Nine dollars a week

I am in panic mode trying to tie down epub publication of Raising Hell on Kindle and problems with the promotional web site. It is suddenly inaccessible and the server support people can't resolve it. So I will keep this short.

This week I was listening to CNN half heartedly and I heard a Republican pundit, a woman, say that she didn't see why women were so upset about being being denied access to birth control because Catholics oppose federal health care coverage. After all, she said, it's only nine dollars a week.1

I should have rewound to catch her name, but I wasn't thinking because I was busy dealing with problems (for instance, Kindle indents perform differently on every platform I tested so that what was barely noticeable on the Kindle reader leaped halfway across the page on an iPad). It wasn't until later that the implications of her comment soaked in.

To defend such outright discrimination as both Christian and inexpensive seems doubly ironic. The issue is that poor women need access to birth control. You need only refer to Luke 21, where Jesus says that two mites (nine dollars adjusted for inflation) is nothing for the wealthy but a poor woman's entire fortune.

The cost argument seems even more ridiculous considering how much a child will cost a woman who couldn't afford birth control.

1This post would come to the same conclusion even if the cost was nine dollars a month. However, various accounts indicate that the cost is much more than nine dollars a week, without insurance.back


Ryan: Jesus and Ayn hand in hand

It's no secret that, at least before his anointing as VP candidate, Paul Ryan was a devotee of Ayn Rand . Lately, he doesn't seem so sure, but this is because knee-jerk reactionary Christians don't like her.

I don't know why. A close look at Ayn Rand's philosophy shows that she and Jesus pretty much saw eye-to-eye. Except for the fact that she didn't believe in him, but that seems like a minor quibble these days. Jesus would rather we be Republican than Episcopalian, after all. Unless you're an Episcopalian Republican.

I read some of Ayn Rand's work, particularly her sermon from the fountainhead, and it seemed to eerily parallel the sermon on the mount. I've listed the key elements for readers below. I'm not bothering to include the sermon on the mount because Christians know that by heart.

The sermon from the fountainhead

  • Blessed are those who earn because theirs is the ability to buy whatever they need.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst if it motivates them to get off their asses and become successful.
  • Blessed are you when men revile you because it gives you a chance to prove how superior you are.
  • The meek will have to inherit if they get anything because they don't have what it takes to get it on their own.
  • Shine your light to the world so that others will want to buy it from you and make you rich.
  • Don't give alms to the poor because they don't deserve them. But if you don't have the strength of character to resist, do it in private so your competitors won't think you're weak.
  • Don't pray in public. No one's listening anyway.
  • No man can serve to masters, so serve yourself well.

So if you're a Tea Party member, you can quit worrying about Paul Ryan. He and Jesus and Ayn are thick as thieves. But, what am I saying? You're a Tea Party member. You probably never gave it a second thought.

Be at peace

Hats off to David Boudia, not because he won Olympic Gold (or rather not just because he won gold) after barely squeaking into the semifinals in platform diving. Rather for a comment he made after the qualifiers.

I have long forgotten the exact question, but he basically said he was content with the results whether he won or lost because God was in charge of the world.

This seems like a strange comment from an ultra-competitor, especially in contrast to the sentiments of Leo Durocher (“nice guys finish last”) or Vince Lombardi (“winning is the only thing”)1. Lombardi claimed he was referring to the will to win, that you can't win if you're willing to accept defeat. Boudia's comment certainly implied (at least at the time) he was fine with defeat and lacked the will to win.

Nonetheless, he is right. The world is not about us. This is true for believers and non-believers. The world is not about us and it never was. If, during the course of our lives, we are graced with something extraordinary, we should embrace it and be grateful.

Watchman Nee was very popular with charismatic and Pentecostal groups in the seventies. One of his core ideas was that believers need to learn to be at rest. A key element of that was to be at peace with the world, rather than trying to actively change events. This may sound suspiciously Buddhist, or even Zen, but even Jesus had to remind Judas that the problems of the world never end and it was acceptable to live in the moment.

God's plan includes us, but we should remember the design of the universe is not building to our lives.

1Lombardi claimed he was misquoted. If so, he misquoted himself often and to the press. There is still debate about the original source of the citation as well, but when winning is everything, and the only thing, stealing someone else's quip is acceptable. back

Let them compete

Blame Chick-Fil-A, not me, that gay marriage is a hot button issue again. Many Christians have made it a point to eat at Chick-Fil-A because it's against gay marriage; many others think the company shouldn't be allowed to do business. So I thought it was time to revisit the topic from the angle of crispy chicken goodness.

Is it okay for Christians to eat at Chick-Fil-A? According to Corinthians 8, yes. Even though KFC is clearly better and the colonel has yet to make his opinions public. You see, the Jerusalem's elders had ruled that Gentiles could be Christian as long as they didn't eat meat sacrificed to false gods (Acts 15).

As anyone who has read the Bible all the way through (the real Bible, not the authorized Tea Party version with only select underlined passages included or highlighted in red), God is literally silent on the subject “same sex marriage.”

So the anti-gay marriage god is a false god. However, Paul says its okay to eat meat (and presumably chicken) sacrificed in their honor. So it is perfectly acceptable to eat at Chick-Fil-A. Since the permission is only given to meat, however, fries and Peppermint Chocolate shakes may still be off limits.

Paul does admonish that Christians take the feelings of weaker believers into account, believers who may fall into sin based on our example. So Carol and I will continue to avoid Chick-Fil-A lest we offend some poor young Gay Christian. A boycott we began two Christmases ago when we first found out about the company's donations to stop Gay Marriage.

Well ahead of the rest of you posers, I might add.

But let's get back to the whole divorce question. The Bible, contrary to some misconceptions, is down on homosexuality but not same sex marriage. It is unequivocal on divorce. So why isn't divorce prohibited in the Defense of Marriage act?

I propose a simple solution.

Let same sex couples and straight couples marry for twenty years. After that, see which side has the highest divorce rate. If same sex couples have a higher divorce rate, ban gay marriage. If straight couples have a higher divorce rate, ban straight marriage,

If it's about the same, ban marriage altogether. Then there would be no divorce at all.

Surely even Jesus and Chick-Fil-A could get behind that.