Thursday, October 21, 2010

Out of Gas

As this very important election approaches, and as I listen to the political rhetoric on the liberal cable talk shows and watch the Democrats' ads on television a number of questions run through my mind:

I wonder, for example, if there are there any Democrats out there who are actually campaigning on ideas. Are there any Democrat candidates who have not referred to their opponents as "extremists"? Are there any Democrats who are running on the accomplishments of the last two years, or who are willing to have themselves associated with Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama? Are there any Democrats who are proud to proclaim that they're liberals and are not trying to convince the voters that they're in fact conservatives who really oppose Pelosi and/or Obama? Is there any Democrat willing to campaign on Obamacare, cap and trade, card check, open borders, higher taxes, etc?

I ask the questions sincerely. There may be some, but if so I haven't encountered them, and I'm wondering why not. If it's because there really aren't very many candidates who are willing to campaign on ideas, the record of the Democrat party, or the ideology of liberalism then I have to wonder whether they really believe in what they're doing, what they're saying, and who they are. Are they running because they want to represent the people or because they want to milk the people, or because they want to control the people?

They seem like people who are completely out of intellectual gas and feel the only chance they have is to keep portraying Republicans as kooks and radicals. It's dishonest, but when you have no positive reason to give to voters for supporting you then smears and slander are your only hope.

Letter to Young Students

Stanley Hauerwas, professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School, has penned a marvelous letter, packed with good advice, to young students headed off to college. The letter is directed specifically at Christian high schoolers and college undergrads but could be read with profit by any bright young man or woman beginning his or her undergraduate experience. Here's a portion of it:
To be a student is a calling. Your parents are setting up accounts to pay the bills, or you are scraping together your own resources and taking out loans, or a scholarship is making college possible. Whatever the practical source, the end result is the same. You are privileged to enter a time—four years!—during which your main job is to listen to lectures, attend seminars, go to labs, and read books.
It is an extraordinary gift. In a world of deep injustice and violence, a people exists that thinks some can be given time to study. We need you to take seriously the calling that is yours by virtue of going to college. You may well be thinking, “What is he thinking? I’m just beginning my freshman year. I’m not being called to be a student. None of my peers thinks he or she is called to be a student. They’re going to college because it prepares you for life. I’m going to college so I can get a better job and have a better life than I’d have if I didn’t go to college. It’s not a calling.”
But you are a Christian. This means you cannot go to college just to get a better job. These days, people talk about college as an investment because they think of education as a bank account: You deposit the knowledge and expertise you’ve earned, and when it comes time to get a job, you make a withdrawal, putting all that stuff on a résumé and making money off the investment of your four years. Christians need jobs just like anybody else, but the years you spend as an undergraduate are like everything else in your life. They’re not yours to do with as you please. They’re Christ’s.
Christ’s call on you as a student is a calling to meet the needs of the Church, both for its own life and the life of the world. The Resurrection of Jesus, Wilken suggests, is not only the central fact of Christian worship but also the ground of all Christian thinking “about God, about human beings, about the world and history.” Somebody needs to do that thinking—and that means you.
Don’t underestimate how much the Church needs your mind.
Indeed. And if you're not a Christian that last sentence still applies if you substitute the word world, or nation, for Church. If you're in high school or college, or know someone who is, you really should read the whole thing.