Non-Catholic View of Pope Francis Stance on Abortion

Recently the pope did an interview and basically said the Catholic Church needs to focus less on issues like abortion. He said the church had become obsessed with the issue along with other issues. I’m not Catholic so maybe it’s not my business but the Pope does have influence over many Christians around the world. He also has influence over public opinion.

The logic of the Pope is that church leaders harping on such issues is turning people away. He believes and I thinking rightly so that people need to come to church to be fixed and not turned away because they are broken. This does not mean that one can still not stand up for what is right and protect those who cannot protect themselves. When there is injustice, Christians should be standing up to it. Not worrying what others will think. This is not to say that you yell at a girl is who afraid because she had a lapse in judgement and cannot see a way out other than abortion. You do not call her a murderer. You don’t look down on her. We have all murdered when we compare ourselves to the standard set by Christ. If you want to look down on a seventeen year old girl for an abortion then examine yourself and make sure you have not called a brother or sister, raca.

What the members of the Church should be doing is to find a way to correct the injustice of abortion. One of the best ways is to fight poverty. Many abortions occur in the poorest areas in the nation and many times involve girls who are minorities. Another is to encourage a girl who is pregnant without scolding her for exploring options that society gives her. One can pray for that girl and that child.
We also need to be attacking the injustice of abortion with facts and logic. This once again means not attacking the individual. I will never know what it’s like to be someone in that position. I do however know that a life is involved. We as pro-lifers many times act as if the life before birth is different than the life after birth. We look at the child as an eternal argument with the pro-choice crowd. We are only willing to yell and scream to save that life. When we would be willing to give much more of ourselves to save children who have cancer. We need to be doing more to save both children.

I say all of that to say this. I understand the point that Pope Francis is making. People need to feel comfortable approaching Christ as they are not as they should be. It reminds me of the hymn, “Just as I am”. He is not condoning abortion. He is saying that eternal matters need more focus along with other social issues. This does not mean that Christians should stop fighting to end abortion. Jesus still told the rich they were greedy and were exploiting the poor while inviting them to follow Him just as they were.

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9/11

So twelve years ago tonight I was laying down knowing that the world had changed.  At the time, I only had one daughter and I knew that she would spend the remainder of her childhood growing up in a different world than I had had an opprotunity to live.  I knew that if I had another child (which I did), that they would be born into a different world than their sister had been born.  I also knew that in the years to come, we would see what America was made of and how we would respond.  We would show the world our true values.  I have been happy with our response at times and saaddened at other times but in the end I am continually proud to be an American.

As I sit back and think about the days following 9/11, I remember how angry I was at these attacks.  I could picture innocent people, some may have been children, being on planes heading to the sides of buildings to kill more innocent people.  I would think that some brave people had to make a choice of whether to play it safe and hope their plane would not be used as a weapon or make the bold choice to take the plane over knowing that the consequnce maybe their own lives. I remember thinking that I was not sure if I would have had the same courage as them. They represented to best of us in the face of pure evil. I can remember seeing images here and there of the buildings falling and of people jumping. What kind of Hell is behind a person that the Hell hundreds of stories below is not nearly as bad? I say here and there because I was in a place where I could not watch TV all day. I know if I had been able to watch it all day then I would have obsessed over it. I also remember thinking that we should not give up on our values because we were attacked. If we change then those who committed these acts would have met their ultimate goal.

After the dust settled and we knew who to take on in this fight, we went after them. Our military ramped up and went where the nation asked. I do not believe that everyone in our military is a fine upstanding citizen or is even the classic patriot like we want to believe. This does not disappoint me either. They are all people who are trying to either make themselves better, their family better or the country better. They many times are rough around the edges and live hard. Once again, I do not have a problem with this because they know how to get the job done when asked by the nation. They are just normal people who have decided to take on extraordinary tasks and to have a noble profession.

Our government has made decisions that I think were right at times and other times I have strongly opposed. They had a chance to declare war instead of allowing the president to make all the decisions on his own. They made a poor decision. The government has become more intrusive in our lives. We have decided to and allowed them to know more about us than ever before in our history. We have allowed them to detain people to include Americans at one point without due process. They have killed people to include Americans without due process. There are no-fly lists, terrorist watch lists and even kill lists.

I say all of that to say this. We cannot go back and pretend that we live on 9/10/01 but we also cannot live in the same fear as we did on 9/12/01. I may criticize the handling of our liberties and security but I do not always know what president knows. This may sound like a strange statement on so many levels for a few reasons but I think Presidents Bush and Obama have done what they feel is best for the nation. Their intentions have been good but we all know where the path of good intentions leads us. We have to learn to live with the same values we had on 9/10/01 but still stay as secure as possible so that generations to come may experience the blessings that we have all experienced.

I am reminded of what turned my thinking around on this subject. I too at one point would defend putting people in prison without a trial and using drones to take out suspected terrorists. I was up one night flipping around the channels on TV and came up on an episode of Star Trek: DS9. Yes fellow nerds, I know you did not like DS9. Well, I did!!!!! This episode was the one when Chief O’Brien had been captured by the Cardassians and was being forced to stand trial for war crimes. He was being denied all of his rights. I remember my first thought being, “Some liberal propaganda about how Bush is a tyrant.” Then it dawned on me, this was an episode from 1995ish. This was not post-9/11 ridicule by Hollywood. This was an episode boasting of what America stood for and how these values should trump all others. After this, I took a deep look in my soul and thought how I wanted to pass these values along to future generations. Not just have them on a piece of paper that meant nothing.

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September 12, 2013 · 5:18 am

Not So Drunk On Power

So this past week President Obama went to the American people with a statement about his plan of action for Syria. It was a curveball that I never saw coming. He said he would go to Congress. He has come under tons of criticism about this decision. And if anyone knows me, they know that I will criticize him when I think he is wrong. In this case, he is very right.

I don’t know what his motivations are for going to Congress. He pushed forward with military action during the Libya civil war without congressional approval. Maybe he has had a change of heart. Maybe he learned during that situation that it is smarter to have Congress approve so they cannot complain later. It was of course Senator Obama who railed against the executive using military force without congress involvement. Perhaps it is because there are very few allies willing to join us on this one. Whatever his motivations maybe, he is going down the correct path with Syria.

Why should he go to Congress? It’s constitutional. While this is not going to be a war, it is a military action. The sprit of the Constitution is that Congress approves military action and the President executes it. We have had plenty of military actions without Congress being involved in the decision making progress. Most have come in the post WWII era. There is even the War Powers Act that outlines rules for presidential military actions. In my most humble opinion this act is not constitutional. Congress cannot just give broad powers meant for it to the president. Schecter Poultry v. United States covers Congress doing such things. John Locke, a huge influencer on the framers, argued against the legislative handing over its powers to the executive. Many of the framers also understood that the executive was more apt to declare war than the legislative. So the best way to keep the nation out of conflict was to give the power to declare war to the congress and allow the executive to run the war for efficiency purposes. When congress is involved, the conflicts and wars are more likely to be justified.

Military action in Syria is a horrible idea and for many reasons. Yes, the Assad regime has committed a terrible act but it has been for quite sometime. They have butchered and butchered. This time they chose a less acceptable method according to international norms. We do have those norms for a good reason. There other ways to deal with the violation of norms outside military action. And keep in mind that Syria has never signed onto chemical weapons bans. Not that that makes it better but something to keep in mind. It’s also a bad idea because there are no good guys in this fight or very few. I’ve heard there are some moderates that are part of the rebellion but they seem to be few and far between. Most of these rebel groups are either Al-Qaeda backed or inspired. Have we not learned anything about helping the enemy of my enemy. We are also going to create more destruction without a clear goal. We are becoming the parent or referee in this fight. We are going to punish one side for breaking rules. What will we do if the rebels break rules? Will we have a military strike on them as well? Or will that be Russia and China’s job?

I say all of that to say this. Military action in Syria is not a good idea. However, I am a realist and know that governments go to war and many times for much less noble reasons. While I am not in favor of a military action, the president going to congress is the right thing to do and he should be applauded not criticized.

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Max The Minimum

I’m not an economics expert. Is there any out there that can explain to me what the minimum wage should be? I just heard that a representative in the House wants minimum wage to be $10.10. When I was a kid, I think it was about $3.25 an hour. When I started working as a teen it went up to $4.25 then $4.75 an hour. Where should it stop? Twenty dollars an hour? Because in that case I will end up being a minimum wage worker.

So let us take a gander at the U.S. Department of Labor statistics concerning the minimum wage worker. Of those making the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, half are under the age of 25 years old. This is while the under 25 crowd only makes up one-fifth of the hourly wage population. Ten percent of those with less than a high school education made minimum wage compared to four percent of those with a high school diploma and two percent with a college degree (sucks to be that two percent). Never-married workers were twice as likely to make minimum wage. Eleven percent of part time workers make minimum wage compared to full time workers who are about at two percent. About three-fifths of minimum wage workers were in service occupations, mostly food prep and serving related jobs. So I concluded from these stats (probably wrongly) that to stay out of the minimum wage group was to get an education, grow up a little, work a full time job and stay out of food service. The marriage thing according to the site has more to do with the fact that most people who have never married are young and that was a more significant factor to making minimum wage than the actual being married part. These figures did not include overtime pay, tips and commissions.

Let’s be honest about something, what is a person who is young and does not have an education really bringing to the table for an employer? They have little if any experience and more than likely a limited skill set. I am not trying to downgrade their status as a person. I am simply pointing out their weaknesses due to being in the position that they are in. They will many times bring a willingness to learn and a greater ability to learn. Motivation could go either way.

What about the older but uneducated worker? What do they bring to the table for employers? They probably have work experience and possibly have a skill set. I think their motivation will typically be higher than the younger workers because they will have more responsibility than a younger worker.

The thing that all under-educated workers have in common is their best marketable skill set is they can perform manual labor. They have not shown they can do a job that requires critical thinking skills. That doesn’t mean they can’t or one day can. They have not taken the necessary steps to show it. So when it comes to getting a job, they only qualify for a job that 95 percent of the rest of the population qualifies to do. This puts them at a terrible disadvantage when it comes to getting a good wage.

Many say the raising of the minimum wage is good for the economy because more people will be spending more money. A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank shows every dollar added to the minimum wage increases spending in that worker’s household by $2,800 annually. Another study in 2009 by the Economic Policy Institute, predicts that increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 would result in an additional $60 billion in spending over two years.

Ever so often I hear politicians arguing over the minimum wage. It seems the argument will never stop. Those who support raising minimum wage do so out of a value of wanting to get workers out of poverty. Those who oppose raising it do so out of a value of wanting to keep goods cheap and as many people as possible employed.

One of the most interesting stats from the Department of Labor study was the portion of workers making minimum wage. In 1979, 13.4 percent of workers made minimum wage. In 2012, it was 4.7 percent. I would have thought it would be higher today than in 1979 since the minimum wage keeps going up.

One final thing to keep in mind is how American workers compare to the rest of the world. If a worker works 40 hours a week for minimum wage, they will make $15,080. This puts them in the top seven percent in the entire world for richest people. That is according to the http://www.globalrichlist.com. I get this feeling that when people around the world hear about American workers complaining about pay, they get the same feeling I get when athletes and team owners fight over revenue.

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It’s All About Me

So three punks shoot an innocent guy for the fun of it. What’s wrong with America is that we have created a “me first” culture. While it does not lead the vast majority of us to kill, it has led to many of us to not care. In some cases this has led to people killing others.

Sometimes they give the excuse they were protecting property. Other times they were just bored. Other times they did not want the burden.

We have to get rid of the me first mentally. Quit watching TV shows, with your kids, that depict money, sex and power as being the top goals in life. Stop listening to music with them that says getting rich means you made it in life and that your entertainment equals your happiness. Stop worrying about how you or those you love will be killed due to racism or terrorism. Stop trying to stifle free speech through the arts.

Teach your children to put everyone else first. Teach them to live a bold life without unhealthy fear of other people. Most of all, teach them to love and respect their fellow man above all on this Earth. Teach them to see the wonders of God around them and to thank Him daily.

You can fear guns all that you want but that will not help society. Fear self-centeredness. Do not fear who can hurt your body or kill you but fear how you and evil can destroy your soul.

Evil will use anything to destroy your soul. Fear, greed, your own good intentions and anything else you can think of except true love and caring for others along with God.

This senseless murder saddens me. I was 22 years old not so long ago. I have lived lots of good life since then. I am glad that it did not end there. I also feel bad for youth in America. Many do not have someone in their lives to guide them. They get their sense of values from the internet, TV, music and others their own age who have no one leading them either. If you have kids, sit down with them and teach them to love others. Not just feelings but actions. Love is nothing without actions.

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The Odd Couple: Thick and Thin

It is a rare thing in life to have a life long friend. In today’s world, it is easier to keep up with people. We have email, social media and cell phones. How many people will be there for you through thick and thin? It is probably very few if any at all. Family will almost always be there for you out of a sense of duty. Significant others will be there because they feel a strong attachment to you. But a life long friend will be there for no logical reason. They are not your blood, they are not so strongly attached to you that there is pain if you’re not around.

I am fortunate that I have brothers that I know that I can count on when push comes to shove. I am fortunate that I have a significant other that will be there and pick me up when I fall. She will not let me fail. She pushes me to be better than I am without pushing me away. I have a few friends out there that I can could call right now and they would do everything in their power to help. You guys know who you are and know that I am blessed to have you in my life, no matter where you are in the world right now. But I have one friend who has been there for so long.

In 1993, I moved to a new school. I went from a school district of 1500 students to a middle school (7th and 8th grade) with 1500 students. I went from a school where all but two guys played football to a school where there was a need for actual P.E. classes because not every guy played sports. To say it was intimidating would be an understatement. To make things worse, I changed schools in the summer between 7th and 8th grade. So I show up to a school where people already have formed cliques and friendships. That year I only made one friend but what a friend to make.

We had the last class of the day together. Were we ever opposites and still are to this day. He sat at the front of the class. Not just the front but at a table next to the front chalk board by himself. I sat in the back of the class or as close as I could get to it. I really don’t how or why we started talking to each other but one day we did. It was kind of funny because we were in middle school and we found that we had one thing in common. Something that old men would find out about each other. We both listened to Rush Limbaugh and had an interest in politics. I can assure you that it is ok now though, we don’t listen to him anymore. At that time, I think that was about it for us. Once again, we were opposites. He was a good student. I was the guy who said that I would not open my history book all year because I was going to prove the history teacher wrong. The first day of school the teacher said we could not pass the class if we did not open the book. I got an 80 something in that class. He still reminds me that I have authority issues.

That entire year in 8th grade, we would talk everyday and he would not say my name because he could not remember it. I knew his name. The next year in high school, we would sit together at lunch everyday. I don’t think we ever had another class together again. We may have but I can’t remember now. Throughout part of 9th grade, he still did not know my name. I really don’t know how or when he figured it out but he did at some point. He tells his students about it now days. In high school, I was the under achiever and he would be the diligent worker. He had an order to his room at home while I was and still am messy. We went to driver’s ed school together. His dad had already taught him how to drive. One could see the frustration he had when I would drive crazy. We would make it through high school and graduate together.

Right after high school, I would get married and leave for the army that summer. He was the best man at my wedding. He would go and see me off at 4am when my recruiter picked me up to take me to the MEPS. I still remember him driving next to us for a short bit. He would write me on a regular basis when I was in basic training. I was just reading some of those letters. They were so encouraging. Also kept me connected to the real world.

Through the years, I moved around. I even lived on another continent for year. I knew that I had a friend to call anytime that I needed. He was always my hero. He was busting it in college and being the good guy. I remember going to watch him walk the stage for his bachelors. He motivated me to get mine one day. Anytime that I would come home on leave, he and I would talk for hours. Then one day, I was out of the army.

The few years after the army, he and I did not hang out much. Yet, he was still there in the important times. Within months of me getting out of the army, my dad died. My friend for so long was there for me. He sat with the family at the funeral. He is family. He had even lived with my family for a short time while he was in college and I was in the army. I don’t know if he knows it or not but my dad thought highly of him. Another one of the other times that sticks out to me during that time was when we went to a football game. It was a six hour drive there both ways. Plus you have to count the three hours for game time. Plus we had to get there early like we do for all sporting events. It was an all day affair. I am so glad that we did that. The game sucked but we got to know each other so much better that day. We talked about everything. We did a few other things together here and there during those years but it was few and far between.

About two and a half years ago, I came to him with bad news. I was getting a divorce and my life was a disaster. He didn’t have to say anything. I could tell he did not approve. He still told me his thoughts and was honest how he felt about the situation. That still did not stop him being there for me. As I got back on my feet, I stopped calling and contacting him. That was wrong of me but he was such a good friend, I felt like I was making him choose between our friendship and his values. Getting a divorce was not in my plans and I knew it was wrong but at the time, I did not know where else to go. After probably a year, we started talking again and I hope that he understood where I was coming from. Not sure if he does or not but when it comes to our friendship that does not matter. We are committed to the friendship. We would go without talking again here recently. Mainly because we both stay busy.

Today was his birthday party. We have hung out a couple of times recently so its not like it has been months but it still had that feeling like it had been awhile. I got to meet his significant other. She is great and I hope they work because I can see the love there with them.

I don’t know what kind of friend he would consider me these days. He is my best friend. I have not been the best friend to him. I know we won’t always agree and I know there is more disappointment in the future. However, I also know that one of us will attend the other’s funeral one day and will laugh and cry with tons of memories.

I say all of that to say this. Find that person who has been a life long friend. The one who is there through thick and thin. The one who is not a yes man. The one who can tell you that you are wrong but will throw their arm around you and say “let’s attack this together”. That kind of friend is rare and is probably as unique as a snowflake.

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August 4, 2013 · 2:32 pm

Don’t Worry. Be Happy, Happy, Happy. Part Two

So Saturday night I was sitting in a place called Pete’s Pianos when I checked my Facebook and found out that Kidd Kraddick had died. If you have not heard of him, he was a local DFW DJ that was syndicated throughout the country. Upon finding out about his death, many people went to social media to express their memories of him and their hurt knowing he was gone.

It made me think of my own mortality. Life is so short. My kids think they will live forever. I am just starting to realize that my life could be over tomorrow without any warning. Then I thought about the first part of this post which was only meant to be a one parter. I talked about helping others as the key to happiness. Living for something bigger than yourself.

When you look at Kidd Kraddick’s life, it appears that he did live for something bigger than himself. He had a charity that took terminally ill children to Disney every year. I think of that and I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a terminally ill child or the parent of a terminally ill child. How great it must have been to be able to have that one special moment in life in the face of death.

People came out in droves on social media to say what his life meant to them. What was even more powerful was to listen to his co-hosts of his morning show come on the air and say what he meant to them and the things he’d done for them. You can fool the public but you can’t fool the people who know you.

I say all of that to say this. One day we will all meet our Maker. I’m not sure what God said to Kidd. I know what I want Him to say to me one day, “Well done good and faithful servant.” That is my ultimate goal. The icing on the cake will be if people who hardly knew me say that I was always trying to think of others. The cherry on top will be if the people who knew me best will say the same thing.

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