CQ…Clark Here

Thoughts and opinions. LOTS of opinions.

Archive for the tag “Facebook”

Post Election Reflection, 2012

I have taken a break from Facebook.  After the election, I was hoping this would not happen, but the “end zone celebration” I saw from some was disheartening.  And I was so heartbroken over the results that I just needed to distance myself for a time.  I posted a couple of thoughts after the election, but since Wednesday I have seldom visited FB.

Wednesday morning, after the 2012 Presidential election, quite sincerely I posted the following on Facebook:

Brief thoughts on the election:

1) I am VERY happy for my friends that were pulling for Obama. Many were really invested in a win by him, and for them, I am truly happy. I do hope that all this silliness of “voter fraud,” disenfranchisement” and so on will be put to rest.

2) God is still on his throne. He did not wake up this morning, check the paper, slap his forehead and say, “Holy crap! …How did this happen?” He knows, he watches, and no matter who is the President of the US, He directs the course of history.

3) I worry for America. I believe we will be looking at a radically (not in the political sense) different country. In my opinion, we have slid a long way since the “Shining City on a Hill” that we were under Reagan.

4)I am disgusted with the Republican party that they cannot present a candidate that espouses conservative principles. I mean TRULY conservative principles. When done properly, conservative principles resonate with every voter group in the US.

5) I like cats. A lot. As much as I like dogs, maybe a bit more. This is perhaps a bit unusual for conservative types, so I am hoping when the liberal zombie police come to eat the livers of all good conservatives, maybe they’ll give my house a pass because I like cats. (kidding, people)

6) I still like good beer, and it is there for our enjoyment. I don’t care what one’s political position is, if you make good beer, we are best buds. Although, I MIGHT direct certain friends toward skunky beer due to their politics. *cough SteveS*

Of course I was being humorous with the last couple points, but the first four were completely serious. I woke up on Wednesday to an America for which I fear. I prayed more sincerely for President Obama than I probably have in the previous four years. I prayed for America, for my children, for my wife, myself, my friends and family.

I started musing on this about a week ago with a post from a liberal friend of mine. He had posted a “Nation of Change” article written by Robert Reich. Read the article here: “We the People, and the New American Civil War”. I had wanted to comment, but my thoughts were far too detailed to present in Facebook’s format.

First, a personal disclaimer regarding Mr. Reich. Robert Reich was in Bill Clinton’s cabinet as the Secretary of Labor. If one asked him, I believe he would say that politically he is a Moderate. But I have trouble with that. His background, his education, his statements all indicate to me that he is definitely liberal, and comes from a liberal perspective. So, I have a problem with him right there. Whatever one’s politics, my preference is that one be honest. Call it “Liberal” or “Progressive,” be honest about your stance.

In his article, Mr. Reich’s point is that our main challenge as a nation is for all of us “to rediscover the public good,” and what he indicates is that we need to meet more in the middle, and basically disregard the far right and the far left. There are several problems with Mr. Reich’s article, and I believe Mr. Reich to be much closer to the “far left” than he pretends to be.

In his first paragraph, talking about the vitriol of the latest Presidential campaigns, he feels that it is “Worse than the Palin-induced smarmy 2008. Worse than the swift-boat lies of 2004…” The problem is that in 2008 the only vitriol that I recall was toward Palin, not because of her. The hatred, vicious name-calling, and sexualizing of Mrs. Palin was truly appalling, and had it been a woman of the Democrat party being treated as she was by someone of the conservative persuasion, the howling and backlash would have been heard around the world, and yet how she was treated is apparently ok according to liberal standards (side note: I am not speaking of all liberals, I have many liberal friends that I cherish and trust. When I speak of liberals here, I am talking about what I see nation wide, in the media, and in the entertainment industry). Further, nothing that the swift-boat veterans said was inaccurate or lies. These were valiant men, serving with distinction in a miserable conflict. These men came forward and testified against the 2004 Democrat candidate for President and his claims of serving with distinction. And that is their crime. They disputed the only veteran the Democrat party has been proud of since the Vietnam war. And that is because he publicly denounced, not only the war, but the men who served in it. These men came forward, knowing they would be reviled, to set the record straight. And Reich calls them liars.

Second paragraph: Mr. Reich recognizes the many divisions in America, including “whether women should have control over their bodies, ” speaking of abortion, and I agree with him that the divisions he speaks of are not new. However, the issue of abortion is not simply that of whether women should have control over their bodies, any more than the Civil War was just a conflict over state’s rights. This is a topic that rates its own blog at some point, I suppose, but for now, suffice it to say that Mr. Reich oversimplified it here, and I believe he likely does it purposely. Or else it is that simple in his mind. Either way, I think it is telling.

I like what he said about things being more separated, geographically and online; this may have a spark of truth. It does seem that we have clustered as conservatives and liberals, without a ton of contact. However, I think that if one is seeking, regardless of political persuasion, relationship with people, it is actually easier to find than before. Many of my liberal friends I have found on Facebook. I enjoy spirited, passionate debate on issues (clearly, they never win, but it’s only because their feeble arguments wither in the presence of my stunning repartee, and the blinding logic of my positions. Right guys? Hey! Did you ever notice when one is correct, one says, “right?” One never says “left.” Kidding guys. Love you all!) with a number of committed liberals, who are just as convinced of their position as am I. We respect one another’s positions, thoughts, and backgrounds. I find that I am actually more brutal with those with whom agree than I am with those that disagree. I insist that my friends be shown respect and consideration, and I try to moderate the debates with those ideals.

In paragraph six, of Mr. Reich’s article he mentions Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and proclaims both of them to be “ultimate arbiters of truth.” I cannot speak of Murrow, as that was quite some time before me. However, I understand that his fall from grace with CBS happened when Murrow bitterly complained that CBS was giving equal time to individuals on the opposite side of the issues he criticized. Further, Cronkite broadcast also at a time in which he was not the “ultimate” arbiter of the truth, but the only arbiter of the truth. Both men had, and enjoyed, unfettered and unopposed voices in what they presented to the public. And this I believe, is the actual problem. Mr. Reich goes on to attack Fox News and Rush Limbaugh as eagerly exploiting the anger and frustration of the “white working-class.” Mr. Reich calls them “pedlars of petulance,” and states that many of today’s politicians have “gained political power by fanning the flames.”

But I believe that Mr. Reich is emblematic of what the actual problem is here. I believe what he is actually upset about (and I doubt he would agree, or even recognize this) is that conservatives actually have a voice. Conservatives have avenues to get the news that are not controlled by those with whom they disagree. Avenues that are not presenting only one viewpoint. Fox News in particular is reviled by the left, and often cited for its “lies.” Does Fox News lie? Most of the “lies” presented are merely a different viewpoint from the person making that claim, and often, inspection finds that they aren’t lies at all. Further, Limbaugh, although sometimes bombastic, seldom presents anything that could be accused of being a blatant untruth.

I remember when I first heard Rush Limbaugh. It was probably close to twenty years ago, and at the time, I hated talk radio, and I only tuned in because a friend suggested I do so. When I listened to Limbaugh’s show, I nearly wept. I honestly thought that I was one of the few people in the entire world that believed as I did, but here was a man speaking from a position that resonated with me. I continue to listen to Limbaugh, not to “get the truth,” but because in my opinion, he presents the truth. Do I agree with all he says? No, but it’s not that difficult to separate that stuff out, and I think most can do the same.

Same with Fox News. Is it biased? Yep, but they make no bones about it, as opposed to CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and on and on. Nearly every news outlet has a slant or bias, but my frustration is that they refuse to admit it. I would have much more respect for any of the above if they would admit their bias, and work to present the other side. Fox News has a list of liberal commentators and contributors that clearly and cogently present the liberal viewpoint. As far as I have seen, the other networks may have a token conservative or two, but no one noteworthy, and very few that are taken seriously by anyone.

Here is the problem. The “left” has become the new “center.” and “meeting in the middle” means capitulating with the liberal position. Vitriol? That expressed against those with a conservative position is unrivaled and more frightening than anything one hears from a conservative position. Express a conservative thought or position? You are at best uncaring, and more likely a hateful, angry person. None of the conservative entertainers or commentators express the hate and anger expressed by liberals in the same industry, and yet those on the left are defended, and their jokes draw long, sustained laughter. Very seldom (and I am being generous, here) are they castigated for their words, let alone punished or an apology demanded. List something Limbaugh said that was hurtful and I can list ten from top liberals. And I can almost bet that Limbaugh apologized for what he said, unlike the comments from the other side of the aisle.

This post is not intended to be an apologetic for Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. And I intentionally oversimplified the issues. My intent is to describe my thoughts on the political divide in which we find ourselves, and the disparity I see between left and right. In today’s world, the NRA (National Rifle Association) is not a member-driven group intent on protecting one of our basic Constitutional rights, it is an extremist organization. Focus on the Family is not an organization seeking to preserve the family as the Biblical center of our society, it is a hate group. This is a clear shift in where the country has come from. Those who believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God are not sincerely trying to follow God’s design for their lives, they are dangerous haters, trying to shove their zealous religious beliefs down people’s throats.

I am not a Luddite. I love technology, and love many aspects of where our society is right now. However, I believe there has been a shift in our society, and one that I do not see as altogether good. I believe that we must show dignity to all, regardless of viewpoint. However, it seems to me that the pendulum has swung to where those with a conservative viewpoint are increasingly seen as loony, stupid, or mean, or some combination of the three.

After the recent election, I found that I despair for our country. President Obama was elected back into that office, and now has four more years to work on his vision of America. And I believe that vision to be bad news for our country. Call it Socialist, Statist, or simply Progressive, it doesn’t much matter, it amounts to much the same thing. I believe we will see more confiscation of wealth (but not from liberal celebrities). I believe we will see an expansion of government’s role in our lives. I believe we will see the declining of America’s prestige in the world. I believe we will see a reduction in the military. I believe we will see more, not less, terrorism. I believe we are in more danger economically, socially, and physically than ever before. We are a Representative Republic. And the president has been re-elected. And I fear for what that means for all of us.

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Lessons from the fast.

Our week of fasting was interesting.  I am not naturally inclined toward fasting, it is not something toward which I am drawn.  The fact is, I like food.  I like the smell, the taste, the texture.  There is very little that I do not like about food.  Beth and I have fasted in the past, including two Daniel fasts in conjunction with our church, and the infrequent day of fasting through the years.  So I am somewhat familiar with fasting, at least to some degree, but I do not look forward to the times I go without food.

I think I was looking for some sort of “breakthrough” moments like I experience during our week-long missions trip to the Dominican Republic.  That was not a mountaintop experience, but more of a consistent, gradual healing of my spirit, one that I have needed for some time.

But that was not what I experienced during the fast.  That fact alone was a bit disconcerting, which is my fault for setting up expectations and not just waiting for the week to unfold.

The hunger was a great reminder to pray, and I did.  I prayed a lot through the week, on a variety of topics: family, friends, my wife, myself.  I seriously prayed a lot over the week, and that was very good.  Further, my daily readings in the Bible were also very good, very nourishing, if you will.  I found a real enjoyment in the reading, in the praying, and in the closeness that I felt with God.

And there were several other good things through the week.

For quite a while I was a Facebook junkie.  Keeping up with friends and family was very enjoyable, as was posting my opinions on topics and the give and take  with people who had different opinions or political persuasions.  It was a good opportunity to reconnect with childhood friends as well.  One of which was an acquaintance from high school.  I can’t guarantee this, but I believe he had friended me.  We weren’t really close way back when, but going to a small school we knew each other, and he was ok as far as I was concerned.  I remember him as a good-natured guy, easygoing, rather quick-witted and fun to be around.  However, something changed.  I noticed that on FB he was frequently acerbic, and rather taunting in his posts on my page, both with me as well as with others who posted on my comments.  I tried using humor to tone down his anger and pointed posts, but apparently my efforts were not appreciated.  It culminated in a post I made on a very controversial topic.  I posted what I thought I was simply a throwaway line on a topic that I am very passionate about.  In retrospect, I should have known what a backlash this would generate, but at the time I was caught completely by surprise.  What a firestorm!  A friend of my daughter questioned my Christianity, and would not dialogue.  Others blasted me as well, including my high school acquaintance.  Here’s what he wrote:

“It must be comforting in your black and white world, clark. One victim is obviously too many…you think you know me because we went to high school a long time ago…you don’t. I don’t know anything about you since then either…this is not a jibe, a bait or even sarcastic humor….it is adios. I have better things to do in this short life than read your self-rightous bullshit…good luck….”  (I’m not sure he really meant the “good luck part”)

In and of itself not that big a deal, but combined with his sarcasm and rather mean replies to my friends, it was a bit much.  He then un-friended me.  I attempted dialogue, but he refused.

This type of issue is very difficult for me.  I do my best to get along, and much prefer reconciliation to discord.  And for him to act in this manner was disconcerting to say the least.  It has been very difficult to let go of this, and it has been bothering me to some degree since around mid-January.

This has all been background for me to explain how huge it was that God laid it on my heart to let go of this whole thing during our week of fasting.  I noticed that early in the fast I seemed focused on this incident, and it seemed to be affecting my spiritual life.  I had no peace, just a jangled sense of disturbance, and it seemed to focus on my old acquaintance.  I realized (yeah, I can be a bit of a slow learner sometimes) that I needed to let the incident, as well as my acquaintance, go.  I’m not certain I was able to do so one-hundred percent, but I am much, much closer than I was before the fast.  And boy does that feel good!

Further,  as I had stated in an earlier post on this blogsite, I experienced some fairly intense kidney pain right around day three through day four or five of the fast.  I thought it would dissipate quickly, but it lingered, and prevented sleep for a couple of nights.  I had intended to take no analgesics at all for the duration of the fast, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and so on.  However, with the pain I experienced, not only did I need some pain relief, I loaded up.  I was quite disappointed in myself for that.  Also, I was at a local shop about mid-way through the fast, and they always have a small bowl of Hershey’s kisses for the customers.  I always have one or two, and without thinking, I picked one up, unwrapped it, and popped it in my mouth.  Enjoyed it, too.  It wasn’t until later that I realized I had unthinkingly broken my fast.  And that frustrated me as well.

But as the week went on, I kind of changed my thoughts on this.  I think I’m kind of grateful that I did “fail” in those regards.  I could easily become a bit proud of the fact that I completed the fast, and that I did so to the very smallest detail or requirement that I had set for myself.  Which, of course, would have been completely contrary to the entire intent of the fast itself.  So I wound up being thankful that I had not had the “perfect” fast.

Various other insights were also given to me through the week.  I will describe just a couple here.

As part of his Sunday message on March 4th, Pastor Bob Klecan shared a text he had gotten from a friend, talking about the fast we had just begun.  The text said, “Do you think this week of fasting is causing people to realize that they’re actually not replacing food with a fast but rather that they’re actually replacing food with a feast?”  I found that to be profound, and this thought was echoed through the week with my reading in the Word.  One example is from Phillipians 1: 9-11.  It says, “9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

This passage calls to me.  This is exactly what I want my life to look like.  This is exactly what I want to be.

In the end, the week of fasting was not a spiritual rocket taking off.  If anything that “liftoff” was what I gained from our week in the Dominican Republic.  The week of fasting was instead, a booster attached to that rocket.  The fasting did not give me liftoff, but it kept me going.  I am grateful for the lessons learned, and for the spiritual applications I gained.  In fact, as unbelievable as this is to me, it is likely that Beth and I will be much more regular with fasting.  We have discussed making this a quarterly event, with our next one as early as sometime in June.  And for someone who loves food as I do, that’s a miracle in and of itself.

Really? Come on, Really?

I remember a number of years ago that I had examined my life, and found many aspects lacking.  Whether due to a sermon, a book I was reading, I’m not sure, but I remember fervently praying, “God, make me like Christ.  Make my life like Christ’s, my thoughts, my attitudes.  Mould me, shape me, make me like Christ.”  In retrospect, perhaps I should have prayed for God to leave me alone.  I’m being facetious, but my main point is that when one prays a prayer like that, God takes you at your word.  I swear the answer I heard to that prayer was a chuckle, and then, “Ok son, hang on.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”

And so it has been.  Clearly I am not even close to that goal, but believe it or not, I am light years closer than I was when I first prayed that prayer.

So I guess this weekend shouldn’t have been a surprise, but wow!  It has been a few weeks since I have had what I call a “decompression weekend.”  I was really looking forward to a relaxing couple days, reading a bit, watching a couple movies, hanging out with friends.  Believe me, that is not what I got.

On Friday, Beth and I were scheduled to meet with another couple for dinner.  However, I had gotten a two shots on Thursday (Hepatitis A and tetanus, specifically, t-dap) for the upcoming Dominican Republic trip.  Friday afternoon, I reacted to the shot(s).  I had a low grade fever and chills so bad that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see an arm or leg get shaken right off my body.  Needless to say, we cancelled the dinner plans (picked them up on Saturday evening).

Saturday morning, I learned that a potential business opportunity had in all likelihood fallen through.  Being a “planner,” I had been playing with all the possibilities in my head, and having a ball.  Seeing that the opportunity might not be there was extremely disappointing.  Actually, it rocked me pretty badly.  Stunned, disappointed, frustrated, sad.  It pretty much affected the whole day (and it did indeed fall through.  Not sure why, but there it is).

Sunday?  Well, I posted on Facebook, a rather mild post regarding a really controversial topic.  It was intended by me as basically a throwaway, just a two liner to blow off a bit of steam about the topic.  But what a firestorm it started.  My Christianity was called into question, my integrity insulted, and I was absolutely pounded from multiple directions.  For any of you familiar with the game Civilization V (I am a self-confessed addict, by the way), I felt like what it must be like to play the game as Gandhi, and find out your civilization is sandwiched between Russia and Germany.  You just know it isn’t going to turn out well.  It got to the point that an aquaintence of mine from high school insulted me and immediately unfriended me.  I’m still puzzled at that one.  I have my suspicions, but whatever.  I was surprised by the vehemence of others’ opinions, and the venom in some of the responses to me.  Because I was surprised, and because I am struggling with other stuff (including the D.R. trip), it really hit hard.  Sleep came fitfully Sunday night, and in total there was precious little actual sleep by the time I needed to get up on Monday morning.

In any event, each day of the weekend was worse than the day before, and continued into Monday at work.  It was one of those days…

Which brings me back to my original point.   I have little doubt this is all due in some cosmic way, at least in part, to the D.R. trip.  I have little doubt that this is all designed to assist in knocking off my rough edges, and to mould me into a more Christ-like man.  But really?  All this does little to dispell the notion of me lying curled up on the ground, battered and beaten.  “How long, Oh, Lord?”  Wow.  This is really difficult, and I have no idea how long it’ll last.  Don’t know how to get past it, don’t know how to let it go.  It’s like a marathon, and I’ve been training for a five mile race.  2 Chron 20.12, “…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

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