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politics

On Voting

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Voting forces you to take a stand. All the arguments, no matter how nuanced, come down to a Yes or a No. You can’t pick Yes with certain exceptions or No with personal provisos. You can’t vote for one candidate with a little of another candidate thrown in. You have to make your choices and live with them. Voting also forces you to trust the political process, even when it seems that the issue at hand does not have a political solution. You cast your ballot and hope that most of your fellow voters think as you do. If they don’t, then you hope things will work out anyway, since you’re in the minority.

In a sense, every vote cast, regardless of the candidate or the issue, is a vote against violence. The act of voting says, “Change can occur without bloodshed.”

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All the Saints

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I went to church this morning in Peachtree City, Georgia. The pastor spoke from Ephesians 6 where Paul writes about engaging in a battle against spiritual forces and encourages his readers to stand firm. The sermon contained nothing new. But I noticed something I hadn’t before that got me thinking. Paul concludes his description of the “full armor of God” with an injunction:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

While it’s true that the huge fault lines created by the Great Schism and the Reformation had not yet appeared in the church, still there were divisions. Even from the very beginning there were Grecian Jews who complained that their own widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food (Acts 6). Culture divided the church between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women. Yet Paul’s vision was of a church somehow still united, a church so devoted to following Jesus that it would pray for all the saints.

In our own day the church looks more divided than ever. Not only are there various denominations (and groups refusing to become denominations), the church is also divided between Democrats and Republicans, black and white, those who favor gun control and those who oppose it, pro-gay and pro-marriage, pro-abortion and anti-abortion. All the diversity found in our nation appears also in the church.

Some want to exclude those who differ in matters of politics or social policy by refusing to acknowledge that they are really brothers or sisters. Some want to deny that God’s grace might save a man without making him pro-gay or might deliver a woman without making her anti-abortion. But Paul makes it clear that all the divisions that separate us are nothing compared to the faith that unites us, faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

I certainly don’t want to pretend that the issues that divide the church are unimportant. They are not. However, we don’t have to let those divisions keep us from enjoying our unity in Christ. That enjoyment will present a powerful testimony to the world and open our own eyes to the possibility that each of us might be in some measure wrong. We can disagree. We can urge one another to see different points of view. But in all our interactions we must treat each other with love and respect. There should not be any name-calling or sarcastic put-downs. We ought not to mock or deride one another. We gain nothing by regarding one another as wicked or insane.

I confess, I have been guilty. I have joined with those who vilify fellow Christians for religious or political differences. Forgive me. With God’s help I will do so no longer. Instead, I will pray for all the saints.

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Common Sense Economics

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Common Sense Economics bookRead and comment on my blog.

This book is so good that I don’t know if I can adequately convey how good it is. Most people, including me, think of economics—the dismal science—as arcane, abstruse, dry, and dull. This book proves us wrong. It will make economics come alive for you. You will find not only that you understand the news from Washington and Wall Street but that you can shape reasonable critiques of the news you hear based on sound economic principles.

The authors do an excellent job of distilling their subject into four parts. The first deals with basic principles, some that you’ve probably heard before and some that you may have never thought of. The second deals with major sources of economic progress. (Surprise! Stimulus spending is not one of them.) The third deals with the role of government in economic progress. It should be required reading for all voters before the next election. The last part deals with key elements of personal finance, and it alone would be worth the cost of the book.

Get this book and read it. Then put it into practice. I plan to give a copy to each of my children.

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