Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More random thoughts ...

-- Foxnews.com recently reported that African-American candidates for mayor in Chicago have asked former president Bill Clinton not to campaign for former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is seeking the same post. The story referred to him as "the first black president," borrowing a statement by writer Toni Morrison.

However, that phrase has to be placed in context. Morrison actually meant that, during his "scandals" and subsequent impeachment, he was "guilty until proven innocent" -- just like many African-American men accused of a crime. It had nothing do with his popularity in the black community, which to be truthful wasn't all that much until the impeachment; it rallied around him only due to the contempt that most African-Americans have always had for the conservative movement, which runs the Republican Party and led the charge to try to have Clinton ousted for having the gall to get elected in the first place.

-- It seems as though such movement has found another "cause" -- suggesting that too many people are in college and should forgo the price tag, which I will agree is ridiculous. And perhaps there actually is a glut of students attempting post-secondary education that may not need it; although I do have a degree, two generations ago I would not have needed college to become a writer.

However, guidance counselors back in the 1940s tried to steer my father and his sisters away from a college-prep curriculum in favor of trade school even though they were indeed college material -- and that had to do with their race and socioeconomic background. My grandmother paid a visit to Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, where they attended, and fought to get them admitted to classes for the college-bound, and all of them eventually did get some post-secondary education.

I'm reminded of a speech that Abigail Thernstrom of the Manhattan Institute made some years ago, telling an audience, "You don't need to send your kids to Harvard." Someone in the audience responded, "Then why do you send your kids there?" There was no response. Take that for what you will.

-- Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I've always been extremely hard on the conservative movement; not only do I believe that it's usually wrong on the issues and subscribes to bad data and history but also tends to be extremely defensive, dogmatic and inflexible. However, of late I've had a number of conversations with a few members of my congregation whose politics lean right but who nevertheless come from an honest place and are willing to admit that they may not have the whole story; I'd even be interested in starting a political discussion group, perhaps a Sunday school class, with one of my "opponents." (Heck, I need to learn, too.)

But this is what can happen when you attend as diverse a church as I do; you realize that you have to make room for people not like yourselves. I would argue that such diversity is essential for the survival of the greater church.

-- Today I realized just why so-called "word/faith" theology is so heretical. The idea, of course, is that if something doesn't happen that you want and even prayed for fervently your faith must be lacking.

Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God [emphasis mine] -- not by works, so that no one can boast." In other words, the faith you have in Jesus Christ in the first place actually comes from God. Essentially, that theology is saying that the faith that God gives is insufficient and that you have to generate it yourself and thus defeating the purpose of faith, which A.W. Tozer defines as "looking to God."

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