"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Monday, June 17, 2013

Is Free Speech An Excuse to be Mean?

"No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear." - Ephesians 4:29

You know the person; THAT person. The one who knows everything about every topic and can never lose an argument. You'll hear them say on more than one occasion something to the effect of "I don't agree with what you say, but I'll defend your right to say it", or "It's a free country, right?" or after a particularly edgy or downright offensive comment, "It's just my opinion." As if saying something simply because you can say it, makes it okay.

Sometimes I wonder if folks wrap themselves in the right of "free speech" only as an excuse to be mean.

Venting to commence in 3... 2... 1...

I know. Call me a hate monger. Tell me just how much I want to stomp on your freedoms. I'm sure you'll feel better. You have the right to say that, right?

Allow me to stand on a little soap box for just a little while and remind me what your mother taught you: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Well, I'm sorry to bring back horrible memories of back seat car fights on the way to Branson, but your mother was right.

The brilliant Constitution of the United States of America is a terrific document. It outlines some of the broadest freedoms ever known to mankind. But, as has been said before, just because you can do something does not make it right. And it seems like more and more folks are using free speech rights just to be mean.

Well, I'm here to say, we need to stop it. There is a line between saying what needs to be said on a given topic and offending someone's sensibilities. Bullying, for example, goes too far. It really is sad that we have to have PSA campaigns to tell kids they shouldn't bully. Where the heck are the parents?! Is it any wonder though? All kids see these days are movies, TV ads, and other forms of media glorifying the bully, the one who is simply exercising his right to "free speech."

Let's have some class people. I'm under no illusion that this little blog post of mine will change the world, but maybe you reading it now will understand: with freedom comes responsibility, and just because you have the God-given right to say what you want doesn't mean you should.

End venting session.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

If You Have Everything, You Have Nothing

"What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?." - Mark 8:36

We hear a lot these days about freedom - freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, freedom of religion, etc., etc. In the United States we're so used to the concept of freedom, or at least the term, that most of us rarely ever take the time to sit down and ponder the implications of freedom. I think most of us generally have a good impression of freedom, as it usually means we get to do more of the things we like. As kids growing up we sought freedom from our parents and every other sort of societal "pressure"; in reality adolescent freedom only give us an increasing level of power over our own decisions. Yet often times the implications of those decisions are not quite so savory.

While much can be said about freedom and liberty, I want to reflect upon something which is not brought up much: the necessary limits to freedom.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Actions and Beliefs: A Thought Experiment

 "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." James 2:26

Pope Francis
Pope Francis (image via National Catholic Register)
I had an interesting thought recently. (I know. It's shocking). It made a lot of sense in my head, but let me try to explain this and we'll see where it goes.

The recent election of Pope Francis has pleased a lot of people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Although many self-identified conservative and/or traditionalist Catholics (like myself) can find a number of specific eyebrow-raising incidents to criticize him regarding this-or-that detail, generally speaking hardly a critic seems to have emerged. Our new successor to Peter appears to have the support that would make any democratically elected politician green with envy, and with his personality it is little wonder why.

Of course, having charm, charisma, and a vivacious personality is one thing; it is quite another to make some of the doctrinally rock-solid and hard-hitting statements and still have a committed following like he does. And in case you haven't been paying attention, some of the things he has said since being elected pope have at times made this author nearly as giggly as a five-year-old on Christmas, which is really saying something. All this being said, I would argue that one of the main factors, if not the only factor, uniting the largest swath of supporters is Francis' clear love of the poor.

But loving the poor is one thing. That doesn't automatically translate into adoration. So why has Pope Francis garnered so much support?  It's not just because he is Il Papa. There have been lots of popes over the 2,000 year history of the Church. Some were adored; some were...not. Many previous popes have had a very evident love for the poor. So why the adoration this time around for Pope Francis?