Monday, February 28, 2011

Al Qaeda and The Fall of Terrorism Through Non-violent Democracy Movements

Al Qaeda Finds Itself at a Crossroads
This new reality in the middle east deserves in-depth academic and journalistic analysis, but, at first glance, it appears the fall of terrorism is at hand. This reality which we have fought so hard and spent so much money to achieve is likely to happen at the hand of indigenous democracy movements.
Democracy gives people a means other than violence to air grievances and promote their own self-interest. Of course, disappointment is bound to follow and some democratically elected leaders could become strong men and refuse to leave power. The end game and stability is a long way off.
What excites me as well is how this just might prove, once and for all, that radical Islam was just a flash in the pan. Time to find another bogeyman.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Libyan Professionals and Intellectuals Ruling 80% of Libya and Controlling 80% of Libyan Oil Fields

The future is looking more democratic and stable in Libya as the NY Times reports:

They said the city was now under the control of a committee of prominent citizens — doctors, lawyers, judges, engineers and the like — who were organizing its public services and continued defense. “We are really suffering for 42 years, and people are asking here for the same things as other people of the world — they want the real democracy,” said Ahmed el-Hadi Remeh, an engineer standing in the square.

Uganda Police Outlaw Planned Election Protests

Uganda Police Outlaw Planned Election Protests

If you know much about Uganda and I am just learning, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has been in power for 25 years. The opposition has called for protests of the recent elections, Feb 18, 2011.
This call for real substantive democracy is getting serious everywhere. We are experiencing a tectonic shift in people's expectations of representation. This is the late 1700's all over again.
Consider how this speaks to the psychological power of truth. The truth is that a group of demonstrators has overthrown Western supported and thoroughly entrenched dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. This single fact has captured the minds of millions of oppressed people.
Change is great and change is needed. But, too much change is painful. Pray for all these people and for the work of NGOs and experts in democracy promotion.

Dallas Willard on Scripture Memorization

I wrote about our family's two primary disciplines, reading the bible one page a day and scripture memorization at a pace of 2 verses a day. We have revised this to 10 verses a week, but anyway. Often people think scripture memorization is too "elementary" or too rote. Isn't bible discussion and bible story telling more effective and, well, cool?
Dallas Willard is a pretty smart and critical thinking kinda guy, and this is what Wilalrd says about scripture memorization in The Great Omission, p 58:
Bible Memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to - and of course I don't have to - choose between all the spiritual disciplines of the spiritual life and take only one, I would choose Bible memorization. I would not be a pastor of a church that did not have a program of Bible memorization in it, because Bible memorization is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what we need, "To have the book of the Law ever before us" (Joshua 1:8)
Simple as it sounds, a few verses a day and rehearsing these verse to and from wherever we are going is fundamental to spiritual transformation.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Recipe for Corruption

From Paul Krugman, Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.,
For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.
And then there’s this: “Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”
What’s that about? The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be “considered to be in the public interest.”
That doesn't sound right considering the Governor's primary campaign contributor is the largest privately owned energy company in America....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Tweet from the Street

If Not Now, When? - The Changing Arab World

If Not Now, When?

The link above is to Thomas Friedman's February 22, NY Times article. It is a good read and puts the Arab revolutions in perspective. These are some poor and oppressed people. Much of their oppression was funded and supported by our addiction to oil. This is a moral issue.

The reason buying pornography is wrong is not just because it is a bad habit but pornography oppresses women and is support for human trafficking. That is the tragedy of pornography. So too with oil. The dependence on oil and our dysfunctional relationship with Arab dictators is immoral. As a nation, we need to make tough decisions. This is a perfect example where we have to use our government to help us make decisions that we cannot make as consumers.

This is a Christian issue. As Christians, we are citizens and voices for the oppressed of the world, especially oppressed people who are different than us. But this is not something that we can do as consumers. We cannot voluntarily boycott our way to lower oil consumption. Instead, we make a sober minded decision to levy good policy at the national level.

What the exact policy is, I am not sure. I imagine it has to do with taxes. We levy a sin tax on gasoline. We use the tax to fund a new green economy. The time is now to make the change. If we do not we will get rocked by high gas prices anyway. Really, we are a few decades late to the party. But better late than later.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Libya - Massacre and the Role of Intellectuals and Religious Scholars

Libya revolt spreads to Tripoli
'This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars, intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area,' the appeal, signed by the group of leaders, stated.

'We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognise that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved prophet of compassion, peace be upon him... Do not kill your brothers and sisters. Stop the massacre now!"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Banksy LA with the Kids

We went to Westwood today to see the Banksy. It was way better than I expected. Quite incredible actually. I remember sitting in St Peter's basilica at the Vatican when I was 16. This was actually like that. Family memories: James and Lily!!! with Dean Gadberry. Peace,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines 2 - Family Bible Reading

Aaron and Hur Help Moses
During the Battle with Amalek
I mentioned scripture memory in this brief post, An Example of Spiritual Discipline - Scripture Memory - Two Verses a Day. Today, I want to suggest a very simple way to teach your children the basics of the bible.
Looking at most bibles, the history sections of the Old Testament, from Genesis to Ester, are usually about 350-400 pages long. For example in the NASB bible that our family reads, this portion of scripture is 369 pages. So as a family, our goal is to read one page a day for a year.

Using this one page a day method, we will read all the old testament stories in one year. I have six children and the little one's are not ready to understand the poetry of the prophets. So I do not consider the prophets as part of there basic bible education. To cover the prophets, we will pick a few key verses (i.e. promises and challenges) and memorize these together as a family. The same would be true for the psalms and proverbs.

So by coupling these two simple disciplines of one page a day bible reading through the historical books of the Old Testament and scripture memory, it is easy to give your children a solid biblical education.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

An Example of Spiritual Discipline - Scripture Memory - Two Verses a Day

Here is a very simple challenge. A lifelong discipline of scripture memory is an easy and effective way to a thorough knowledge of the New Testament. If a believer memorizes two verses a day, he or she can memorize the entire New Testament every ten years. If instead of memorizing every verse and only memorize key passages, in three or four years, a total mastery of the New Testament can be obtained.

Another benefit is that scripture memory gives a way to bracket the day with one thought with morning and evening meditation. Another benefit is that a single topic can be contemplated for about a week or so as most paragraphs are 8-12 verses long. Over the course of say 3-4 months, your meditation has been centered on one book of the bible, and, though this is a slower method to proceed through the New Testament, it is far more effective in learning the thoughts of the author.

Also, this is something, we can do with a friend or a spouse. This practice is my commitment this year, and, hopefully, by God's grace and the encouragement of friends, a commitment I could keep for the rest of the decade or even the rest of my life.

Great Read on the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt’s Bumbling Brotherhood

Main points: 1. The Muslim Brotherhood will not take power in the long run - the people will. 2. The Military will be in real power for the next couple of years until democratic institutions are more established and real democracy unfold.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011