Monday, April 30, 2012

Speed Dating!

Sometimes life throws strange stuff at us. Take the other day for example. I was innocently carrying on with life when all of the sudden I find myself in a speed dating rotation. By time I was done I had “speed dated” 106 women.

Our culture is struggling. People are lonely, hurting, isolated, and longing for fulfillment in life. When you watch the ads on TV they try to appeal to the fact that we deserve better or that we’ll be a lot better off with this one magic product. There are websites devoted to helping you find the “right one,” and mountains of self help books.

It would be silly to ask why all this appeals to people. Everyone wants a better life and wants the silver bullet solution to all their problems. People want it because they need it. They know they have needs that need to be filled.

Of course, we all know that almost all of these “solutions” are not going to work, but that doesn’t stop us from looking for the ones that do work. Searching for success and good things is, in fact, a good thing. But after my interesting experience I started asking questions about what’s under the surface.

The fact is that the world needs help. But honestly, if I wrote a blogpost about solving the world’s problems, you would laugh at me. Solving the world’s problems is neither practical nor is it within the possible scope of a blog post. So, a better question about the state of our culture is “What can a reader of this blog do within 24 hours of reading this post to make one person’s life a little better?”

Want to know what I came up with? Here it is: Speed date someone!

Yes, I know, I am a crazy idea factory, but check this out. Speed dating is when you take the time to focus on someone sitting in front of you for a few minutes of listening and talking. You don’t have to invest huge amounts of deep thought or emotion, the goal is to focus on them and hear what they have to say and then share something that shows a little of who you are in return.

Now, I know you think I have lost my rocker, but try it. Focus on someone right in front of you. Listen to what they say. Share from the inside of yourself. Focus, listen, share.

Here is an example: You are at Walmart, you pass by someone stocking the shelves, say hi. Ask a question (not “where is the Greek Yogurt,” although that is my favorite question in the world) and then listen to their answer. Then share a genuine thought from your heart. Then smile and walk away.

When you are at a restaurant ask the server to help you choose between two items, take their suggestion and tell them that your mother makes it great and they are competing with her now. Then smile and be done.

When you are walking past your neighbor ask why she is up so early. Then explain your own reasons. Then smile and wish her a good day!

Ok, yes, you caught me. These examples aren’t really proper speed dating. Really, I know that most people have to be tricked into listening to advice.

But look at the truth. The basics are there. Focus, listen, share. It doesn’t have to take more than a minute and a half. But you can learn about the world you are living in and encourage a stranger in 90 seconds.

Now that I am done moralizing, let me tell you about my speed dating experience. It was fun. As I said I did it at a conference and “speed dated” 106 lovely women who were very charming and most were able to put a smile on my face. Unfortunately for me, it turns out that they were all married. Why these married women were willing to participate in speed dating is beyond me. Maybe it was my irresistible charm...

But life is full of firsts, and now I can check speed dating off my list.

Who is the most interesting person that you spoke to this month? Was it me? ;-)

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (4/27)

This week was Shakespeare's birthday. This clever opinion piece at the Washington Post wonders if he is still relevant today:

Look at his most famous play. “Hamlet”? A whiny college student, evidently overeducated and underemployed, comes home for break, sees a ghost and dithers. Eventually some pirates show up, but wouldn’t you know, they remain offstage. Shakespeare is one of the few writers in history who, given the option of including pirates in a play, thinks, “Nah, you know what? I’d rather have this dithering hipster talk about mortality some more.”

Come to think of it, maybe he’s never been more relevant.

The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, a extensive work which provides a section by section analysis of the Constitution written by various constitutional experts, is now available online.

Charles Colson, the former Nixon operative convicted in the Watergate fallout who then converted to Christianity and founded Prison Fellowship, passed away this week. He accomplished great things both showing and demonstrating forgiveness and Christian compassion, but he was not perfect.

A new report shows that immigration from Mexico keeps falling. In fact, it now looks like more Mexicans are leaving the United States than entering.

United States soldiers in Afghanistan are having difficulty connecting with the native workers on the bases. Here’s one story of a soldier who provided needed boots only to have the gift fall flat.

Tim Challies writes on what book ownership looks like in the age of ebooks. In fact, I’ve wondered this sort of thing myself (with both ebooks and downloaded music):

Here is something else to consider: What will happen to your e-book library when you die? It used to be that your books would survive you. They would stand as a testimony to the kind of person you were. Many a pastor left behind a vast theological library that could give a pastor of the next generation a helpful start in building one of his own. A man’s books were an important part of his legacy. But what of those who are currently establishing a library on Kindle or Logos or any other e-book system? This is a library which does not fully belong to the man and which in most cases will not and cannot be given to his descendants after him. The library will perish with the man; as his body returns to the dust, his library will return to the ether., which I use for budgeting, has put together an infographic showing the size of student loan debt in the United States. It’s now pushing $1 trillion, and nearly 15% is still being paid back by people over 50 years old. And over 20% of students with loans owe over $150,000.

And speaking of debt, hospitals are employing debt collectors who use increasingly invasive (and possibly illegal) tactics to collect for medical bills, including demanding payment before procedures, discouraging patients from seeking medical help, and using information from confidential medical records.

Mitt Romney won a clean sweep in all primaries held this week and he’s now turning his attention to the general election. Here’s some of his criticism of President Obama.

In the last presidential election, the McCain campaign was often slow and weak with its responses to criticisms. It appears that the Romney campaign will not suffer from that shortcoming. In fact, when it comes to quickness and preparedness, the Romney campaign seems to be showing up the Obama campaign. I’m guessing the Obama campaign will steer very clear of any future references to dogs.

Here’s another review of The Hunger Games (it calls itself definitive, but the author has clearly never read mine or he would know better). He succinctly points out the problem with many Christian criticisms: “It’s not a Christian book and does not pretend to be.  Don’t expect it to be.”

Al Mohler reminds us of the stain sex trafficking is causing on our reputation. Apparently the Secret Service scandal is only the beginning: military personnel, contractors, and other US official overseas are a major driving force behind the demand for the sex market.

President Obama is continuing the expansion of executive power set by his predecessors--including to but not limited to bypassing Congress and the legislative process.

“I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Mr. Obama declared, beneath a “We Can’t Wait” banner. “When Congress refuses to act and — as a result — hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”

And finally, here is a lesson in how to not do PR. (Yes, this is a comedic routine, not a real interview.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Collection of Human Wisdom

Last week I wrote about both political limits and the importance of history. Little did I know that I would soon be reading an article that stressed the importance of both of those. But then Patrick Deneen at Front Porch Republic posted just such an article, tying the Great Books and classical education to the ideas of both the importance of history and the limits of mankind.

For all their many differences, the Great Books in this tradition argue that there is something in the nature of reality itself – whether we understand it as nature as described by the Greeks, or the created order depicted in the Book of Genesis – that limits human power and ability to transform our situation. The appropriate disposition toward the world is not the effort to seek its transformation, but rather to conform human behavior and aspirations to that order. Hence, the primary purpose of education is learning to live in a world in which self-limitation is the appropriate response to a world of limits. Education in virtue is a central goal – particularly the hard discipline over the human propensity toward excess, particularly in the form of pleonexiaor pride.

In order to advance this teaching to successive generations of human beings, education was largely ordered around an education in texts (and even languages) from this tradition (Greek/Latin; Classics and Bible). Every new generation needed a renewed education in the knowledge of human limits and the central necessity of virtue. Books themselves were understood to be a storehouse of wisdom from the past, a treasury and repository of hard-won experience and knowledge of these limits. What these books taught was itself a justification for an education centered around books. Because the present and future were believed to be fundamentally continuous with the past, the past was understood to be a source of wisdom about our condition as humans in a world that we do not command. An education in Great Books was itself a consequence of a philosophical worldview, and not merely an education from which we derived a worldview (much less sought an education in “critical thinking”).

I had a taste of just such an educational approach at Patrick Henry College, and can verify that it has just that effect. I’m not sure one can ever complete such an education though, because there are always more great books that need reading. But in those works  one can find both the pinnacles of human success and the deepness of human failure.

As King Solomon famously wrote:

What has been is what will be,
   and what has been done is what will be done,
   and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

It’s very humbling to realize that we have thousands of years of ideas, experiments, and failed attempts to guide us. It provides much more than mere critical thinking; it facilitates substantive thinking. But that substance shows us more failures than successes, more nightmares than utopias. And that itself serves as its own warning.

The vast collection of human wisdom reminds us of our limits. And it shows the consequences of forgetting or ignoring those limits.

The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:11-14)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beyond Acceptance Movie Review

“Love is trying, and trying one more time.”

The Producer of the new Christian movie Beyond Acceptance sent me an email asking if Looking for Overland would be interested in reviewing his movie as it begins to pick up steam. I think he believed that I would be a easy target. A year ago I was in Michigan and he told me about the movie and my interest was clearly piqued because it was a movie about a family going through a difficult adoption.

Adoption has always been a part of my life. Many of my friends growing up were adopted and my family adopted one of my sisters when I was 16. I have seen adoption from more angles that I would have thought possible.

The movie Beyond Acceptance tackles adoption and the issue of what being a part of a family means. The Border family goes through the process of deciding to adopt and that brings the family close together. However, the difficulty of bringing someone new into the family sets in and life gets harder.

Watching the movie several truths gripped my heart. The first truth the Border family learns is that doing the right thing might be the hardest thing you can do. They also struggle with seeing that sometimes we need to be willing to live without something before we should have it (think the story of Solomon, the wise judge, deciding who the real mother was by threatening to cut the baby in half). Finally, they learn that one of the most important things about loving relationships is that although we do not always happily love each other, we are always trying. And trying one more time. Even when we don’t see results.

For me, one of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie involved a transformation that no one in the family could see. It reminds me that often times change happens like mountains forming on the ocean floor. Above the water you would have no idea that under the surface entire mountain ranges have grown as the result of tectonic activity. Even though no one sees the change, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The film has a solid soundtrack including one of my favorite songs in the closing credits. The physical acting is better than the spoken acting that is stilted at times. Part of that, I am sure, come from the awkwardness of the family trying to talk with a little boy who will not talk back. One personal highlight was seeing a friend, Jeff Bolzman, as an extra in one of the scenes, but I doubt that will factor into whether or not you run out to buy the DVD.

Like many low budget films, the opening is rough. If I had one piece of advice to give someone producing a low budget project, I would suggest they start filming in the middle of the script so that the opening will include peak performances as your team hits its stride.

Adoption is hard for everyone involved, but then I remember that Jesus went through an even more painful process to adopt me. I am thankful for that! I am also thankful for those beautiful people who open their homes to take someone who seems beyond acceptance and who prove that love can transform lives. Transforming love tries, and then tries one more time.

The writer and many of the people who worked on this film are homeschool alumni. This was their first big project, so if you are like me and want them to do more, order the DVD and help spread this important message.

By Jeremiah Lorrig

Click here for more movie reviews.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (4/20)

Lots of links again. But not as many political ones this week.

This is a good reminder. Lots of things are impossible in presidential elections. But sometimes the powers determining impossibility forget to remind the voters.

Is anyone interested in voting third-party? Apparently the Prohibition Party is still around, and there’s always the Constitution Party, the Justice Party, or the American Party. If only the Socialist Party, the Party of Socialism and Liberation, and the Socialist Workers Party could join, they might have a … bigger minority.

President Obama is trying to do something about rising oil prices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like he knows what it is.

Something tells me this isn’t a winning strategy for the Democrats. I like Romney, but my snide side says that if this strategy worked, his campaign should already be reaping the benefits.

This is an amazing story about a little boy who got lost at age 6 and then used Google Earth to find his hometown (and family) 25 years later.

Our country has an obesity problem and it’s about
more than the waistline.

This is an interesting article about one evangelical’s experience in “liberal” academia. Just remember, sometimes persecution is real, but sometimes we invent it ourselves.

If only all terrorists were this easy to catch.

This was not intended to be a series, but two weeks ago I posted about Ancient Egypt and last week I posted about Hoth. Now, apparently, hell has also been found.

A former professor of mine writes about the gender experiments in Sweden and ties it back to de Tocqueville's thoughts on the weaknesses in democracy.

Testing testing testing, we all want more testing in schools. But when is it too much?

E.J. Dionne writes about two income households and how for many they are a necessity. He also includes some words of reminder for conservatives: the glory days of one income families were possible in large part because of strong unions. We can talk about being pro-family, but what do our policies say?

And finally, play for drama.

Shelter Those in Need (Or Immigration Part 2)

Exciting life moment! ...I got my hair cut. Or, as my dad would say, I got all of them cut. Yeah, It is a fairly common part of the routine of life, but I found a good place to get it done. The people are nice and, with the exception of once when the gal said that what I asked for wasn’t good and proceeded to cut it way shorter than I asked for, they do a good/great job.

But that is another story. This story is about an Afghan woman. I walked in and saw the offender of the previous experience cutting away at another poor fellow’s head and I thought I had better think fast. I didn’t want to be mean and request anyone BUT her, so I decided that I would request the gal who checked me in.

She was surprised and even blushed a little at my request! She looked over her glasses to see if she recognized me. I didn’t say anything. After the basics of showing her what I wanted I started to ask her questions.

She was from Afghanistan. Her family left the country to escape the Russians almost 30 years ago. They first went to Germany. In fact, some of her family are still there. But she explained to me that Germany is very different from the U.S.A. They were allowed to live there. They could hold a job. They could keep their culture. But they could not join the German culture.

In a sense they are tolerated because they serve an economic and social purpose. But they are forever outsiders. It is like being a contractor with a company. The people who work for the company get benefits, dental plans, retirement, vacation days, etc. Contractors don’t. They are outsiders who are brought in for a limited project.

My new friend felt this edge of coldness and isolation everyday. She wanted more. She moved to the United States. She wanted the American Dream. She loves America because unlike Germany, she was welcomed and not just allowed, but encouraged to become American. She still speaks with an accent. She still holds on to her roots, but she is American. She struggles with American things like how to save enough money to see her adored grandchildren in California. She earns a paycheck cutting people’s hair. She loves her husband and misses her grown children.

She fled to Germany to seek freedom from Communism. She then fled the isolation of Germany, seeking a better life in the United States. She now lives proudly as an American.

The Bible talks about taking in the stranger. It reminds us to shelter those in need. This woman is a reminder that, although she was oppressed, the United States rose above the international status quo and welcomed her with open arms. Remember to take the time in your life to love with open arms. It might change a life.


Read the rest:
What Makes America Great (Or Immigration Part 1)
Family of Love (or Immigration Part 3)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Political limits and political possibilities

Writing for the Washington Post in an article I linked to last Friday, E.J. Dionne addresses the intersection of Christianity and politics.
[W]hat should most bother Christians of all political persuasions is that there are right and wrong ways to apply religion to politics, and much that’s happening now involves the wrong ways. Moreover, popular Christianity often seems to denigrate rather than celebrate intellectual life and critical inquiry. This not only ignores Christian giants of philosophy and science but also plays into some of the very worst stereotypes inflicted upon religious believers. 
[B]ecause Christians have a realistic and non-utopian view of human nature, they should be especially alive to the ambiguities and ambivalences of politics. The philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain captured this well in reflecting on Augustine’s writings. “If Augustine is a thorn in the side of those who would cure the universe once and for all,” she wrote, “he similarly torments critics who disdain any project of human community, or justice, or possibility.” 
Christians, she’s saying, thus have a duty to grasp both the possibilities and the limits of politics…
Possibilities and limits. This leads perfectly into this post, which I've been trying to write for a couple of weeks now with limited success. A lack of this duality is exactly what I see frequently in the evangelical conservative Christian circle (I am writing about that realm because it is the one I am most familiar with, but this does not necessarily mean the problem is unique to us).

Were I designing a curriculum to teach politics, two books would be central. The first, which addresses limits, would be Kenneth Minogue's Politics: A Very Short Introduction. In these 111 pages, Minogoue ably identifies what politics is and what it is not. "Politics," he writes in the forward, "is the activity by which the framework of human life is sustained; it is not life itself." And that limitation continues as he explores our conception of politics, stemming from the combined thought of the Greeks, the Romans, and the early Christians, into the modern state. Politics in the classical sense, however, is a method of governing ourselves, an ongoing rational discussion about competing methods. It is not, and does not claim to be, an end all answer. Those are ideologies, which Minogue explains "claim exclusive truth. They explain not only the world, but the false beliefs of opponents as well. Ideologists possess the long-sought knowledge of how to abolish politics and create the perfect society." They thus make everything political, identify a right and wrong answer to every issue, and demonize anyone who disagrees; which is why ideologies so often lead to persecution or prison camps.

But politics cannot save us or usher in the perfect society. Neither can the "right" political candidate. To quote a wise man, anyone who says otherwise is selling something. What is proper subject matter for politics, as well as what politics can accomplish, is limited.

For the Christian, then, politics is not about ushering in the Utopian society and making everyone think like us. Instead, it is a means for us to love and care for our neighbor, i.e. pursue the common good.

But what that means is less than clear. God has not answered all our political questions. Rather, as C.S. Lewis noted, "By the natural light he has shown us what means are lawful: to find out which one is efficacious He has given us brains. The rest He has left to us."

This is where the second book becomes important. For Dionne wanted to talk not just about the limits, but also the possibilities, of politics. Steve Monsma attempts to lay a foundation for just such a discussion in Healing for a Broken World: Christian Perspectives on Public Policy. The first chapter is available here, and if nothing else, please please read and consider it.

Monsma does not look to a specific ideology, and thus rises above partisan bickering. Instead he considers first principles: what it means to be created, what is justice, and what is community. He then takes these general principles and shows some of the ways they apply to hot political topics such as life, poverty, the environment, human rights, and terrorism. However, as he evaluates the issues through the lens of those principles, Monsma refrains from giving "God's answer" to the details of policy positions. He leaves plenty of room for Christians of all political stripes to disagree on policy specifics. He sets a framework, rather than establishing an ideology.

And that is how it should be. The goal of politics, for Christians, is not to win or take power. The goal is and ought to remain caring for our neighbors in this broken world. That is as far as the Christian is permitted to go politically.

But the key word is politically. For there is life beyond politics, and Christianity says much about that life also. We do live in a broken world. Even if it weren't for our theology, mere observation could tell us that. What our observation can't tell us, but our theology does, is that the world has also been redeemed.

That message is not political. It is much more important.

Related Posts:
The Evangelical Political Tradition, part I
The Evangelical Political Tradition, part II
The Evangelical Political Tradition, part III
The Dangers of Christian Reconstructionism

Monday, April 16, 2012

History with a face

We've all read the stereotypical history book: dull, dry, and lots of meaningless dates. I won't name names, but I've read books full of fascinating information which still put me to sleep. Those are the books that only have a market because they are assigned in classrooms. I almost said they are only read because they are assigned, but I don't want to overstate my case.

And then there's good history. Those stories that draw you in, that show that history is not about dates and events, but about people doing stuff. Important stuff, unimportant stuff, smart stuff, or stupid stuff - it's all about what people do or don't do.

There are lots of authors able to tell these stories, but my favorites are those authors that focus on the little-known events behind or parallel to the significant events. And my favorite author to tell these stories is Ben Macintyre.

Macintyre introduced me to Major William Martin of the Royal Marines, the officer who perished in a airplane accident during World War II and whose body washed ashore with copies of the Allies' invasion plans for Europe. Plans which fell into the hands of Germans and revealed the entire Allied strategy.

Except that there was no William Martin and the plans were faked, planted to hide the real invasion. Using new recently discovered and recently declassified information, Macintyre tells this story in Operation Mincemeat.

He also tells the story of Eddie Chapman, the Frank Abagnale of WWII, who was recruited by the Nazis to serve as a spy in England. Upon completing his training and landing in England, he promptly turned himself in (to the nearest farmer, no less) and became a double agent. He was so successful that he was awarded the Iron Cross from Germany for his service.

In a third book, Macintyre tells the story of Adam Worth, the true-life inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty. Worth successfully changed his identity several times, ran an international criminal syndicate, and was ultimately tracked down by the Pinkerktons.

Other books that I haven't read (yet) tell about the sister of Friedrich Nietzsche who went to Paraguay start her own racially pure German colony, the story of the first American in Afghanistan and his attempt to establish himself as king, and the story of a group of British soldiers hidden behind enemy in France in WWI for over a year.

But those may just have to wait. For I just found out that Macintyre has another book being published this summer. And Double Cross promises to be just as good as the others:
On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring that Hitler kept an entire army awaiting a fake invasion, saving thousands of lives, and securing an Allied victory at the most critical juncture in the war. 
The story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of the soldiers who fought in it, the tacticians who planned it, and the generals who led it. But this epic event in world history has never before been told from the perspectives of the key individuals in the Double Cross System. These include its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed Double Cross’s nucleus: a dashing Serbian playboy, a Polish fighter-pilot, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming and a volatile Frenchwoman, whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire plan. The D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled, and their success depended on the delicate, dubious relationship between spy and spymaster, both German and British. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is revealed here for the first time. 
With the same depth of research, eye for the absurd and masterful storytelling that have made Ben Macintyre an international bestseller, Double Cross is a captivating narrative of the spies who wove a web so intricate it ensnared Hitler’s army and carried thousands of D-Day troops across the Channel in safety.
I can't wait.

Post by Nicholas Bolzman.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What makes America great? (or Immigration Part 1)

What makes America great? There may be many answers, but one that I would put forward is the fact that a bright young person from anywhere on earth can dream of becoming American. You cannot immigrate into Germany, China, or Russia and become one of them, but you can become an American!

Earlier today I was flying from Miami to Virginia. On the flight I sat next to a woman from Saudi Arabia. Her story was gripping. 
At the age of 13, she was forced to marry her cousin. Her oldest child, who she describes as more of a sibling than a son, was born when she was 16 years old. It was clear that she felt her youth was stolen.

She loves her family, but she shared her dream with me. She wants to become an American. Do you want to know why? Although she has children who live both in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, as well as the fact that she speaks better Arabic than English, she feels at home here. She knows that she is welcome; she wants to be free.
She is now 60 years old. Even so, she still longs for the American dream.

America is great because we are able to take in the best from all around the world! All I have to do is look at myself to see the impact of cultures and people from around the world.

I love Italian food. English ideas of justice and freedom form my political philosophy. Jewish history helps to form my ethics. My sister is from Central America. My mom grew up in the Caribbean. To be a Lorrig is quintessentially German. That does not take away my native Shoshone Indian blood. In fact, I am proud of that too, but it is all of it together that makes me who I am today.

The Statue of Liberty sums up what was in my heart when I talked to this wistful woman:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

America is the land of opportunity. We take in the tired and poor and they join our great nation. Together, we can all stand as Americans. The American Dream is to be a city on a hill and a beacon of hope. When everyone who is willing to embrace the idealistic American values stands together, we stand stronger, not weaker.

How can we revitalize America? By embracing those who still believe in the American dream!

  1. Reform the system to encourage those who love what America stands for to join the vision.
  2. Reform current immigration rules that are based on Cold War politics that do not focus on modern day issues such as terrorism. Instead, make terrorism and the Freedom Agenda the driving force as the backbone of these new policies.
  3. Reform the bureaucracy that pervades the process and desperately needs to be cleaned up and streamlined.
  4. Provide a carrot encouraging people to immigrate legally by joining the workforce that pays taxes and has stakes in America’s success, not just the stick of deportation.

Historically, America grows and prospers when our laws reflect our values. People all around the world can see that we are a land of hope. We the people can include anyone because where you come from or what you look like doesn’t matter when you become a citizen. When you become a citizen, you are an American!

I don’t know if my new friend will ever actually be an American, but the fact that she can gives her hope and makes her love America.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday miscellaneous (4/13)

Here are five reasons strong conservatives have difficulty in Republican primaries.

The Hunger Games is being lived . . . in North Korea.

Even with modern technology we don’t have copies of all the books ever written by famous authors, such as Shakespeare, Austin, and Hemingway. Here’s a top 10 list of those missing.

In the fall of 2011 Michigan elected a Republican businessman as governor. The Democrats despise him, but he seems to be making progress in the state (although he had a strong starting point -- it’s not like he could have made the state much worse).

Here’s a good article on violence and race.

Since my brothers are in the independent film industry, I hear a lot about that market. Here’s an article they recommended on why so many independent Christian movies fail.

Last week we discovered ancient Egypt in California. This week it’s Hoth in Greenland.

Another good article on religion and politics.

And finally, this kid has a future in business. I want a fun pass.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Cold War - 110 years early

At the end of the first volume of Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville makes one final observation:
There are two great peoples on the earth today who, starting from different points, seem to advance toward the same goal: these are the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. 
The American struggles against the obstacles that nature opposes to him; the Russian grapples with men. The one combats the wilderness and barbarism, the other, civilization vested with all its arms: thus conquests of the American are made with the plowshare of the laborer, those of the Russian, with the sword of the soldier.
To attain his goal, the first relies on personal interest and allows the force and the reason of individuals to act, without directing them. 
The second in a way concentrates all the power of society in one man. 
The one has freedom for his principal means of action; the other servitude. 
Their point of departure is different, their ways are diverse; nonetheless, each of them seems called by a secret design of Providence to hold the destinies of half the world in its hands one day.
This was written in 1835. The United States had not yet experienced the Civil War, Andrew Jackson was President, John Marshall was (still) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and reports surfaced that life had just been discovered on the moon.

Russia, meanwhile, was under the autocratic rule of Nicholas I. It didn't even have a railroad yet.

Both were over a century away from the Cold War. But as Tocqueville predicted, they did eventually "hold the destinies" of major parts of the world in their hands. And not only that, his description of what the struggle would look like was also accurate. Individuals v. totalitarianism, freedom v. servitude. 

Tocqueville doesn't speculate how a clash between the two would turn out. Rather, he simply ends with what I quoted above. I wonder if he would have been surprised with how it happened.
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