Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 43

As many are aware, I am, with this latest gas crunch, only able to attend my congregation of choice every other Sunday. On the off Sundays, I worship with a local Baptist church which has an outstanding pastor. Not only is he a powerful witness of Jesus Christ but he is also an excellent speaker. Dismiss the thought of TV evangelists but hold onto the one that preaches on sin; and he’s “agin’ it.”

He touched on a recollection this morning about a fellow pastor who was dealing with repentance. Appropriate to the make up of his congregation, the preacher declared from the pulpit, “If you is what you was, you aint!” Priceless! That, my friends, is sound byte gospel in its finest hour. Amen brother!

Confidence in Congress

The Gallup Poll has released the results of its annual poll of citizens on their confidence in the country’s institutions. I am proud to announce far and away their greatest confidence is in the United States Military. A whopping 71% approved to a greater or lesser degree on confidence in their military. These are folks who can’t agree on whether the sun is shining. Had I been polled, I would have heartily agreed. You may follow the link and see where your favorite (?) institution ranked.

HMO's and other health care organizations duked it out with the Congress of the United States and they lost for the honor of being the least respected of all US institutions. The Congress came in at 12% with the health care outfits a close 13%. Think about it; 71-12! If it were a football game we would have turned it off before the half.

Since we are the boss of this outfit, we must share part of the blame. Yes, you and I elected these people to represent us. Even the much maligned George Bush has an approval rating 2 ½ times that of congress (28%.) Later this week I am preparing a post on the criminality of our current national legislators and comparisons to other historic periods. They are in no matter to be assumed to be all criminals. They all seem to hold an absolute disconnect from the people, however.

If you read the entire article you will find that Americans generally are losing confidence overall in their institutions. Aside from the military, small business and the police not one scored above 50%. The churches and religion have been going steadily downhill for nearly two decades. There are two factors at work here which are worth considering.

It is possible that Americans are becoming more self-reliant in the face of institutional inefficiency. If you are in full do-it-yourself mode through necessity or increased affluence, the need for these institutions becomes less. We used to joke in the gun store that you should call the police in an emergency and then call in an order for a pizza so you have something to eat while you wait.

The other factor is the public is becoming aware that institutions are so top heavy they have few personnel to actually “do” anything to assist you in life. Administrative pay scales have soared at the expense of having some guy to fill the pot holes in your street or to competently teach your kids. Compare the time you spend filling out the papers, waiting, and taking tests to the few minutes you spend actually talking face to face with a doctor. Don’t forget to press “1” for English.

Urban/Suburban Crime, One City's Solution

Unintended consequences are often the result of well intentioned but poorly thought through plans to help the impoverished. The link to The Atlantic will provide an insightful and thorough analysis of the results on one such plan.

Hanna Rosin provides the whole story of the unfolding tragedy of urban planners with an ill-conceived plan to alleviate poverty and offer advanced opportunity to the underprivileged. The essence is the result of moving crime at government expense to a new location. You have to read this one to believe it. The scary thing is the possibility of re-occurrence in cites similar to Memphis in the 500k to million population range. On the list of probables is Kansas City.

Here we have a revisit to planning which is too good to be true. The thought was wonderful but the mechanics failed in the understanding of cultural reality. Neighborhoods don’t create crime, criminals do. The most telling line is the observation that at least when the crime was confined to the projects, the police at least knew the address. Read it and be horrified.

Donnybrook on the Discussion Board

For those of you who read the discussion board on the Center Place website, this will come as no news. Some people on the board read the scriptures, understand the words and others don’t. It does not mean they are bad people, only that they are not thorough in their reading of God’s words. As is often pointed out on this site; words have meaning. The fact they don’t fit one's ingrained interpretation does not change the meaning.

Some people throw scripture bytes around like flaming darts. When faced with the words as written they retreat to either inspired thought or plead that English was not the original language. Not only do we have inspired scripture to counteract these contingencies we have the opportunity to ask our Creator of the truth of the issue. I doubt than any book has been subjected to more scholarly scrutiny than the Bible. For centuries, men have devoted their lives to forwarding the most reliable interpretation of the words as possible. If the word of God is insufficient to make your point, I don’t pretend to able to advise you.

It does seem to me that this senseless quibbling over the use of individual words takes time from the real mission we have to share the gospel. Give it a rest and bring someone to a previously unknown Christ.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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