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Monthly Archives: October 2008

I’ve been reading Sex God by Rob Bell, my good buddy Karl gave it to me. As usual, Bell has the capability to analyze our complicated existence as humans and communicate the beauty of life. In the latest chapter I’ve been reading about the existence of tension in life that is crucial to us being whole. I hope to embrace this difficult place in my life, whatever the circumstances may be.

So, the other day my friend Bob Carlton pointed me to this Focus on the Family letter. It is a “fictional” account of what life in 2012 would be like with Obama as President. Go ahead, take the time and read it…I’ll wait to tell you the rest of the story.

I read this and just had to reply, and here is what I said:

My heart aches that we’ve become a country of hate and fear, and that your organization that proclaims to love God and His creation and His people have become a joke, and an organization of derision. You do not speak for me as a follower of Christ! I pray for your soul…

Regrets,

Carl McLendon

Much to my surprise, this afternoon I received a response from Focus. Below is their response:

Thanks for your e-mail. It was good of you to offer your candid reaction to Focus on the Family Action’s “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.”

We’ve heard from many people who found this resource helpful; some, like you, have disagreed with our approach. While critics of this document accuse us of engaging in “sensationalist fiction,” it’s vital to underscore that we are not claiming to make definitive predictions on what a Barack Obama presidency would produce.

However, as the “Letter from 2012” makes evident, every scenario outlined in this piece is plausible based on recent documented events, court rulings, the Democratic Party’s stated agenda, and Senator Obama’s voting record and campaign promises. We invite you to re-read the introduction of the letter [http://focusfamaction.edgeboss.net/download/focusfamaction/pdfs/10-22-08_2012letter.pdf] which clearly states that we are neither employing unfounded “fear tactics” nor speaking out with mean-spirited intent. On the contrary, we’ve posted a reasonable projection of what *could* occur with a Senator Obama presidency and a Democratic-controlled Congress. Of course, we hope and pray that none of the possible outcomes described in “Letter from 2012” come to pass.

It might be beneficial to provide some additional background on our mission to help you better understand our reasons for engaging in the public policy realm. We have no interest in partisan politics; rather, we care deeply about the sanctity of human life, the value of marriage, and the preservation of religious freedom. Dr. Dobson has espoused these crucial issues since he launched Focus on the Family in 1977 and has always encouraged people to consider them at the ballot box. Despite what the Matthew 25 Network and other pro-Obama action groups may say, we contend that Senator Obama’s record *significantly* differs from the pro-life and pro-family policies that many Christians hold dear. Some may label this “fearmongering” — we call it a sobering, rational assessment based on actual events documented in the letter.

It might be helpful for you to read a concise summary of four key points that motivate us in our actions:

1) Senator Barack Obama’s record is well outside the mainstream. For example, he was rated the most liberal United States senator by the _National Journal_ in 2007 [http://nj.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/].

2) A Democratic president, House and Senate has significant implications for pro-family policies. _The Wall Street Journal_ has stated that this election will usher in “one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history” if the Democrats control the White House and possess congressional majorities, including a filibuster-proof Senate [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122420205889842989.html]. This type of unchecked power, not seen since 1965, demands that voters critically examine the policies advocated by the Democratic Party.

3) Senator Obama’s commitment to causes championed by extreme liberal groups such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), both of which have endorsed him, are a source of great concern. Earlier this year, Senator Obama pledged that if elected president, he would advocate for and sign the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which would repeal virtually every federal and state law regulating or limiting abortion — including parental involvement laws for teenagers, late-term abortion bans, and limits on public funding of abortion. He has also indicated that he will make it a priority to repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act,” which allows states to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. In addition, he backs other HRC-supported initiatives including the passage of “hate crimes” legislation and the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” [http://washingtonblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=20935]. Similar legislation has penalized Christians who hold a biblical view of sexuality.

4) Senator Obama’s stated appreciation of United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter — along with his votes against the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito — indicate he would appoint judges with a judicial philosophy detrimental to pro-family causes.

On a final note, organizational endorsements of political candidates wed groups to their candidate in a way that may not lend itself to an honest critique of that individual’s weaknesses. As you’re likely aware, the group behind the Matthew 25 Web site endorsed Senator Obama for president.

Again, thanks for writing. We hope this response has helped clarify our perspective and explained why we feel the Matthew 25 Network’s version of “choosing hope” without a sober look at the troubling elements of Senator Obama’s candidacy is misguided. Grace and peace to you.

Jonathan Bartha
Focus on the Family Action

I know that the Matthew 25 network and Focus on the Family both believe their actions are honest and sincere. But, once again I’m trying to find the truth that usually exists in the midst of the struggle that rages on the extremes of anything we humans find ourselves involved. I’m hoping to resist ideologies that force themselves upon us, and instead embrace the tensions we must negotiate. This is what makes us human, this ability when we find ourselves in difficult situations, to be capable of thinking, praying, and asking each other what would God have us do?

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

–Rumi

I believe there are times in your life when, if you’re awake and listening, the quiet voice inside informs you ever so gently that you need an attitude adjustment. I’ve been in this liminal space lately, where I can’t conform my thoughts and actions with my present reality. I think it’s because I’ve been so engaged with the things of life here in a really screwed up culture that demands of us to make enemies and encourage the battles to rage between and within us. This really hit me a couple weeks ago when I made a smart-ass comment about Sarah Palin and my good friend Jana called me on it. Jana and Brantley are family to me, but this stupid election has wedged itself between us and I’m not going to let that happen anymore. Today I repent, which means I turn from the attitude that causes me to fall victim to what evil would have us do, to divide ourselves so that love is weakened.

What I want you my friends, my family, my wife, and my kids to know…

I want you to know that I don’t care who wins this election.
I want you to know that you mean more to me than political allegiance.
I want you to know that although we will disagree and argue at times we will always love each other.
I want you to know that I am trying to become a little wiser to the ways of love.

With the exception of this latest episode of stupidity (and all the ones I won’t bore you with). The past year I have found myself walking with more ease in my step, because I have begun a journey of discovery, a pilgrimage toward what lasts…

Will you help me get back on the road?

Well today is a brand new day; I’ll start again
Open-eyed, I can see the sky open up for me
Here we are, you and me, we can see we’re going somewhere
But where we go, I dunno, feel it out when we get there

Well yesterday, you could say, is just a blip on my screen
Follow me close, heel to toes, you’ll see what I mean
Or maybe you won’t or you shan’t or you can’t hear what I say
Either way, yeah or nay, gotta go, gotta leave this place
—“My Pilgrimage” The Cobalt Season

This is not easy…
I often stumble,
I keep making the same stupid mistakes…

But (and I think it’s a big BUT),

I think it’s in the awareness,
in knowing that I must continue to ask myself,
my God,
and you the big question.

Do we love?

No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins
—Eugene Peterson

We are relational beings, we were created to love God and love each other.
We are His beloved, here with a purpose that is not of our own creation, nor of our own desires.

Most of the time…

I have given myself over to the powers of this world instead of the power of love in me and what that means to those around me.

politics or love
can make you blind or make you see
make you a slave or make you free
but only one does it all
—Derek Webb

The big question has nothing to do with asking the questions I often focus upon…

This is why daily I must ask for help, from God and you, to remain focused on what is required of me…

It is required of me to not only profess all things in love, but to embody love. And, we all know that it’s easier to talk of love, than it is to walk in love.
Love is not easy, even towards one another.

Therefore,

I’m trying to remember that love
is living out the radical demand of the Gospel to love God and neighbor,
does not wed itself to a particular political party or movement,
does not use the tactics of the world to try and accomplish God’s ends.

I am striving to embody a love
lived the way of the servant, the way of sacrifice, the way of eucharist,
given unconditionally to others that does not demand, manipulate, or otherwise enslave.

Each day I am seeking to embrace love
hoping to find myself working for justice in a world that does not just help the oppressed,
but also rescues us from becoming oppressors.

“For someone to receive, someone has to give.
For someone to be fed, someone has to provide the food.
If someone somewhere benefits, then someone somewhere has paid something” —Rob Bell

When we pour out our lives and give to one another, we provide the greatest blessing available to ourselves…
we have enacted love as Jesus did,
by removing our selfish desires and wants,
and replacing them with the greatest gift we can give,
that is the gift of love

Today I ask for your forgiveness, and for your help.

Where do we go from here?
God only knows….
Perhaps we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Perhaps God has just been waiting at our door.
Waiting at the door….
I’ll try to be the first to tell you when I’m wrong….
Here is where I start to try and start again…
Learning to become father and friend.
Would you help me out here?
—The Cobalt Season “Help Me Out Here”

Shalom,

Carl

I have friends I do not know,
They live on the other side of town.

They are men like me,
with hopes, fears, and dreams.

Each day they face struggles,
like me.

And, yet I will not know them,
nor the struggles they face.

Because I’m too afraid to travel,
to the other side of town.

This is what I’m struggling with, what is my role in my neighborhood, my city, my country? In this political season I get trapped into looking towards a president, a government, to do what I think we who follow Jesus are called to do on a small scale in our own communties. But, it’s so easy to keep falling into that worldview instead of the one I know to be true. My greatest desire for my kids is that you will struggle less with this liminal space. That, instead you learn from me and your mom, and your church community, and your family that we have someone to follow, that He exists outside any principalities, and that if you give your life to this way, you will certainly live a life worth living.

My friend Bob posted this today. Check out the link…
http://blogactionday.org/