A Constitutional Congress?

I’ve been spending a lot of time over at Downsize DC, reading through their various campaigns, and several have focused upon Congress; specifically, Downsize DC supports the passage of several bills which, if they are made into law, would provide important groundwork for reforming Congress, returning it to a more constitutional state.

For instance, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lays out the various powers granted to the Congress. I believe every American should know what these powers are, if only to know whether their elected officials are acting unconstitutionally (and thus, illegally) or are keeping their oath to uphold and protect the Constitution.

The delegated powers are as follows:

  1. To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States, provided that all duties, imposts, and excises be uniform nationwide.
  2. To borrow money on the United State’s credit.
  3. To regulate commerce with not only foreign nations, but also between the States themselves and with American Indian tribes.
  4. To regulate naturalization and bankruptcy laws uniformly nationwide.
  5. To coin and regulate the value of money as well as to regulate standard weights and measures.
  6. To punish counterfeiters.
  7. To establish post offices and post roads.
  8. To promote science and the arts via the securing of patents and copyrights.
  9. To create federal courts.
  10. To define and punish piracy.
  11. To raise and support armies (provided that no appropriation of money to do so lasts longer than two years).
  12. To provide and maintain a navy.
  13. To create rules for governing and regulating the army and navy forces.
  14. To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the nation’s laws, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.
  15. To provide for the organization, arming, and disciplining of the militia.
  16. To exercise exclusive legislation over the nation’s capital city.
  17. To create laws which may be necessary and proper in order to carry out any of the above powers as well as any other power granted by the Constitution to the United States government, its departments, and any officers thereof.

As a random for instance, the creation of the Federal Communications Commission cited within its legislation that it was to help in regulating interstate commerce (point #3 above).

However, on the same token, what does broadcast decency have to do with interstate commerce? Yet it is the same Federal Communications Commission which was set up to fulfill a constitutional role that has now become an unconstitutional judge, jury, and executioner of fines for racy broadcasts and other such things. ((It is my opinion that such things should be regulated by the States; after all, one state may be filled to the brim with conservatives who would in turn elect conservatives who would, again, in turn create conservative state-level laws which, should they desire, could “protect” against indecent broadcasts. Meanwhile, another state, filled with the more liberal-minded crowd, would have much more freedom with what could be broadcasted.))

I still confess to being overly ignorant of politics and naive of how things work in the real world, but based upon what I know thus far, the Constitution is not a document to be taken lightly, and every member of Congress (not to mention the President and probably numerous other government officials) are required to take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Passing unconstitutional laws, meddling in affairs which do not constitutionally concern Congress (such as the Major League Baseball steroids scandal), and so on need to stop.

And if you agree, I urge you to voice your opinion to your representatives in Congress. Downsize DC has several campaigns set up which will allow you to do just that.

First, check out the Enumerated Powers Act. If this bill is passed, each bill would be required to enumerate, or list out, what in the constitution allows for such a bill to be passed. For instance, a bill designed to borrow money from another nation would cite the second power in the above list. Simple, right? There will certainly be unconstitutional bills which slip through, but by being forced to enumerate precise justification for the bill, quite a few may be abandoned.

Second, consider the Read the Bills Act. Quite simply, this bill would require Congress to read or to hear the entirety of any bill before they vote on it. You don’t honestly think you’re being properly represented if bills are being passed by people who haven’t even read it, do you? Encourage your representatives to support this bill!

Third, give a look-see to the One Subject at a Time Act. If it upsets you that the Real ID Act was streamlined through Congress on the coattails of a larger, no-chance-of-failure bill, then this bill is for you; One Subject at a Time would require that each bill be about one subject only and that the title of the bill would be an accurate reflection of what it contains. This bill fits nicely with the Read the Bills Act.

There are other bills which concern Congress that can be acted upon at Downsize DC, and I encourage you to check them out.

For I am dust and ashes…

Martin Luther is perhaps best known as the foremost instigator of the Reformation a few hundred years ago; however, he started his journey of faith entrenched within the Roman Catholic Church, living a monastic life and becoming an ordained priest.

However, when the time came to perform his first Mass, Luther choked up when the time came to say the words, “We offer unto thee, the living, the true, and eternal God.” He stood there as if dumbstruck, eventually walking away in shame, joining his family where they sat.

What did Luther have to say about his failure to recite those words?

At these words I was utterly stupefied and terror-stricken. I thought to myself, “With what tongue shall I address such majesty, seeing that all men ought to tremble in the presence of even an earthly prince? Who am I, that I should lift up mine eyes or raise my hands to the divine Majesty? The angels surround him. At his nod the earth trembles. And shall I, a miserable little pygmy, say ‘I want this, I ask for that’? For I am dust and ashes and full of sin and I am speaking to the living, eternal, and the true God.” ((As quoted in The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul (page 80).))

Wiser words are rarely spoken by men.

Dignified man may be as the crown of Creation, the most blessed of all the creatures, the bearers of the very image of God.

But, oh!, how far goodness is from the hearts of man. Oh!, how wretched the hearts of man before the holiness of God.

Yet even as I say those words, I know I don’t always believe them. It’s easy enough to make the mental assent to those words; the Scriptures declare those truths, I believe the Scriptures, and so I accept those words.

Deep down, do I truly accept that no matter how noble my deeds, no matter how selfless, when they are laid out before Yahweh, they are as polluted garments? ((Isaiah 64:6, ESV; the phrase “polluted garment” refers to garments stained by menstruation. To put that into a modern context, our righteousness are as used menstrual pads when viewed in light of the holiness of God.))

Whatsoever good may be wrought in me and by me, do I fully credit Jesus Christ, who is to blame for anything that is good? Or do I accept the credit myself? The same goes for good wrought in and by others: Do I praise Jesus for the good, or do I give the credit to the person, who is but a vessel?

I hold out hope that the Lord would strike me as He struck Luther so that I may realize how inadequate I am, how woefully depraved. More than that, though, I desire to know more fully the holiness of Yahweh, more fully how beyond He is.

Same Sex Marriage

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, ESV, emphasis added

I won’t mince words: Homosexuality is a sin. Not only is that the position of historical Christianity, more importantly it is the position put forth within the Scriptures themselves.

However, the New Testament does not make any special effort in pointing out the sin of homosexuality. When it is mentioned, more often than not, it is mentioned in lists of other sins, sins which permeate the church but which barely register on the radar of Christian discernment next to the hot button issue of homosexuality.

Frankly, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Christian who doesn’t struggle with idolatry or lust (which Jesus equates with adultery, which appears in the above list). To single homosexuality out is to lessen the gravity of the scores of other sins, and to single homosexuals out — especially in hateful protest — is bordering on reviling them, which incidentally also appears in the above list of sins.

Yes, I believe homosexuality is a sin to be repented of (along with gluttony, idolatry, coveting, murdering, lying, and so on). Yes, I believe the biblical model for a family precludes a homosexual couple from being biblical.

That isn’t any huge revelation to most of you, I’m sure. However, I’ll go out on a limb here; ((And this is a limb which I feel is more sturdy than, say, the limb many fundamentalist convictions can be found upon.)) I do not believe that the definition of marriage should be a constitutional amendment or anything of such like. I was pleased when I found out that Dr. Ron Paul also opposes such legislation.

If a person wants to be gay, that is there business; I believe that such a lifestyle can be no more legislated against than could legislation be drafted which prohibits monkeys from picking each other’s nits. ((I’m not equating homosexuals with monkeys; please don’t read that much into my analogy!))

In other words, I believe that, constitutionally, Bible believes have the right to believe & preach against homosexual marriage. I believe that ministers should have the freedom to refuse marrying whoever they want, upon whatever grounds.

On the flip side of a coin, if homosexuals want to get married, there are certainly other means of going about it rather than through Christian ministers who are opposed to the concept. The government should not attempt to restrict those other means — whether through Sodomy Laws or through legislation such as the Federal Marriage Amendment. ((The Federal Marriage Amendment, if passed, would have federally defined marriage as the union of 1 man & 1 woman. Incidentally, Ron Paul opposed its passage!))

At the very least, the decision to legalize or criminalize homosexual unions should be made at a local level — state or lower — so that the decision more accurately reflects the populace of the region. After all, isn’t that what having a government “by, of, and for the people” is all about? Attempting to make such impactful legislation at the federal level ensures that the people of the nation will not be accurately reflected.

I’m still shaky on that, though, as it simply doesn’t seem like marriage is something the government needs to have its hands in anyway. I’m speaking there as an aspiring biblical purist who recognizes that biblical marriages shared few similarities with today’s elaborate ceremonies, rituals, and assorted traditions.

What is America if not a melting pot of culture? Frankly, I find that absolutely beautiful, and it ought to be an unceasing reminder to the Christians of the nation that the Father is saving souls out of every tribe, tongue, and nation.

And yeah, I dislike homosexual marriage; however, I find myself much more irked by various other sins.

But at the same time, homosexuals are still human; biblically, they bear the image of God, and I am just as sinful as they could ever be. There are 8×8 beams in my eye that need removing before I need to every worry about the sawdust in theirs!

According to the Declaration of Independence, it is self-evident that all men are equal and that all men have unalienable Rights, [and] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Many men are happy in their sins, and biblically we are not mandated to force them onto the righteous path.

Additionally, so long as a person’s exercise of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness does not infringe upon anyone else’s rights, the government seems to have no real reason to meddle.

Even within the church, the most we can do is to excommunicate someone, so that they can continue in their sins as Satan destroys their bodies. ((See the first several verses of 1 Corinthians 5 for more on this.))

I’m still pretty much a neophyte where politics and the convergence of politics & religion are concerned, so I would appreciate anyone’s feedback on this.

I will conclude by saying that those conservatives who are fighting tooth & nail to outlaw homosexuality are doing the body of Christ no favors. The only way someone will joyfully & willingly give up a sin is through Holy Spirit-borne regeneration & repentance. There needs to be far more “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” and far less political protest. Only then will a genuine, lasting change be effected.

Just my 2¢US.

Merry Christmas.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…

Have you ever tallied up just how much stuff you’d have after 12 days of receiving gifts from your true love, if the gift giving matched exactly that famed carol?

Let’s run it down quickly:

  • 12 partridges in pear trees
  • 22 turtle doves
  • 30 French hens
  • 36 calling birds
  • 40 golden rings
  • 42 geese a-laying
  • 42 swans a-swimming
  • 40 maids a-milking
  • 36 ladies dancing
  • 30 lords a-leaping
  • 22 pipers piping
  • 12 drummers drumming

The grand total is 364 gifts, 140 of which are people. (Heh, and you thought Christmas materialism was a recent thing…)

It’s difficult to believe ((Okay, I don’t really consider Catholic.org a reliable source, and this comes off as very revisionist; an unbiased history of the song would be great if you have one to share.)) that the partridge in a pear tree is supposed to represent Jesus Christ when there are fully twelve of them given in the song, whereas Jesus was sacrificed once for all time. (However, that site does claim it to be a Catholic catechismal thing, so I suppose it could be tied into the supposed repeated sacrifices of Christ made anytime a priest blesses the elements of the Mass.)

At this point, I’m a little wearied of the song anyway, and have appreciated the radio station at work mixing things up a bit with variations such as “The Eight Polish Foods of Christmas”; and if that isn’t up your alley, try out The 12 Days of Theology.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

A Naked Revelation

TruthMy entire life — at least as far back as I can remember, obviously — I have pronounced the word “naked” as “NEKkid.”

Turns out it’s supposed to be pronounced “NAYkid.”

It feels very peculiar to pronounce it that way, though I will try to be conscious of how I’m pronouncing the word in the future.

2008 Presidential Primaries — Are You Ready?

The 2008 Presidential Primaries are rapidly approaching. For those states which have closed Primaries, party-changing deadlines are approaching even more rapidly (or have already passed).

I Heart Ron Paul

You can find a schedule of the primaries, caucuses, registration deadlines, and party-change deadlines on Ron Paul’s campaign site.

As my dad pointed out at the Christmas gathering yesterday at his house, the primaries are when you really have a choice.

And because voter turnout for primaries is so much lower than on Election Day, your choice will be that much more valuable.

Write in your candidate-of-choice if you have to, but get out there and vote!

AOL News Straw Poll

Dr. Ron Paul
Dr. Ron Paul
Source | License

Running through January 4th, AOL News currently features a Presidential campaign straw poll that you can take part in!

Currently in the lead by just over 5,000 votes is our future President, Dr. Ron Paul. Second place belongs to Mayor Giuliani. Those are among the Republican candidates, of course. On the Democratic side, Hilary Clinton is in a frightening overall lead with ~10,000 more votes than Dr. Paul. Obama is slightly behind Paul, trailing by a meager 100 votes or so.

I’m glad to see Dr. Paul continuing to enjoy great success in the online polls; whether that translates into success in the upcoming primaries and caucuses remains to be seen.

At the very least, what success he is enjoying is showing that there are a great many people in America who are ready for a change, a shift toward the America prescribed in the Constitution, of limited federal government — by, of, and for the people — and more authority being given back to local & state level governments where it belongs & where it will better represent the people it is being governed.

Go, vote. And when the primaries roll around, write Ron Paul in if you have to!

Hat tip: Justin

The Image of God

I still remember one of the things David emphasized the first time we hung out. It was that every human being is an image bearer (hence the name of his website), that within each of us is the likeness, the tselem of God.

Goth Girl
An Image Bearer
Source | License

It is oftentimes so hard for me to remain conscious of that fact.

And it’s difficult to ignore the guilt welling up within me at that admission. It’s not like I spend the day around murderers, rapists, and the like. ((Even then, that would be no excuse to forget that they too are image bearers.)) Working with the public, albeit in a small town, five days a week, I interact with a beautiful mix of people. I often forget they are all image bearers, though, because what I often witness is a potent reflection of the human condition.

Teenagers get their kicks by being destructive with our property, walking away from the mess while giggling. Parents threaten their kids with leaving them behind or beating them, simply for having a case of the “I wants” (If you’re not willing, as a parent, to properly deal with your kids’ desires, why take them to a toy department?). And God forbid that an Invisible Woman action figure is not readily available on the shelf!

Punk Guy
An Image Bearer
Source | License

I find myself at times concluding that far too many people are petty materialists who have little interest in things other than “self.” Okay, people are selfish; that’s hardly revelatory.

We are told in the Scriptures of a Son who willingly took sin upon Himself, dying in sinners’ stead, so that others may have a relationship with His Father. Selflessly was He beaten, selflessly was He pierced and poured out upon Golgotha.

Humanity bears His image, so much so that while we are given the freedom to kill & to eat cattle, fowl, and fish, we are told that the murderer of man must in turn be executed, so that He whose image we bear may exact proper judgment. ((Genesis 9:6. Capital punishment is inherent in the Noahic Covenant, which exists between Noah and his descendants (v. 9), including you and me.))

Homeless Woman
An Image Bearer
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I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself and others, particularly during this time of year which is supposedly marked by “holly jolliness” and a “yuletide spirit,” that our attitudes toward others is going to reflect our attitude toward God. Jesus could boldly demand that we not only love God but also our neighbors because He knew that they were of unspeakable value. Not only do they bear the image of the Creator, but they are given life and sustainment by Him from whom all blessings flow!

Yes, sin mars the image, but it cannot wipe it out completely. If Christmas is about “peace on Earth and good will toward man,” then check yourself: are you loving others as much as you can? When you see others, are you reminded of the Divine? I added several pictures from Flickr to this post; I’m making no claims to the spirituality of the people presented, but I will state that your attitude toward those features may just reflect your own spiritual health.

Muslim Man
An Image Bearer
Source | License

Jesus showed unspeakable compassion toward the so-called outcasts of His society; how do we treat those on the fringe of ours?

This Christmas, if you are more concerned with people who say “happy holidays” or “Merry Xmas” ((Christians were the first to use “Xmas,” by the way.)) than with loving others, take a step back and spend some time in reflective thought: If you have interest in wishing people a merry celebration of Christ, may His attitude & outlook toward others merrily flow forth from your life!

In conforming our attitudes to His by treating everyone with the dignity due an image bearer of God, we are embracing being the light and salt of the world, and we are actively moving toward true peace on Earth and good will toward man. In obeying Christ, we further establish and show forth the kingdom of God on Earth!

Still Sick, Snow’s A-Comin’, the Ron Paul Badge, and More

Well, I’m still sick; though judging by my symptoms, I’m on the tail end of whatever it was I had. Alicia and I went out with our friends, the Sasses, and saw I Am Legend, the new Will Smith movie.

I must say, it wasn’t really at all what I expected, as I note in the brief review I gave at the above link. If you like post-apocalyptic, vampire, or Will Smith movies, you’ll likely really enjoy this movie. If you’ve read the book, don’t venture out to the theater expecting a faithful print-to-film translation! ((No, I haven’t read the book, but I did read a summary of the book prior to seeing the movie, and little of what seemed important from the summary showed up in the movie.))

A few days ago, we also had a Christmas party with the Sasses & most of the Sieberts, and that was a lot of fun as well. I’ve been told that Alicia is an excellent entertainer; perhaps that comes part & parcel with being an excellent wife? Either way, if you had seen what Alicia managed to do with our dining table and place settings… Wow! ((Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any pictures of the setup, or I’d post them for you.))

Currently the weather forecast is showing at most five inches of snow by Sunday, so there’s quite a bit of fervor around these parts about the impending snow. As always, it helps to remember that God sends the snow, and it obediently obeys — a lesson for believers, to be sure. Recognizing God’s hand in nature makes it incredibly difficult to complain about the situation, for when I do so, I am showing a lack of reverence to God. The just shall live by faith, the Lord has declared, and so I live in faith knowing that whatever the weather, God will be working all things out for good ((That’s from His perspective, not necessarily our own, mind you.)) for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but also that Yahweh will be glorified!

Making the jump from religion to politics — though the two intersect quite often — many of you may have noticed the Ron Paul badge in the sidebar. That’s right, I’m publicly giving my support to Ron Paul. To be honest, I agree with pretty much his entire platform, believe that he best represents Constitution Party ((My party of choice.)) principles, and admire the strong stand he takes in honoring the U. S. Constitution. If a President is to “preserve, protect, and defend” it, it only makes sense that they should wholeheartedly abide by it as well!

I’m still relatively new to this whole “politics” thing and am constantly learning, but I admit to not knowing all too much. I know I like what I see on Ron Paul’s site, ((Which, incidentally, is one of the most nicely designed political sites I’ve ever come across.)) and insofar as his views line up with mine — and the Constitution, as I understand it — then he has my endorsement!

Pythagoras, GI*Joe, Coca-Cola, and the Flu

I’ve been sick since Saturday evening, and I’m only just now feeling a tiny bit better. My voice has come close to vanishing due to the soreness of my throat, and I think I’ve a year’s worth of congestion fighting to get out of me.

Despite all of that, though, I’ve not had to miss work, and I’ve managed to get most of my Christmas shopping completed yesterday after clocking out for the day. Yes, I both work at Wal-mart and I do most of my shopping there. That’s just how I roll.

My amount of disposable income doesn’t really give me much choice anyway.

During my down time these past few days, I’ve been reading an interesting little book called Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife. So far, Genesis 1-2 has been referred to as the “Hebrew creation myth,” and John 1:1 has been translated, “In the beginning, there was the ratio, and the ratio was with God, and the ratio was God”; in a footnote, that translation is said to be “even more rational than the traditional one.”

More rational, perhaps, because it contains the word “ratio” once; however, for it to make sense, the God referenced would be nothing more than a, well, mathematical or logical construct, yet in the context God is far from that — He is an active, living person who is the Beginning and the Ending, the Alpha and the Omega.

Okay, that was a bit of a rabbit’s trail, but it bugged me so I had to say it. Regardless, Zero is proving to be an enjoyable read. Did you know that Pythagoras, despite being brilliant, was also a bit, hmm, strange? In fact, he died because he would sooner be murdered by those who would oppose him rather than flee from them by running through a bean field. Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, but across them you shall never dart. Or something like that. Beans were taboo, and Pythagoras was very prideful.

Pythagoras Doin’ His Thang
Pythagoras Doin’ His Thang
(Sanzio, Rafaello. The School of Athens (detail). 1509. Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican.)

Yet what we know him best for — the Pythagorean Theorem — has actually been known for centuries if not millennia before Pythagoras came along. I’m very disappointed I’m finding about this now rather than in 8th grade geometry.

I guess what I’ve sometimes heard is true: you learn that which is truly interesting not through organized curriculum but through independent study.

Okay, I’ve not actually heard that; it’s an axiom I’ve come up with to justify my independent learning of the Scriptures over against going off to seminary. Call that a cleverly disguised lack of ambition if you want, but if the Word of God was meant to be arranged into a curriculum, you would think somewhere in its 66 books there would be some evidence of such an intention. The concept of mentoring seems far more biblical (see the relationship between Christ and the disciples or between Paul and Timothy, for examples).

Speaking of Paul, who instructed Timothy to add some wine to his diet to aid his ailing stomach, Alicia brought home a bottle of red wine today. Apparently it is for some spaghetti sauce she was preparing. A sip of it marks the second drink of an alcoholic beverage I’ve ever had.

I think that makes me an addict.

Actually, that makes me a double-addict; caffeine will always be my first and most beloved chemical dependency. Granted, I’ve not fallen into that miry cesspool as far as, say, espresso drinkers have, but I took a small tumble further in when, the other day, I purchased a tin of Ice Breakers® Energy™ Peppermint Mints with Caffeine. Ten milligrams of caffeine per mint, actually. By comparison, the twelve ounce can of Coca-Cola® to my right contains 34 milligrams.

What I find interesting is that the mints contain a warning that they are “Not recommended for children, pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine.” I wonder why soda, which is consumed far more often than these mints are and in higher quantities, does not bear the warning?

The Hershey Company, maker of the mints, must care more than the Coca-Cola Company. Yep, that’s the only possible explanation.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the word “REXAM” refers to on a Coke can — it’s located near the bar code — they are a consumer packaging company.

And now you know.

Knowing Is Half the Battle
And Knowing Is Half the Battle