So, I had fun with some American Idol footage. Let’s see how long before they make me take this down.
I recently have read several of your posts on Facebook questioning our Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. In your last post, you mentioned that you were confused as to its meaning, and that “it seemed to refer to circumstances that no longer apply.” I know that you have a different perspective on the situation than I do, being from the United Kingdom. I hope that in this posted response I can clear some of that confusion up for you.
First of all, as we get into this topic, we need to address two separate, yet interconnected issues. The first, is why this was written into our constitution in the first place by our founding fathers and what they might have intended in this guarantee. After understanding that, then we can be safe to try answering the question of whether there is still a purpose to this guarantee, and what might happen if we decided to remove it.
It is important to note that one cannot really understand the continued purpose of the Second Amendment if one doesn’t grasp its original meaning. Also, if the founders were wise in putting that right into our Constitution, that doesn’t mean it is wise to leave it there. On the other hand, if those circumstances still exist for us, then maybe we are wise to continue this right.
Why did our founders include a constitutional right to bear arms?
The US Constitution is an old document. It is no Magna Carta, but it certainly wasn’t written in MS Word. The world of pre-1776 was a place of kings and dictators, where it was assumed that governments were meant to be led by single autocratic leaders. Much of the western world also used out-of-context scripture to point toward God ordaining this situation.
It easily followed from this mindset that the God-ordained king could give life, and take it away, that in fact, the rights of a people were given them by the king himself. Thus, when the king decided that all people were to be members of the Church of England that is what the people had to do. Or if the ruler wanted to tax you, or put troops in your home there was simply no other recourse. He was the king.
In 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was written, it gave voice to the writings of philosophers like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. When they wrote the words “…all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights…” what the founders were saying was that rights came not from any earthly ruler or document, but were given to each of us by God, Himself upon our birth.” We are given the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that no ruler or government could take them away.
That is where we usually stop in our reading of this famous document, but when we do, we miss something really important.
See, the first sentence of the Declaration gives its thesis. Paraphrased, it says that when in history a people decide that they need to be separate from another and form their own government, there better be a good reason and it should be given.
After this, is the famous section about God-given rights and the government’s purpose of securing and protecting them. But, when a government isn’t doing that job properly, it is the “right of the people to alter or abolish” that government. This is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it is one of those unalienable rights of all mankind.
Our founders thought that the ability to protect yourself without relying on the government, to tell the government “no” when it was attempting to usurp your own rights, and to even destroy that government when necessary were all things that the government could never take away from our people.
One of the writers of the Second Amendment said, “What is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” (George Mason, co-author of the 2nd Amendment, 1788). Other founders statements agree with that. There is no scholarly doubt that the “militia” written in the text means the unorganized people themselves.
This makes sense when you read the wording of the amendment. It has also been our greatest source of national security. No one has ever invaded the US homeland. Why? It is because no army could disarm the people. As the Japanese said, every blade of grass would hide a man with a rifle. Or as Lincoln said, “All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasuries of the world, save ours, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or a step on Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.”
The Second Amendment had nothing to do with hunting, and it also has no problem with weapons that held increasing firepower, and a violent society (remember, one of our founders died in a gun fight with one of our past Vice Presidents). Whether or not the Second Amendment should remain is the focus of my next blog. It is a different topic altogether.
Now, not many people will talk about these aspects of the Second Amendment, mostly because it sounds like advocating violent revolution of the government. But remember, all of this was set in place not necessarily so that people could overthrow the government, but that the founders thought the right of self-defense and self-determination were one of those rights no government ever had any mandate to ever take away.
My next post will cover the question of whether or not the Second Amendment should be continued.–Ryan
Back when I used to watch Saturday Night Live (before the Jamie Foxx episode that permanently changed my mind), there was a skit that for some reason I still can’t stop laughing about. The episode was being hosted by Bryan Cranston, and near the end of the episode where they put the skits that just aren’t very good, he is joined by Fred Armisen in a skit called the Bjelland Brothers. The skit centers around a song with the lyrics, “I sent a bottle of sparkling apple juice to your house. Did you get it?” But, rather than describing it to you in detail, I’ll just embed it below. Give it a chance…it’ll grow on ya.
So after watching this and having the song in my head, I realized that the chords were really easy, and the next week in youth group, I started by playing this song and getting the kids to sing along. I doubt that any of the had any idea what this was, but they thought it was funny. Just like a good shampoo (lather, rinse, repeat) I’ve done it occasionally since, and the teens always think it’s fun. I doubt that hardly any of them still have any idea what it is from.
As anyone who ever reads this already knows, I recently left youth ministry. My teens showered me with love in ways that I still can’t put words to. The most powerful for me are never little trinkets or gift cards (although I do like those), but the teens that tell me how something I did affected their lives, or when they go the extra mile to make me something, or do something creative to honor me. All of the ways in which they’ve touched my life through the years I’ve known them, and even more as I’ve left will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Tonight I cleaned the last vestiges of clutter from my old office at church. It was bitter-sweet. Now there is nothing tangible that ties me back to that building. As I left, I looked back into my office with a touch of sadness. After a large part of a decade, it is no longer my place.
When I got home, I carried boxes of books and other office stuff from my car into my home office. As I carried the last box in, I looked down and saw this on my doorstep.
Forrest, I got it. Thank you
In a recent series of car commercials, a husband and wife enter a dealership and the sales person asks what kind of car they’re after. “Exciting,” “Sensible,” the husband and wife respectively say at the same time, seeming to contradict one another. The husband looks like a kid in a candy store, but the wife looks annoyed. The saleswoman says that they can have both of these things if they buy the advertised model.
A subsequent commercial in the same line, shows the husband being asked a question by the saleswoman. The husband’s eyes roll up and he sounds out a long, frozen “uhhhh…,” seeming to go into spinning pinwheel mode. The wife says, “That’s ok. I call this my me time!”
This type of characterization isn’t a rare phenomenon on Television. In almost every ad you see, men fall into one of only a couple categories. There is the eternal teenager you typically see in beer commercials, only interested in sex, cars, and alcohol. You’ll see the idiot dad, totally incapable of making any intelligent choices for his family or his own wellbeing. You’ll also meet the manly-man who basically just thinks about sports constantly. There are countless other media versions of these characters, often referred to by the term “mook.”
If we were to be fair, not every male character on TV is like this. Urban men are typically shown as more well-rounded, and there even are a few good dads mostly in car commercials, but the message when a female partner is present is very consistently clear: men are stupid, sex-obsessed, goofy creatures who are good for comedy relief, but need a woman around so they don’t accidentally kill themselves.
It has not always been this way. Women used to be the target of the jokes, the weaker partner in need of guidance. Certainly, no one would suggest that the Ward Cleaver version of reality is something that should be foisted on the public in this day and age. Clearing the air of many years of sexism against women may seem to mean that men should now be the ones in the social doghouse.
But the question one might ask would be, “does this constant characterization of manhood affect society?” It does. It affects the way men see themselves, the point and purpose of manhood, and the women and children in our society as a result.
When I was 4 years old, my mother and I went out to wash the car one Saturday afternoon, a small moppy-head child, a woman in 70’s clothes, and a yellow ’76 Corolla with fake wood paneling on the sides. I had just seen an episode of Sesame Street in which a fireman stood on ladder spraying water. He had the walkie-talkie up to his mouth and was repeating “the fire’s out! The fire’s Out!” I can still hear it in my head.
Guess what I did from the back bumper of my mom’s car while holding the garden hose that day? Yep, you guessed it.
When I was a little older, I tried to re-enact a scene from Superman, and broke a glass vase.
I once made a grappling hook, and tried to climb a tree after watching the A-team. That one hurt, and I landed on dog poop.
A few months ago, I saw the latest James Bond and ran around my house shooting my Nerf gun. I’m not ADHD, and I’m not a child-like goofball. Although, I would never claim to be average, in this sense, I am pretty normal.
Knowing that guys are geared this way, who is surprised when adolescents want to buy Axe Body Spray after seeing a commercial with 4 attractive girls walking in on a guy showering after he uses their product? I don’t wonder what those teenaged boys are thinking.
I hear women complain sometimes that the men in their life act more like teen boys. They want to play video games instead of getting jobs, drink too much and don’t care about the problems they create when they are drunk, and don’t think through their actions. Some of this is more than the complaints of women who are surprised that men aren’t acting like women. Some of it is true.
This is also not something that is new in society (with the exception of the video game part). It is a weakness of manhood to fall prey to these problems, but it is growing worse.
Everyone, men and women, need mentors, and heroes: people to model themselves after. Humans often learn much more by watching people they admire than by simply reading how to books. Youtube is a great example of this. It is easier to watch someone do something while teaching you how to do it, than simply reading a tutorial. Likewise, while Youtube is a great tool for teaching how to change the water pump on an ’08 Sentra, it is far less adequate at teaching a guy how to be an auto mechanic than actually hanging out with an a seasoned professional mechanic while they work together.
Men are particularly, naturally geared that way. We learn better by kinesthetic practice even more significantly than women do. Society has known this for thousands of years. To make a boy into a blacksmith, he spent every day with a master blacksmith. A young knight spent went about daily carrying the knight’s equipment. This process was not by accident.
Now, we have decided to largely abandon that process at least until the young man has reached his 20’s. But that doesn’t mean that the natural process has stopped. The boys still learn by watching and copying the behavior of the men they admire.
I am convinced that this is one of the main reasons for the explosion in the numbers of young men getting tattoos, especially in urban settings. Watch basketball or football for more than ten minutes, and you will see men inked from head to toe. Young men who see sports stars as some of their greatest heroes, especially when fatherless homes have become normative, will copy what they see. Most of them won’t become sports stars themselves, but unfortunately their tattoos will make them largely unemployable. The cycle will continue.
If we are to fix our society, we must break this cycle. Men who are available and successful must make time to mentor young boys who don’t have this at home. Families, particularly urban and poorer one’s without fathers in the home, must highly manage the messages being seen by their boys.
The commercials and programs will change accordingly. The consistent whining about the content of programming and music lyrics won’t help. These things are pure capitalism. I am not defending it, but it is a market, like it or not. If you don’t like the shows on TV, stop watching them. If you don’t like the characterization of a commercial, don’t buy the product. No matter what we do, we can no longer afford to be media abusers, like crack addicts continually returning to the poison that is killing us.
The only reason they show that type of programming is because it works and makes the companies money. When that changes, the media will adjust. The remote control is in your hands. The future of our society is not as easy as a channel to change, but they are undeniably linked. We are not passive observers of media, it is affecting us. The time has come to do something about it.
I have been slowly remodeling my home to bring it up to a more modern look. This is a long process, both because of time and money constraints. Less involved than the famous Great Wall of Ryan project, I just completed the Informal Dining Room. Here is a list of things we did, with before and after pictures below.
- Took all the wallpaper off. It was floor to ceiling before, with a dark blue on the bottom and an ivory with small blue flowers on top.
- Removed popcorn from the ceiling.
- Removed styrofoam medallion from the ceiling relief and styrofoam crown modeling from that same area.
- Re-stained the chair-rails, doorways, and baseboards to match what we did last year in the living room. It was a honey-oak color, and now is a Red Mahogany.
- Painted the walls to match the living room paint scheme.
- Painted the ceiling relief top a deep red color for contrast and depth.
Click on an image to enlarge
Today I ended a two-week marketing contract for a major cellular phone provider that had me spending most days in my car, driving from one location to another. This meant that as the events of today’s school massacre in Connecticut unfolded, I was listening on the radio. I heard all happen right before my ears.
Events like this usually don’t inspire a strong reaction for me. While I am passionate about current events as they pertain to politics and world events, things like the OJ Simpson murders, Casey Anthony, and Virginia Tech just don’t impact me as much for some reason. That is just how I’m geared, but this case is different.
We have heard lately about mall shootings, football player murder/suicides, and the Movie Theater mass shooting in Colorado. Some people, like Bob Costas, have used these opportunities to talk about increased gun control. That may be a good conversation to have, although I personally do not believe that more gun regulations will be the solution.
As the radio told me of the teachers that hid their students in closets and bathrooms, police making the kids leave the school with their eyes closed, and a room full of kids gunned down by hundreds of rounds of ammunition, I became enraged. I can’t think of any other emotion to feel when that kind of evil is present, and I don’t think any other emotion is appropriate.
The Bible says to “be angry, yet do not sin.” It also talks about God’s fury at sin, and particularly those who intentionally hurt His little ones. Yet we live in a world with increasing evil. I don’t care to debate this with anyone: murder rates, violent crimes, and corruption cases are telling, but the simple fact is that evil is becoming far more evil than ever.
I mourn for our country and it’s people. Christians must stand and say, “enough.” We cannot be blamed for things like this. It is not the church’s fault that things like this happen, but evil triumphs when good men do nothing. And that is what we have done. We have hibernated and cloistered while the gates of Hell have advanced, laughing at the impotence of God’s people. We don’t fight our wars with guns or fists, but on our knees and making all else but the gospel secondary. This has not characterized God’s people of late. More church programs and laws won’t stop this advance of evil. More steadfast men of faith will. -Ryan
If Christians together with Republicans are to stand as this “last best hope of freedom in the world,” then we must do some reformulating. Some might suggest that we moderate our message and make compromises in order to have party be more palatable to more people. Politics is indeed an art of compromise. But there are very fundamental things that we can never compromise without forsaking the yoke of our character, those values that we pledge our lives to.
But, if we cannot change that which is essential to our identity, and necessary for the survival of the republic, then are we to do nothing but huddle and pray? Are we to build large bunkers, or think as I was about which country to run to? The answer is no. But, there are a few realities that we must face, those that the Democrats know and believe to be forever in their favor.
1. America is not a Christian nation. Sure, there is a plurality that still attends church, but all the numbers indicate that both church attendance and Christian identification are massively atrophying. But more importantly than that, is the fact that the influence of the Bible and faith in Christ in even those regularly attending church has become largely an afterthought. Unfortunately, most Christians’ are functionally biblically illiterate.
It has baffled many Republicans that large segments of our society who claim Christian affiliation vote completely contrary to their religious principles, at least on social issues. This is partly because voting is often seen as independent of the exercise of religion, the idea that the Democrats have the edge in issues of economic “justice,” and also because of ignorance of politics beyond a cultural dogma of voter affiliation.
2. Racial division in our society has rapidly become the biggest elephant in the room. Though it may not be true, Republicans hate women and minorities. Perception is reality. One of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is that truth doesn’t matter at all; perceived truth matters a great deal. For the moment we have lost that battle. Correcting and owning this narrative will determine any future for our party.
3. Socialists, Progressively, Liberals, (pick your poison) own all areas of cultural input in our society. The media is completely covered by Liberalism, except for Fox, which though it has massive viewership, is maligned by everyone else. Hollywood…I don’t need to say more. Academia, Philosophy, the music industry are monopolized, and on and on it goes. The only area that is not covered by them is religion. That is why it is a battleground, and why Conservative religious leaders are repeatedly pressured to keep their mouths shut. Liberal religious leaders are freely allowed to spout their political directives to their congregations.
Liberals know an important rule of sales, the person who asks the questions owns the conversation. The entertainment industry questions the society, just as the media asks questions of the people they are interviewing. Also, it goes almost without saying that the people with the cameras and microphones will have the loudest voices.
Conservatives have really sought to own the blogosphere, and they pretty well do. But the only people who are reading Conservatives blogs are the people who already agree. Other areas of the internet are even more hostile to Republicanism. But the internet is a niceh media. Anyone can put up a blog, and likewise is accessed primarily by like-minded people. Further, George Soros and his machine have invested many millions in taking over these areas of communication. It is a very public and fully funded goal of Liberals to completely take over all media.
This is possibly the greatest loss for Republicans, and the greatest opportunity for growth. The good news is that we have virtually no ground to lose. This is our Inchon landing moment. We must be just as strategic and bold as the Liberals. We must place Republicans in these areas of the media piece by piece. We must take over the conversation, not by fighting or by creating alternative media forms, but by moving into important roles in the media. This will not happen overnight, just as the battle wasn’t lost overnight.
4. American education in almost all areas, but specifically in areas of civics, has crumbled. This is not a problem for Republicans, or Democrats. It is a problem for the future of this country, Red and Blue. Liberals wouldn’t like to admit this, but poor education does benefit their cause. While the loudest voices for increased funding of our public education system emanates from the Liberal side, this does not equate to making fixing our education problem a priority.
If this were true, they would be proponents of programs like school vouchers, single sex education, and homeschooling, all of which have consistently been proven to out perform our current models. But, they do not support these programs. Instead, they support more tax money for the current programs, which makes the teachers’ unions happy.
Of course, no one really wants people to stay ignorant, at least I would hope not. However, the least educated and the highest levels of education are both the biggest Liberal voting blocks, for entirely different reasons. Those who are well educated without Liberal indoctrination, especially in areas of history and civics have a much more Republican voting record.
In Part 3 of this series, I’d like to address some of my ideas for how to address these issues. -Ryan
OK, so this is going to be a little bit strange…
The other day I was listening to a podcast. It was talking about the Ig Nobel Prizes. These are awards to science projects that seem on the surface to be ridiculous, but turn out to be of actual merit. The particular award they were talking about was for an experiment that looked at how people identify each other visually by looking at each other’s faces. This is obvious really, but it is easy to not even think about it. We don’t look at each other’s feet or stomachs to figure out who we’re talking to. The person on the podcast was talking about how it makes sense that we call the social networking site, Facebook.
So, my mind started wandering about what a social network for dogs would be. I mean, dogs use their noses to identify each other, and they usually sniff each other’s butts. Later (I swear it was after I thought of it), the podcast host said exactly what I was thinking.
So, without further adieu…Here is buttbok!
I’ve been licking my wounds from Tuesday night’s election. I worked professionally on two campaigns this season, and volunteered walking and working the polls on another. All of these went the wrong way. One was expected. One was an incredibly close and shocking loss, and one was a surprise blowout.
The sense of loss I felt on election night I can’t describe. The most painful for me was of course, the presidential election. Like many others, I fasted and prayed leading up to Tuesday. At the polls I prayed between approaching voters, as my Democrat rivals laughed and joked about how the Republicans were in their final days of idiocy.
As we refreshed web pages and watched the TV in the command center, our hearts sank. I’ve talked to many who feel the same as I do. Our country has been going in a direction that is an offense to God. We have a lot to repent of. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I know God is always on the side of the right. It is my constant prayer and anxiety that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.” That is the farthest place from where this nation has been, and this election was not a step in the right direction.
Further, it feels like quite a hopeless place. First, this election (even more than the last) highlights a massive racial divide. Only 39% of white people voted for Obama, yet over 95% of black people did. The Red State/Blue State divide is bigger than ever. Christians voted even more for Romney than they did for McCain. The fact is that young and minority groups are voting in larger numbers than they ever have, and overwhelmingly for Democrats, and if something doesn’t change, Republicans will be the permanent underclass.
Like many I’ve talked to, I’ve felt like I am in a daze. I’ve even thought about what country I could move to that wouldn’t murder as many babies and hold up choices that God says are sins to be virtuous. But tonight during my bath, something in my brain clicked. We are supposed to be “salt and light.” Many…no most, of the people in the Bible were called to stand for God in places and cultures that were hostile to Him in ways that we can’t fathom. Sure, being against homosexual marriage might get your business boycotted. But when was the last time that I was thrown in a pit full of lions for praying to God? When was the last time that people stoned us for talking about Jesus? Were you chained to prison guards because you preached the name of Christ.
The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed the word of God to his generation his entire ministry, and no one ever listened. The people were just as hostile to the things of the Lord when he died, as they were when he started. We aren’t called to change the world. We are called to proclaim the truth of God in love. Sometimes we will reap a harvest in revival, and sometimes the people will throw rocks. Jesus even said that many will hate us for being His followers, and in John chapter 3, He said that people would reject Him because they love darkness more than light.
The second thing that my mind went to, as I sat in the tub pondering the election, is that Jesus took a group of about 120 followers that were dedicated to Him (with 12 main leaders) and changed the face of the world. So on Friday, the leader of this strange heresy was put to death on a cross and his followers scattered in fear. The plotters of the status quo were victorious. But by Monday, these same scattered losers were rallying around their risen Christ, willing to give their lives to spread His good news throughout the entire world…and they did both.
I know that Republicanism doesn’t equal Christianity (or vice versa). But no one who truly understands both politics and orthodox Christianity can believe that the Democratic Party is any friend to God. Remember, they removed Him from their platform this year…although it was merely a formality after removing any reference to His teachings from the same.
So, it is time for our Resurrection Sunday type of moment (once again—not equating the two). Yes, all that our country stands for may indeed be lost. But it doesn’t matter. We are called to stand for Christ and His principles regardless. But it is time to rise from the ashes of defeat, and face this with the steely resolve of people who are not afraid, because they cannot lose. -Ryan
The other day I went to Home Depot. I had a small list of things to buy, and decided that a shopping cart was in order. I have this broken part of my brain that won’t allow me to grab a buggy upon entering a store. No, instead I go walking through the place grabbing items and juggling them in my arms until I either drop them all, or successfully make it to the checkout line. The benefit of this is that I don’t often impulse buy, and only get what will fill my arms without falling out. (Click on the title to finish reading)
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