Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Opening Remarks

This is what happens when you blog about small matters for a few days--you suddenly get several essay-sized ideas at once.

But before launching into these three diatribes, I would like to first give those of you who don't know me as well the opportunity to hear clearly what I'm about, and where I'm coming from. I would call it a "creed" but my desire is to spread the focus of this post to my entire personality and ideology, instead of only explaining my religious beliefs (although those are included).

There are risks involved, of course. I could alienate readers, much to my dismay. I love the fact that each of you read my page, and that I haven't even had contact with all of you. And I would rather not put some of you off with what I have to say and what I'm about.

But the greatest goal of this page is honesty. And honest I must be about myself. If I haven't been clear about where I stand before, I want to be so now. It's time.

My name is Dave, as you can see below. I'm a Christian, I consider myself socially conservative, and I attend a Southern Baptist church. I believe the Bible is true, and I try to live by its commands. I believe that there is only one way to get to God, and that is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Door, there is no other. I subscribe to the Apostle's Creed, believing (among other things) in one God, Father of all, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who lives in the hearts of believers.

I am a registered Republican, and will continue to remain so for the time being, but I do wish my party would care more about the poor and the afflicted. I believe that caring for the sick, the needy, and the helpless was originally supposed to be the job of the Church, but the Church has abandoned that calling. And these needs cannot be ignored. However, in this era when enemies without and within threaten the stability of this country, a strong stance is needed regarding our identity as a soveriegn nation and our self-preservation. And I just don't see the Democratic Party putting much importance in that idea.

I believe in personal responsibility and accountability. You are responsible for your actions, and if you break the law, you should be held accountable for that. If you disobey traffic laws by making illegal turns across train tracks and you get into an accident with the train, you cannot blame the train for not being loud enough. If you are fat (as I am), 99% of the time it's because you choose to eat junk food and refuse to exercise. I refuse to accept the idea that I am a "victim" of bad genes, because most of the time, that's a cop-out.

I believe that each person chooses the course of their life. You can't choose your parents, or where and when you are born, but you can choose how to react to these circumstances. And that's what they are--circumstances. They are peripheral. Your choices, your attitudes, your actions determine your course in life, and the impact you have on the world. Yes, some of us are born with priveleges that others are not. But I've seen rich kids come to ruin, and I've seen poor kids rise to success. Money is not as relevant to achieving your goals as you believe it is.

I believe the "rat race" is pointless, and that a life spent aquiring a vast empire of material wealth is a life wasted. This applies to both believers and non-believers. In a world where so many millions are starving and sick, we cannot morally justify living to the excesses promoted by this culture. (I will admit that this knowledge does not always prevent me from buying CDs and books on a semi-regular basis.) I believe that we confuse the ideas of "need" and "want" so often, that we have lost touch with what actual need is. And to avoid being confronted with the face of need, we move to the suburbs, or uptown.

I believe that all is not lost for Christianity, but that this generation of Christians have an opportunity to set a new agenda for the Church's role. We need to set aside the aspirations of building projects and "family life centers" that serve almost no one outside the flock. We need to start making sacrifices and making connections. The Church must get its hands dirty, to make a difference. This means more focus on domestic and international missions, and social programs.

I believe that art is vital to civilization, as a tool for introspection and change. However, the standards for art have shifted. You can't talk about "good art" or "bad art" anymore, for fear of sounding judgemental and closed-minded. I don't think this should be the case. The "anything goes" approach to artistic quality and meaning stems from a similar cultural attitude towards life and relationships. Maybe we should rethink this. Unlike past centuries, we have no "master class" of artists, because we have lost the concept of what a master artist is.

I believe the "anything goes" mentality toward life, morality, and relationships is wrong. Relativism may be comforting, but that doesn't make it right. I believe there are moral standards. There is right, there is wrong. I believe this is laid out in the Bible pretty clearly. I know that many people disagree with me, but I am convinced that a person who lives his or her life firmly grounded in biblical principles will be much happier and more well-adjusted than someone who spends there entire life trying to find footing on shifting moral sands and situational ethical beliefs.

I believe that abortion is barbaric, repulsive, and wrong, but I don't think outlawing it outright will make it go away.

I believe that homosexual behavior is wrong. This is clearly stated, without wavering, in both testaments of the Bible. If you are a Christian, and claim to believe the Bible is true, this issue is not up for debate. I'm sorry, it's not. But it's just as wrong to treat homosexual people with any less dignity and respect as you would treat anyone else, and I am ashamed when people who claim the name of Christ treat other people like garbage. I believe in loving and respecting all people as being created in God's image and as individuals thought by God to be worth the sacrificial death of Christ.

Inherent to my belief in personal responsibility is my belief in personal freedom. In order to be responsible, you must be able to choose. For example, I think smoking is gross and self-destructive, but that does not mean that cigarettes should be legislated out of existence. I think that's bogus. Yes, smoking is bad for you. So are chocolate, caffeine, and fatty foods. Can these things be safely taken in moderation? Sure. Do you do so? Do you really? I don't. Not many do. And not many smokers smoke once in a while, either. Another anti-smoking argument is the "I don't want to smell your smoke" issue. I think this argument should be applied to cell-phone users, then, if we are to go down this road. I'm tired of hearing everyone else's conversations. It grates on my nerves, gives me headaches, and takes my attention away from what I'm doing. Let's outlaw all cell-phones, or at least limit them to only being used in your own home. Oh, how about crying babies? Young children cry, they whine, they smell, they get into everything. I say we write a law stating they are to be kept at home until the age of five. What's wrong with that? If we are trying to eliminate "social irritants", let's do it wholesale. Or not at all.

I believe in being sarcastic to make my point sometimes, as evidenced by the above paragraph. If you are unable to recognize sarcasm, you may have difficulty with this blog.

I believe in obeying the law. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it's not, because by their actions most people show that they believe otherwise. You think pot should be legal? Congratulations, try to get the law changed. But don't break the standing laws and think you can use your dissidence as a shield. News flash: you're not a freedom fighter, you're a criminal. Go to jail. If you really think a law is ethically wrong, and decide to use civil disobedience as a last resort, then be willing to accept the consequences of those actions, whatever they may be. Dr. King did.

These are the tip of the proverbial iceburg. I'm opinionated, yes. If this is a problem for you, I apologize. Thanks for visiting. But I refuse to hide my beliefs or ideas for the sake of higher readership.

The next three posts will deal with some of the above subjects, particularly personal responsibility, morality, and how an artist's beliefs affect or color his work. But I wanted to get these ideas on the table before beginning.

Consider this a disclaimer. Or a preview.

No comments: