Monday, July 28, 2008


Here is an article I read on the issue of torture... I liked it... tell me what you think:

Here is the original link if you want to read the comments and stuff...

If you are like me, you’ve often voted Republican because, despite the areas where you may disagree with them, you are profoundly pro-life and will vote for just about anything if it will bring down the amount of human lives lost to abortion.
Here would be the place to say that I’m also profoundly pro-woman. I have nothing but deep pity for the woman caught in a pregnancy that she didn’t plan or want. I am not anti-woman, pro-baby. Rather, I am for the lives of both. I believe that abortion hurts women—-hurts the mother deeply, as well as ends a human life. It is my opinion that abortion is lose/lose.
Some of my friends have had abortions and privately share the deep grief that it’s caused them, a thing that doesn’t ever go away. I wish I could wipe that pain away from them. I wish I could give them that year back, a chance to make a different choice. And I also wish they were free to be open about the pain they have dealt with instead of having to hide it, because I wish that other women could know what abortion will cost them.
It really bothers me that information like that is kept from women. To me, a pro-woman position would include full disclosure of information, including an ultrasound. Women deserve the right to know. Before people go in for knee surgery, for crying out loud, they get light-years worth of a better explanation of what’s going to happen and why, then they get if they go in for an abortion. When we are with-holding information like that, we’re not treating women as full adults.
I am pro-woman—so I think women have the right to all the information about what’s going to happen when they have an abortion, as well as a full explanation of all the risks.
I am also for being a society that helps women facing an unwanted pregnancy, instead of turns a blind eye while they, alone, bear the consequences of a moment that took two adults to make happen.
So, yes, I’m unashamedly pro-life. And I’m pro-environment for the same reason. Being for a healthy environment is being pro-life. Thinking that we shouldn’t stop companies from polluting our water, for example, is an example of being anti-life. (For those who don’t agree, I would appreciate hearing how and why it’s “pro-life” that we live in a world where pregnant women can’t eat fish more than once a week, lest the pollutants found in the meat damage their unborn child).
Thanks to not protecting the environment, death and destruction increase on a number of fronts. Being pro-life isn’t just being anti-abortion. Being pro-life is being respectful of life in a circumspect way. Being for life is a broad big thing.
And torturing human beings is not consistant with a pro-life stance. Torture is an anti-life activity, and being ambivalent or accepting of torture is an anti-life stance. Torture violates the concept that all humans are made in the image of God. When we believe that all humans are made in God’s image, we believe that all humans should be treated with dignity. That means we treat the unborn with dignity. That means we also treat the Iraqi with dignity.
When we believe in obeying the God of the Bible, we believe in treating others as we would be treated. Jesus said that if you wanted to sum up the Law and the Prophets, it all came down to two commandments. Paul summed it up the same way: love God and love your fellow human. Love includes treating others with respect. Torture, however, is an extreme act of disrespect. Torture is inconsistant with obeying God’s law to love Him and to love those He’s made in His image.
Not to mention, from a pragmatic standpoint, torture guarantees nothing by way of results. It does not increase the amount of information one gets, because people will say anything and everything in order to reduce the amount of pain. So, sure, you get more information when you torture, but you have no way of telling how much of it is false and how much of it is true. In the end, you learn nothing more than you knew before. The only thing you’ve gained is the joy of humiliating your enemy.
And the only thing that does is solidify *their* view of you as the enemy. Let’s be frank. Our country was hated before we were known to be torturers. The fact that we tortured made a whole lot of Iraqi’s, not sure of which side to choose, choose the anti-American side. So choosing to call torture acceptable made us lose in every single way possible, excluding the fact that torturing our enemy gave us a sick and perverse sense of joy. Which lowered our own humanity more than it lowered the humanity of those we tortured. So in the end, calling torture acceptable made us lose in every way.
Which is another way to say that, unless a strong stand is made that torture is unacceptable and should be prosecuted as a war crime, you may want to reconsider calling the Republican party, ”pro-life.” As of right now, no, they aren’t. Let’s hope that changes.
And for those who derided Clinton for fudging the truth and claiming, among other things, that he didn’t have sex with “that woman”—-a claim that Republicans and Christians loudly decried later, when it became more than evident that he wasn’t being truthful—-I don’t understand the huge double-standards. Why are many of those same Republicans and Christians being so astoundingly silent about fellow Christian, John Ashcroft, when he testifies that waterboarding is not a form of torture?
My opinion on why Christians can’t seem to get up the nerve to say that torture isn’t acceptable? Because our president and our attorney general are professed Christians and they belong to the party that conservative Christians call their own. And so what we would never stomach if it came from the mouth of a Democrat president or his/her staff, we bend over and take because it’s “our” side doing it.
There is no good reason for torture. There is no justification for it, especially not for the follower of Christ. An avid reader and a daughter of parents who kept a well-stocked library on the wall right outside my bedroom, I fell asleep at night reading books like “Tortured for His Faith.” I cannot shake those images from my mind when I read about the torture being justified as “necessary” today. Go ask our fellow Believers in the underground church what they think of torture, like Richard Wurmbrand (whose story is highly worth reading: “In God’s Underground“).
Why do we unanimously frown on the Chinese government for torturing Christians, but don’t say much against our president when he approves torturing non-Christians? If we, as followers of Christ, only stand up for the dignity of life when it’s our own, we’ve missed the radical nature of the Gospel altogether.
Torture is what the bad guys do.
So what does that make us?

Chain Emails Suck

It has been a while since I last posted... what can I say, I have been depressed since the Lakers and Portugal both lost. Anyways... on to something that really bothers me... CHAIN EMAILS

Here is a letter I wrote to someone in response to an email my wife received:

Dear ...
I am writing this letter not to defend Obama… But to defend the integrity of the political discussion. Alicha just received a forward regarding Obama’s supposed “snub” of troops in Afghanistan. First of all, whenever I receive a forwarded email I assume they are not true... why? Because, most of them aren’t true. How do you know, though? Good question…

Since the advent of email and the ease of sending information chain mail have flourished, from “if you send this to one hundred people your wish will come true” or “for every person you send this to you will get a hundred dollars”. Also any myth, legend, or rumor (true or false) gets spread at lightning speed. Not that these stories are new, it is just that the internet is a vehicle that can be used for very cheap (free) and very quickly (practically instantaneous). With all of this crap floating around what is there to do? Well...

I found an excellent website that deciphers the true and the false rumors (and some partially true) that float around the emails world. The website is called It researches chain emails to see if they are true. I would highly suggest it to anyone to look at before they send out a forward to see if it is true.

Needless to say, the Obama story is not true. There are two articles cited in the response. One is from a lieutenant (who I believe was at that base) and then another story by the guy who wrote the email saying that his story was not completely true and that the email was only meant for his family. Here are the links and

Again, I am not writing this to defend Obama… I like him on some things but I also have issues with him too. But, that is not the POINT! I am writing this because we as Christians are called to value truth and to not gossip or lie. And, I believe that if we send stuff that is malicious and that we do not have proof of we are just perpetuating lies. A lie about someone you don’t like even someone you might say is bad, is still a lie.

So, check your facts and if you cant prove it dont send it!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Viva Portugal!!!

Something I am even more excited over than the NBA finals is the Euro 2008.

Portugal has a good chance of winning the whole thing. And, they started off by beating turkey 2-0!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

lakers and celtics

I am not a big NBA guy... I am more of a college football fan. BUT... I am pretty excited about this whole Lakers-Celtics thing.

I can appreciate sports history... Yankees-Red Sox, USC-Notre Dame, Barcelona-Real Madrid (for you soccer fans), Niners-Cowboys... so, a lakers-celtics final is pretty cool.


Go Lakers!!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

the Message of the Gospel

I heard several sermons the other day (gotta love podcasts) that I would like to talk about...

The Message of the Gospel and how we communicate it.

At Mt. Sinai, in the story of the Exodus, God gives a message to Moses to give to the people of Israel:

"This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'"

Many times, as Christians, we focus on what we are saying to people. Good Christian are determined on how many "answers" they have. They interpret I Peter 3:15 (Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have) as needing to have all of the answers, whether it is philosophical, scientific, spiritual, psychological, or political. There is nothing wrong in principle but if it is the only focus we are missing the point. We then focus on trying to "own" the truth by arguing with people. We forget about the second part of the verse that says,

"But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

How many times do you hear Christians using the "truth" they know to try to make others look stupid (most of the time, in the process, it is the Christian that looks stupid but anyways...). Some would argue... Well, Jesus made the Pharisees look stupid... Yeah, the Pharisees were the religious leaders and those who claimed to KNOW all the truth. So, if Jesus were here today, he would reserve his "argument mode" for know-it-alls.

We are afraid to say, "I do not know." We feel that our value of a Christian is lessened because we do not know all the answers... But the world needs honesty! Think about how you react to know-it-alls... Do you think that non-Christians are going to react any different to Christian know-it-alls.

Back to the main point... Notice that this verse assumes that the world is asking a question. The only reason that they would ask anything is if there is something different to ask about. I feel that the world is not doing a lot of asking because we are not very different than them (i.e. divorce rates, consumption of stuff, location of residence, eating habits, etc...). Which brings me back to Exodus...

God's message to His people was that THEY were to BE His message. He did not give them a power point presentation, a tract, or a 10-step plan. He did not say, these are the answers to all of the scientific and philosophical questions and make sure that everyone you meet hears this message and if they do not agree, you kill them. No, He said, be a priesthood for the world. He said, Be an example to the world. God calls us to be his people.

Moving to the NT, Peter borrows from Exodus and says in I Peter 2:9,

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

Peter is talking about the new Israel, the body of Christians, you and me. He is borrowing from Exodus and tranfering the role of God's messengers to us.


What does that mean?

To "be"is not just talking but doing... it is everything... everything we do should be for Christ.

What kind of stuff should we be doing?

Well, lets look at God on Earth, Jesus... He embodied Justice, Peace, and Love. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and Love your neighbor as yourself."

Christianity is not a set of bullet points... and Christians should not be valued based on their ability to argue. Whether a Christian can argue a mormon into the ground or make an atheist look stupid or know all the points of how evolution is fallible is pointless if they do not love the person they are arguing with!

The best argument for Christ is our lives...

What I want to hear from you all is... what can we be doing now... in Fresno? What are acts of Justice, Peace and Love that we can incorporate into our lives?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kindergarten and Desmond Tutu

My wife has been coming home from her kindergarten class she is student teaching in and singing kindergarten songs. Because of that, I thought about a book the other called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" (I havent read it but the I have heard the gist of it is pretty much self-explanatory...). The song she was singing went like this:

The world is a rainbow
Filled with many people
And when we work together
Its such a sight to see

Now you be you
And I‘ll be me
That’s the way we were meant to be
But the world is a mixing cup
Just look what happens when you stir it up.

When I first heard this I started laughing and went to my mini-library of books I am reading for my thesis and showed her a book called, "The Rainbow People of God" by Desmond Tutu. We laughed. I thought to myself, if only we actually listen to what we teach kids maybe we could learn something ourselves.

Look at the lyrics again... It seems to me that the problem is that we want me to be me and you to be like me also and when we dont get our way we pout and have a little tantrum like a little pre-schooler saying I want my way... and if we still dont get our way many times we fight. I am not saying no one should ever disagree and that all truth is relative. But, what are we called to do when we do disagree? Is there an acceptance of the person as a loved creature of God or are they defined by the disagreement and considered "not like me" and thus wrong and at worst not worthy to be alive because of their belief, color, ethnicity, religion, etc... (thats what happens with genocide...)

Desmond Tutu knew the dangers of war, violence and hate. But more importantly he knew the power of Jesus Christ and the power of love that he gives us. Let me end with a quote from Desmond Tutu in a speech he gave in Norway in 1991:

"At home in South Africa I have sometimes said in big meetings where you have black and white together: 'Raise your hands!" Then I've said, "Move your hands," and I've said, "Look at your hands-different colors representing different people. You are the rainbow people of God."

And you remember the rainbow in the Bible is the sign of peace. The rainbow is the sign of prosperity. We want peace, prosperity and justice and we can have it when all the people of God, the rainbow people of God, work together."

I want to hear what you all have to say... what does it mean for the "rainbow people of God (to) work together"? What can we do now, practically?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

commentary on the picture of the church and post

I took that picture when I was in Angola. It was in a city called Kuito. This city was the most hard hit in the Angolan civil war (1975 -2002). This church was one of the scenes of the more horrific massacres during the civil war.

Angola is a beautiful country with a difficult past. If you want to see more pics I can put some more up...