January 19, 2006
“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain
January 17, 2006
I have a friend who works for a local Fox News affiliate in a location I won’t disclose. Weeks ago, during a political election, he was assigned to edit video of two candidates for one office, a Republican and a Democrat. He pulled up the video, and found that those who had worked on it before him had gathered sharply contrasting videos. The Republican stood behind a podium, giving a speech, the camera zoomed into his smiling face.
The video of the Democrat showed a crowd. If you didn’t know what the candidate looked like, you would not have been able to pick him out of the sea of black suits as people shook hands and smiled.
So my friend began looking for better video of the Dem, a close up of him behind a podium. The news director approached and asked what he was doing. He explained.
The news director told him to stop.
“We’re a Republican station,” he said.
So there you have it. Fraud, in an organization entrusted with one of the highest callings in our nation – policing the government.
January 16, 2006
I have a friend who is a liberal yuppie. He didn’t used to be and doesn’t really want to be, I don’t think. But it’s comfortable. He’s living in a liberal yuppie community surrounded by other liberal yuppies who, since his tendency is to be a liberal yuppie, reinforce his inclinations.
That makes life comfortable.
Anyway. He wasn’t always a liberal yuppie. He got his start in rural, redneck Kentucky, and moved to the Southwest when he was 10 or 11. He used to tell me that all Hispanics looked alike, the red on his white neck glowing as he said he literally couldn’t tell brown women apart.
He went through some hard times with the deaths of both parents and the suicide of his girlfriend’s brother all within a couple of years. He became an artist of sorts, and moved into a place where he hangs around all the time with liberal yuppies and drinks wine and expensive beer and talks about art and smokes an occasional cigarette or marijuana.
He used to get mad at me for smoking cigarettes and told me they were evil.
But now that he embraces liberal yuppiness, nothing is evil. And all his friends smoke.
He and I used to talk in depth about faith, soon after I became a Christian. Now he won’t, telling me he doesn’t feel very Christian.
It’s because of the president. He sees Bush as the biggest hypocrite in the world and, since most of his friends think being Christian and conservative are synonymous, he goes along with them. Even though he knows me.
(At least, I don’t think I’m a conservative.)
So we’re at his home a few weeks ago at a party, visiting from out of town since we live in different cities now. It’s my wife and I and a bunch of liberal yuppies who are drinking wine and smoking cigarettes and marijuana and looking at photographs one guy took during a trip to Eastern Europe while they talk about economic conditions there, about which they all pretend to know a great lot.
Or they’re just a lot smarter than me.
My friend’s IPod is full of Indie rock. At the beginning of one song he turns to me and says, “You’ll like this guy. He’s really Christian, but he tries to hide it. He has to. Us Indie rockers wouldn’t listen to him if he was Christian.”
I once attended an Evangelical college student conference in Denver. One night I was in a room surrounded by hundreds of students, 90 percent of them white, and I wrote in my journal, “These people are all the same.” I felt gross that night, as if some evil was lurking, fooling everyone as it dressed itself up in religiosity. Even the 10 percent at the conference with brown or black or yellow skin had the same politics. Afterwards, I wrote to the director of the organization to tell him as much. He read it, and was impacted by it, or at least told me so.
As I sat in my friend’s home that night, drinking wine, watching everyone talk about art and Eastern Europe, I realized it was the same sort of situation. My friend had surrounded himself by people who were all the same. I lived in a different town and rarely saw him. His day-to-day peers were people who wouldn’t challenge him, who reinforced his tendencies, propping up the walls that surround him.
I wonder if I do that too.
January 8, 2006
“Yes honey, I did read your diary, but I had to. Why? Well, these boys, all they want is sex, and it’s up to me to stop them from taking advantage of my littie girl. You just trust daddy now. I know about Mark and Jose, and I’ll make sure they never bother you again. You’re safe.”
January 5, 2006
Journalists are partly to blame for the oversimplified, polarized political climate in our nation. As media becomes more and more corporate, there is more pressure to increase the bottom line and less focus on doing good journalism.
Quantity takes precedence over quality. Editors take shortcuts. Newsrooms operate with fewer reporters. Mistakes are an acceptable risk. They can be corrected.
In a little box.
On page A-3.
Reporting spin from “both sides,” so you can say your coverage is balanced, has replaced reporting the truth. We accept tall tales spun by marketing machines. It’s why the media blindly followed Bush’s justification for the Iraq war. It’s why TV reports live, for hours at a time, that a plane is circling a runway with landing gear that won’t work.
Meanwhile, hundreds die in Africa from disease during the same time period.
The news has become a commodity. Editors increasingly make decisions based on what will sell and never ask what stories need to be reported for the good of democracy.
A major newspaper in our state recently did a series on the governor’s tenure. It was touted as an in-depth look at his policies that would examine the success or failure of the governor.
Instead, the articles were nothing but spin: What the governor said, and what his detractors said in return. No analysis. No facts. No truth.
Which is why newspapers are losing readers. They’re not giving the public good journalism. We’re not stupid.
But back to the political impact. Most journalists aren’t seeking truth. No one asks the tough questions; no one holds politicians accountable. That lets them spend more time spinning and less time coming clean. It allows corruption.
Our society is dependent not only on a free press, but on a responsible press. It is the check on government. Right now, it’s not doing that, and you see the result: We went to war based on faulty intelligence.
I’m not making a statement about whether the war was justified. I’m stating that the reasons presented publicly for going to war were bogus, and a responsible press would have learned that and educated the American public before the war began.
Americans should demand more from their journalists.
January 3, 2006
A public school science class is not the place to teach that God exists. But neither is it a place to teach that God does not.
Newly elected school board members in Dover, Pa., unanimously voted Wednesday night to rescind a policy that would have required a statement about intelligent design before the teaching of evolution in biology classes. The vote was inevitable and appropriate. God cannot be scientifically proven, though backers of the thinly veiled attempt at inserting God in the public schools would have us believe otherwise.
Yes, the eye is complex and it doesn’t make sense that it developed from some lesser form, since it requires each and every part to function. Creationists have found a valid example to show that evolution has flaws.
But that’s not proof that God exists. It’s proof that our current understanding of life’s origins and development is incomplete.
Belief in God comes through faith. That’s the way God designed it: If belief was a no-brainer, there would be no reason to wrestle with truth, and that struggle to find meaning and direction is the point of life.
But that does not mean that God should be excluded from biology class, or the public schools. Too many science teachers present an atheistic version of evolution as an absolute. They would have students believe that science explains everything.
It doesn’t. Honest scientists admit that. Science can take us to the Big Bang, but it can’t explain how or why it happened, and what existed before that.
Science teachers and text books should honestly explain to students that evolution is currently the best explanation we have for how life developed. They should explain the amazing process that has become the basis for all biology and has inspired wonder in the minds of our youth for decades.
But they should also explore the issues our understanding of evolution can’t explain, like the development of the eye, and should make clear that evolution does not explain the origin of the universe.
In addition, evolution may deal with the “how” questions, but students need to know that it doesn’t answer the “why” questions.
The two sides are locked in a prideful battle that only hinders the education of our children. They’re being taught the spin of both sides, rather than the truth. Some students come to class believing evolution is the ultimate truth; others come in believing they can quote the Bible to counter their teachers.
That doesn’t encourage critical thinking. It demands that our children choose sides based on pressure from their peers and parents. No wonder our nation is becoming more politicized.
Yesterday my wife and sister and I were out shopping. As we were driving out of the parking lot of one store I noticed a Toyota Prius Hybrid. Hybrids interest me, so I was checking it out as we drove by the back.
There was a “W ’04” bumper sicker on the bumper.
I just stopped the truck for a moment and stared, then showed the others.
My sister, a fairly liberal person, chuckled.
“That’s kind of encouraging,” she said.
So it is.
January 1, 2006
I have an ultraliberal friend who believes that being Christian is synonymous to being conservative. He knows I say I’m Christian and he knows I hold many liberal beliefs. He doesn’t understand how that’s possible and views me as a walking contradiction.
So do many Christians. They hear President Bush say “You’re either with us or against us” and they nod and chant “onward Christian soldiers” as our troops fight in Iraq.
Not literally. But you know what I mean.
On the left, my mom and many others say they are patriotic. They say the Right doesn’t have a lock on supporting our troops. Many liberals even put yellow ribbon magnets on their cars to prove it.
But when my mom sees a home with red, white and blue Christmas lights, she’ll remark that a Republican must live there.
Why such assumptions? Both sides reveal their ignorance when living in a way that is so tribal and conceited. We pretend to be an advanced moral society (on the left and right), but we haven’t yet learned to think past the oversimplified, us-versus-them mentality that has started most wars throughout history.
As a result we’re shutting the door on intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth. We call others’ beliefs evil or wrong when they challenge our boxes.
The left is no less guilty of this than the right, though its god isn’t the absolute truth of one ideal, but instead a general belief that no person’s truth is better than another’s.
There must be a balance. Intolerance is not the answer, but neither is too much tolerance.
How can we expect peace when we’re not seeking understanding?