Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What I Would Say in Gov. Mitt Romney's Place

Let me start by saying that this isn't meant to inspire a big political debate.
Nor is it meant to be an endorsement of Mitt Romney.

I'm just wondering how it would be received if he just came out and said, "So I'm rich; what of it? I earned it. I've invested it. I've guarded it. I've sheltered it. I've done everything that you would have done if you had made the money that I've made."

"I know how to make money and I know how to run a business. I know that this is not a business that can be bought and sold. There will be no mergers or take overs. There is no outsourcing of our government. We are the United States of American and I am the best qualified candidate to serve as its CEO--the President of the United States of America. My wealth is a testimony to that."

"You can say that I'm out of touch with middle America...and maybe I am. But is that the person we want in the White House? Do we really want Sarah Palin's Joe the Plumber leading the United States? Do we want an average American with an average income leading our great country? "

"If you will send send Representatives to the House and Senators to the Senate that are serious about fixing the government machine, I will lead this country back to kind of prosperity that we once knew; back to the kind of prosperity that allowed me to accumulate my personal wealth."


I don't know what policies he'd try to put in place as President. I don't know if he can get the Republican side of the aisle to back him. I know that it will be a fight to get the Democratic side to work with him. I wish that they would all understand that they do not represent their parties; they represent their people--the ones that put them in DC. They do not represent the special interests nor lobbyists. Corporations did not vote them into office and they don't represent corporations.

Most of our elected politicians are just as disconnected from working class America as Gov. Romney is. They may not have his money. They may not have his lifestyle. But neither do they have my lifestyle or the lifestyle of my neighbors.

I just don't get the money thing. We know that he's rich. He knows that he's rich. He knows that we know that he's rich. Why not find a way to make that work for him?

Just a rant...


Monday, January 30, 2012

Why Write a Blog?

I have become less and less regular about posting at Out of My Hat.
But if you read regularly (or irregularly as my posts are irregular), you already know that.

Oddly enough, in a couple of weeks I'll be standing before my writing club to talk about ... blogging.

Over the course of the next few days I'll be re-examining why I chose to start this blog, how it has evolved over the past few years and why I continue to publicly rant/preach/write/share about whatever might come to mind.

I know that many of my readers are also fellow bloggers (or former bloggers). Perhaps you'll share why you blog by leaving a comment.

A quick scan of the "Blogs I Frequent" list in the right column shows quite a number of blogs are are no longer being written. I guess I need to update that list. I think that the quick tweet or slightly longer Facebook status update has replaced blogging for a lot of former bloggers. I recently read (and I can't remember where to give the source) that serious writers don't blog, the write to be published.
I assume they meant that they write to be published by somebody else or to be published for pay because even a simple blog like this one is "published."

So for my little fifteen to twenty minute session,  I plan on sharing some sites that offer to publish your blog, some tips to publishing to get hits or build your following, some of the many different types of blogs that are out there.

If you were going to talk for fifteen minutes on why you read blogs, what would you say?
What do you, the reader, look for in a blog?
(Is it cheesy to solicit my readers for help with my presentation?)

If I look back to my first post, I can read some of the reasons that I started blogging (and no I haven't written one additional word to that book!) and see that they pretty much still work for today. Perhaps I should be more purposeful about blogging. As it is, Out of My Hat is just a sort of catch all kind of blog with random posts at random times about random subjects.

I guess it is appropriately named.

John <><

Monday, January 23, 2012

Numbers Don't Lie; But Do They Tell the Truth?

It's been said that numbers don't lie.
Here are four conflicting graphs that I've seen recently posted on Facebook. It's nice when person can find the one that supports their view and ignore the rest. But where is the truth and how can you know who to trust?

You can look to the source (where available) and see that very few sites are neutral. These all have political bias to the right or left.

Just remember, the truth you're being told might just be a lie.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Religion and Politics ... Again

Yeah, yeah! I know that I've said that I would try to avoid posts that are about religion and politics; and yet, here we are with another post that will invoke groans (at the very least) and perhaps a desire to leave some strong comments defending opposing views.

If you have been reading Out of My Hat for very long, you already know that I am a born-again follower of Jesus.
Politically, I have described my self as a moral conservative, fiscal conservative and a social liberal (a definition that fits many of my Democrat friends). I have belonged to three different labor unions and been active in a union for most of my working career. I am still registered as a Republican but haven't supported a Republican candidate for public office since I decided to vote for John Kerry (actually, it was more of a vote against GWB) after President Bush's first disastrous term of office.

I actually got NATCA PAC funds for my Republican Congressman in '94 and attended a fund raiser where then Speaker Gingrich was speaking. (My Congressman was opposed to the privatizing of air traffic services.)

So what is the point of today's rant?

I'm still trying to figure out what kind of people listen to a gathering of Conservative religious leaders that think they have the right to act as judges over the candidates and proclaim their verdict to the followers of their many different Christian denominations, telling them which candidate has received their blessing and should be supported as a candidate for President. Do these so called religious leaders feel that the members of their respective congregations are so mentally dull that they have to be told which candidate to support.  These "religious" leaders make condemning remarks about one candidate's marriage practices but ignore the poor ethics of another that earned him "the most corrupt politician" in '06. They decide that the non-Christian religious practices of one candidate make him unsuitable as President and virtually ignore another candidate that grew up in an Episcopalian home and is now Baptist.

I guess it's okay to bury your head in the sand and give others the right to direct your thoughts and manipulate your actions to fulfill their agendas...but each of these "leaders" has a vote and the ability to choose their own candidates. You can choose your own candidate. You may have to do your own research and draw your own conclusions, but voting is supposed to be a responsibility that takes some work.

To be honest, I was really wondering how they would choose a candidate. The one evangelical left in the race wasn't doing so well; was unlikely to get the nomination and even less likely to beat President Obama in the fall. We all knew that the Mormon wasn't getting their endorsement. Since they have apparently overlooked (or just dismissed) Dr. Paul, that left them to choose between the Catholics. I'm guessing that was tough for a great number of them. The dirty secret that they don't come out and say is that many of them view the Catholics as a cult-ish imitator of a Christian religion and probably place them barely above the Mormons in the hierarchy of religious beliefs and cult-like organizations.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of action that falsely declares one political party as the party of the righteous (or at least the party of the self-righteous) and labels everybody else as sinful pagans, hypocritical Christians, false teachers, baby killers and generally on-the-way-to hell anti-American scum of the Earth.

And I wonder...what happens if their candidate doesn't get the nomination? Do they fall inline and support the lesser choice? Will they decide to support a conservative Mormon over a liberal Christian? (I know that they deny that President Obama is a Christian even though he says that he is a Christian and chooses to follow Jesus. I guess when you declare yourselves as Judge, you get to make those determinations for others.)

Personally, I think that they should stick to proclaiming the Gospel and living the Christ-like life. I struggle enough own my own that I would be very hesitant to ask somebody to follow me for fear that I might unintentionally lead them astray. It would be grand if the day would come that I felt confident saying, "Follow me. I'm following Jesus all the way!" For now, I stumble enough that I welcome a fellow traveler so that we can keep each other accountable and help each other along the way.

I really believe that if Jesus were given the choice of endorsing a candidate or sharing the message of the Father's love, He would always choose to tell of His Father's love. While we place a great deal importance on the matters of this world and its government, I believe that Jesus would focus his time on reaching one lost soul after another. I can't think of a time when Jesus gave an endorsement of an individual that we should follow and don't think that he would do so now.

While finishing up this post, I ran across this article. It echos much of what I feel.

For the coming weeks, I'm going to restrict my political conversations and make more of an effort to ask about matters of faith. Rather than talking about religion and politics, I'll choose to talk about religion instead of politics.

Does anybody want to join me?

John <><

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tebow is Out; Jesus is Still In

It is January 16 and the temps in Southwest Missouri hit an unseasonable 68 degrees today (that's 20C for my non-American friends)! Of course, it is January and it is Missouri so the forecasted 19F (-7C) for tomorrow night should be no surprise.

I had a great weekend. I hope that all of you did, as well. Some big surprises in the football world; and also some not so surprising results. Green Bay and New Orleans are both out of the Superbowl running. So is Denver and Tim Tebow. Since I'm not a big football fan, I really don't care. What I do care about is that it is one weekend closer to MLB's spring training! I wasn't even sure of the rest of the NFL schedule. I had to check with my dad to be see if there is one more weekend of play-offs and then a two week break before the big game. That takes us right into baseball season.

The now former Cardinal Albert Pujols was always pretty quick with the "thanks to Jesus" thing but never really took much criticism for it until he left the team. I don't recall players from the opposing teams mocking him -- maybe that has more to do with Albert being one of the best and Tim being an average NFL quarterback. On the Cardinals' team, there are others that are stepping up and being vocal about their faith in Jesus. It will be interesting to see how things play out over the coming years. I'm sure that we haven't heard the last from Tim Tebow -- or the last about Tim Tebow.

For now, it appears that Tebow has the Bronco's starting job and it is his to flourish in or lose. And even if he never stepped on the field again, Jesus would continue in His role as King of kings and Lord of lords.

From ESPN writer Rick Reilly, here's something that you may not have known about Tim Tebow:

"Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured," Reilly wrote. "He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts."

You can read the BP article here.

John <><

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Riding the Tim Tebow Bandwagon

I'm not a big NFL fan.
Back in the day, I was a Minnesota Viking fan. Now "back in the day" was the day of the Purple People Eaters. That was  a long time ago and I can't say that I've followed the game much since. I hadn't even seen the famed Tim Tebow play (except for a few ESPN highlight clips) until last weekend.

Oh, I've heard the hype and know the story of his exceptional college career. I've heard the haters hate and the Christians proclaim him as a modern day prophet. Most people have heard of Tim Tebow. His name is brought up in conversations that have nothing to do with sports. "Tebowing" is becoming a verb in the culture of the day. NFL Playoff chatter is full of Tebow opinions.

Today, most people could tell you that he is the son of missionaries. A few may even be able to tell you his healthy birth is a minor miracle. Because of his mother contracting a parasitic infection while pregnant, she was encouraged by doctors to have an abortion or risk serious birth defects or a stillborn child. Wikipedia can give you that information if you want to check it out.

In any case, I'm not a Bronco's fan and really don't care if they win or lose. And I can't really say that I'm a Tim Tebow fan. But I am an admirer of a guy that lives his life and pursues his career in a way that gives glory to God. I wish him well.
If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already read this article.  If you haven't and can take one more rant on whether or not God cares if Tebow wins, check it out.

Does God favor Tim Tebow?
Yeah, I think so. Why? I have no idea.

Sometimes it comes down to God gets to be God and doesn't have to explain why some have it easy and some have to suffer. Truthfully, I've always figured that God has show favor towards me. I have an incredible family, a career that few get to experience with an income that is rare for somebody without a degree. I am able to travel a little, eat out too often, live well and have few wants. My needs are met. I have a few good friends and a home in a grand country. Though I am not famous nor wealthy, I am happy and comfortable. I have not been called on to suffer for God and hope that I never will be. However, should that day come, I hope that I can remember the God that has shown me favor in this life and has promised me a home in the next and serve Him well in my suffering.

Perhaps the lesson to be learned from Tim Tebow is that we should serve God well in our comfort, too!

John <><

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Windy City

Blogging this morning from the kitchen table of my son's place in Chicago IL.

It's cold (it's mid January in Chicago) and Chicago is shoveling out from its first significant snowfall this winter. I am so glad that we were here to experience it -- NOT!

We're enjoying a short visit with the kids. We keep them out late and then they get up for work in the morning and we sleep in. Paybacks are sweet!

Last night we had dinner at Scoozi's and then enjoyed an evening at the iO Chicago Theater. The improve was good entertainment and we all laughed a lot. Between dinner and the improv, we killed some time (and got out of the cold) at a 24hr Starbucks. It was packed with others that were also getting out of the cold--an interesting gathering of people.
Tonight is supposed to be much colder and we may just stay in, fix dinner at home and enjoy visiting. Why bother staying out late when tomorrow is Saturday and they can sleep in? Saturday night I'm looking forward to a UFC Fight Night and some wings that Aaron has promised are the hottest that he's ever had. I'm sure that we'll be out late again, only then it will be our turn to get up early to catch our early morning train to go home.

Again, I'm reminded of how differently our kids live than we do. We took cabs, buses, trains or walked to get where we needed to go. Although the grocery store was about the same distance from their place as a store is from our house -- we walked. I'm pretty sure that we would have skipped the cab last night if it wasn't so cold and windy and the hour as late as it was.

I'm a little bit disappointed that we don't get to go to church with them on Sunday. I like their church community. But a later train home would have cost almost three times as much as the early one, so we opted for the cheap ride. We missed the snow in Missouri and it looks as though it will be gone and the roads nice for our drive from St. Louis to Ozark. It's all about timing!

Enjoy Friday the 13th!

John <><

Friday, January 06, 2012

What Goes Back in the Box After Christmas?

I imagine that most of the decorations are down and packed away for next year's Christmas celebration. As I read the posts and statuses of packing away Christmas I can almost feel the relief from Christians and non-Christians alike, that Christ can get packed away for the next 11 months.

It seems that for the month of December, we get all huffy about proclaiming the Christ of Christmas and then go back to living Christ-less lives until next year. I'm not saying that we completely forget about the Christ of Christmas; I'm just saying that we're perfectly content to let everybody else forget about the Christ of Christmas. And let's be honest, there are a lot of December Christians that actually do put Jesus back in a box and (other than a brief display at Easter) wait until next December to start spewing their "I'm saying 'Merry Christmas' not 'Happy Holidays' " or "it's Christmas, not Xmas" crap all over Facebook and anywhere they can get a mob to agree with them.

So the question is: Now that Christmas is over and the decorations are put away, what do you do with Jesus?

Do you pack up the Nativity scene and put Baby Jesus in a box?
Or do you live with the realization that Immanuel (or Emmanuel) -- God with us, is still with us?

The fulfillment of the prophesies that took place on that first Christmas are as much for us today as they were 2000+ years ago. And if God is with us, don't we have the obligation to share that with those around us -- all year long?

Generally speaking, the Epiphany (Jan. 6) marks the end to the Christmas holiday. For my Christian readers, let's make sure that Jesus doesn't get packed up and put on a shelf until next year. Let's make sure that we never take the "Christ" out of our Christianity.

John <><