Democracy At Its Worst

I’m going to confess a certain degree of fuzziness on the details of this issue before I get started. It’s the big picture of it that really upset me more than the nuts and bolts of it.

This morning’s news carried another White House leak. The details of the leak, specifically, are what I’m a bit fuzzy about, so I won’t launch into a discussion here in the interest of possibly saying false things in my confusion. The thrust of this morning’s story was, however, that the New York Times was being seriously hassled for breaking the story. There was a soundbyte of President Bush complaining that it was irresponsible of the Times to print the story, and how it jeapordized national security, etc., etc.

My favorite, though, was the Republican Congressman that told CNN that the Times may have been breaching a national espionage law when they printed the story, and that the paper as an organization, the editors, publishers, and individual writers should be investigated and possibly charged.

Hold on, rewind that…charged with telling the American people the truth about what was happening in our government????

I believe it was Winston Churchill that said democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others we’ve tried. Part of being in a democracy is knowing what’s going on. America’s freedom of the press is part of what makes us the Land of the Free. It is our fundamental right as citizens to know what our government is doing. The press are not just frenzied hoards of professional gossip-writers like the government wants to make them out to be…they have a calling and a solemn responsibility to accurately communicate the truth of what’s happening to us, the American people. This keeps us informed, and keeps them honest.

Perhaps that’s what they have a problem with…being kept honest. I suppose we shouldn’t hold it against politicians…they’re genetically programmed to lie. I really don’t think they can help it sometimes.

I see a serious problem on our horizon, one that I’ve spoken of before here. Bush and his regime keep trying to take more and more of our freedoms in the interest of keeping us “safe.” I wonder if, when we’re finally “safe,” we’ll be exactly where they want us to be: powerless, ignorant, and totally in subjugation? Then they won’t have to be “honest.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as patriotic as the next guy. I love America, and I’m proud to live here. I’m not sounding some type of anarchist battle cry here, quite the contrary. I’m calling for our government to return to the premise upon which it was founded. The original concept envisioned by our founding fathers, while not perfect, is certainly better than all the others we’ve tried. The issue is that it’s being twisted and mis-shapen daily.

God help us when we see the final result.

What I Wouldn’t Give…

Isn’t it amazing how time slips away from us?

My fiance bought Ted Dekker’s new book for me a few weeks ago, and signed the front of it that she was thrilled to give me a chance to relax and enjoy a good book (one I wanted to read for a change, instead of the forced grad school consumption).

Two weeks later, I haven’t had a chance to turn the first page. I was hoping for that tonight, but no such luck.

I’m so busy working and working and working at job that I hate in order to pay for my last (thank God!!!!) semester of school and a wedding that I haven’t time to breathe, read, or, worst of all, write. What I wouldn’t give for a chance to just sit down and brainstorm some things (like this really cool short story idea I have) or (gasp, could it be possible…) maybe get some work and sell something. Hopefully, enough that I can leave the job I currently have to pay the rent.

Unfortunately, I still have to pay said rent until I sell enough articles/plays/stories/whatever to pay it that way.

Which leads me back to a connundrum.

What I wouldn’t give for some time!!!

Sweating and Shopping

Being a Mac user invovles it’s own subculture, one to which I happily belong. As a member, I keep track of all news that is Apple…it’s as reflexive as watching CNN when I get up in the morning. So this whole scandal about the iPod sweatshop in China was a little disturbing to me.

For about an hour or so. And then I let it go.

Now, Apple is of course investigating, and states that it refuses to do businesss with anyone who pays their workers so little for such a ridiculous amount of hours. A commentator of CNN mentioned that if this was such a big deal to us, then we should check the labels of most of the items that we buy to discover that they are “made in China.” In fact, one commentator stated that it was better for those workers than living in abject poverty, which would be their only other option, and wrote it off as a cultural difference. That sort of passed through my information filter, and I let it go.

But last light I became pretty upset with myself for letting it go.

I’m an American, and therefore materialistic. The best of us, the American who is the least tied to material possessions, is still pretty bad when compared to other cultures. We’re also pretty wealthy, and, as my fiance described it a few days ago, we have a “ridiculous amount of stuff.”

I’m also a guy, so I like my toys. A lot. I’m really into the latest technology. Of course, I have an iPod. Almost never leave home without it.

And so, because I’m an American, and a guy, and I like my stuff way too much, I let this go, because I’m much more concerned about having the stuff I want (which somehow gets twisted into “need”) than I am about the (alleged) degradation of human lives and dignity that it took to get me my stuff in this twisted supply and demand culture in which I make my home. I’m much more concerned with working up a sweat shopping than I am about the sweat shops that may have spawned the precious stuff that I think I have to have. The people who made the stuff…they’re numbers, not names.

I’ve haven’t been an activist since my high school days. But this could make me one again.

A Work In Progress

I was in a discussion with the rest of my church’s writing team last night about prayer. Something that came up was trust…specifically how it is enterwined with our ability to be real when we talk to God.

This is important. I have to patience for someone who’s fake with me. If you’re not going to be authentic and you’re going to hand me canned phrases and cliches in an attempt to communicate, then don’t communicate with me. Tell me how you feel. If you like me, tell me. If you think I suck, tell me. I want to know. I may not care, but I want to know where I stand with you.

Isn’t God the same way? Doesn’t He want authenticity in our prayers? He wants us to trust Him, doesn’t He? He wants us to know that He has our best interests at heart, and that He will take care of us. That’s so much easier said than done though. Some have had supportive, loving family memebers in their past, and trust is an easy thing for them. Some can trust what others say about God, and believe others when they say God has always taken care of them. Others really need God to prove it. The issue is, how can God prove when we won’t give it up to Him? Trusting someone involves going out on a limb, or, in church-speak, “a leap of faith.” How can we learn to trust God if we won’t give up an aspect of our lives for Him to take care of? Or our whole lives?

Catch 22.

I realized this week that sometimes, I really don’t trust God. Because in order to trust someone, we want to see them as safe. The bottom line about God is, as C.S. Lewis said, He’s good, but He’s not safe. He never said that.

How do I talk to Him when I have issues trusting Him? I’m not alone, here. How many of us don’t really want to trust Him because we’re afraid He’ll do something in our lives to make us uncomfortable? Like make us end up in Iceland or something ridiculous like that? We’re afraid that if we say we’ll give our lives to Him, He’ll take us up on it.

I don’t have an answer here. A lot of times, I can totally trust Him with whatever. Sometimes I can’t.

I’m working on it.

Legalism With A Backward Wave

A friend was telling me today about this ridiculous phenomenon he had recently stumbled onto: Christian workout videos. He described with some humor the idea of “sweating to the Spirit” and “getting the temple in shape.” He held almost as much distaste in his voice as I had running through my mind as he spoke of it.

Where does this crap come from? Do we seriously think that we’re doing God some kind of favor by engaging in this horrendous type of marketing scheme? Do we really think that He’s proud of us? Do we really think that He needs marketed?

I’m not going to go on and on about the workout videos, because I haven’t actually seen them. But the issue goes way beyond that. My stomach turns when I see the huge publishing fiasco that fills Christian bookstores. Honestly, I hate going into Christian bookstores. This concept of captializing on God to create an over-spiritualized series of self-help books is just derogatory. We’re caught up in the idea of making Christianity a publicity stunt. We think it’s cute to have slogans like “Do the Jew” or “Jesus is my Homeboy” on T-shirts. What’s worse, we think that God thinks that it’s cute.

Not only have we degraded Him in the eyes of the public, and reduced Christianity to the appearance of one more cultic religious preference, but we’ve also taken the trip into legalism through the back door. We’ve left seekers with the impression that they can come to know God if they go through a devotional book, or follow all the steps in a “Christian self-help” book that are in fact the author’s opinions, and not God’s.

We’ve also left Believers thinking that they will draw closer to God by doing their workouts for Jesus.

The bottom line is that our highly-marketed version of Christianity is resulting in a perpetuation of the idea that you can know God through what you do, instead of what Jesus did.

Oh well. As long as it’s a cash cow, He’ll understand.