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Five Things

I am grateful for…

  1. … a helpful highway patrolman who stopped and lent me a lug wrench to change the flat tire that I had on the way to work.
  2. … the color green.
  3. … the opportunity to make choices.
  4. … a good night’s rest.
  5. … the opportunity to be a father.

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Garden of the Church

A recent Newsweek article made a point about separation of church and state that often goes unnoticed by the religious among us: that religion flourishes in the minds of the people when it avoids trying to influence their government.

While we remain a nation decisively shaped by religious faith, our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago. I think this is a good thing—good for our political culture, which, as the American Founders saw, is complex and charged enough without attempting to compel or coerce religious belief or observance. It is good for Christianity, too, in that many Christians are rediscovering the virtues of a separation of church and state that protects what Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissenters, called “the garden of the church” from “the wilderness of the world.” As crucial as religion has been and is to the life of the nation, America’s unifying force has never been a specific faith, but a commitment to freedom—not least freedom of conscience. At our best, we single religion out for neither particular help nor particular harm; we have historically treated faith-based arguments as one element among many in the republican sphere of debate and decision. The decline and fall of the modern religious right’s notion of a Christian America creates a calmer political environment and, for many believers, may help open the way for a more theologically serious religious life.

Coercing people to follow your religious tenants by force of law makes them push back. Given the explicit mingling of church and state under the latest Bush administration (one of our most disastrous presidencies), is there any wonder that people are turned off by religion. The religiously motivated attacks on September 11 also changed some minds about religion. Many churchs’ involvement in the fight against same-sex marriage turns even more people off. For many, religion became the public face of hatred, violence, and fear.

At the same time, many of us are seeking out even more fundamentalist religion. I guess these are polarizing times. Let’s hope for their sake that they learn from recent history. It would be better for religion observance in America if they took a live-and-let-live attitude toward other people’s behavior.

(via Mind on Fire)

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Don’t Divorce My Parents

If you want to protect marriage, add your name to the list of those urging the California Supreme Court to reassert that this is a land of freedom and protect 18,000 marriages, because we need to encourage more committed, nurturing relationships, not fewer. I did.

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Civil Liberties Lost Since 9/11

Timeline of civil liberties lost since September 11, 2001

Sometimes the commenters on reddit are surprisingly insightful:

Yeah, but it was totally worth it when the government used that extra power to find Osama, cure cancer and solve world hunger… all while balancing the federal budget and growing the economy to levels of mass prosperity the world has never witnessed.

(via reddit)

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Muhammad Comics

Remember the Muhammad comics from Denmark that got some Muslims in an uproar? Here they are just in case you haven’t seen them yet because newspapers in the U.S. don’t want to take the heat (I don’t really blame them).


Jyllands-Posten (the newpaper that originally published the comics) reports that “all of [Denmark's] major dailies decided to re-print it on Wednesday after it was discovered that Muslim extremists had plotted to assassinate the man who drew it, Kurt Westergaard.”

We have a conflict of ideas: the idea that a person’s religious sensibilities must be respected under penalty of violence versus the idea that we must all be free to say what we want within very liberal bounds. Tolerance of opposing viewpoints in a liberal democracy must find its limit when people plot murder, yet the freedom of conscience of innocent Muslims must be respected. Religious extremism like this might be the poison pill that kills democracy if we can’t strike a proper balance in response.

Having said that, the whole point of this post was just for me to stick up for freedom of speech in my little way.

(via Jesus and Mo)

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