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5 Things Making Liberals and Conservatives Look Ridiculous

As I have said previously, I'm pretty much done with partisan politics. I'm skeptical of those  who claim they're neither Republican nor Democrat, but in reality, they still see the world through one lens or the other. I won't try to tell the same lie: when I say I'm equally disgusted with both parties, I'm also making it clear that I lean strongly to the Right on most issues. 

Believing in principles does not necessarily equate to aligning with a party and defending the actions of that party's leaders or most prominent officeholders. In fact, it's just the opposite. I have a lot more respect for someone who's not afraid to call out members of their own party when necessary than I do for those who cheer for their team regardless of principle and regardless of basic decency.

If that's you, then perhaps you think that by not calling the extremists out, you're protecting your party, but you're actually hurting your cause, and the ideas you be…
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5 reasons I'm holding back my political opinions from social media

Many years ago, I made a wonderful discovery: I love discussing ideas online. This took place in various forums, but my favorite location for this kind of interaction was when I was part of the Burnside Writers Collective. Started by Donald Miller and and mentioned in "Blue Like Jazz", Burnside was a place for aspiring Christian writers, mostly to the left of me and mostly younger than me, to write about issues that were important to them. I debated with most of them, but in a polite and respectful way, and they eventually invited me in. Burnside is long gone now, but I have made a few friends. I've even met a couple of them in person.

As BWC faded away, I Facebook-friended most of the writers there. The Facebook discussions I had with those friends became less about posting what you had for breakfast, and more entrenched in the us-vs-them divisiveness which now plagues us as a nation. This happened not just with the friends I know from Burnside, but even from my own ch…

The Blame Game

This week, two high-profile suicides made the news. In both cases, the deceased person's many fans have commented publicly about the tragedy of a life which ended too soon. There's no argument here: it is nothing short of tragic.

Sadly, too many of us have chosen to express our sadness about the self-inflicted death of a famous person by looking for someone outside of that person to blame. Depression, mental illness, opioids, Donald Trump, past abuse, financial difficulties, and marital trouble  are among the many reasons offered up for why someone has chosen to take their own life.

As someone who's never been inside anyone's head but my own, I wouldn't dare to argue for or against the many possible reasons that have been suggested. But I will say this: to some extent, there is room for each person to be responsible for his actions.

As strange as it might seem, I see a connection between the willingness to blame outside reasons for a person's actions and the o…

About Those Super Bowl Commercials

The number of viewers who say they watch the Super Bowl as much for the commercials as for the game has grown large enough that we can classify "I watch mainly for the ads" as a cliche.  Personally, I use the event as an excuse to invite friends over so we can eat unhealthy foods, catch up on life, and play some ping-pong.  But I do pay attention to the commercials. 

Like most, I like Super Bowl commercials because they tend to be funny, innovative, or entertaining.  But when it comes to the crop of ads for Super Bowl LII (for reference, they're all here, in order), we were bombarded with something else: preaching.

Don't get me wrong: as a Christian who spends every Sunday morning at church, I know that preaching has value. I voluntarily go to a building on a weekly basis to be preached to, and I'm better off for it.  But when I watch Super Bowl ads, I want to be dazzled, or to laugh.  I have no interest in being guilt-tripped, inspired, or lectured. It's ju…

A powerful, seldom-used weapon in our arsenal

Our church's current sermon series is designed to steer members towards those practices which will help us focus on devotion to God. The topic of the most recent sermon is fasting, a rarely-discussed  practice for many American Christians.

For the first 40 years of my life, I regarded fasting as strange, practiced only by people we read about from thousands of years ago but not in the 21st century. It was something you'd read that people did back then, like churning butter, or taking sacrifices to the temple.  But around a decade ago, I heard a teacher make a point that stuck with me:

In Matthew 6:16, Jesus says "when you fast."

Not "if you fast."

Trust me; I checked all the translations. They all say "when", not "if". And because this verse is part of a teaching which includes currently-accepted verses such as the Lord's prayer, the importance of giving to the poor, and not serving two masters, we can't chalk up His words about…

Pushing Reset

I had been looking forward to 2016.  My oldest kids were turning 15 then, and I had been anticipating that this was to be the first presidential election that they would be likely to follow through the party-specific campaigns as well as the general election. But what they witnessed, particularly during the debates, was a train wreck. Yes, Donald Trump was embarrassing, but he wasn't the only one. Other candidates, as well as party leaders and even pundits, expressed their views in the worst possible ways. It was as if Jerry Springer took over. It seemed everyone who had anything to say said it as loudly and divisively as possible. And as I write this a year after the election, issue-driven conversations between office-holders as well as between regular people have only gotten worse.

Since the late 80's, when I first became politically aware, discussions about politics have devolved; this is not news to anyone. But the discussions of why the current state of political discour…

This is Us: Tears are not the point

Like many Americans, I was a fan of NBC's "This is Us" from the beginning, and I'm one of millions who are looking forward to the onset of the new season tonight.

Why do I like this show? Well, I'm not normally a fan of trying to explain why I like something. Ask me why I like mustard and not mayonnaise, or why I like strawberries but not peaches, and I'm going to give you a blank stare.  There is no verbal explanation why I like something. I just do.


That said, I find it easy to name the many reasons why this show resonates with me. Sadly, NBC people responsible for marketing this show have missed all my reasons, and are putting a lot of undue focus on one thing: the show will make you cry. See here. And then there's this. Good grief.

I have to say: the "grab a box of Kleenex" stuff is a bit of a turnoff.

I'm not interested in watching a show because the marketers have convinced me that the scriptwriters can successfully manipulate me into…