Ron Paul on the bailout

I am not a Ron Paul nut. But for years I have seen the federal government prop up a casino economy by easy money and an artificially inflated stock market. Of course, the end result of making the governement the source of economic prosperity is that in a time of crisis, such as now, the federal government must float the economy. It can’t be done.  Every sector of the economy is coming to Washington and asking for the money it is so willing to give to the credit markets, including the automakers. The economy is sick and has to go through some heaving to clean out the poisons we have interjected. Some congressmen are being very brave and asking serious questions, refusing to be pushed around. I can only imagine the pressure being brought to bear on them. But if you love the USA deeply and have your eye on the goal, its time to back away from the government cash cow. At the same time, the government should take on Wall Street like an umpire who sticks to the strke zone no matter who is at bat. If the government launches criminal investigations, it will gain some credibility and trust. The dialogue might open up a bit and compromise be an option to a degree. It’s time for Bush to fire any number of those in charge of regulation or who turned a blind eye to practices guaranteed to destroy share value. My congressman, even in Massachusetts, voted against the bailout.

The free market economy is a great contribution of the Judeo-Christian tradition. While it is easy in the name of compassion to back away from the demands of the marketplace, it is unwise and works at cross-purposes to those things which will bless and prosper all.

I am amazed at how in the Christian blogosphere so many popular bloggers are silent on this issue. I wonder if blogging is so much “blah-blah-blahing” until it really gets tough and those who have asked others to come to them for insight and wisdom in fact are only talking about the newest ideas and not hard realities.

In Financial Food Chains, Little Guys Can’t Win – Ben Stein

Ben Stein says it like I see it. Actually I think I am a bit more radical on this issue than Stein, but he is clear on this one issue – the rich have to be allowed to win. They insist that we privatize rewards but socialize losses. No matter which way it goes, the working man gets worked over. I have no sympathy for the person who buys a home and gambles that the adjustable rate will not rise or that the rise in home equity will protect him. On the face of it, this is stupid and requires no high school education to recognize. But this is not essentially what went wrong. What went wrong was the ability of financiers to package bad paper so that the gambles being made were hidden, hidden at least for long enough to make some quick money. If they could not have done that, the bad loan practices would have been more immediately visible and more quickly rejected. And now the very people who have lost homes, lost equity in homes and now have to extend their working lives by at least five years have to stabilize the very institutions that knowingly hid bad paper. There ought to be some perp walks, people.

In Financial Food Chains, Little Guys Can’t Win
IMAGINE, if you will, that a man who had much to do with creating the present credit crisis now says he is the man to fix this giant problem, and that his work is so important that he will need a trillion dollars or so of your money. Then add that this man thinks he is so indispensable that he wants Congress to forbid any judicial or administrative questioning of anything he does with your dollars. Continue reading

My new laptop, Book TV and iTunes U

My church family at Coastal gave me a new laptop computer for my bithday. Wow – a great gift. Now I can lay in bed and compute!!! One of my delights has been to dip into the over 500 streaming videos at Brian Lamb of C-Span is one of my favorite interviewers. Short, crisp questions that allow the author to be center stage. You can download any interview you desire for a cost or view it for free on their website. So far I have listened to an interview on the topics of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Frost, and Samuel Morse, plus tasted a few more that I’ll listen to more fully later on. I have also listened to lots of stuff at iTunesU, college courses online that I can listen to on my laptop or download to my iPod. My local library has plenty of cds from The Teaching Company, which records college lectures on an enormous number of subjects. I am viewing a series on the history of Rome. No reason to go brain dead!!!! What a delight.

Is the bailout a good idea? Dave Ramsay respond

Here is Dave Ramsay’s response at Christianity Today.

Q & A: Dave Ramsey
The popular Christian financial adviser on why he thinks the bailout is a disaster.

The government has rushed to aid several corporations in recent months, hoping to contain an economic crisis. President Bush urged Congress to pass a proposed $700 billion plan for the government to purchase troubled mortgage assets. Dave Ramsey tells Christianity Today why he is against the bailout and how Christians can prepare during an economic crisis. Ramsey’s show is carried on 350 radio stations nationwide, and he is the author of several personal finance books.

What do you think of the bailout?

I think it’s a disaster. It’s the largest government department ever formed in the history of man, and they are doing it in five days, and they are doing it based on a spirit of fear.

There are other things we could be doing to calm markets. All of the Bush administration appears to be in a dead dog panic. I’m afraid it’s going to pass, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to like it.

What do you recommend instead?

Change the market accounting rules. Do away with the capital gains tax, which will cause money to flood into the market instantaneously in 24 hours. Last, if we do need to do some insurance of some of these bonds, we can insure them rather than just buying them all. Only 7 percent of them are in foreclosure, while 93 percent of them are paying, so why are we buying them all—so we can make Paulson king?

Will the economical crisis affect how Christians will vote?

It translates into which person they think will go to Washington and give them the economy that they want. As a believer, I think that’s a mistake. I think we’re taught that God is to be our source. We’ve really got to stop looking to Washington to fix our problems. It obviously doesn’t have the ability to do that. People who are successful are not successful because of the President.

You meet people who think Sarah Palin is the Second Coming. People who say, ‘If we can get John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House, everything’s going to be okay,” and it’s not.

Should this affect how Christians give? For instance, should Christians give to nonprofits that have lost money through investments?

I think giving priorities should never have anything to do with investments anyway. It should be the ministry that is doing God’s work, and what you feel God leading you to be attached to.

What will the crisis do to people’s lifestyle?

Hopefully some of this will scare people straight. Some of the consumption level will go down, some of the debt level will go down, and people will save more money.

God’s ways of handling money work: in the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil (Prov. 21:20). Having cash on hand is a good thing, always having some money. Get out of debt; the borrower is a slave to the lender. These are things that worked 1,000 years ago, they worked 20 years ago, and they worked 20 minutes ago. They will work for the next 20 years.

The emotions in the last two weeks have been more related to fear that their bank is going to close, that somehow the mortgage company is going to take their house even if they pay their bills. The other emotion has been anger at the government for talking about passing this ridiculous bailout of Wall Street.

I don’t know that I have necessarily heard anyone say, “I’m now convicted to straighten out my life.” I think the net result is that when the emotional moment leaves, people will hopefully find some contentment in what they currently have and not have to constantly own something bigger and better just to feel good about themselves.

How can Christians prepare for something like this in the future?

Have money in savings, get out of debt, live on a budget, live on less than you make, don’t co-sign, and diversify your investments. These are things the Bible tells us to do with money. If you do these things, you’re going to survive in bad times and prosper in good times. I’m not sitting here fretting that my world is going to come to an end based on what they are going to do in Washington.

How should churches prepare for this?

When people get scared, they quit giving. We may have the lowest giving in the fourth quarter than we have had in a decade. Churches that are out of debt and have money set aside for emergency, biblically speaking, are going to survive. Churches that have no cash and are in debt are going to reflect some of these Wall Street companies. They have to adjust spending to be able to live on what’s coming in and anticipate a drop right now.

Hopefully when the flowers come out in the spring, we’re going to see some better times. The only proper way to look at financial markets is over the long haul. One hundred percent of the 10-year periods of the stock market’s history have made money, 97 percent of the five-year periods have made money. So don’t let the panic of the day set your life up.

I’m voting for Cosby!!!

By Ben Witherington

O.K. in the spirit of full disclosure and weighing all options, Bill Cosby has now decided to throw his hat in the ring in the Presidential race asa write-in candidate. Here is his platform. See what you think.


(1) ‘Press 1 for English’ is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait at the border until you can.

(2) We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country’s attitude. NO imports, no exports.
We will use the ‘Wal-Mart’s policy, ‘If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it.’

(3) When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.

(4) All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border. (six month tour) They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.

(5) Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn’t put nuttin in, you ain’t getting nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will not be able to touch it.
(6) Welfare – Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40 hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.

(7) Professional Athletes –Steroids – The FIRST time you check positive you’re banned for life.

(8) Crime – We will adopt the Turkish method, the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more life sentences. If convicted, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim; gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

(9) One export will be allowed; Wheat, The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

(10) All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we’ll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it’s a worthy cause.

(11) The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(12) The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone’s toes but a vote for me will get you better than what you have, and better than what you’re gonna get. Thanks for listening, and remember to write in my name on the ballot in November.
God Bless America !!!!!!!!!!!

Bill Cosby!!!!!!!!

The “Real” Prosperity Gospel

iMonk has posted this. After reading it, I don’t think I have much room to criticize Osteen. I am guilty of preaching my own version of the prosperity Gospel. After all these years, I don’t think I have found a good way of honoring the complexity of Christ-following. I think I often preach my aspirations and what I wish was so but what isn’t, in fact, so. In our country there is a patriotism that can ignore our realities – fly the flag, play the music, drop the balloons and confetti, etc., while at the same time looking away from those left behind, left out and the chicaneries of the power brokers who destroy and pillage the simple and trusting folk. So, too, the church can overlook the realities of our real struggles and shortcomings, fears and failures, doubts and dealings. There is a veneer we demand. The realities are too painful. I am not a fan of “ain’t it awful” brand of Christianity. But neither do I desire to depress, discourage and suppress those who are making good-hearted attempts at Christ-following by ignoring what they know to be true – at best we are at the outer edges of His ways. Church on Sundays has to move beyond a version of patriotic rallies – noise, excitment, fast-paced enthusiasms, and saying things we know aren’t true. I think that one of the reasons we are tempted to this kind of Chrisitanity is that most churches aren’t centered around the truly converted who want honesty and wouldn’t be scared away by our realities but instead cater to those further away from the center who need the psychological boost to stay connected to the church. Something really bad happens when we do that. By the way, Relevant Church in Florida, which promoted their married couples having sex for thirty straight days, reports that their attendance grew by 15%. I guess that means they were right for promoting Christians having lots of sex and proving something or other to the world. I don’t know – maybe that 15% are just people who want more sex, and if Jesus gets it for them, that’s okay with them. (How did I get on that topic?) Anyway, here’s iMonk’s blog post.

The “Real” Prosperity Gospel
By iMonk on Theologia

A reader sent me a very nice note yesterday, talking about a bit of the scope and direction of my writing on this blog over the years. He mentioned something I want to share with you. Hear his idea and initial direction; then I want the ball.
It’s funny how among some of the religious types you seem to be surrounded by, there is both a deep hatred for the prosperity gospel, and something that at a functional level, is the prosperity gospel. A gospel where although Jesus may not give you a BMW, He will make sure you’re always happy, never struggle with doubt, and most of all, He’ll keep you from feeling like you might need to ask a question of Him. It’s subtle, but I had adopted many of these beliefs into my own life, and as God has been taking those ideas apart over the past few years, yours has been a voice letting me know I’m not alone. Your writing has helped keep me sane.
The real prosperity gospel isn’t the overt appeal to wealth. It is the more subtle appeal to God guaranteeing that we are going to be happy, and the accompanying pressure to be happy in ways that are acceptable and recognizable to the community of Christians we belong to.

The real prosperity gospel is the belief that God will- must?- keep things at a level where it’s still possible for us to follow Jesus without overt appeal to rewards in this life. The real prosperity gospel is revealed not in the promises of a yacht or a large home, but in the unspoken approval of a level of prosperity that allows us to live the Christian life on our own terms. It is the ratification of our private, sometimes entirely secret, arrangements with God of what his “goodness” means.

When I was having a tough time a few months ago, and anticipated things might get even more difficult, I shared where I was and what I was feeling with several Christians.

That was a mistake.

I’m not being insulting here. I don’t have any horror stories. It was simply a mistake. I should have anticipated that many Christians don’t have any real idea what to do with a minister who is going through a crisis involving the character and ways of God. I should have known that confessing a crisis in your understanding of God was incompatible with how most people understand what it means to believe in God and to “be saved.”

I found myself deviating from this “real” prosperity gospel’s hold on my fellow believers, and I soon discovered that the response was more to the threat of what I was saying than to the fact of what I was going through.

You see, the “real” prosperity gospel says that all of us ministry types have an inside track on stability, happiness and “being a good witness all the time.” If we have questions, doubts, crises or conflicts, then that raises the issue of whether the whole business is what some believe it is.

How can a church sing the praises of God and allow its members to lament the pain and questions? How can a church advertise their pictures of shiny, happy families if they acknowledge the presence of spouse abuse and/or divorce? How can we say Jesus is answering all the questions if the children of some of our people are becoming atheists? How can our claims about the warmth and attractiveness of our fellowship be sustained if we take account of the church quitters in our history?

What this has opened up for me is something of the reluctance of my evangelical family to be honest or to often even value honesty that goes beyond the code of silence. It explains something of the tacit, unspoken agreement that seems to prevail in all kinds of Christian communions to not speak about the the painful, contrary truths or the terrible, uncategorized realities. It has something solid to suggest about the highly selective kinds of thinking and behavior we maintain in the face of persuasive evidence contradicting our hidden deals with God.

This is, I believe, why so many report that when their worlds fell apart, the majority of the evangelical church did not know what to do, and easily resorted to responses like shaming, blaming and bullying.

We evangelicals apparently need to believe a version of the prosperity gospel where, at the least, none of us are below an understood “line of credibility” in Christian experience. And if we happen to go below that line, don’t expect instant encouragement. You may be surprised at what happens to you when you become walking evidence that not everyone is as happy, blessed, obedient and satisfied as they are supposed to be.

Ask yourself this question: Why is it that so many western Christians find the greatest challenges to their faith are experiences that do not even qualify as persecution or serious suffering? Why will the loss of a a job or the moral failure of a pastor lead to the end of faith? Why do interpersonal conflicts in a church cause so many to abandon Christianity altogether?

Is there something about these experiences that are inherently discouraging to a particular kind of faith experience? Perhaps a faith experience that says things should be turning out right most of the time?

The “real prosperity” gospel especially appeals to the idea that the church is fixing things, people and situations. In this kind of thinking the church has a repository of wisdom and power that can actually cause us to live in a different world than our neighbors, a world with different rules and a different outcome to the usual situations.

I don’t know of many Christians who want to stand up in front of a room full of unbelievers and say “I live in the same world as you do; a world with the same problems, the same questions and the same kinds of pain and failure. God doesn’t provide some kind of insurance or protection from this world, and Christians aren’t wise enough to understand or fix everything in this world. In some ways, you (atheists) may be wiser than any one of us. What we have to offer is the gospel of Jesus, and the truth of the gospel isn’t a pay off in this world. Whatever changes the Gospel makes in us, we remain human, fallen and in need of final rescue, redemption and resurrection. There is plenty wrong with us, and some of it is shocking and terrible. In this world, we’re on a pilgrimage to follow Jesus, to love neighbor and to live our lives in an authentically human way.”

What’s scary about that paragraph? It refutes the real prosperity gospel.

That’s why it scares me.

The power of a good analogy and the pain of a bad one!!!!

Thanks to Ben Witherington

Like a good rain on parched ground, a good analogy can bring an otherwise turgid discourse, sermon, lecture to life. On the other hand, a bad analogy can stick in one’s brain like a bad song, or a really bad smell or taste in one’s mouth. Here below are some analogies ‘attempted’ in high school term papers. You might want to put on your sunglasses before reading these, because some of them are so blindingly brilliant you may need to look for cover 🙂 Let me know which is your favorite. BW3

Actual Analogies and Metaphors Found in High School Essays:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes witha pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie,surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil,this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame…maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

26. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

27. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

28. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.