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On Beyond

I'm a hack. If you want a good blog, go to my wife's blog

03 April 2010

Easter 2010

(This was a first draft written last night - if you can improve on it, please post a reply with your version.)

You know why Jesus came 2000 years ago?  To make sure He wouldn't get caught up in the 21st century quandary.

Planned Parenthood would try to convince Mary to "end the pregnancy". Assuming she listened to the council of the Church instead, Jesus would be taken from Mary immediately after birth and put in the custody of foster care. God would be charged and found guilty of statutory rape, but He would be let off on the technicality that the judge could not figure out if God had been present for the proceedings or in absentia.

If He made it to 33, the conservatives would nail him to a cross for blasphemy. He'd be pulled off the cross by the liberals who don't believe in the death penalty.  Then the conservatives would put him on permanent life-support because they believe in preserving life.

The Federal government would insist He be removed from life support because it isn't on the list of approved procedures under His federally mandated insurance policy. The foster family would sue to keep him on life support, while Mary and Joseph would claim that they had rights in the matter, and that He should be removed from life support so he could save the souls of the world.

Naturally, this would all go to the Supreme Court of the United States, which would declare that Congress has jurisdiction in the matter, because eternal salvation can be considered a form of commerce. Congress would pass a law creating the "National Salvation Agency", which would be given the authority to make regulations pertaining to this life and the afterlife. There would likely be riders on the bill to provide funding for manufacturers of hotdog casings in all cities named Kalamazoo, with a secondary bill stating that if the owners of hotdog casing manufactures in cities named Kalamazoo happen to be members of congress or families of members of congress, the congressmen can not be investigated by congress nor changed with any crimes related to conflict of interest on the "National Salvation Agency" bill.

Atheists would sue claiming violation of separation of church and state. Supreme court would claim the equal protection clause gave authority to congress in matters of religion that "do or might reasonably be expected to pertain to more than one person".

Minority groups would claim that Jesus' jewish heritage in addition to his claim to be the messiah, proved He is a racist. They would hold a "million messiah march" in Washington DC. It wouldn't serve any purpose that anyone else could understand. To ensure the public safety, congress would declare that the only street vendors allowed during the event would be hotdog stands.

We'd be waiting on our salvation for a very long time.

28 November 2005

I Believe

In my previous, extremely long post, I talk about what I "believe". Well, I need to tell you a little bit about what I mean by "believe". My dear brother Mike once told me (hey, do you think that my dear brothers have too much influence on me?) that to believe something means to absolutely confident that it is true. He used the example that if you ask someone if they believe in God, and they say "Uh, sure, I guess so", then the answer is "No". Belief in God is to be certain in his existence.

Well, I guess I don't believe in God. In fact, I don't believe many of the things that I have previously told you that I believe. It's not that I've been lying to you. It's that I don't believe much of anything if such a standard is held to the work "believe". I find that I have doubts about most things.

My lovely wife said to me a few weeks ago that she still didn't know if I believe in God or not. I told her that I believe in God, but not the way that she does. Patti has a built-in belief in God. God is real, she feels Him, she experiences Him. I don't have any such belief. My belief in God is a decision that I have made.

I've had one experience in my life which I would explain as "having felt the hand of God". It wasn't a big moment in any outward way. Oh, are you curious? Okay, I'll tell you. I was working as an electrician, attaching some wires to this and that. I heard the song "Prince of Darkness" by the Indigo Girls. At the line "I will not be a pawn for the Prince of Darkness any longer", I felt deeply struck by the fact that I was just such a pawn, and that unless I made an active effort to serve the Prince of Light, I was serving the Prince of Darkness. That was my moment.

Anyhow, back to my point. My point was that, outside of this one experience, I've not had a "sense" of God. My life both before and after that point was spent searching for proof, or some tangible awareness of the existence of God. After some 35 years of my own life, and musing on the fact that people have been conducting the same search for millennia, and no one has yet come up with proof, I felt trapped. How can this be fair? I cannot find proof that there is a God. While I may not have conducted the search with the degree of enthusiasm that some people have, I know that those people exist, and they haven't found it either. There is no proof. On the other hand, if there is a God, the consequences of not believing in Him could be disastrous.

I was quite torn on this question. If there is a God, he's apparently decided to create a universe devoid of any proof of its Creator. Such a universe looks empirically exactly like a universe which has no creator.

Now here's something funny - for a zillion years or so, man had little understanding of how the universe works. You've got some individual huge steps forward - Euclid, Newton, etc. But the understanding of the building blocks of the universe - space, time, matter, energy - the elemental understanding of the Universe has only started being unraveled in the last century and a half. As we've gotten to the elemental, we've also started to believe that there is no God. We've largely decided that a belief in a Creator of those elements is mere superstition. Hey, there is no empirical evidence, it must not be true.

What's so funny about that? Well, what's funny about that is that as we've delved deep into the universe, we HAVE found clues - clues mind you, not proof - of the existence of God. Reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time", I was struck by the fact that his work seemed in an almost miraculous way to point to the existence of a Creator. So much so, that I was expecting him to write something to the effect of "So you can see, there must be a Creator". Instead, he wrote something more to the effect of "I don't believe in God, so I burned that theory to the ground and started on a new one". Which, of course, is exactly what a scientist shouldn't do. Not that a scientist shouldn't question results that they find doubtful, but generally speaking a scientist should believe the empirical evidence once they confirm it, even if they don't like it. Anyhow, that's an aside. The bit that is funny here (in my mind, anyhow), is that astrophysics have taken us full circle. Primitive mind, believes in God because there are no better explanations. Middle mind believes in God out of culture and tradition. Modern mind gives up on the superstition and devotes itself to science, only to find that science does indeed provide clues of the existence of a Creator.

By the way - you'll need to read the book yourself for the explanation of how Hawking's theories point to the existence of a Creator. Far to complex for this forum, even assuming I were capable.

So now you've got at least some hint from science that there might be a Creator. Then you've got Pascal's Wager, which is, at least, a compelling start. The short version of the Wager: "If God doesn't exist and I believe in Him, I've lost nothing. If God does exist and I don't believe in Him, I've lost everything."

I have something of a variant of Pascal's Wager. Or, perhaps, you could call it a union of Pascal's Wager and Occam's Razor. The short on Occam's Razor: "If two equally plausible explanations exist, the simpler is correct". So, to equally plausible explanations for the existence of the universe:

  1. The Universe was created by a Creator
  2. The Universe just happened

You know, heck, I don't know that Occam's Razor even comes into play here, in that I don't know that the two explanations are equally plausible. Seems to me that empirical evidence would suggest that things don't just happen. The creation by a Creator is, in fact, a more plausible explanation. Now assuming that there is a Creator does still leave an obvious hole - "where did the Creator come from". Now there is a simple answer "We can't know that", and that sounds like an excuse to not have to dig for an answer. There is a more subtle answer: "We can't know that". What's the difference? Look, we exist in a universe. All of the power that we have to perceive and conceive of anything is limited to this universe. There is no reason whatsoever to suppose that this universe is all there is, yet there are no tools that allow us any access to anything outside this universe, it is a closed system. If that is the case, then understanding where God comes from is a question for philosophers, not for scientists. Scientists are limited to those things that can be demonstrated with experiment, and that means that they are limited to whatever confines God may have put on the universe.

I make that argument not because I don't think that we should delve deeper into the creation of the universe. I think we can did as deeply as we wish, but we will always come up short - there will always being one more step that we need to go to understand the source, the true origins of the universe. That one step will never be bridged by science, only by belief.

Back to the beginning of this little essay. I don't believe anything. But I've had to make some choices about how to behave. And since my thoughts lead me eventually to find that the existence of God makes more sense than the absence of God, I make that the start of my journey. I've made some other decisions along the way. Decisions which have the outward appearance of "beliefs", and each decision that I make leads to new decisions, and they all look like beliefs to an outside observer. So take whatever I say with a grain of salt.

26 November 2005

I'm a Radical Right Wing Liberal

I've been meaning to write about this for a while now. But my dear brother Chris wrote to me today, saying that he had read my blog, and accused me of being a "left wing nut". Now, that was a nasty jab, but I looked through the entries I've made so far, and figured that one could easily draw that conclusion from the entries I've made to date. Except for the one entitled "Marriage, the Constitution, the Courts, and Congress". I don't think that you will find many people who identify themselves with the left agreeing with that one.

I thought back to a comment I made at Protein Wisdom. I've searched for the comment unsuccessfully so far, but I'll post to it at some point if I can find it. Point is, someone followed up on my comment with something to the effect of "You liberal wing nut - you think that everything that conservatives say is wrong". Well, funny thing, I don't think so. I find myself strangely in alignment with many conservatives on many points. And guess what else? I find myself deeply at odds with the democratic party most of the time. So, what am I?

Well, let's see if we can figure this out together. Presidential votes I recall casting (both Primary and general election):
Bill Clinton - Democrat
Ross Perot - Independent?
John McCain - Republican
Michael Badnarick - Libertarian

If we are going to say that Dems are liberal and Repubs are conservative, then this voting record doesn't help us any, I don't think. For simplicity, let's just say that "Democrat", "Liberal", and "Left" are all synonyms, and "Republican", "Conservative", and "Right" are also synonyms. I'm open to hear your arguments if you think that this is completely wrong. But I'll use the terms interchangeably here.

So what's next? Other votes I've cast? Most recent election in Texas included several constitutional amendments. The most interesting on the question of liberal or conservative would be the Proposition 2, banning gay marriage. You can find the specifics http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2005novconsamend.shtml. I voted in favor of banning gay marriage. One point in the conservative column. I should put in a little caveat here. I was reluctant to support this amendment, because I think that laws belong in the legislature, not in the constitution. If this were an amendment to the U.S. constitution, I would have voted against it, but voted in favor of LAWS that define marriage. You can read more about my thoughts on that subject in the previous posting noted above.

Score so far: Conservative 1, Liberal 0

Good, contentious issue coming up next, one that will clearly determine whether I am a conservative or a liberal: Abortion. I'm Pro-life. I'm anti-abortion. I'm against a woman's right to choose. How's that? Pretty politically correct of me, eh? Oh, let me go one more: I think that abortion is murder. I think that counts as at least two points in the conservative column. But I'll only take one.

Score: Conservative 2, Liberal 0

Just to be clear - I think that the abortion issue, like the marriage issue, belongs in the legislature, not in the courts. While I do not support abortion rights, I do not support the Supreme Court ruling on it either way. There is no reasonable argument that the constitution supports or denies any such right, and the legislature has every right (and responsibility) to make laws regarding abortion. I would favor the laws prohibiting it. Keep in mind that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." (Bill of Rights / 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America).

You want to hear just how liberal I am? I don't think that women should work. What do you think of that? Now I've really pissed some people off. Me, a liberal, and I don't think women should work. Maybe I'll write more about this later, but I'll give you the brief explanation here. Families are the most important institutions in our society. In order to have a family function as a family should, you need to have a mother home to raise the kids. YIKES! Can you believe that I even said this? I am definitely a wing-nut, but I'm having trouble with the "left wing nut" label here. Now that said, I'll show you a little bit of the wishy-washy, flip-flopper side of me. I think it is okay if it is the dad that stays home with the kids instead of the mom. Hmm. Sounds a little non-traditional. Perhaps I'm a leftist after all. I think that the best situation is where the mom takes care of the house, the dad takes care of making sure that the material needs are met. But there are degrees, and I am not so naive as to suppose that all kids will wind up as drug addicts in a ditch if the family doesn't run this way. The most important bit is that both parents are deeply committed to one another and their children.

For the record, I have some economic arguments against women working as well, but I'm not going to go into them here.

So while I'm showing a little wishy-washiness here, I think one would be hard pressed not to say that it is a conservative position that I hold in saying that women should not work, but should instead stay home caring for their kids. I think this has to score another point in the conservative column.

Score: Conservative 3, Liberal 0

Hey, another sensitive topic - I think women should not be in the military. Why? Well, for the reason above. What happens when parents are sent off to war and killed, and they leave orphans behind? Shouldn't happen, and it wouldn't happen on my watch.

Score: Conservative 4, Liberal 0

Which column does this go in? I think I would like to see required military/civil service for all American men. I'm not sure exactly how I would structure it, and I'm certainly open to hearing why I'm right or wrong on this. Generally speaking, I think all men should be required to serve two years either in the military or civil service after high school. Wait - I'm not letting you get out of this by dropping out of school after eighth grade. Service is required within two years of leaving primary or secondary school, and BEFORE entering college. Maybe I've got the details wrong here, but something to this effect. I think that this would have the benefit of helping to unify a very large country. It is amazing to me how different regions of this country really are different. There are a lot of people in this country who don't have the slightest clue how or why people think differently in different places. I heard an interesting argument that people in cities don't really need rifles, and often support weapons bans. People in the country have a lot more need for rifles, in some cases to defend their livestock, in some cases even to defend themselves against bears. You can take either side of that issue, but you have to admit that there are different needs in different areas, and legitimate reasons for differing opinions. Getting to know people from different parts of the country would help us understand the reasons, and perhaps help us use better judgment about our laws. Finally, this arrangement would ensure that a lot more people were in the military before they had families to deal with. It is tragic for either fathers or mothers to be at war when they have children at home. Will never be completely avoided, but I bet there would be a lot less of it if people knew that they were going to do two years of service after school. They'd do their service before they started their families. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think that every American benefits from the country, every American should do something explicitly in service to their country. What about the women? Aren't they Americans? Ya, they're Americans. Their service to the country is waiting for the guys to get back from their military service. Hey, life is unfair.

Now one could call me a liberal for forcing everyone to do something in service of their country, one could call me a conservative for supporting the military, or for being so sexist as to say that this should apply only to men. I'll put it in the liberal column, just because it is losing so far.

Score: Conservative 4, Liberal 1

I'm in favour of a flat tax or a consumption tax to replace the graduated tax structure we have now. Actually, I would prefer to eliminate federal taxes completely, but I'll write more on that later. Generally speaking, I side neither with the conservatives nor the liberals on issues of taxes, but I'm closer to the conservative view. In practice, I side with the conservatives, so I'll have to put this one in the conservative column.

Score: Conservative 5, Liberal 1

I support the right to bear arms. I think that even the most "gun friendly" states still support unconstitutional restrictions of weapons.

Score: Conservative 6, Liberal 1

I believe that the constitution prohibits congress from passing laws that establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion. I don't see how that impacts towns that want to put Christmas displays in their town square, nor schools that want to have prayers at their commencement ceremony. Actually, I do see how it impacts those things. Seems to me that telling towns that they cannot have Christmas displays, or schools that they cannot have prayers is PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION. Explicitly unconstitutional.

Score: Conservative 7, Liberal 1

The right of the people to peaceably assemble is not well respected. You can decide on which column you like to put that in.

I believe that the Kelo decision, allowing a city to use eminent domain to take private land for "economic development" is an abomination of all that this country stands for. A flat reading of the constitution does not necessarily prohibit it, but even the grounds on which the Supreme Court made this decision are absurd. Then again, that's true of most of the decisions that they make. Back to the abortion issue, the Roe v. Wade decision is more of a lesson in world history than a decision on the constitutionality of a law. Go read it some time, if you've got the stomach for it.

Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 1

I believe that care of our planet is more important that economic development. I believe it is a sacred charge that we be stewards of this planet. I don't believe that when God gave man dominion over the earth that we were given the authority to plunder and defile the earth. I believe that God sent his Son to save mankind, because he loved us and would do anything for us. I assume that he had the same expectation of our stewardship of the earth - that we would care for it as His creation, and treat it as sacred. That there is economic advantage in drilling for oil in ANWR I have no doubt. That we should risk the damage to a pristine part of the earth for that economic advantage, I have serious reservations.

Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 2

On that note, I believe that this country should make every effort to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This in itself doesn't put me in either category - used to be a liberal opinion, but becoming more embraced by the conservatives as well. But my reason for holding to this point is more in the liberal camp - global warming (I know, no such thing), and other forms of pollution. Truthfully, I don't even get why most conservatives don't agree with me on this point. I heard our esteemed conservative president say that we don't need to worry about reducing greenhouse gases because we will develop technology to deal with that problem. Um. If I went to a bank and said "Let me borrow one zillion dollars", the bank would request proof that I would be able to repay it. If I said "I'm going to figure out a way to repay it", they would tell me to take a hike. Aren't conservatives supposed to be the responsible ones? Aren't conservatives supposed to be the ones who demand data to support their points? The liberals are all artsy and don't care about the facts. But conservatives, do. It sounds like a really un-conservative mind set to me that would say "we'll figure it out in the future".

Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 3

Finally, I don't really care about economic growth. In fact, if anything, I'm against it. I think that the lust for money and stuff is ruining our humanity. The unquenchable need for something new to distract us from the fact that we are bored with the last thing we bought is not making us better people, it is not making us happier. The effort to release ourselves from the curse of being cast out of Eden is just like chasing our own tails. But in the end, it is just moving us further from Eden.

Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 4

What, you want me to count that last bit as two points in the liberal column? Okay. Keep in mind that the REASON that I don't believe in economic growth is somewhat religious in nature (Oooh, must be a republican), but it is still a pretty big sin to a conservative to not think that economic growth is important. I'll make it two points in the liberal column.

Score: Conservative 8, Liberal 5

Hey, let me add one thing more. I love the United States of America. I love what it stands for. I think that the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are two great, inspired documents. The Constitution itself defines a beautifully structured government, of, by, and for the people. Stand up and be heard, people. Call and write to your representatives at all levels of government. Run for an office yourself. VOTE. But vote only after you understand the issues. Don't vote for George Bush because you are a republican. Don't vote for John Kerry because you are a democrat.

Why do you think we have such lousy options for president? Because we, the people, are not active in our Government. Read the newspapers (more than one. And the National Enquirer doesn't count), listen to the news on the radio. Don't watch news on TV, it's a waste of time. Read the news online, and read Blogs to get some perspective and opinions on it. And stop the partisan bull-shit. Don't accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being evil, and everyone who agrees with you of being holy. We're all a bunch of self-centered asses, but most of us are making an honest effort at least some of the time to do what is right. The democrats want to tax and spend, not because they are evil, but because they believe that the redistribution of wealth thing is good. The Republicans believe in lower taxes and spending less (excuse me, Mr. President, did you hear about that?) not because they are evil, but because they believe it will stimulate the economy, and anyhow, people who earn money should keep it. Stop pretending that those who are on the other side of that argument are any more evil than those who are on your side. Have an honest dialogue, disagree where you will, and cast your vote how you will, and take part in the process.

15 October 2005

Liberal Media?

You know, the conservatives have an awfully good time claiming that the media is bent hard left. Okay, maybe so. The funny thing is that I keep hearing this from the same group. "Fox news is taking viewers away from all the other channels". "Fox news rocks like Slayer". "Fox news will be elected the next president of the United States". Okay, my conservative friends. Which is it? Is the media a bunch of communists, or is Fox news the biggest thing in the media world? What I think is so amusing about the claim is that amongst the "mainstream" media outlets, Fox is the most explicitly biased. But even if it is "fair and balanced", if it is the biggest thing going in the media, then the media really isn't all that left leaning, now is it?

07 October 2005

Shake me

Am I crazy? Are politics just a game, where one of the rules of the game is that you aren't allowed to admit that it is a game? Quote from the President's speech from oh, around 5 October 2005 (couple days before I wrote this post):

Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.

Now, am I crazy here, or could one not make a very similar accusation against the president?

Don't I have an earlier post here in which I complain about the fact that leaders are no longer at risk in wars? What if we changed the requirements for President: No person shall be president unless they have served in active combat. That might be interesting. And maybe, just to make them think a little harder about how serious it is to send other people's children to war, we should require that for a president to engage our troops in any combat, any of his own children must be enlisted and assigned a combat roll in the armed services? For all the "honor" that Bush claims there is to fighting this fight, has he encouraged his precious angels to join the fight? If so, he apparently doesn't have much sway with his kids, as they haven't done so yet.

But you know, all that aside, the real thing that has me baffled is how we can say the foolish things that we say. Okay, let's see - Bush criticizes Bin Laden for not "going along for the ride". Um. Bush hasn't faced any active combat lately of which I am aware.

Let's see, Bush criticizes the insurgents for fighting what we used to call a guerrilla war - now we call it terrorism because it lends consistency with the "war on terror" theme so important to this administration. He says that they should fight us out in the open. (I'm trying to find quotes of him suggesting this, not sure I've heard it from his lips - certainly suggested by others, though, and it is implicit in criticizing the tactics that they do use.) What? What the hell kind of idea is that? Firstly, before we can criticize the guerrilla tactics used by the insurgents, we have to look with shame rather than pride on the origins of the United States. I'm not willing to do that. Now at first, I was inclined to say here that the insurgents are a lot more brutal than our Minute Men. That's probably true, in that they blow up innocents as part of their war tactics. Then I remembered that we dropped bombs that blew up innocents to kick this war off, so I guess I'll have to concede, if unhappily, that they are still not fighting any less honorably than we. Secondly, if we really wanted them to fight in the open so it was a fair fight, we would have to agree to comparable forces and arsenals. I bet the insurgents would jump at the opportunity, if we said "Look, you don't use guerrilla tactics. In return we'll give you the same weapons that we use, and we'll only use an force of the same size that you can muster. Then it will be a fair fight." But you see, we don't want a fair fight - we want to win. So we want them to fight by our rules, and then we want to be able to use all the force and technology we can muster.

And here's why I am just so baffled by this life. You see, I am not arguing here that Sadam Huesein was a good guy. I'm not arguing that the insurgents are fighting a noble cause. I'm just saying that the rhetoric is so badly, baldly rhetoric, not an honest evaluation of the truth, that I can't figure out what's going on. And you see, all of this makes sense to me only if I assume that this is just a game. A sport, really. You try to psych your team up and psych the other team out. You jump up and pound your chest. You yell and scream and pound the ground. Then one team or the other gets the football across the line. Another 6 points.

26 June 2005

Marriage, the Constitution, the Courts, and the Congress

Originally written 13 July 2004

Marriage, as a civil institution, serves a single purpose - perpetuation of the the population. The state has no other interest in the institution of marriage. If, therefore, the state is to recognize the institution of marriage at all, it should only be as it ensures the propagation of the species. Homosexual unions do not make any such assurance, and should therefore be of no interest to the state. The state may not have an interest in preventing the union of homosexuals, but there is no reason it should provide any benefit to such a union, nor the members thereof.

As a religious institution, marriage has had a common definition for millennia. There is no reason that the state should be a party to changing the definition of a religious institution. The state has an interest in maintaining stability, and indeed, the declaration of independence itself provides this argument, in saying that "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes". The same prudence should be applied to the question of other institutions long established.

Marriage is a long established institution. It should not be changed for light and transient causes. Indeed, if it is an institution to be recognized and protected by the state, then it should be changed only when there is overwhelming need that such an institution would be allowed to change by the state.

This will indeed lead you to imaging that I am in favor of the "Protection of Marriage" amendment. But if you imagine that, you are have been much deceived.

It is the design of the US Government that change should be slow and difficult. The balance of powers guaranteed by the constitution ensure that dramatic changes are difficult to effect, and that such changes cannot be made by any small band of radicals. Indeed, even a large band of moderates find it difficult to make significant changes to the nature of the government. It is only when an overwhelming majority are of a common mind that dramatic changes should come.

The problem with the Protection of Marriage amendment is not that it is a bad idea - indeed, in many ways it supports the above arguments - it promotes a certain stability to our culture. The amendment has a very significant problem, however.

The problem is that the constitution is not the place for such legislation. The constitution defines the structure of the government. The constitution doles out roles and responsibilities. Laws regarding marriage, if they are to exist at all, are to be made by congress just as laws regarding speed limits on federal highways and murder.

The difficulty is that the courts have over-stepped their bounds by making judgements that are completely out of order. Properly elected representatives of the people have passed laws regarding marriage. The courts have, against both the design of the government and against all reason, struck down laws as unconstitutional. Congress, meanwhile, has abdicated it's responsibility and authority. It has repeatedly allowed the courts to over-step it's boundaries. In doing so, it has severely upset the balance of powers. The courts, who are not answerable to the people, act with impunity to overrule the will of the people, and the design of the government. Th congress, whose members can garner more votes by being passive rather than active, does nothing.

The crisis that faces us today is not the definition of marriage by the government. The crisis is that faces us is the crumbling system that we have used to govern ourselves for over two centuries. States have already passed laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. What needs to be done now is not to create a constitutional amendment to the same effect. The crisis that we need to face is that we need to put the government back together. We need to follow the rules and systems wisely devised by our founding fathers. If we decide as a people that the long established institution of marriage should change, then so be it. But not for light and transient causes, and not through means which circumvent the methods proscribed by the long established constitution.

27 April 2005


I've long held the following proposition:

It is better to regret what you've done than what you have not done

I know it isn't quite complete. I suppose one cannot sum up the whole world in one sentence. So take it with a grain of salt. But generally speaking, I think it is better to commit a sin full on rather than commit a sin of omission. The world in which we live is constantly trying to push us into submission - to stop doing what we want to do, and do what we should do. Well, there is a place for that. When you define "what we should do" as "What God would have us do". But when "what we should do" is defined as "What something either internal or external is pushing us to do", why, that is a different story, my friend.

Given what I know of the universe, God is a pretty ambitious guy (think "created universe"). If you are that ambitious, and you create man in your image, you pretty well expect man to be ambitious as well. I find greed to be a rather contemptible trait, yet greed is simply ambition without compassion and meaning. Greed is the core of a good thing, but some of the critical components have been stripped away, so it is no longer good. Greed is like a man holding a knife - you can wield a knife to carve a statue, to prepare a meal, and so on. But if you wield that knife to cause destruction - to vandalize, injure, or kill, why, it isn't quite so good, now is it? Greed is not the knife - it is the man holding the knife. Greed is a bad application of a good tool. The tool is "ambition". The application is "serve thyself".

So, let's get back to the point - it is better to regret what you've done than what you have not done. Yes, I've done some things in my life that I aughtn't to have done. Most of those I think of but rarely. Things that I wish I had done plague me. "If only I had taken that opportunity when it was there!" Ah! For the sins I have committed, I've generally paid some penalty. For the opportunities I've missed, the penalty is a haunting regret.

I implore you - take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. You will find that you won't live forever, and some opportunities are presented only once. Carpe diem -
who cares if you make a mistake now and again. If you make a mistake, you will pay the penalty and move on. If you pass the opportunity, there is nothing but regret, and no end to that.

I did tell you about the grain of salt, did I not? There are mistakes that you don't want to make. There is a time for restraint. There are things so egregious that you don't want to do them, you don't want to regret having done them. But it is generally the weakness of man that we more frequently regret missed opportunities than regret misdeeds.

So what is my point? My point is this - when you are pressed by an opportunity, seize it. Do what you can do to live enthusiastically, joyfully, fully. Do not spend your life regretting that you didn't play that game, or try that strange food, or talk to that person or whatever other thing you may not have done as a result of fear. Pick up your sword and shield, and get in the battle. Fight it like you mean it.

And if you can't do that, put on a set of headphones and listen to "Wooly Mammoth" from the album "Music for Two" by Bela Fleck and Edgar Myer. It just might give you the courage to carry on.