Political Confusion and Questions

I'm Voting for...

As much as I’ve tried to avoid it, political news, gossip, issues, dilemmas, debates, scandals; politics is everywhere. I voted in my states primaries last Tuesday and recognized that although we tend to recognize that local elections and government officials have a far greater impact on our day to day life than who is president, we don’t really educate ourselves on what local candidates to vote for (what’s an Associate Justice do anyways?). That’s only been one of my latest questions that has arisen. I’ve made an effort to listen intently to people I respect on both sides of the aisle (including that third side that wants to abstain from voting), listening to people far more politically knowledgeable and wise then me have caused a lot of questions to raise in my mind. Ones I haven’t found answers for.

So, I’d like to employ your help. These are questions, not arguments for or against. Just things that have begun to arise in my questioning of politics on both sides of things. They aren’t an exhaustive list, but they are what have been on my mind. Remember, the stakes are high. I’ve got one vote.

For the Republican leaning folks…

  • It seems to be the same religious right that wants to enforce their moral code of outlawing gay marriage, bringing prayer back to schools, outlawing abortion and teaching creationism are also huge fans of Sarah Palin. But, aren’t a lot of those religious right folks also against women in leadership (in the church)? Why do they believe so many of their religious moral codes extend to politics and society, and yet their views on women in leadership don’t? (I’m not saying women shouldn’t be in leadership, I’m just saying it seems like a double standard or a lack of consistent application of the principles they seem to uphold)
  • Also, regarding inconsistencies, how a group can be so “pro-life” but support things like war and capital punishment? And I’d maybe through global poverty in to the mix too.

For you democrat-leaners…

  • I’m all about caring for the poor and loving our neighbor and all that, I think it’s one of our primary callings as people of faith. However, I’m starting to wonder if there is a biblical justification or even legitimate Christian argument for encouraging our government to carry out those needs? I know the church isn’t doing its job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the government should.
  • The Democrats, along with the nominee, have been cast as heartless baby-killers, and though I don’t think that’s the truth, it makes it difficult to find a thoughtful explanation for some of the decisions being made in the liberal camp. For both those who believe life starts at conception and those that don’t, are there concise and thoughtful explanations for supporting the democratic platform? What about explanations as to why Obama voted against the Born Alive bill (basically I’m looking for a response to this)?

These are serious and legitimate questions, I’m not trying to trap anyone, I’m really just trying to understand. So, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me directly with your responses. Thanks.

(photo credit)

Goodbye. Hello.


So, for a number of random reasons, I need to take more of a break from regular blogging. I’ve taken sporadic breaks in the past. And more recently I cut down the daily posting to weekday posting. Well, now I’m going to try and cut things back even more. So in a sense, this is a bit of a goodbye.

I’m currently thinking of cutting back to one post a week. This wouldn’t be a YouTubesday post, I’m stopping those, at least not weekly (unless you protest), but I’ll post good videos here on tumblr. And it wouldn’t be book reviews either, I’m considering moving those to some facebook book app or somewhere else (maybe librarything or even amazon). My goal would be to have one thoughtful, original piece of my own writing on some topic, maybe occasionally multiple topics. That’s what I’m leaning toward at the moment.

I’ll still be writing a lot, and if your interested in seeing and giving constructive feedback on top secret work-in-progress writing, then let me know and maybe I’ll let you into my secret chamber. Otherwise, just keep your rss or email subscription, but except things with a bit less frequency. That is unless I get the bug and just can’t stay away. (you might see a redesign as well)

One More Try on The Abortion Topic


After a handful of emails regarding last weeks post and comment threads, and reading through them again, I guess I’ll have to conclude that I tried and failed, but it was worth a shot. I wanted to give one more try to clarify two things: what I was trying to get at in the posts last week and what my current position is.

My intention last week was to try and move beyond dialoging about the specific issue of abortion itself and discuss ways that we could support women in general. Apparently no one seemed interested in having that conversation, no matter what we stipulated about when life begins it still came down to debating specifically abortion. I’ve met loving caring people who value life on both sides of this issue. I’d love to try and help those people find common ground on the many issues surrounding abortion, like working toward reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, or providing support for teen mothers, or providing more mother-friendly work environments and laws. I think if people from both sides could agree to disagree on the specifics of abortion itself, just beyond that I think we would find a huge amount of common ground that we could all band together to address.

My current position on abortion is not what you might assume it is from my recent posts. I am extremely pro-life (against killing in all circumstances). Yet I’m open to the possibility that not wanting to outlaw abortion does not conflict with that. I’m also willing to listen and consider both sides and question the assumptions that have been given to me about when “life” begins. I don’t think it makes me heartless or callous to be willing to consider other views, nor does it make me any less of a Bible believing Christ follower. Personally, I would never recommend a woman have an abortion, rather I’d provide every viable means of support I can for them to go through with the pregnancy.

This has clearly been one of those hot button issues and I’m disappointed we couldn’t find a way to dialog about the surrounding complexities and find some common ground. I think one thing we all can agree on is that we must work hard to address the injustices that women, particularly mothers, face in our society. And another is that every child in our society should have their basic needs met and cared for regardless of the wealth or abilities of their parents: clothing, shelter, food, education. Let’s work together to meet those ends.

Book Review: Plan B, by Anne Lamott

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//library/information/news/exlibris0705/covers/lamott.jpgAnne Lamott is a fabulous writer. She has the ability to take the stories of her life, ordinary stories, and not only make them engaging, but inspiring. When I read Traveling Mercies I closed it with a new found appreciation for the day to day experiences of my own life. Reading Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott, was no different.

I didn’t tab this book very much, and I read through it so fast that I didn’t think to mark quotes to share, so I’d just recommend you pick up the whole thing and read it through. She makes a number of references in here to her distaste for George Bush, which might turn some people off, but it’s geniune.  She has a whole chapter on her experience with trying to follow her pastors admonishment to “love your enemies”, in which she happens to choose George to work on loving more.

It’s also interesting to read from a parenting perspective, as this collection of essays contains a lot about her son as he’s growing older and entering his teenage years. Her previous book talked about him at a younger age. The opportunity to follow them through a journey of parenting, an honest journey where everyone isn’t smiling all the time, is refreshing. It lets you know that your not alone, and that you’ll make it through the good and the bad.

It appears Lamott’s received both praise and criticism from the evangelical community. Praise for her honesty, criticism for her stance on abortion. In light of our recent conversations, I’m hoping to read more of her thoughts on the topic of abortion and others responses to it to gain more perspective on the issue.

So, When Does Life Begin?


In an effort to not sway the conversation in any particular direction. I’m going to simply display the verses that to my knowledge (and a couple brief google searches) are used in making the case for and against abortion. In the context of when life begins…

Scripture typically used to make a case Against Abortion…

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 22:10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Jeremiah 1:4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Luke 1:39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

And now for the verses that are used to make a case that “life” does not necessarily begin at conception but rather at birth.

Exodus 21:22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

Ecclesiastes 6:3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man- 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?

Job 10:18 “Why then did you bring me out of the womb?
I wish I had died before any eye saw me.

19 If only I had never come into being,
or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!

I will leave my thoughts on the verses to the comments section to give everyone a fair opportunity to converse. If your reading this via email or rss I suggest you hop over and join the discussion.

Abortion: What If It’s Infanticide?

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload/static.flickr.com/2081/2130942092_c48d8a1579_m.jpgI remember some evangelism training thing somewhere were the technique was suggested of challenging a person to accept Jesus on the grounds that if they were wrong it would mean eternity in Hell, so it probably wasn’t worth the risk. Don’t know how I feel about that tactic now, but for those (could include me) who don’t currently consider abortion as infanticide, I’m going to ask you to consider the “what if” today. We’ve dialoged already with the assumption that life begins at birth. Today we are going to dialog with the stipulation that life begins at conception. Tomorrow will discuss from a Biblical perspective when we believe “life” begins, but today we are going to, for the sake of productive dialog, stipulate that life begins at conception.

I believe the two things I mentioned Monday still apply to today’s conversation.

  • Men should yield the floor to their better half and allow women to lead the decision making as it relates to pregnancy, abortion and women’s rights. We need to support them whole heartedly in their decisions, but do all we can to support and not unduly influence.
  • We need to address the grave injustices that continue to face women in our country today. Equal Pay, paid maternity leave and better support for working and nursing mothers. Taking a stand against domestic and sexual abuse.  And removing discriminating stereotypes and media create pervasive struggles with body image for our young girls.

As to the issue of abortion itself. Assuming life begins at conception, abortion is murder. But, we must admit that it is unlike any other form of murder, it is unique in the relationship and physical connectedness of the mother and child. I am not saying that to diminish the value of the child, but to simply acknowledge that it is unique and should be considered as such. We think and respond differently to a suicide, an assisination or a fatal accident, though all involve the lose of life.

Is there a way to think of and respond to the situation, to consider the mother and child and the gravity of the situation that does not diminish the intensity of the situation, but also respects the values and rights of both the mother and child?

YouTubesday: Religion, Religion, Religion

Okay, so the email forwards recently about Obama are driving me crazy. Not from a political perspective, but from a “I’m ashamed to call my self a Christian and align myself with these people” sort of perspective. Anways, I figured I’d add to the religious cynicism and give some folks a few videos to find amusing or get angry at. Your choice.

First, a trailer for Religulous, seems interesting…

Then some late night Christian Television clips…

And finally a great monologue on using the Old Testament in modern day life, from the West Wing (also quoted in Jesus for President).

Hot Button Issue: Abortion


I’ve been extremely hesitant to bring this issue up here for a number of reasons. One, I think discussion on this topic has been dominated by men and I don’t want to simply add my noise thus drowning out the women whose voices are so important on this issue. Two, I’m not sure of my abilities to steer the conversation in a direction that keeps us away from the partisan political lines and fosters real geniune dialog. But, better to have tried and failed then to be silent and not screw this whole thing up (or something like that).

Here is what I’m proposing for the purpose of this discussion. We are going to take this in three parts. And will address each on a different day.

  1. Monday- The post and conversation will stipulate that life begins at birth.
  2. Wednesday- The post and conversation will stipulate that life begins at conception (fertilized egg)
  3. Thursday- The conversation will discuss when life begins (using the Christian scriptures as a reference and authority).

My hope is that this format will help us address some of the issues around the topic without getting into an emotional debate regarding when life begins (until Thursday). So, on with the discussion.

Much of my thoughts on the topic are up in the air, still shifting, not quite solid. But I do have a few I’m pretty sure about, and they mostly relate to the topic from my role as a male.

  • I think men, on the whole, need to shut-up and yield the floor to women on the issue of abortion. For far too long women have had to fight for their rights, to vote, to their bodies, against discrimination and for fair pay. And though they have won many rights in theory, men continue to hog the conversation, even when it comes to issues centered around women and their bodies. It’s time for men to step aside and trust and support the women in their lives to make the right decision.
  • And in the mean time, we need to seek to make women’s rights and fair protection a reality. We can start by fervently addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault which are vastly under-reported because of the stigma and shame and blaming the victim that occurs. We can make changes in our businesses and encourage others in our circles of influence, that support paid maternity leave and equal pay, that doesn’t discriminate against mothers who keep their children as a priority. We should make sure church and office policies support nursing mothers.

I think that might be enough for discussion. Remember keep in mind that regardless of your current opinion on when life begins, we are stipulating for the purpose of constructive dialog on this post that life begins at birth (not at conception).