  Oh…”

The obvious joke is that no one can truly proclaim they are humble and still be humble.  Being humble involves humility; so for a person tell others about positive attributes about themselves, especially being humble, and for no apparent reason, is far from being humble, if the action was meant to be serious.  It makes me think of political commercials where we see the word “INTEGRITY” flash up on the screen over the politician’s face, and at the end, the politician running for office, himself, states that he approves the message.

Any business that sells itself as a company that treats people right makes itself a target as soon as the first company comes along with a perceived injustice.  And that’s why every company has some sort of “complaints department”.   Like how the most religious person in the room’s actions are often looked at through a magnifying glass, then when they do the slightest crude thing, they are remembered for that one random act, making them sort version of a hypocrite.

Of course, that’s the tricky thing about honesty, integrity, and humility: There are extremes and in-betweens.  Not all politicians truly are sleazy.  Not all people in prison are horrible human beings.  Being that no one on Earth is currently perfect, no one is truly completely honest and humble, living in accordance with immaculate integrity.  A good reputation is made over a course of time, through actions.  But even a good reputation is negated once the person is the one to bring attention to it.  Like a man in a good suit, he’s instantly less cool if he brings up his suit in conversation- it’s someone else’s job to brag on him.

Screen Door on an Open Mind

I think, therefore I am open-minded.

Before, I always thought that being open-minded meant I would personally accept any new idea that came along, so I distanced myself from the phrase. “Open-minded” was a description for a person with no backbone, so flaky regarding their worldview that they would accept anything fully; never really being able to believe in any certain deity whom they could actually know personally, because being open-minded meant they believed “God is in the trees and the wind and the animals and in all of us”.

But somewhere in between never adopting solid personal beliefs and being so unchangeably stubborn because “this is the way it’s always been done and I ain’t changin’ now” is a balance. I’ve come to realize that while there are certain things I am rock solid on, there are other aspects that I was wrong or misinformed about before. For example, in recent years regarding the relationship between my religious and political beliefs, I have definitely become more conservative on certain issues and more liberal on others. Yet I still know what I stand for.

Being open-minded means living a paradox. It means a person has confirmed the Big Stuff (a moral code, religion, etc.) but is open to the millions of things that don’t necessarily go against what is set in stone. And while people everyday are still sorting out the Big Stuff, there should come a certain point for everyone where they actually decide on something. It’s a necessary rite of passage that makes us who we are.

Speaking of a word that many often keep a distance from: faith. It’s amazing how there’s no escaping from needing to have faith in something. Whether it’s faith in no god, a god, science, tradition or “don’t know, don’t care”, people make their decision even in their indecision.

I have figured out the Big Stuff for me. Other than that, I’m learning the rest everyday. The door of my mind is open, though the screen in front of it is secured in place.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” –traditional proverb

What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get? (G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17)

If your life was a movie, what would it be rated?

I recently watched a documentary questioning the secrecy and allusiveness of the MPAA movie rating system, called “This Film is Not Yet Rated”. While I’m not opposed to the American movie rating system because I see it as a decent way for parents to decide which movies are more suitable for their children, I also admit there is some humor in the way that movies are arbitrarily given ratings.

In general, more than one f-word grants an “R” rating. “Artistic or comic nudity” can land with “PG-13” or even “PG”, but if the nudity involves romantic or sexual content, then the movie will be an “R”. A panel of judges make a living off of making that call.

By now it’s pretty obvious that most studios want the majority of their films to be rated “PG-13” because more people will be able to see it. “PG” is for young kids and “R” weeds out the kids who are not smart enough to pay for one movie but walk into another.

The thing that most stood out to me from watching the documentary was this:

Compared to Europe, America has it backwards when it comes to sexuality and violence in movies. In Europe, sex scenes are portrayed in a more matter-of-fact/this-just-part-of-life manner. An absence of chiseled abs, large breasts, and steamy music. Not glamorized.

But when it comes to violence, Europe leaves a lot more to the imagination. They’re more offended by violence and less worried about sexual content.

In America, our movies are infiltrated by sex any time there’s a slight opportunity for it. But it’s so fake. Women have the sex drives of men. The atmosphere is perfect. The lighting is just right. And of course both participants have perfect bodies that could be (and often have been) featured partially nude on a health magazine cover. For me it’s just not believable.

Yet despite our obsession, compared to Europe, we’re much more offended by sex in movies. Culturally, America is a Christian nation. So we’re much more likely to be bothered or affected by heavy sexual content in a movie.

So we shy away from sex in movies, but indulge in violence. And not just grotesque stuff like the Saw movies.

We love war movies. We just do. Because there’s nothing more American than seeing the good guys kill the bad guys.

Like any James Bond movie for example. Loaded with countless murders by gunshots. Yet a lack of blood. Therefore, James Bond movies aren’t rated “R”, but “PG-13” instead.

The theory is that violent movies have this undertone that speak to teenage boys and young men: “Just imagine, if you fought in the U.S. military, you could be the one with the gun. Protecting our country. Killing and defeating the enemy.”

The regular presence of violence in American entertainment desensitizes us to it. The more we see it, the more we’re used to it. And it’s not really a moral issue to us.



While we may not be willing to be part of the firing squad that executes an American criminal convicted of murder and rape, our conscious doesn’t bother us as much about killing the enemy in a war who happened to be born in the wrong country with a dictator who is forcing him to fight against us. Yet he may have never killed or raped anyone. Until now, he could be just a another normal family man. But if he doesn’t fight for his corrupt political leader, his life will end anyway.

Both the sex and the violence are fake. We know this. But our conscience doesn’t really bother us about watching Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers (which neither really contain any sexual content).

I’ve noticed that Baptist preachers can mention Saving Private Ryan during a sermon to drive home a point and no one in the congregation thinks twice. We’ll overlook the vulgar language and bloody deaths in the name of war. Yes, it’s violent. But it’s war.

The point: Even Baptist preachers don’t mind violence, as long as it’s associated with war. I know this because I’ve been in the congregation enough to hear it. But if a movie was rated “R” for any other reason than war violence, it would be taboo for the preacher to admit he even saw the movie.

I get it. It makes sense.

America excuses violence. But has a tough time with the other stuff.

Now that I’ve established that America is okay with violence, I will quote Michael Tucker. He is the producer of the 2004 war documentary film, Gunner Palace, which shows the everyday lives of soldiers fighting in Iraq. This film is unique in that it received a “PG-13” rating, despite it’s 42 uses of the f-word and brutal violence and imagery. Tucker had to appeal the MPAA because of course they originally rated his film “R”:

“When a little girl was running down the road in South Vietnam, burnt by Napalm and she’s naked, is that PG? Is it PG-13? Is it R? You can’t rate reality.”

Great quote. I’ve seen the exact photograph he’s referring to. It’s awful. And I’ve seen even more hellish pictures from The Rape of Nanking during World War II, when Japan occupied China, raping all females and killing all men they could find in that city.

That can’t be rated. It’s so worse than “R”. Worse than NC-17. Yet those photographs can easily be found in Wikipedia or in any History section in a Borders or Barnes and Noble. It’s not fiction. It’s not art. It’s reality.

Michael Tucker is right: You can’t rate reality.


In the back of my mind I’ve always wondered what my life would be rated if it were a movie. The question is, how would my life not be rated “R”? Just considering an average workday. Even on a tame day, I know the language I hear around me would be rated “R”. As it definitely was in high school.

I guess I’ve always thought it’s ironic to hear a handful of f-words in a movie and know the movie is rated “R” because of the language itself. Hearing that language has become normal to me. Which of course defeats the whole idea of certain words being vulgar. When they’re common, they can’t truly be as vulgar as we let ourselves believe.

One of my biggest reasons not to use profanity is for that very reason. It just seems cliche to me. I can’t bring myself to do it.

Yet watching a movie than contains a few f-words is at least a little bit offensive and shocking. Why? Because it’s not in real life? Isn’t there a double standard somewhere in there?

Why, in real life, is it not a big deal to us?

Because it’s not real. Watching it happen to someone else in a movie makes it worse. It’s magnified. We pay closer attention. We’ll except it in real life, though.

It’s a funny thought.  To give a movie rating to real life.  Especially your own.

Related post by the same author:

Mixed Reviews  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2y

The Ball  http://wp.me/pxqBU-fv

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one