Sunday, July 31, 2005

#179 - Not a Political Church - UPDATED

An interesting discussion over at Feminist Mormon Housewives. Seems the poster had a discussion during a temple recommend interview regarding support of the Church's position against gay marriage. In essence, the author was informed that by not supporting the church's stated opposition to gay marriage (truthfully, the author is agnostic about the whole gay marriage issue), she may not be worthy to hold a current recommend.

Two questions were then posed:

1. Is there anyone else out there who feels as ambivalent about this as [the author does]?
2. Is there political freedom in the church?

The commenters, so far, appear mostly to mirror her views that the Church really shouldn't be making any kind of statement with regards to what is, essentially, a political issue.

And yet, it isn't.

The fires were well stoked here in California several years ago with the Church's support of Proposition 22. Prop 22 amended California's constitution to legally define marriage as only being between a man and a woman. You can imagine how well that sat with mostly-liberal Californians who couldn't wait (and didn't, it turns out) to challenge that amendment both in court and by way of civil disobedience. San Francisco (surprise!) leading the way.

The Church's support of the proposition was incalculable in getting it passed. Enough Christian voters turned out in support of the measure to carry it to a successful passage. I remember attending special meetings where we were directly counselled by members of the Quorum of the Twelve (via satellite, of course) as to our responsibilities to support this initiative.

The bottom line, of course, is the Proclamation on the Family. The Proclamation merely formalized in one statement the Church's stand with regard to the sacred nature of the traditional family. If we truly support the prophets as duly ordained mouthpieces for the Lord, then we have a sacred duty to speak out in support of the Lord's plan - in its entirety - whenever it may be threatened.

Many are young enough not to remember the Church's stance against the Equal Rights Amendment. Interestingly enough, the Church opposed the ERA for exactly the same reason it has come out in opposition to gay marriage; both issues have a direct impact on the survival of the Lord's established family unit, and supporting those issues encourages the degradation of this sacred institution.

The Church is not a political entity. You can argue the point all you like, but the Church has always stated, unequivocally, that members are free to vote their consciences on any issue. At the same time, the Church has also said that it will always stand in support of those issues which are seen to directly threaten our ability to live a Christ-centered life. Remember, too, that occasionally our decisions and philosophies will place us in a condition of disobedience, and consequences will follow. That has always been the Lord's way.

When you stop to think about it, there is never anything "political" about the Church. This issue of gay marriage is not now, nor has it ever been, a "political" issue where members of the Church are concerned. The sacred union of a man and a woman is one of the essential ordinances that makes us eligible to enter the Celestial Kingdom. Anything that corrupts that practice means that those who participate in any other kind of union - no matter how loving - do so at their eternal peril. Should we not, as ambassadors of the living gospel, do everything in our power to prevent such things from happening? Isn't that the essence of conversion?

It may not make us popular, but... since when has popularity been one of our articles of faith?

UPDATE: Interesting comments on this topic. Mostly, I suspect, non-members trying to get a rise out of me, or maybe just see if I have a pulse. Still, this one statement in particular I find to be very telling:
It is very surprising to me that a church led through direct communication with Christ would be so consistently behind the times when it comes to social issues.

There are countless arguments that could be raised in response to this sentiment which is shared by so many who don't understand either the purpose or the nature of the restored Church. In short, the Church does not exist to support societal passions or political agendas. The only agenda we have - and have ever had - is the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth.

When we come right down to it, shouldn't it be the Savior who sets the agenda for society, rather than the other way around?

Very early in my blogging "career" (if one can call it a career), I posted about a disturbing trend - supported by no less than the Archbishop of Canterbury - toward designer scriptures. The basic premise seems to be that if society has evolved to such a degree, surely the scriptures should evolve to match the times. The fact that many of the truths contained in the KJV are now so distorted as to be completely unrecognizable doesn't seem to faze the revisionists.

Money quote:
There is nothing final about this translation. It is a rolling translation. It will be changed in future editions in response to constructive suggestions from those who find it helpful. It is not meant to replace any other translation, merely to provide a fresh and exciting alternative.


For the record, Will, in response to your "codification" comment, don't forget that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was really an attempt by the framers to codify so-called "natural law," most of which is based on Judeo-Christian tradition.

Carry on...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

#178 - Non-Issue Alert!

So it appears that New York's MTA has created a database. While I understand Drudge's interest in the story, I don't think this one is nearly as disturbing as civil libertarians will try to make it seem.

The database concerns people who have been questioned as to why they were photographing New York tunnels and bridges. MTA officials make no bones about their motivation: they wish to avoid the same kind of terrorist attacks that have nearly crippled London public transport in recent weeks.

According the the Daily News story, interestingly, no one appears to be terribly upset about being asked to show and explain their photography to law enforcement. One person interviewed was unaware of anyone having refused to cooperate so far. This is all to the good, of course, but it raises an interesting question. Just how likely are they to make note of every single bridge or tunnel photographer in a huge metropolitan city with hundreds of thousands of potential tourist-photographers milling about during the summer travel months?

Still, with heightened alert levels in force, and constant exhortations to maintain vigilance and report any suspected activity, I expect that MTA and other law enforcement types will be kept plenty busy following up on leads. To their credit, the lack of complaints from those who have been questioned thus far shows an amazing restraint. This is, after all, the city where citizens have been known on occasion to shoot wrong-doers by way of assisting an over-burdened police force. I'm guessing this is indicative of an acceptance on their part that the rules have changed a bit. Living that close to 9/11 may have increased their sensitivity to security issues.

In any case, I'm hopeful that no one will try to make a civil rights issue out of this exercise. Me? I can always find pictures of bridges on the internet. So long as I don't download them, I'm safe.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

#177 - Another Exercise in Futility

It must be getting time for school to start again. Homeschoolers everywhere are having once again to look over their shoulders and see who might be ready to stab them in the back.

The truth of the matter is that politicos have absolutely no idea what to do with homeschoolers.

We present a double-edged sword to most politicians. Republicans and Democrats (and everything in between) alike will talk to homeschoolers and say, "You represent what is truly noble about the American spirit. Your desire to be actively involved in the education of your children is a clear demonstration of American ideals and the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers." Then they wave the flag.

The next day, in session, those same politicians will talk to the educators' unions and say, "You represent what is truly noble about the American spirit. Your desire to be world leaders in the education of our youth is a clear demonstration..." Then they wave the flag.

This teaches us, of course, that politicians need better speech writers for starters. But it also demonstrates that, far from representing that which is noble about America, they cannot politically accept homeschooling as an unalienable constitutional right without enraging a significant voting bloc that they must have in order to get re-elected.

Dateline: Escondido, California.

There are 140,000 citizens residing in Escondido, and apparently most of them are truant. At least, they seem to have been powerless to prevent truancy in this city of fun and sun in Southern California, because they just enacted a daytime curfew that will be in force in time for the coming school year.

Essentially, any child between the ages of 12 and 17 found in a public place during school hours can be referred to a social-service program and have their parents contacted. Repeat offenders face fines, community service, and even jail.

Personally, I favor having Escondido adopt the British "deferred success" label for truant kids so the local school districts can still claim that the kids really were attending school. That way, the district gets its money, and the cops can go back to catching career criminals.

Homeschooling parents, you can imagine, are less than thrilled. While the article states that homeschooled children and those with equivalency degrees are exempt, most law enforcement agencies are 1) not allowed to profile people, making it necessary to stop and harrass everyone who looks to be 12 to 17 years old, or 2) unable to tell the difference between a truant and a homeschooler, except for the fact that the truant will be more likely to be engaged in some activity involving a gun or a can of spray paint. I don't like the odds.

Potentially more disturbing is the fact that eight other cities in the county have already adopted daytime curfews. I'd be interested in knowing two things: How successfully has any such curfew reduced truancy, and how many homeschoolers have not been adversely affected by those curfews? If anyone knows and can cite sources, I'd love to hear it.

As homeschooling families well know, it doesn't take a huge stretch of imagination to see the day when a local school district - once again ignoring state educational statutes - declares homeschooled kids to be "automatically truant" and makes those kids targets of their "program." It's a well-established fact that anything public officials cannot control, they fear. Many politicians, local school districts, and every single professional educator's union in the country fear homeschoolers. And they should: we make them look incompetent.

Knowing the minds of teenagers today, I'm skeptical that simply dragging truant kids back into classrooms is doing anything but fulfilling attendance requirements. True success stories - those where a truant kid is saved from him/herself and ultimately graduates with honors - I suspect are still rare, no matter how "robust" an anti-truancy program may be.

I wish Escondido luck with their program. And I wish Escondido homeschoolers continued success.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

#176 - Your NEA - Working to Spend Your Dollars

As it often happens when we're both at home during the day, Mrs. Woody and I will spend time working on our laptops in the same room. We Woodys are devout homeschoolers, and Mrs. Woody (our Headmistress) subscribes to several homeschool-related groups and lists. Occasionally, Mrs. Woody will read portions of some news article or other that relates to the subject, usually to gauge my reaction. All too often, these articles do nothing more than show their complete ignorance of homeschooling as a lifestyle choice, and make me angry enough to post about it. This one is a real corker.

This is the first solid fisking I've done of an article in any depth for quite some time, so forgive me if my fisking skills appear to be a tad rusty:

By Dave Arnold

There's nothing like having the right person with the right experience, skills and tools to accomplish a specific task. Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education.

There are few homeowners who can tackle every aspect of home repair. A few of us might know carpentry, plumbing and, let’s say, cementing. Others may know about electrical work, tiling and roofing. But hardly anyone can do it all.

Same goes for cars. Not many people have the skills and knowledge to perform all repairs on the family car. Even if they do, they probably don’t own the proper tools. Heck, some people have their hands full just knowing how to drive.

So far, so good. No argument so far except for your "best left to the pros" line. But I'll get to that later.
So, why would some parents assume they know enough about every academic subject to home-school their children? You would think that they might leave this -- the shaping of their children’s minds, careers, and futures -- to trained professionals. That is, to those who have worked steadily at their profession for 10, 20, 30 years! Teachers!

Okay, Dave. You lost me.

One of the primary problems with an ad hominem statement like this is that I've met far too many trained professionals who couldn't think their way out of a rat's maze in a laboratory. Some of them leapfrog those of us who can use our heads for practical solutions to real problems, and end up becoming our bosses. This is why we continually lag behind other nations in productivity.

Of course there are circumstances that might make it necessary for parents to teach their children at home. For example, if the child is severely handicapped and cannot be transported safely to a school, or is bedridden with a serious disease, or lives in such a remote area that attending a public school is near impossible.

Nice bit of patronization, that. But let's hearken back to your original argument. If I, an untrained amateur, should not be teaching my healthy children, why should it be okay for me to teach my unhealthy children? Already the argument is losing steam.

However, before we close the books on this non-debate, let's examine motive for a moment:
The number of parents who could easily send their children to public school but opt for home-schooling instead is on the increase.

Ah. Of course. How dense of me, really, to have forgotten that organized "professional" educators are far more worried about our taking children out of their systems, and, hence, the money associated with them. The inference here is that we who choose to homeschool fly in the face of conventional wisdom. We've heard this many, many times before. We are, fortunately, unswayed by such empty rationale.

Yes, we could "easily" send our children to school. But each and every day those children attend those schools would be days of agony for me, wondering whether my child is learning how to have disrespectful attitudes from other children, or whether my child will be preyed upon by a sexual predator that thinks no one will ever find out. So, okay, maybe "easy" isn't the word to use. Maybe insert the words "under extreme duress" instead.

Several organizations have popped up on the Web to serve these wannabe teachers. These organizations are even running ads on prime time television. After viewing one advertisement, I searched a home school Web site [Ed.:]. This site contains some statements that REALLY irritate me!

  • "It’s not as difficult as it looks."
The “it” is meant to be “teaching.” Let’s face it, teaching children is difficult even for experienced professionals. Wannabes have no idea.

Difficult and, I daresay, increasingly impossible for many overwhelmed professionals. Get over it.

  • “What about socialization? Forget about it!”
Forget about interacting with others? Are they nuts? Socialization is an important component of getting along in life. You cannot teach it. Children should have the opportunity to interact with others their own age. Without allowing their children to mingle, trade ideas and thoughts with others, these parents are creating social misfits.

If this Web site encouraged home-schooled children to join after-school clubs at the local school, or participate in sports or other community activities, then I might feel different. Maine state laws, for example, require local school districts to allow home-schooled students to participate in their athletic programs. For this Web site to declare, “forget about it,” is bad advice.

When I worked for Wal-Mart more than 20 years ago, Sam Walton once told me: “I can teach Wal-Mart associates how to use a computer, calculator, and how to operate like retailers. But I can’t teach them how to be a teammate when they have never been part of any team.”

And since I revere the name of Sam Walton, I will change my whole educational philosophy to make sure my kids can work at Wal-Mart too, someday. Give me a break. Socialization is so important that I make sure my kids attend Church every week. They go to various activities both at church and such subversive places as the public library. Mrs. Woody takes them to a regularly scheduled homeschool group activity once a week during the school year, with (at least) monthly field trips to museums, theaters, and other locally significant educational opportunities.

And, by the way, the quote, "forget about it" is taken completely out of context. The rest of that paragraph indicates that not only is socialization important, but of equal import is the parents' ability (one would say responsibility) to choose the child's socialization wisely. Quite frankly, the way so many parents are raising their kids today, I really don't want mine socializing with most of them.

  • “Visit our online bookstore.”
Buying a history, science or math book does not mean an adult can automatically instruct others about the book’s content.

Fair enough. No more so than having a credential, I must say. In fact, I've known plenty of teachers who were never worth the price of the fake sheepskin upon which their degree was printed. But, while we're on the subject, what in heaven's name is wrong with an online bookstore? Let's go out on a limb here and say that Mrs. Woody has been a credentialed teacher before. How on earth will she teach if she doesn't buy supporting materials?

Oh. Wait. Mrs. Woody was a credentialed teacher. Sorry! But my argument stands: Whether you consider someone to be "professional" enough to teach is irrelevant. Teachers - public and homeschool teachers alike - need books. Period.
Gullible Parents

Another Web site asks for donations and posts newspaper articles pertaining to problems occurring in public schools.

It’s obvious to me that these organizations are in it for the money. They are involved in the education of children mostly in the hope of profiting at the hands of well-meaning but gullible parents. [Ed.: And the NEA isn't??]

This includes parents who home-school their children for reasons that may be linked to religious convictions. [Ed.: Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me!] One Web site that I visited stated that the best way to combat our nation’s “ungodly” public schools was to remove students from them and teach them at home or at a Christian school.

I’m certainly not opposed to religious schools, or to anyone standing up for what they believe in. I admire anyone who has the strength to stand up against the majority. But in this case, pulling children out of a school is not the best way to fight the laws that govern our education system. No battle has ever been won by retreating!

Two problems:

1. Please stop making it sound as if taking our children out of public school were some sort of punishment. We do it to protect our children in ways that public schools either can't, or won't.

2. It's not a battle if I refuse to engage the enemy. I pick my battles, and I choose to fight on the home front. Far easier to protect my children from unsavory influences from the sanctity of my home, than to leave "professionals" to do that for me.

In conclusion:
No Training

Don’t most parents have a tough enough job teaching their children social, disciplinary and behavioral skills? [Ed.: Yep. And who ever said it would be easy, I'd like to know?] They would be wise to help their children and themselves by leaving the responsibility of teaching math, science, art, writing, history, geography and other subjects to those who are knowledgeable, trained and motivated to do the best job possible.

So long as we don't think that only credentialed teachers fit this description, then I have no argument.
(Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois.)

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NEA or its affiliates.

But neither did they mind publishing this travesty in their official website.

#175 - Looking for Pole Position in 2008

Sen. John McCain of Arizona appears to be doing all that he can to "hip-ify" himself in time for the 2008 campaign. The problem is, the stuff he's doing sends out a set of very mixed signals to those who are watching his waning conservatism with no small alarm. Like me.

Caveat: I am no McCain fan. Haven't been for quite some time, because I find his playing of the uber-patriotic former POW card to be a little on the sanctimonious side. It's as if the fact that he was, indeed, a POW somehow makes his opinions that much more credible.

It could also be argued that I tend to be biased against him based on his stand against the 767 Tanker procurement, seeing as how I work for one of the key players in that program. Far from it, however: I see no reason why we shouldn't slam all defense contractors up against the political wall from time to time in an attempt to keep them honest. (Can you say "ethics violations?" I knew you could!)

The issue for me (today) is that Mr. McCain has chosen to take an apparently hypocritical stand with regards to the issue of Hollywood soft porn being peddled as R rated entertainment. After castigating Hollywood for both creating and marketing such entertainment to kids, McCain has now decided it's perfectly okay for him to take part in one. He even (warning: attempted hip-ification in progress!) stated to Leno that he "works with boobs every day" in Washington.

Har, har. That's a good one, John. Nothing like ennobling the use of a sexually demeaning stereotype to connect with the young voters!

Whether or not McCain feels justified in appearing in this movie is not, as he well knows, truly the point. The fact is that even if no one under the age of 17 ever sees this movie (and how likely is that?), it's the appearance of impropriety and hypocrisy that will, ultimately, mean his defeat in 2008. If he runs for President, that is. So far, the more he sticks his foot in his mouth, the more the Arizona electorate seem to love him. Maybe that's why Arizona has never fronted a successful presidential candidate.

Former prisoners of war are, in my book, heroes for having paid such a terrible price in the service of their country. That does not make them, however, de facto candidates for President of the United States. Character under fire is one thing. Continuing character in the political arena is completely different. McCain has a ways to go just yet.

Monday, July 18, 2005

#174 - California Special Election Du Jour

I had promised to blog eventually about our upcoming Useless Special Election, and so I shall.

In California, the term "Special Election" is political shorthand for "I Ain't Got the Cojones to Ram This Legislation Through On My Own." It's a red flag that means that the sitting (or travelling) Governor is having serious trouble with his political agenda, and needs the voters to sort it all out for him.

We voters get a little tired of bailing out our failed Legislature.

Let's be honest: Governors are really not much more than political figureheads. Their primary purpose is to put a face on whichever political platform they support. Schwarzenegger became Governor not so much because he has any real political prowess, but because he was the Anti-Davis. The Face that would get us past Gray Davis's own political ineptitude and save us from the dreaded Energy Warmongers.

Two years on the Energy Warmongers have largely imploded from lack of infrastructure ("What? You mean we need actual money to be a viable company? Who knew?"), and even some Republicans are beginning to think back on Davis with wistfully reminiscent looks on their faces.

The problem is our state initiative process. While I'll grant you that the ability to send critical issues directly to the voters has proven to be beneficial in many cases, it also represents the idea that we voters become a supplanting Committee of the Whole; effectively replacing the Legislature by bypassing their constitutional authority.

In other words: Why have a state Legislature?

The redistricting issue is a classic example: No one, it seems, will admit that redistricting should never be in the hands of the very people who have a vested interest in furthering their own political careers. Political powerfeeders will do everything they can to stay in power, one way or another. Because of Terms Limits (with which I do not necessarily agree, even though it could represent another Willie Brown fiasco), legislators can only serve two terms in any given office. This means that in the best case they would serve two terms as Assemblyman, two terms as State Senator, then (hopefully) have enough face power to become a High Elected Official.

In order to get around these pesky limits, some legislators try to get their districts gerrymandered out of existence, so they can be eligible to run for a new district, meaning they start the clock over. Also, the art of gerrymandering itself has become so ludicrous, that even legislators themselves understand just how transparent their power grabs really are. And when they have to admit that they're being transparent, that's pretty bad. It's like having temperatures drop so low that lawyers are suddenly forced to keep their hands in their own pockets. (Old joke - no apologies.)

In the meantime, thanks to Terms Limits, no single legislator has a snowball's chance of getting enough face recognition in time to run for Governor without doing something that will land them in federal prison during that time when they should be governing, so we end up with actors, who are the only ones with both face recognition and copious amounts of time on their hands. A dangerous formula, in my mind.

All of this means that ballot initiatives will forever be a part of the California political scene, and special elections will be called by junior-grade Governors who cannot, on their own, handle the Legislature. It also means that we voters tend to be perpetually overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the things we supposedly elected our legislators to handle for us. Aren't they adults, these legislators? Are they not capable of working things out without our constant hand-holding? And if not, why do we continually elect them?

Maybe it's not chlorine in our water supply. Maybe it's Kool-aid.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

#173 - Preschool Academia

I sure don't want to get into a flame war with a company that seems sincere in its desire to educate your child, so long as you hand copious amounts of your dollars over to them in return. Still, it's difficult to stand by and watch a company whose name, which for copyright infringement purposes I shall only say can be found in the word representing the state of PennSylvania, is fast becoming synonymous (in my own self-important opinion, of course) with evil. There are others, of course, who have an equal interest in your child's demographic, by which I mean money, but the focus here is on PennSylvania.

Worse yet are parents who are more and more becoming entrapped by some perceived need to have their children become super-scholars barely after most of them have mastered the ability to properly utilize your porcelain plumbing. And I do mean barely.

The idea, it appears, is that if your four year old cannot already spell his or her name, identify all his or her colors and letters - in short, everything that at least 29% of your elected officials can do - then that child is forever doomed to be a poor performer in school and, by extension, life. At least, that seems to be the message being forwarded by untold numbers of equally unidentifiable researchers, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Now, I've been a parent for a few (*cough*) years, and I've had my share of reasons to worry about my kids. I worry that my Woodyettes haven't yet mastered bicycling skills, for example. It's my own fault; every time I think about teaching them, it's too hot outside, or I have a work assignment that requires my attention that night (so long as it doesn't interfere with my CSI watching, that is). But they've started to learn finally, and they'll get the hang of it when they (and Daddy) are good and ready.

That said, the idea that a four year old's lack of scissor skills can panic any parent into throwing money after PennSylvania's program is enough to make me laugh until my partial plate drops into my lap.

At the age of four, my Doodle Woodyette's primary scissor skills consisted pretty much of cutting any available piece of paper into as many small pieces as possible, then scattering them all over the floor that Daddy just vacuumed. In fact, she still has those skills, but now she's much more precise in her ability to cut. If that should have been enough to panic me into enrolling with some over-priced tutoring service, then I guess my Daddy skills are also just shy of the mark.

I remember watching the movie Baby Boom many years ago and wondering whether this idea of having a child excel before they can even walk would be just another fad. Sadly, the answer appears to be a resounding "NO." No longer is it acceptable, apparently, to just let a child be a child anymore. I wait for the inevitable day when some moonbat legislator - at the equally inevitable behest of the professional educators unions - will float a bill designed to label any parent who does not enroll their child in mandatory pre-school as an abusive parent. It is no longer much of a stretch.

Money quote:
"We don't want to supplant childhood," which is why the company doesn't accept 3-year-olds, says Richard Bavaria, Sylvan's chief academic officer.

My homeschooling bias is clear, in this case. Mrs. Woody and I - not the state, and certainly not any professional educator - determine how best to educate and prepare our children for life. And, when the chips are down, it really becomes the Woodyettes, and not Mom or Dad, who truly determine whether or not they are ready to learn what we may be ready to teach.

It's a terrific partnership. I highly recommend it to PennSylvania and its customers.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

#172 - Heh.

Not exactly sure why this made me chuckle: Banner of Heaven has me listed on their Roll under "The Inquisition."

Torquemada, anyone?

Viva la Revolucion!

Monday, July 04, 2005

#171 - Ye Gods

I feel a screed coming on...

Joanne Jacobs links to a report out of Victorville, California regarding a community college student who was penalized for daring to write an English paper using the "G" word. Joanne's first thought was that the gal had simply submitted a badly written paper. Then, when the school didn't seem to deny the allegation, she understood that this school was serious: No mention of what they termed "one true God argumentation," or the paper would fail.

The basic argument was that mention of God might (you know this is coming!) "offend others in the class."


This is just the latest attack against religion in general (and Christianity is particular) by the academic community, and it's got to stop.

Or, to keep things fair, they should also make it a punishable offense to mention Allah, Buddha, Ishtar, or Quetzalcoatl. And, while we're at it, they need to ban Morrigan, Guan-Yin, Zeus, and Wotan (or, if you prefer, Odin). Let's not forget Tiki, Altjira, Apocatequil, or Ixchel while we're at it. Neither should we allow mention of whatever nature object the pagans are worshiping these days.

I am absolutely certain that the mere mention of God offends certain clueless individuals. This has been foretold by prophets throughout time: Many of them saw the day when the very mention of God would cause men to be offended or embarrassed. Still...

Isn't the real problem here that people choose to become offended at the drop of the proverbial hat? Think about it: Can it really be that the same people who find nothing at all offensive about anything they show on MTV become so upset at the mention of God that they need the ACLU to chase Him out of public sight? I get so offended by Hollywood Blvd that I simply refuse to travel it, day or night. I don't see the ACLU doing anything to help me eliminate even the mere mention of, say, Larry Flynt, do you?

I'm sorry, but those who get offended at the mention of God need to get a grip. They also probably need to relax with the idea that we speak English in this country, that we respect the flag, and that we see absolutely no reason why Howard Dean should not receive the death penalty.


#170 - Independence

Since this is Independence Day, I thought it might be useful to talk about my own independence and how I choose to celebrate it.

I realize, of course, that there is much for which to be grateful in this country. Our system of government, while far from perfect, affords the best opportunities for individual growth and freedom of any in the so-called "civilized" world. We may have wildly divergent opinions regarding how best (or even whether) to level the playing field, but the very fact that we are allowed to debate those differences openly is itself a testimony to the strength of our Constitution.

On a personal level, however, independence represents my own ability to make my way in the world unencumbered by the opinions and attitudes of those who would seek to silence me. An explanation follows:

As a youngster, I was encouraged by my parents to think for myself. The fact that my thinking was often incorrect really wasn't a deterrent. Mom was always there to keep my spiritual feet under me, and Dad made it perfectly clear that there weren't wrong answers (except for "No, Dad, I didn't mow the lawn...") to any of the philosophical questions he often posed. He allowed me to hold an idea, even when he probably knew that somewhere downstream I would change my position on that idea. He realized all too well that so many of our perceptions change with time and experience. Most of my perceptions have changed over the years, and it turns out that at the age of 21, when I was pretty sure that I was right about many things, I was actually wrong about most things. Ah, well.

Today I am not so arrogant as to believe that I am truly correct in most of my thinking. My perceptions drive me in certain directions, and only time will tell whether those perceptions were themselves correct. The fact that I give voice to my perceptions makes me an active participant in life. It confirms the idea that I am a citizen of this country, a neighbor to many, and a friend to some. It also means that some, strictly on the basis of my opinions, may consider me to be an enemy. Or, at the very least, an annoyance.

One may feel that writing one's opinions in a somewhat public forum is really just asking for it, but that's not the point. I write because I do feel that, however miniscule, there is value to my opinion. Perhaps this value does not extend beyond my family and a few bloglurkers who actually read these memes of mine. According to the TTLB, my own circle of influence in the blogosphere is limited. My personal worth, however, has little to do with the ecosystem.

I do not claim independence from my family or my religious beliefs. On the contrary, I am completely dependent on those things for my personal safety and happiness. My family is mine eternally, and my religion makes that possible. As long as I have those enablers in my life, I am complete.

I still have a long way to go. Whether in this life or the next, my value can only increase. This assumes, of course, that I manage not to do something incredibly unintelligent when those opportunities present themselves. Even at that, I can make corrections and forge ahead. I can do that independent of any other outside influence, and that (he says, finally arriving at his point) is why I celebrate a personal Independence Day.

Happy 4th!

ASIDE: To answer Dave of Dave's Mormon Inquiry: The Bear Flag League is a loose association of conservative-minded bloggers who live in (or have lived in) California. Think of it as a caucus without all the corn fields and pig farms. I may get letters from Iowa for that...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

#169 - Personal Blog Evolution

The Woundup celebrated one year of sporadic blogging this past June 21. Happy Blogday to Me. Looking back, it's amusing to see what evolutionary paths this ol' blog has taken.

In the beginning, I simply enjoyed blogging for blogging's sake. Of course, like many who have recently reached this milestone, the election year had a lot to do with my early motivation: Kerry simply afforded far too many opportunities to become hyped about some silly thing or other. Bush had (and has) his share of silliness, but Kerry's was, ultimately, far more dangerous to our national concerns and security.

As I continued, however, it became obvious to me that what I really needed was a thematic approach. My brother tried it a few different ways before I finally figured out for myself what I needed. I needed an outlet for my Inner Dad.

"The Inner Dad" is a book that I've written. Don't bother Googling, it ain't out there. It sits on my hard drive in various formats, mostly written but in serious need of massaging. It dwells on the idea that, like Dave Barry's "guys," many men are Dads deep down - appearances to the contrary. As my blogging skills matured, I realized that many of the essays that I've written over the years really pointed to this idea of canonizing Dadhood, with only occasional forays into the realm of the screed. For that reason, the Woundup really is my political platform. It becomes the voice of my inner activist, a persona I tend to keep locked up tight in a small box in an even darker dungeon. I let him out only when I smell an issue on which I absolutely cannot remain quiet. Long live the Woundup.

The Woundup, therefore, is my link to the conservative world. It remains mindful that there are voices that would destroy everything for which I've worked - in my own way - to protect. I may not have defended my country while wearing a uniform, but I am a soldier of a sort. I refuse to simply sit back while those who are far less in tune with my needs attempt to sabotage my basic rights. It becomes my responsibility to raise my voice, even when that voice is occasionally trumped by far more eloquent ones - my brother among them.

For that reason, the Woundup has allied itself with the Bear Flag League. I may not agree word for word with everything they espouse, but then even among minorities I tend to be a minority. (I refer, of course, to the idea of being not only a white middle-aged male in an age where to be such is considered terribly un-PC, but to the fact that I am a white middle-aged Mormon male in an age where to be such is considered heretical, especially among many so-called "Christians". Go figure.) Still, the League is a platform where my views will engender somewhat less disdain than they would on, say,

This year figures to be an interesting one, politically. Not only are the lines being drawn early for the 2008 election, but California has a useless special election coming up. As soon as vacation is over, I plan to get uptight about that.

But not before then.