Who Do You Side With?

I’m not usually a big fan of online polls/quizzes, but came across one today that is very thorough and, in my case at least, quite accurate. The website iSideWith.com has put together a quiz designed to show you how you line up ideologically with the different political candidates. It’s nice that you have the option of taking it as a fast quiz, with simple “yes” or “no” answers to a few questions on important issues, but there are options to “choose another stance” with a more detailed answer, as well as identifying how important a given topic is to you. As if that weren’t enough detail, for many categories you can click an option to see more questions.

I’m fairly certain that no one is going to be surprised at my results, which easily identified my top choice in the upcoming presidential election:

Click to enlarge

After you take the quiz, you will see even more details about your results. For instance, you can see exactly how each candidate answers each question in the quiz, and how you line up with others in your state.

Whether or not your vote this Fall is already determined, you might learn a few things you didn’t know about some of the candidates. Take the quiz, and if you like, leave a comment with your results!

Recycled Rhetoric

Let me call your attention to a quote that’s been popping up all over the Internet lately, from a speech President Obama gave in Roanoke, Virginia, last Friday:

Two comments — First, I’ve seen several of the President’s supporters claim that he is being quoted “out of context”, as if his opponents are up to shenanigans. (This particular objection, by the way, seems to be a tacet admission that there is something wrong with what is quoted above.) So, in the interest of fairness, here is the immediate context of the quote:

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.

If this isn’t enough context for you, here is a transcript of the entire speech. Knock yourself out. But I think the quote in the graphic is a pretty fair representation of what the President was trying to communicate.

So here’s the second thing: There is absolutely nothing new here. Obama is a great campaigner, and voters love stuff like this because it sounds so true. That’s why last year, MoveOn.org was working so hard to spread a virtually identical quote from a speech given by Elizabeth Warren shortly after she announced her candidacy for this year’s Senatorial election. Here’s the “viral” quote from last Fall:

Whether you saw this quote last year or not, surely you can see the similarity between Warren’s words and those of her boss (one of the plethora of new government jobs created by our current President — “Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” — belongs to Warren). So rather than respond directly to Obama’s quote, let me refer you instead to what I wrote in response to Elizabeth Warren last September, which pretty much all applies to the latest rhetoric from the Campaigner-in-Chief.

Time to move on.

Combing the Net – 6/22/2012

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All — A long but worthwhile article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who left a high-powered “foreign policy dream job” on Hilary Clinton’s staff in order to be able to spend more time with her children. She calls for women to have a more nuanced and realistic idea of what it means to “have it all” in the first place. (HT: Anne Thurmond on Facebook)

Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating “you can have it all” is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.

I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured

How Your View of God Shapes Your View of the Economy — This is a fascinating sociological study which surveyed Americans to find correlations between theological beliefs and economic beliefs. I have no doubt that there is a strong correlation (theology absolutely affects everything in our lives!), but I’m not sure the researcher understands why there is a correlation. For instance, he writes: “Because evangelicals assert that you alone are responsible for your eternal salvation, it makes sense that the individual is also responsible for his or her economic salvation without government assistance, especially if God is the only assistance you really need.” While many professing believers do believe that are “alone” responsible for their eternal salvation, this is certainly not the belief of all, or even most, evangelicals. My free market convictions are absolutely tied to my religious convictions, but for very different (and almost opposite) reasons.

Is Barack Obama a Christian? — Owen Strachen excerpts two articles from Christianity Today which address this question; one writer arguing affirmatively, the other (Strachen) concluding that the President is not an orthodox Christian but a proponent of theological Liberalism… which as J. Gresham Machen made clear, is something else entirely.

Why does your food look different in advertising than what is in the store?” A McDonald’s marketing director gives a very helpful answer to this question. (HT: Challies)

Combing the Net – 5/10/2012

There’s pretty much just one story going on today, both in the national media and in the blogosphere. Barack Obama has announced his personal support for gay marriage, though it remains to be seen whether he will promote policy changes to make his preference the law of the land. So today’s “Combing the Net” is a roundup of some of the more interesting/provocative posts I’ve come across on the subject of gay marriage. These will come from a variety of perspectives; nobody (including me) will agree with everything said in all these posts, but I hope that they will challenge us all to consider the complexity of the issue rather than give in to the polarization it seems to cause. I have erased and re-written more times than I can count a post that I began many months ago in an effort to clarify my own feelings on the matter, but have not been able to find the right words. Perhaps I’ll be able to complete it soon.

A Challenge to Both Sides of the Amendment One Debate — Justin Lee, executive director of The Gay Christian Network and North Carolina resident, models the type of graciousness that I wish everyone could use as we talk through these issues, though I disagree with him in some very important ways on the interpretation of Scripture.

Yes, I voted against the amendment, as did many of my friends and hundreds of thousands of other NC residents. But I also know people who voted for it, and I know that they are not simply bigoted, homophobic, backwards people. It’s way more complicated than that.

How to Win a Culture War and Lose a Generation — Rachel Held Evans is another blogger with whom I have major theological differences, but she has her finger on the pulse of our generation, and many of her observations are very astute. Young people from all over the political and theological spectrum do feel that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality. Myself included.

Later research, documented in Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends.  Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this  is one reason why. In my experience, all the anecdotal evidence backs up the research… every single student I have spoken with believes that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality.

Three Lessons I Learned Through This Amendment Process — J.D. Greear, author of Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary, is the pastor of a church in North Carolina. Here he recounts some of the difficulties involved in keeping the Gospel as the central focus in a contentious political climate.

Godly people can disagree over the merits of this or that amendment and remain united in Christ. I heard very mature, godly and intelligent people explain why they approached this amendment differently than I did. I respect that. We can disagree, tell one another we disagree, and still remain united in Christ. Maturity is not simply knowing what to believe, but how much weight to place on particular aspects of what we believe.

What Is Better? — I won’t pretend to be able to know what it must be like to have an attraction I didn’t choose but which seems so central to who I am, and to be told that I must deny what seems natural to me in order to follow Christ… but this is exactly what the gospel demands of those with same-sex attraction. This post by Jared Wilson is something I can relate to, and helps me to empathize with those who, like me, have an orientation toward sin which must be overcome in order to pursue the greater promise of ultimate fulfillment in Christ. (For increased empathy, you might also be interested in Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, which I reviewed last year.)

Don’t believe the lie that struggling always to obey God is a worse lot in life than disobeying him with peace. God did not make us to “feel good inside” (or outside) all the time this side of heaven; he made us to share in the sufferings of Christ, that we might share in his resurrection.

President Obama’s Scriptural Defense of Gay Marriage — Denny Burk takes issue with the President’s use of Scripture to support his affirmation of gay marriage.

President Obama’s scriptural defense of gay marriage is not just untenable; it’s also unchristian. Even though this is a contentious issue, the most loving thing to do would be to stand on the authority of scripture and on God’s definition of the good. Unfortunately, President Obama has fallen short of both today.

How to Win the Public on Homosexuality — Of all the posts I’ve shared, this one by Collin Hansen is probably the most helpful. If you only read one, choose this one.

These contributing factors tempt Christians to heap all the blame on crafty, malicious “others” for redefining the divine institution of marriage. But political strategy and tactics alone don’t explain such a pronounced shift in public sentiment, especially among younger generations of Americans. Indeed, regaining the ground Christians have lost on homosexuality will require widespread repentance, painful self-examination, and new resolve to pursue self-denying holiness. Most of all, we need the life-giving power that comes from Jesus alone.

How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go — While all the above posts are from the last three days, this was written last year. Still, I thought it was fitting to include here this mock interview written by Trevin Wax.

 I recognize that some people have mistreated homosexuals in the past. It’s a shame that anyone anywhere would mock, taunt, or bully another human being made in God’s image. That said, I think we need to make one thing clear in regard to civil discourse: To differ is not to hate. I hope we can still have a real conversation in this country about different points of view without casting one another in the worst possible light.

Combing the Net – 5/3/2012

Warrior in Chief — This editorial from The New York Times makes the case that Barack Obama is not the peacenik he’s often portrayed to be, but rather one of the most militarily aggressive presidents in American history. Ironically, I suspect that many on the far-right would applaud this quote had it come from any mouth but Obama’s:

“I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man, and the limits of reason.”

Libertarian Leanings of Young Voters Dampen Obama’s Appeal — If Obama’s re-election hinges on young voters, he may be in trouble thanks to the rise of Libertarianism.

Men In Black: The Secret Service Photographed — A photo essay from TIME magazine.

What All Teachers Should Learn From Jazz-Band Teachers — This neuroscientist believes that schools could benefit from teaching all subjects much in the same way that good jazz educators teach. He makes a lot of great points, but here are two favorite quotes:

How well a student has learned jazz is public knowledge. They can’t hide. What you know and can do is on public display, all the time in practice sessions with fellow band members and, of course, in public performances. In marked contrast, it is against the law for teachers in other subject areas to reveal grades on individual performance, even within the more private area of the classroom. The belief system in education these days is that you should not allow an unprepared and under-performing student to be embarrassed. What dingbat policy maker came up with that? I know; it comes from the perverse politically correct movement that ignores the reality that self-esteem needs to be earned…

Unlike traditional education, where the goal is to meet minimum standards on state-mandated tests, jazz band directors make very clear their high expectations that everybody in each band class should become as proficient as they can. The whole point of their teaching is mastery and excellence. They expect excellence and they get it, as witnessed by festival performances such as I saw. Thanks to the unenlightened thinking of No Child Left Behind law, our public education has degenerated into “No Child Pushed Forward.”

Doan-Fisher Friendship Bigger Than Hockey — A few days ago I posted a video from TSN about the faith of Nashville Predators’ forward Mike Fisher. Now, ESPN has also published a faith-related article, looking at the friendship between Fisher and Phoenix Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan.

I would have loved to be at the Nashville Predators game last night, not just to see them pull off a great win, but also to see Charlie Daniels tearing up the band stage during the intermissions! (HT: OTF)