Posted 2/8/13 at 10:13 PM | Duane Miller
This week, at the confirmation hearings for John Brennan, we learned much about the Obama administration justification for the use of drones, even to kill American citizens. Senator Dianne Feinstein, an Obama mouthpiece, even created a new class of American citizen…”so called.”
Senator Feinstein was questioning Brennan, President Obama’s nominee for C.I.A. Director, about the justification for killing Anwar al-Alwaki in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Believe me, I do not approve of al-Alwaki’s activities, beliefs, or words, but he was born in New Mexico and that fact makes the following exchange between Feinstein and Brennan most disturbing.
Addressing Brennan on the subject of al-Awlaki Senator Feinstein said, “One of the problems is, once the drone program is so public, and one American is caught up, people don’t know much about this one ‘American citizen’—so called. They don’t know what he’s been doing, they don’t know the incitement he has stirred up. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about Mr. Awlaki and what he’s been doing.” FULL POST
Posted 1/31/13 at 11:51 AM | Duane Miller
Immigration reform is a hot topic of conversation at the moment. It was a key issue in the last election cycle. There are many who argue passionately for amnesty being extended to illegal aliens already in the country and there are many who argue passionately that the word “illegal” still has meaning. Unfortunately, there is far more heat than light being generated in most of the debates.
Politically, both parties seek to get an advantage with a growing voting bloc. Both parties want to be seen as the champion for Latinos. Both parties want to be able to trumpet that THEY are responsible for Hispanics gaining political clout in the United States. And both parties risk losing part of their base voters who live in border states. We live in interesting times.
Displayed on a plaque on the inner pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, is the poem, The New Colossus¸ written by Emma Lazarus. It was a donation by Lazarus to a fund-raising effort to construct the base of the Statue. She initially declined to contribute the work, but a good friend convinced her that her work would be of great significance to the immigrants who would sail under Liberty into New York Harbor.
While Liberty was not conceived and sculptured as a symbol of immigration, Lazarus’ poem has become exactly that.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her nameMother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
We are a nation of immigrants. Unless you hail from Native American roots, your ancestors “came” from somewhere. As you read the history of our nation, people came here looking for a better way of life. People came here looking for freedom. People came here longing to worship in whatever manner they saw fit.
As a matter of historical fact, Native Americans were treated poorly and duped into questionable treaties by the Western Europeans due to naivete on the part of the Native Americans and European cunning and overwhelming firepower. Some argue that the current political situation and argument is hypocritical at best.
Into the secular dispute, Christians must include a discussion of Biblical, Kingdom principles. As Christians, which side of the debate should we support? If it comes to a vote, how should we vote? FULL POST
Posted 12/21/12 at 5:23 PM | Duane Miller
Secular v Spiritual Christmas Celebration
Can you remember, at age 4 or 5, your first encounter with Santa Claus? Was he found sneaking around in your house? Or was he in some department store seated upon what looked for all the world like a throne? Do you remember hanging your stocking? Did you ever wonder why he came down the chimney? It seemed to me that only “bad guys” broke into the house when everyone was asleep. And what does all of that have to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus…the Christ?
Through the years I have heard many arguments for and against the way Christmas is celebrated. I have listened intently as some pled that Christmas has become so secularized that we as Christians should simply not participate. I have noted their somber, staid, puritanical and reverent observance of His birth. Likewise, I have heard some argue that celebration is what is important; that Joy to the World is more than a song. These hold firmly that Santa and all his trappings add to the festive “Spirit of the Season.” Their testimony hinges on “Good Tidings of Great Joy!”
So, who is right? And how did a fat man in a fuzzy suit, reindeer, chimneys, stockings, trees, holly, and exchanging gifts become associated with the birth of our Savior? Let me begin with some history. FULL POST
Posted 12/11/12 at 6:08 PM | Duane Miller
Our world has changed dramatically since the Christmas Season of 1965. That was the year that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” first aired on CBS. It has been enjoyed by millions ever since and has become as much a part of American Holiday TV as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But, in 2012, it is not politically correct to tell the Christmas story on secular TV. In 2012, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Chanukah, and even Earth Day are all approved subjects for public consumption. Christmas, on the other hand, creates controversy even when expressed in a 47-year old cartoon.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the depiction of the loneliness that many feel during the season and the joy that comes from inclusion. It also contrasts the sacred with the secular in Christmas, and that is the source of the controversy. “Sacred” is not an acceptable topic for secularists.
Charlie Brown and the little Christmas tree are parallel characters. Each of them is considered by their peers to be defective and unwanted. Charlie Brown begins the show looking into an empty mailbox, finding nothing, and exclaiming he “just doesn’t understand” Christmas. All his friends are so shallow consumed with the secular trappings of the season, that they find Charlie Brown’s search for meaning beyond their understanding. FULL POST
Posted 12/5/12 at 5:01 PM | Duane Miller
Do you write a check to a charity at this time of year? What percentage of your gross income do you give helping others directly? If you are a church-person, do you tithe? Do you believe there is a direct correlation between what one gives to God and what one gets from God? These represent a few of the theological, practical, philosophical, and political questions that are on many minds during December.
Theologically, “giving to get” is nothing new. Though some TV evangelists and networks would have you believe that supporting them financially is “sowing a seed” in the Kingdom that God is required to multiply back to you. First, let me tell you that they have no “new” revelation. The theology has been written about since at least the early 1800s. The metaphysical teacher and author E. W. Kenyon popularized the theology in the early 1900s. The Pentecostal and Charismatic beginnings were led, in large part, by people who were Kenyon followers. FULL POST
Posted 11/5/12 at 6:37 PM | Duane Miller
Make A Decision!
Decisions, decisions, decisions! We all have to make them and we all procrastinate as long as we can with difficult decisions. We say, “We’re trying to get all the facts before we decide,” but we are really trying to decide what happens if we do this and what happens if we do that…if we’re not sure, we prefer to put off the decision hoping that someone or something will make it for us. (You’re probably not like that, but the rest of us are)
Well, tomorrow is Decision Day. It is more than Election Day. It is a day in which we will decide on a direction that our nation will take for the next several decades. Your children and grandchildren will be effected by the decision you make tomorrow. If that seems melodramatic, I assure you it is not.
Consider These Decisions…
It was an ELECTED judge whose decision began the rulings that led Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court where justices appointed by ELECTED Presidents and confirmed by ELECTED Senators made a decision (against over 100 years of precedent law) that abortion was legal. That initial ruling is now being interpreted as a “right.” FULL POST
Posted 10/29/12 at 10:47 AM | Duane Miller
Well, the World Series is in full swing as I write this. San Francisco and Detroit are going at it. Detroit was the favorite to win, but someone forgot to get the memo to the Giants. Detroit has more “stars,” but San Francisco has been making all the right decisions and big plays. I must admit that I wasn’t sure the Tigers would beat the Yankees and I was confident that the Giants wouldn’t beat the Cards. Good thing I am not a betting man! Here’s something I do know…
The winner of the Series is always the team that plays well. . . as a team. Having one or two star players is never sufficient to win the title. If you listen to post-game interviews and analysis the phrase "picked us up" will be uttered at some point. The context is always about some player who was expected to hit or pitch better than they did and were disappointing in their performance, but were "picked up" by some other player who performed much better than anticipated. The losers invariably have players that do not perform as well as expected, but lack the players to "pick up" the team.
There is a certain momentum that happens in athletics. One team gets a key hit or the pitcher strikes out a batter in a critical situation and an attitude emerges. The team starts to believe that they can and will win. That attitude "picks up" the performance of the entire squad. FULL POST
Posted 10/22/12 at 11:28 AM | Duane Miller
I’m not sure who first said, “Experience is the greatest teacher,” but I know it to be one of the truest statements ever made. Someone even took it to a higher level by stating, “Experience is the ONLY teacher.” Problem solving is an integral part of all our careers, and personal lives. Experience often makes us more confident in our decisions because our understanding of the situation is not brand new.
Researchers have found that infants who had an opportunity to use a plastic cane to get an out-of-reach toy were better able to understand the goal of another person's use of a similar tool than were infants who had previously only watched an adult use a cane to retrieve a toy.
According to assistant professor of psychology and lead author of a study published in a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Psychology, "Acting on the world is one way infants learn about the world, and only recently have there been studies showing that active, hands-on experience is a more effective way of learning than watching. This study indicates that there is a benefit to actual hands-on experience early in human development." (Science Daily, October 9, 2008) FULL POST
Posted 10/15/12 at 9:20 PM | Duane Miller
As you are probably aware, I have been very active in the political process for the past couple of years. It was in a secular discussion this past week that a spiritual truth was, again, made clear.
I was speaking with an individual about the upcoming election and in the course of our conversation she said that she, “sure hoped” things would come out the way she wanted. I asked her what she was doing to ensure that result and she looked at me with a blank stare that made clear she was totally lost. Her response confirmed her look, “What do you mean what am I doing?,” she asked.
I responded by asking the first and most obvious question, “Are you registered to vote?”
When she told me she didn’t know whether she was registered to vote, I knew she was not. I explained to her that unless she was registered, she would not even be allowed to cast a ballot in November. She asked me where to go and what to do to be sure she was registered. I told her and drew her a map.
Religion is NOT Relationship
I must admit that I walked away from our conversation shaking my head. What is so simple is so foreign and difficult to so many. But so it is with eternal life. When it comes to heaven, they “sure hope” they get there, but they have done nothing to assure that outcome. FULL POST
Posted 10/11/12 at 5:16 PM | Duane Miller
Last month, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s contraceptive/abortion mandate portion of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Hobby Lobby is the largest business, to date, to file suit, having 500 stores in 41 states. There are some 3 dozen lawsuits against the mandate that are pending.
You might remember that Hercules Industries, a Colorado business owned by devout Roman Catholics, won a temporary injunction preventing implementation of the mandate. Note, the ruling is being appealed by the administration.
However, a Federal court in Missouri threw out a similar lawsuit filed by O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC saying that the mandate to provide “indirect financial support of a practice” to which O’Brien had objected on the basis of the violation of his religious rights was not “a substantial burden” on him or his company.
Hobby Lobby founder and CEO, David Green, says that Hobby Lobby’s insurance plans do cover contraception that is preventative in nature, but that the “abortion-causing drugs go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful…We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate…our faith is being challenged by the federal government.” FULL POST