George Schieck An unavoidable aspect - currently (though perhaps not forever) - of our domestic politics, is that anything and everything discussed by politicians for public consumption is "dumbed down."
George Schieck I'm suggesting that there is, as yet, no such authority. Or if there is, that it is still in the process of establishing/determining its own position(s). Historically, such a process has not been accompanied by a lack of turmoil; hopefully, now, however, such turmoil can be circumvented or reduced by the application of technological transparency and some reverse engineering.
George Schieck The analogy is not perfect, but it is illustrative and on point. The relative independence of storefront churches is tempered by their historical association with parent institutions and theologies (and those institutions/theologies do fit the analogy), as well as their location within a culture that has, I submit, experienced and essentially/largely outgrown the internecine turmoil that is still a factor elsewhere.
George Schieck Thank you for your outspoken stand against those who utilize, or endorse, terrorism & religious extremism. If I may, however, the cultural similarities, amongst all those who do not practice or endorse terrorism, are not as "exact" as you suggest. E.g.: Christian faith groups typically have central figures who speak for all clerics, & hold them accountable (i.e. Vatican, Canterbury, protestant Bishops, etc.). Islamic faith groups, however, as I understand it, are less structured, & their central figures have less control (de facto or de jure) over clerics. Plus Islamic leadership can be genealogical (from Mohammed) (e.g. Aga Khan), or a result of individual study & peer recognition (ayatollahs), or political (grand mufti), etc.. Parallels of institutional cohesiveness & clerical accountability, in Islam, seem to be less evident. What many in the West wish to see is moderate Islamic leadership actively, visibly, constantly, & effectively condemning voices of religious extremism.
George Schieck A dilemma with your observation(s) is that you identify Christianity with after-the-fact institutional manifestations (i.e. the Vatican), & all the doctrinal baggage that comes with that (trad. theism, patriarchal outlooks, etc.). Jesus didn't read the New Testament. Nor did he ever ask, or require, anyone to write it. All that any Christian needs is already in the Old Testament, including Love. Not to mention that the core values of Xtianity are not dissimilar from those of other religions. Metaphor need not be easy. It can be just as hard - indeed, more difficult - as traditional Doctrine (plus doctrine itself changes, & is therefore best regarded with healthy scepticism). Further, traditional theism is not required, hence Process Theology, etc., is growing. Church traditions flourish where modernity & education have yet to penetrate, also where clerical authority & Church opacity is still accepted. All this will change. A new, & more vibrant, faith will emerge.
George Schieck Yes, I think that democracy - some form of it - is inevitable in these regions. It is important to remember: (1) There are many types of democracy, including constitutional monarchy (e.g. UK) (2) Democracy in the West has been the result of a long slow slog dating back to the Magna Carta (1215), and is still evolving. (3) Those who expect full blown democracy in the Mid East tomorrow, or next year, are likely to be disappointed. But this century? Yes, there is very good chance for that. Bottom line, the Arab Spring should be supported, and the political process will continue to evolve.
George Schieck Assad is already a ghost; he will be gone sooner or later. The health of the Saudi monarchy (or that of any central power in Saudi), is not unconnected to the mindset of Wahhabism. In short, Islam itself must evolve, & it will (e.g. women), before, or concomitant with, meaningful change in Riyadh. "Decades of laissez-faire economics" - you are confusing generic societal or economic environment with specifics of policy. They are different. And the "fiscal cliff" is a political fabrication, created by both sides of the aisle. Boehner & the GOP are mired in inappropriate ideology, while the Dems are mired in the status quo, neither of which point to the future. The Arab Spring is not an overnight elixir; rather it is a step along a path that is reminiscent of everything from the Magna Carta to 1789, & 1863/1865/1964, & beyond. It is a tautology to say that the shape of power in Cairo will continue to evolve.
George Schieck These conclusions are not remarkable, nor are they fixed in stone. Obama has little stomach, & less budget, for international anything. Which must change in subsequent administrations if USA is to keep a seat at the table, & if the global commons is to avoid kinetic friction. Democracy does not occur overnight, & current Mid East events are but way points en route to a different destination. It's not surprising that Islam should flavor emerging Mid East govts, nor need that be - long term - problematic. Assad's days in power are surely numbered, which was apparent a long time ago. Russia is not the kingmaker you still suppose it to be. As Japan is not a kingmaker, so also that is true of Russia; wishful thinking and Cold War relics will not make it so. We - the globe - are in a period of transition; centers of power (demographic & economic) are shifting. My hope is that C21st can avoid the strife of C20th. But Washington will have to get off its butt first.
George Schieck Metaphor is very powerful. Literal interpretation of scripture is not a requirement for faith. Kung, Spong, Bultman, et.al., are on the right track, & Spong is correct: Christianity must change or die. There will, of course, be pockets of traditional theists here & there, but - long term - they will not be the norm. Many facets of Christianity, and other faith groups, have already moved in this direction. Bishop Spong before he retired is an example. As for the Vatican, it changes only when it has to, so we're talking a point in time whenever the southern hemisphere catches up with Darwin, male & female clergy, etc. I know atheists who are Rabbis and Xtian clergy (atheism need not be a repudiation of all deity). This adjustment in outlook & practice - to a Spong perspective - is inevitable. Pope Francis is not part of the future, rather he's yet another side of the traditional coin.
George Schieck This article's position is inherently problematic. For example: "every movement needs its martyrs, but she is yet another product of Western influence..." (i.e. martyrs are good, but then again they're not). Also: how is one to measure, yea or nay, "bearing fruit"? What are the parameters of "fruit"? How much time must pass before a measurement might be regarded as accurate or broadly illustrative? And so on. I believe this article's premise is too general, given its reliance on a few specific iterations. It's a given that change & friction are co-habitants. The real questions are how much friction is to be tolerated, or how fast change might or should occur, before passing judgment on this or that action. Besides, "social media" is precisely that - social - & when magnified by technology's speed & pervasiveness, there is little that is not ultimately felt everywhere & anywhere. Which is problematic for those wishing to fight the inevitable tide of awareness & transparency.
George Schieck This article is an overly optimistic portrayal of the new Pontiff as "exactly the Pope that the Church needs." Within the Roman Catholic church itself there are considerably variant views regarding transparency of clerical authority, who may exercise that authority, the nature of the Papacy, & so on. In short, there is a palpable difference between North & South (hemispheres), on these & related topics, with the weight of numbers, & conservative tradition, in the South. It's no accident that this new Pope is from the South. He will almost certainly strive, as much as possible, to retain the Vatican's conservative (& increasingly irrelevant) traditions/doctrines. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, it's almost a certainty that his election to the Papacy is essentially a clever maneuver to disguise the Vatican's penchant for reluctance to change. The real question here is whether or not Vatican II will be able to survive the continued onslaught of recent popes.
George Schieck It's not that black & white, Sam. Matthew's article is correct in describing the various projects and activities of the central govt. over the years since 1789. But even with such a list, and a name ("EP"), we are still left to wonder what might yet still be lumped into that very broad category. There is no one name or title that can adequately capture all of those various endeavors. Pretending otherwise, regardless of the flavor of govt you might prefer (left or right), is - I submit - problematic. My point is not that these various programs and projects should be kept as is or expunged. Rather, I support the view that these programs and projects are needed, but that their management and funding should not be Uncle Sam's responsibility. Rather, those programs (i.e. the safety net), should be relocated into some sort of national Mello Roos, with their own separate management and funding distinct from the federal budget.
George Schieck "Respect" and "right to control" - they are non-issues, and should be givens, provided that "control" is not a license for anything-goes. It's very likely that what is occurring now, with these extremes of unnecessary and belittling vulgarity, are - essentially - the pendulum swinging in a wide arc in the opposite direction from where it once was located (i.e. embedded in patriarchy and worse). But that does not make its present position - in the extreme opposite position - OK, or the new norm. Rather it is a passing fad, and will adjust yet again, and readjust, and readjust, with each swing of the pendulum until it comes to rest even-steven in the center. And then all this brouhaha will be past-tense rather than present-tense.
George Schieck Interesting snapshot of the SCOTUS proceedings. Thank you. I just saw a report from NYT indicating that the court might decide to not (yet) consider this case after all. Something about wanting to let the issue percolate more, before rendering a judicial opinion at this level. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-case.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_ee_20130327&_r=0 If so, then perhaps the "Game. Set. Match." depicted here might not (yet) be indicative of the entire court, or perhaps the judges might prefer to delay a decision that would impact all states alike (when many states still show quite different approaches to this topic). Also, if so, then I would favor a delay, because - eventually - I believe this will become a non-issue, and gay marriage will become just as normal as winter snow & summer warmth in seasonal climates.
George Schieck The article's premise that active international involvement by USA is a vital and crucial aspect of global stability & development, for everyone (including USA), is correct. I would caution, however, against the hard distinction that Chris seems to prefer between the efforts of DOD and DOS. Rather the seam between them is not black & white, it is gray, with considerable interplay. Both are aspects of government, and DOD is, as Clausewitz reminds us, "politics by other means." Identifiable battlefields, and antagonists who wear easily recognized uniforms, is a 19th century phenomenon. The 21st century has lost those distinctions. DOD must be concerned with reconstruction as well as with winning a fight. Indeed, reconstruction IS the fight. Long term "presence" by DOD, after kinetic operations, is not something to be shunned. Europe & Japan have taught us that.
George Schieck I am a human, Jessica, and so should you be. Biologists tell us that "race" is a non sequitur, although politicians are unable to grasp that basic & simple reality. (Morgan Freeman, BTW, has some interesting - and refreshing - observations on the subject): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s Meanwhile, ad hominems are just that, regardless of rationalizations. "White," "Black," "Red," etc. = meaningless. "Male," "Female" - there is, essentially, no differentiation between the two, aside from this or that biological appendage(s) and childbirth.
George Schieck Sal, this is not an impossibility. It just has to be launched. (BTW: government is NOT the entity that funds them, rather WE fund them, only we're not providing enough funding. Hence governmental debt. Nor is the current design fair: it contains both gaps and redundancies. It needs to be redesigned so everyone has a livable retirement (which is not hard to calculate - CFP's do it all the time), and health insurance (a nice group policy (nationwide) would be the cat's meow). People will not gripe about funding 401-k's, whereas they will gripe about paying taxes. If the separation does not occur, and the status quo remains the paradigm, then you are obviously correct. Which is why I've been maintaining the separation. It's not rocket science.
George Schieck Sal, your concern applies if entitlements remain politicized & part of government. They should be neither. Retirement & health are both societal functions - what persons have been doing for themselves & for each other since forever. There's nothing magic here that requires Uncle Sam to take charge. Instead, they need to be redesigned so that they work, and funded so that they work, & the government should have nothing whatsoever to do with any of it, period. Perhaps they could become something like a nationwide Mello Roos, or whatever. And whoever might not want to participate would have less access (if any) in time of need. It's a common sense approach. The "retirement" phenomenon will have interesting twists & turns when people start living, routinely, past 100 or 150 (those days are not too far away). I understand the demographic dilemma, but it's just not a government problem, period. This solution may not be inexpensive, but neither will it be a "tax."
George Schieck Despicable language is just that, Jessica, regardless of whoever might try to "own" it. Ad hominems do not change their stripes when person X utters them rather than person Y. The "B" word and the "S" word are not used by persons who truly value both themselves and/or those around them. And should those terms become common, their denotation has not become benign or elevated, rather those persons who endeavor to revel in their shock value have become blind/immune to any and all shock. Which is regrettable - to be human, there are things that should shock you. The rationalization you offer indicates a misunderstanding of those terms to begin with; they never ever had a proper referent, period. Rather their usage was indicative of cheap thrills, or perhaps a twisted rage, or maybe a defeated mind. Borrowing a term properly used by dog breeders, & using it instead as a referent for yourself and/or your friends, is incredibly shallow (& worse than shallow).
George Schieck Sal, there are other, much better, alternatives. The safety net is crucial and must be protected. Cutting entitlements is not the answer. Rather, entitlements (a 20th century invention) should be redesigned, so as to be fair and effective, and then removed from the federal budget and parked somewhere else. Uncle Sam is not a retirement home or an insurance broker, although those functions must be provided within our society. Sequestration - which will impact everything the federal government does, and is itself not a solution to anything - is dangerous & little more than an excuse for being afraid to think and act responsibly.
George Schieck Concur. Sequestration is essentially political drama (of the worst sort). It will also impact federal efficiency and value in every respect, across the board, and be more negative than not. "Sequestration is not a solution; the problem will still be there, even if sequestration occurs.
George Schieck Agree. Thank you. "Enough is enough" and "moving forward" includes discontinuance of despicable language - for example, the "n" word - by Blacks themselves when speaking about and amongst each other.