Moral Contradictions

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Morally grounded issues?

Since Newt Gingrich started to publicly offer his opinion again, raising suspicion that his ultimate motivation is a four year sleepover at the White House, I've become nervous.

Why?

Besides having a weird first name (couldn't resist), he just doesn't sit well with me. As Speaker, he played hard-ball politics for the benefit of his party and at the expense of the American people. He comes across as an opportunistic politician, especially with his latest moves, that preys on the ignorance and reactionary senses of voters, resulting in political gain, but not much else.

His eleven points for victory this fall for Republicans are interesting, as in completely misguided and out of touch. His first goal is to make English the official language. With a couple thousand dead soldiers, terrorists still actively seeking to attack, and record breaking profits by oil companies at a time when millions of children go without health insurance, I think there are more pressing moral concerns.

What will officializing the predominant language do, anyways? Please explain to me how prejudice does not play a part in this move, as I have a difficult discerning a pure motive. Will it outlaw signs in Spanish? Do we have a sudden problem of immigrants not learning English? Furthermore, doesn't that essentially curb freedom by compelling someone to learn the predominant language? If someone wanted to live the American Dream, wouldn't they naturally seek out ways to learn English on their own?

Further, how is the death tax a "morally grounded" issue? Or property rights and energy dependence? I'm sure moral aspects of these issues exist, but from the view here they make up a minority of the reasons to pursue that agenda. Hunger, illness, and the growing gap between rich and poor all seem to have clearer and more urgent moral components, don't they?

Finally, I believe he is completely off-base about his proposal to fix the failing schools of Detroit. Something tells me that pulling federal funding is simply of punting an issue that only bolsters the Republican agenda while leaving poorer Americans worse off. An explanation of why teachers aren't able to help students graduate faster would be a start. A purely economic view is a cheap and souless perspective that ignores the human element of the issue - a bit of sociology is needed to comprehend what's really happening.

These eleven issues were written in a way to "return to the American values that twice elected Ronald Reagan and returned the House to a Republican majority with the Contract with America." Democrats lost in 1994 because they "had lost touch with the American people."

Mr. Gringich, you've lost touch with the American people. Maybe making English the official language will help Republicans win in November, but how does America benefit as a whole? The list you are proposing is simply a shallow attempt to divert honest and distressing discourse from issues that contain much clearer moral components.

3 Comments:

  • Hi, Nathan!

    I realize that you do not have time to debate with me. You are already deep in Seminary studies and I have no wish to distract you because I especially want you to be successful. I just want to put a bug in your ear regarding some wording in your post. I could not agree more with your assesment of Mr. Gingrich. My only difference with you there is that I think you are too polite to him and you are far too kind.

    My point of difference is with your use of the terms "live the American Dream" (fourth paragraph, last sentence). I wish you had said "live the Kingdom of God". To me, the American Dream is an idolatrous pursuit. It is elitist and secular and is a poison that has infected the Body of Christ in this land. It is a serpent: subtle and sly and it has crawled into our very clothes. He doesn't even want us to notice that he is distracting us from God's work.

    To me, the very concept of 'The American Dream' is an excuse to exclude the poor and the outcast. My pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven and God's reconciliation must be primary and must be so wholehearted that my (secular) work becomes only a means of gathering resources so that I may pursue God's Reign and His Wholeness. My dwelling, clothing and transport must be as modest as possible. My resources must be given to His uses (and yes, I think sustaining oneself - and perhaps a mate and all the special needs children one can adopt - is one of His uses). I have otherwise no business with the 'American Dream'.

    You, however, may not think of "a house and a spouse and kids and pets and toys" when you think of the American Dream. We may have entirely differing visions here. I acknowledge the possibility of differing views while looking upon the same 'concept'. I would want to teach newcomers to avoid the pursuit of the Amerian Dream as if it were a viper.

    I wish that we Christians would stop even hinting that others might come and pursue the 'American Dream'. I wish that we would encourage all to come and pursue The Kingdom of God and His Wholeness (uprightness, reconciliation) and if learning a common language will aid us in that pursuit, then more's the glory to God. I wish that our common pursuit of the Kingdom of God would mean that we would be 'aggressively' claiming those who are vulnerable and excluded. I wish that our common pursuit of the Kingdom of God would mean that we would be humbly serving in our communities as volunteers, tutors, leaders, caregivers, rescuers and reconcilers.

    Anyway, you touched a button with me. I think you are so outraged by the behavior of men like Gingrich because the Kingdom of Heaven is within you... and you just may be a prophet of God.

    Your posts are a delight. Keep up the great work!
    Thanks!

    By Blogger Tom, at Friday, September 08, 2006 3:36:00 PM  

  • Tom,

    Actually my mind has been chewing over your idea for quite some time. For this post's purpose I adopted the vernacular of the column's framing, but yeah, I definitely agree with you. MC started out more with a 'how politics intersects our faith' viewpoint, and has since molded (or at least my thinking, I don't know how well it comes across) into a 'how does our faith intersect politics'. That may not sound earth-shattering, but to me it's a difference of where one comes from, which in-turn affects the goal.

    I also had a great conversation the other day at seminary (and am hoping to have many more like that) about how much of our faith is culture-dependent. My fellow student just returned from Europe after being a missionary for two years and has a unique perspective that I wish wasn't so unique. It's a shame how our culture perverts Christ's message, and my thoughts on this are propelling me even more to really learn who Christ is.

    Thank you for the encouragement - if you don't mind I want to archive your thoughts and keep them for reference as I work through these issues. I know I will be posting on this soon, but the conundrum of not enough time coupled with deeper thoughts will limit frequency. :)

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, September 08, 2006 4:38:00 PM  

  • Hi Nathan, I would like to respond to Tom's comment.

    "My point of difference is with your use of the terms "live the American Dream" (fourth paragraph, last sentence). I wish you had said "live the Kingdom of God". To me, the American Dream is an idolatrous pursuit." and "To me, the very concept of 'The American Dream' is an excuse to exclude the poor and the outcast. My pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven and God's reconciliation must be primary and must be so wholehearted that my (secular) work becomes only a means of gathering resources so that I may pursue God's Reign and His Wholeness. My dwelling, clothing and transport must be as modest as possible. My resources must be given to His uses (and yes, I think sustaining oneself - and perhaps a mate and all the special needs children one can adopt - is one of His uses). I have otherwise no business with the 'American Dream'."

    Tom has a specific definition of what the 'American Dream' is and,in his opinion, what it should be. I would guess that his definition is based on a combination of his culture, his environment, and his experiences. Where I disagree with HIM, is his implication that he has this all figured out and if only everyone would conform to his opinions everything would be wonderful in the world. The problem with this is that Newt Gingrich and people like him feel the same way. It always comes down to "either it's my way or the highway."

    There is no problem with the American Dream. The problems exist within those Dreaming Americans. Wikipedia defines the American Dream this way: "The American Dream is a belief that in the United States of America, hard work and determination can lead to a better life, usually through the earning of money."

    There is certainly nothing wrong with that concept and I believe that the principles of hard work and determination are also Biblical principles easily proven.

    The American Dream does not exclude the poor and the outcast. The problem is how we define economy. Traditionally economy is determined by the distribution and control of finite resources. The scarcer the resource, the more intrinsic value is placed upon it by economists. The key word I wish to point out here is FINITE. There are only so many slices in the pie of world wealth.

    As the developed western world, led by America, as the richest nation on earth, consumes more and more slices of that pie, the rest of the world is left with a smaller and smaller portion.

    Tom is correct by encouraging modest consumption. But, WHO defines modest? Half of the world exists on less than $2. a day. Modest transport for them is walking or using a bicyle. Modest housing, would be four walls and a roof, forget the floor or utilities. Is this how you live Tom?

    And, while we are at it, let's look at the Church in America. Look at all the magnificent multi-million dollar buildings. The high tech multi media and sound systems employed in them. Now let's look at church budgets. I would suspect that the church Tom worships at is similar to mine, in that less than 5% of the budget is allocated for missions, taking care of widows and orphans. This single digit mindset reminds me of the letter to the Church at Laodicea (the lukewarm church).

    The answer to poverty isn't that we all take a more modest share of the wealth, because the part we pass up on will not go to the poor, it will go to the rich. We cannot just give food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless. All this does is make them dependent on charity. What we have to do with our excess wealth is stop consuming so much of it for ourselves and instead, invest some of that wealth into creating opportunities for the worlds poor to make enough money that they can begin to believe that hard work and determination can lead to a better way of life for them also.

    A great place to begin looking for workable ideas like this is the Clinton Global Initiative. The Clinton foundation has raised $2 billion dollars from Business, and Government leaders to provide micro-loans for very small businesses and targeted investment in localized infrastructure to develop local markets. There are a number of non-profits that have linked with CGI to coordinate their efforts with others. These are secular initiatives.

    Could the Church of God become involved? Even though the primary mission of the Church is to seek and save the lost, I believe that pratical investment in people's lives is also appropriate. Certainly more than 5% worth.

    Good luck with your studies Nathan, I know that God is blessing you and your wife.

    By Blogger Dusty Bogard, at Saturday, September 09, 2006 5:00:00 PM  

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