Monday, July 27, 2009

Whimpers from across the ocean

A number of literary sayings crossed my mind when I saw that the Archbishop of Canterbury has (finally, today) issued a statement in response to the actions of the Episcopal Church's General Convention, which ended ten days ago. The first thought that came to me was a paraphrase of T.S. Eliot's line, "This is the way the Communion dies, not with a bang but a whimper." Because, although I pray that I am wrong, there isn't nearly enough in Rowan Williams' statement to reassure me that this isn't the Anglican Communion's fate. Indeed, the very weakness (and studied ambiguity) of Dr. Williams' statement may be a factor in pushing the Communion toward that end.

Regarding the Archbishop's delay in issuing his response, I have no doubt that he has spent most of the past ten days laboring and consulting with trusted advisers on this statement. It might well be the defining statement of his career. But when it comes to the actual effect this statement might have on the Communion he is supposed to lead, the saying that comes to mind is, "The mountain labored and brought forth a mouse." The statement is thoroughly considered, carefully crafted, finely nuanced--and, in the end, says very little and accomplishes even less.

When a sizable majority in both houses of the Episcopal Church's General Convention passed resolutions ending restraint in the matter of consecrating non-celibate homosexuals to the episcopate and agreeing to provide a "generous pastoral response" (i.e., blessing marriages) for gay and lesbian couples, it was not a matter of making merely hypothetical statements. There are bishops and deputies who are coming away from the General Convention intending to act on those resolutions.

There is nothing in Rowan Williams' statement that would deter those in the liberal camp from acting on those resolutions; and his words are cold comfort to conservatives who have been deeply wounded by their passage, and who will be further wounded and alienated when their intent is carried out.

To be sure, the statement from Canterbury could say something. When Rowan starts down the path of "there is at least the possibility of a twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance" it could mean that his relationship to the Episcopal church has suffered damage, just as the fabric of the Communion has been torn by the Episcopal church's unilateral actions. It could even mean that he is going to turn around next week and recognize the Anglican Church in North America and/or the Communion Partner dioceses as a separate ecclesial reality. It could mean all that--but I would be astounded if it did.

Of course, the Covenant to which Rowan alludes could be in place and could be already defining the "Anglican Future" with which Rowan seems concerned. Except that--oh, my--Rowan himself saw to it that the Covenant didn't make it out of the Jamaica conference, but was given to the Joint Standing Committee, from which it will almost certainly emerge as a gelding and not a stallion.

On second thought, I am going to go back to my first thought: This is the way the Communion dies, not with a bang but a whimper.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Still Troubled

The thing that has troubled me most as I have reflected on the Episcopal Church's General Convention is the number of bishops who voted against D025 (electing gay bishops), but who were deluded enough to vote for C056 (same-sex blessings).

Consider the two operative clauses that these bishops would have had to overlook or misconstrue to vote for C056:
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consulation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological, and liturgical resources and design liturgies and report to the 77th General Convention; for further action…
Bishops should not have been fooled by the fact that the words “ and design liturgies” were struck from the final form of this resolution.

Even if only the word “collect” had been used, it would have been sufficient to allow for the development of liturgies for same sex unions, because you can’t collect something that does not exist. But as it is, it says “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources”. How much of their own money would these gullible bishops be willing to bet that these “liturgical resources” won’t actually include some rites that can be (or have been!!!) used to bless same sex unions?

The other problematic clause is:
Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church…
Note the resolution does not say only those in civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage is legal, but particularly those in such jurisdictions “may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church”.

Again, how much of their own money would these gullible bishops be willing to bet that other bishops will not interpret these words as support for allowing the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses, given that such "generous pastoral responses" have already occurred even without such a resolution. The GLBT organization, Integrity, and some of the more realistic bishops have already said that this is exactly how they interpret C056.

That indaba stuff the bishops indulged in before this vote is apparently a powerful hallucinogen.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


On the Stand Firm website, they are taking a survey, asking the question: How will you decompress from GC 2009? I answered that I was:
  1. Having some worship and fellowship this evening with some non-Episcopal brothers and sisters in Christ—connecting to God in a way that doesn’t remind me of my job or the Episcopal Church (a practice I recommend other clergy try occasionally);
  2. Re-reading The Lord of the Rings, which I read for the first time 39 years ago this month and have re-read at least once every five years since. It has a lot to say about courage in the face of unexpected dangers and unsought conflict;
  3. Leaving in a few days for a beautiful place with green fields, wooded hills and sweeping vistas of the Mississippi River valley—back to the good earth and far from civilization and the ways we have screwed things up.

It is later Saturday evening, and the first of the things I mentioned is behind me. Here's how it worked out:

I showed up and found they were having a ten-week series called 10 Words for LIFE—a study of the Ten Commandments. This was Week 7, so the topic was "Do Not Commit Adultery."

We sang a few songs from Australia's Hillsong fellowship, including: Mighty to Save:

and From the Inside Out,

and Chris Tomlin's version of Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone (Embedding for this video was disabled, so you'll have to follow the link.) If you are inclined toward contemporary Christian music, you may enjoy these videos. If not, skip them.

Then we heard a message about:
  • God's gift of sex
  • God's purpose for sex in marriage
  • Avoiding the temptations that are so prevalent in our culture
  • The importance of purity and holiness in our relationship with Christ.
Well, needless to say, this message was so much in contrast with the sexual ethic I had encountered over the past 10 days at General Convention, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the irony. But I gave thanks to God for the articulate, undiluted, biblical teaching.

I am reminded of the tag line for the television series The X Files: "The Truth is Out There." There are Christians out there who know the truth—about the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, the uniqueness of Jesus, the way of salvation, the purpose of the sexes, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, and the whole range of Christian doctrines. They may be Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or Evangelical Christians. Along with faithful Anglicans around the globe, these Christians dwarf the dwindling "mainline" denominations of the West. Those of us who are a minority in the Episcopal Church can draw comfort from that fact.

It is also true that Anglicans and Episcopalians aren't necessarily called to run from our problems to join these other traditions. (They all have their problems too--they're just different problems.) We can be nourished by sound teaching and strengthened by fellowship with other Christians in a way that helps us to proclaim the truth in the places where God has planted us.

Where God has planted us—that is the key. Some people may question why I am still in the Episcopal Church, especially after the decisions of this General Convention. Yes, it would be preferable in a number of respects to be in a Christian body where there were fewer theological tensions. But God has planted me where I am. He has given me a calling that I must obey and a community for which I am responsible, and I cannot abandon my post unless and until God gives me leave to do so.

(To be clear: I am not saying that all those who have left the Episcopal Church have abandoned their posts. God may have called them to leave in the same way that he has called others to stay. And I believe we need to head off any acrimony between the "leavers" and the "stayers," recognize that God may have different callings for each of us, and learn how to support each other in the different, but related, callings God has given us.)

God may lead many to move to a purer fellowship or a "safer" place. But there is also the example of Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt. When he was freed, he could have gone home to be with his family and those who worshiped the true and living God anytime he wanted. But God had planted him in Egypt, and he remained until he died, in order that good might come of it and that God's people would be blessed.

Then there is Hosea, to whom God said, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD" (Hosea 1:2). Hosea was called to be a prophet and a witness (at great pain and cost to himself). The history of the prophets is full of those who were called to preach among a rebellious people and who suffered as a result.

Discerning where God has planted us is not the same thing as discerning where the pasture is greener. God may plant us in a desert if that is what is needed to accomplish his purposes. "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Matt. 3:3). But if we are planted in the desert, we must put down deep roots to secure the nourishment we need to live.

If you are in this situation, let me encourage you to do the following:

(1) Renew the habit of daily Bible reading. Read the Bible not merely for information but for inspiration. Read it slowly, deeply, reflectively—asking God to speak to you about your life, your relationship with him, your priorities, your relationships with others, and anything else about which God needs to speak to you.

(2) In addition to daily Bible reading, find a regular source of biblical teaching or preaching that speaks to your spiritual needs. This may involve attending a bible study or listening to or reading sermons. Christian radio and the internet are full of choices. (Some are very good, some are not—so be selective.)

(3) As you read Scripture reflectively, cultivate a life of conversation with God. Learn to pray in a way that goes beyond formality and attains intimacy. (See Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God for a classic example of what I mean.)

WOW! coincidence: As I am typing these words, I have a service from Saddleback Church playing in a different window. The preacher (not Rick Warren, it's one of the associate pastors today) just said: "The object of a life of prayer is obtaining a character that is fit for eternity." Amen.

When I speak to clergy retreats, which I do fairly often, I sometimes tell them:

1. If the only time you read the Bible is when you are preparing your sermons (and saying the Daily Office), you are in trouble.

2. If the only sermons you ever hear are your own, you are in trouble.

3. If the only time you pray is in church (or in the Daily Offices or the Eucharist, i.e., liturgical prayer), you are in trouble.

If our spiritual roots don't go any deeper than this, we will not do well even in the green pastures, much less survive in the desert.

Decompressing after General Convention or any spiritual trial requires that we touch base with the bedrock of our spiritual foundation. This is step one. God willing, I will have more to say in a future post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rowan Williams, meet Neville Chamberlain.

Several months ago, I stumbled upon an excellent television series on the History Channel entitled, Hitler's Bodyguard, which chronicled the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler, as seen through the eyes of those who were entrusted with protecting him from the numerous attempts to overthrow or kill him. The episode in this series entitled, "Before the War" makes the point that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain may have been the man most responsible for World War II.

The argument runs like this: If Neville Chamberlain had been clear from the outset that the consequences of Hitler's aggression would be war, the German people would not have supported him to the degree that they did; and politicians and military leaders would have stood a chance of removing him from power while there was still time to preserve the peace. However, by continued appeasement in the face of Hitler's aggression, capped by the misguided trip to Munich from which Chamberlain returned home to England proclaiming that there would be "peace for our time!" the forces in Germany that could have deterred or unseated Hitler were undermined and the resulting war became inevitable.

In the course of Rowan Williams' scholarly pursuits, he would do well to take a closer look at Neville Chamberlain. The history of Chamberlain's engagement with the greatest challenge of his career is remarkably similar to the Archbishop's thorny problem with the American Episcopal Church.

Those with better memories or more resources at their fingertips will probably come up with more examples than I can, but five critical points that have led to the Anglican Communion's present predicament come to mind:

#1. There was the September 2007 meeting of the US House of Bishops in New Orleans at which Rowan Williams was an invited guest. Hopes and speculations were strong in the weeks leading up to that meeting that the Archbishop would make clear, in no uncertain terms, the consequences of the American church's failure to respond to an ultimatum from the other primates of the Anglican Communion to conform to the norms of the rest of the Communion in matters of sexuality. In fact, this visit by Rowan was considered by many to be the Episcopal Church's last chance. Instead, Dr. Williams let the US church completely off the hook.

I reported the outcome of that meeting in my post on Tuesday, September 25, 2007:
Take our fearless leader Rowan Williams, who, this week, faced with an opportunity to save the Anglican Communion decides to "go all wobbly" and start saying that the Dar Es Salaam Communique, issued by the Primates at their meeting in February 2007, didn't really constitute an ultimatum to the American church to get its act together or else. Before leaving New Orleans, last Friday, he described September 30th as simply a date of convenience. The only reason a specific date was chosen, he suggested, was that the primates recognized the September House of Bishops’ meeting as the last official meeting of bishops before the next Lambeth conference and they wanted to have the position of the American church clarified.

Well, let's see what the Communique actually said:
“The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.”
#2. Mention of the Dar Es Salaam Communique calls to mind the earlier example of the Archbishop's actions at the Dar Es Salaam meeting itself. This meeting of the Primates of the 38 member churches of the Anglican Communion was the first meeting to be attended by American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori following her election at the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church--a meeting which only by the barest of technicalities (and some high-handed parliamentary maneuvers) had managed to pass a resolution responding to the moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops requested by the Primates. Instead of taking the opportunity to warn the American and Canadian churches about the consequences of violating Communion norms, the Archbishop used his opening remarks to commend the American church on how well they had done. The other Primates were less impressed and issued the strongly worded Communique I mentioned above; but from that moment on, it looked (and has continued to look) as if the misbehaving American church had a front man in Rowan Williams.

#3. There was the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, which was structured in indaba groups in order to avoid any possibility that the rest of the Communion might address or challenge the American church's path toward the ordination of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex marriages.

#4. More recently, there was the May 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica, in which it looked to all the world as though the ACC would finalize and release the long awaited and much discussed Anglican Communion Covenant--a document which member churches (and even dioceses) could sign, attesting to their commitment to follow the norms of the Communion in the interpretation of scriptural teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.

Previous efforts by the Archbishop of Canterbury to front for the American church pale in comparison to the show in Jamaica. There Rowan Williams single-handedly derailed the release of the Covenant and its provision of consequences for member churches that did not subscribe to the Covenant or follow the understanding contained in it. As I wrote in a post entitled, "PERFIDY!" the Archbishop's actions were a betrayal of everyone who had trusted in the Covenant process to bring order to our fractured Communion.

#5. Finally, we come to this present moment: the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Anaheim, California, at which Rowan Williams spoke. As the Telegraph reports,
[T]he Archbishop of Canterbury flew to this year's gathering in Anaheim, California, and said in a sermon: "Along with many in the Communion, I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart."

Although I am proudly of British ancestry myself, I have to admit that there must be a strain of something in the British temperament that has the ability to combine understatement, optimism, naïveté, and foolishness into one humongous character flaw. Because, as with Neville Chamberlain, Dr. Williams must have flown home thinking (or at least hoping) his words had been sufficient and that he had achieved "peace for our time."

But, as subsequent news bears out, he couldn't have been more wrong. On Sunday, the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, made up of clergy and lay members, effectively voted in favor of overturning the moratorium on homosexual bishops (Resolution D025) by a 2-1 margin. The following day, the House of Bishops concurred with an amendment, and the House of Deputies quickly responded with their own concurrence to the final version.

But the news doesn't end there. On Wednesday evening, the bishops approved Resolution C056, which moves the Episcopal Church toward the development of rites for same-sex marriages and provides:
"[t]hat bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church..."
In other words, bishops in states where same-sex marriages are legal may allow their clergy to perform those marriages. This resolution will go to the House of Deputies tomorrow, where (barring an earthquake that causes California to sink into the ocean) passage is certain. Media outlets worldwide are predicting that this will permanently shatter the Communion.

So what should Rowan Williams do? There are some who, throughout the series of events I have mentioned above, have said he should resign. That would be a nihilistic and (dare I say?) typically European response. It is the path Chamberlain took. The Archbishop could take that path, or he can find the leadership necessary to take strong and definitive action by perhaps recalling the Prime Minister who took Chamberlain's disaster and (at great cost) confronted evil and brought his people through. Rowan Williams, meet Winston Churchill.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Episcopal House of Deputies concurs on end to moratorium

As an update to my previous post regarding yesterday's passage by the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops of an amended version of Resolution D025, dealing with the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians: The amended resolution came back to the House of Deputies for approval and passed easily this afternoon on a vote by orders (clergy and laity voting separately). Although several conservative deputies once again urged defeat of this resolution, arguing that it would be a rejection of the restraint urged by the rest of the Anglican Communion, the resolution passed by the exact same percentage—72%—in both orders.

As with yesterday's vote in the House of Bishops, this vote in Anaheim came in what is the middle of the night in England, though the Archbishop of Canterbury is undoubtedly watching this development carefully. Conservatives once again find themselves hoping that the Archbishop will receive this news with something more than mere words of disapproval and provide more substantial support for those Anglicans in North America who are endeavoring to remain faithful to Scripture and Anglican Communion norms on this matter.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Ummm, uh... Good morning, Your Grace!"

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, is a gracious man--one who is unlikely to shoot the messenger who brings him bad news. Nevertheless, I would hate to be the correspondence secretary who has to bring him dispatches from around the Anglican Communion tomorrow morning.

It is 3:00 a.m. in London, and moments ago the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops passed Resolution D025, a resolution that effectively removes the moratorium against the consecration of non-celibate gay and lesbian bishops in the Episcopal Church. During the discussion one bishop voiced the opinion that this resolution did not end the moratorium, it would take the actual election and consecration of a gay or lesbian bishop to end the moratorium, and the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said that that was her understanding as well. But, effectively, this resolution makes it clear that there is no longer any desire on the part of the Episcopal Church to refrain from doing so.

This decision by the Bishops (99 in favor, 45 opposed, with two abstentions) came despite the fact that Bishop William Love of Albany read a quotation from the Archbishop of Canterbury urging the American Church not to take this step. Another bishop, John Howe of Central Florida, read a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the church in Sweden urging them not to take similar steps to ordain non-celibate homosexual bishops. Many orthodox bishops spoke courageously and well in opposition to this resolution; however the final tally indicates just how far the General Convention has moved since it last met in 2006.

Since the House of Bishops made a slight amendment to Resolution D025, the amended version will now have to go back to the House of Deputies for their approval. But, barring a miracle, final passage looks all but certain. Resolutions dealing with rites for same-sex marriages will come up for a vote later this week.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Episcopal Church finally defines "Heresy"

Silly me. This being the first time in six General Conventions of the Episcopal Church that I have not been a deputy, I thought it started tomorrow. I will fly out there (Anaheim, CA) later this week; but tonight I was at home, having a wonderful time.

Wisconsin this time of year is the kind of place God had in mind when he created the Garden of Eden. My wife and some friends (one of them a visiting professor in our DMin program at Nashotah House) and I had a leisurely dinner (2 1/2 hours) at a restaurant on one of our local lakes. Sipping red wine and sparkling water, enjoying the lake view and and a beautiful sunset in perfect (not near-perfect--absolutely perfect!) weather, engaging in stimulating conversation over delectable food--one of the finest evenings I have had in a long time.

Then I came home, switched on the computer and saw that the General Convention had begun this evening, and that the Episcopal Church (or at least its leadership) had done something that they hadn't been able to do in all the General Conventions I attended as a deputy. They finally defined heresy.

Or at least the Presiding Bishop did. The defining moment came in an opening address, which the Rev. Philip Ashey, reports as follows:
Then the Presiding Bishop of TEC took the stand. She spoke about the crisis facing The Episcopal Church. “Crisis is always a remarkable opportunity,” she said. Speaking from her own experience as a pilot, she said it is a time to “aviate, navigate, and then communicate,” in that order. Always keep the plane flying through the crisis—even when you are not sure where you are.

She described the essential crisis within the Gospels as Jesus’ decision to set his face toward Jerusalem, and likened the decisions of this 76th General Convention to that decision to set one’s face toward Jerusalem.

And then in a cold, calm, defiant and defining voice she said, "The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention."

Now, to give the Presiding Bishop the benefit of the doubt (See, I really am feeling good this evening!), what she may have meant is: "It is wrong for us to concentrate solely on the individual aspects of salvation. As a Church we are called to life in community, and at this General Convention we are going to concentrate on what we do as a Church together. That is why we have chosen 'Ubuntu' as our theme."

For those who haven't kept up with the choice of this year's theme for General Convention, one way of defining "Ubuntu" is this quotation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Okay, perhaps the Presiding Bishop is talking about "the Social Gospel" updated for the 21st century.

But that is not what the Presiding Bishop said. She used the "H" word--a rarity for a contemporary Episcopalian--and she appeared to aim the word squarely at those who believe in the necessity of an individual confession of Jesus Christ as Lord for salvation.

This, of course, would seem to run contrary to the following passage of Scripture as well as several others:

But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:8-17)

(This passage, incidentally, sets out not only the means by which individuals are saved, but also the Church's message as it does mission.)

So either the Presiding Bishop is being provocative (Google the words "mother Jesus" to see a long list of entries about a previous example of the same), or else the biblical illiteracy that has long been the bane of Episcopalians has now become a requirement for continued membership.

And General Convention is only just beginning.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Rising debt may be next crisis

Economists point to rising debt as next crisis
Higher taxes and reduced federal benefits, services may be result

WASHINGTON - The Founding Fathers left one legacy not celebrated on Independence Day but which affects us all. It's the national debt.

The country first got into debt to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Growing ever since, the debt stands today at a staggering $11.4 trillion — equivalent to about $37,000 for each and every American. And it's expanding by over $1 trillion a year.

The mountain of debt easily could become the next full-fledged economic crisis without firm action from Washington, economists of all stripes warn.

Read the whole article here or here.

"Without firm action from Washington..." the article says. Folks, it is WASHINGTON that is getting us into this mess! -- The problem our government is presenting us with right now is: Reckless spending we cannot afford for change we do not need!

How could "Washington" prevent the debt crisis? Stop the omnibus energy spending bill known as "Cap and Trade" or "Cap and Tax" already passed by the House of Representatives and being debated in the Senate right now. If there are any energy measures in that bill worth considering, they should be considered one at a time and not in a multi-trillion dollar spending bill that no member of Congress has actually read but that would put heavy new taxes on energy at every level and spend money on hairbrained schemes that will result in no new energy.

At the same time, we must stop the nationalization of our health care. The often quoted figure of 40 million Americans who lack health insurance is a myth. There are millions of people who should be excluded from that tally, including: those who aren’t American citizens, people who can afford their own insurance, and people who already qualify for existing government coverage but haven’t signed up.

Government statistics also show 45 percent of those without insurance will have insurance again within four months after job transitions.

Accounting for all those factors, one prominent study places the total for the long-term uninsured as low as 8.2 million – a very different reality than the media and national health care advocates claim.

Furthermore, being without health care insurance does not mean that individuals lack access to health care. Most hospitals and health care providers make provisions for treating the uninsured.

We must stop the government take over of our health care system that would diminish the quality of health care available to everyone and put several thousand dollars of additional taxes on every American and drastically increase our national debt.

Right now the overall debt is now slightly over 80% of the annual output of the entire U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product--and this is BEFORE the impact of the schemes the Obama administration wants to implement.

Let me say it again--the problem is:

Reckless spending we cannot afford for change we do not need!

Even if you have never written your elected representatives and senators before, do it today.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.

A comment from Jonathan on my last piece on Honduras pointed to this piece in the Christian Science Monitor in which writer Octavio Sánchez essentially corroborates the position I took regarding this week's developments in that country:
A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.
Don't believe the myth. The arrest of President Zelaya represents the triumph of the rule of law.

By Octavio Sánchez
from the July 2, 2009 edition

Tegucigalpa, Honduras - Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth. The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d'état.

That is nonsense.

In fact, what happened here is nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law.

The piece goes on to give a very brief and clear assessment of what happened in Honduras this past Sunday and quotes the Honduran Constitution and its provisions that were violated by then President Zelaya, triggering his removal by the Honduran Supreme Court and the Congress.

The perspective presented by Sanchez is so compelling that I was tempted to quote his entire column here. But out of respect for copyright, I strongly encourage you to follow this link to the article in its original location on the Christian Science Monitor website.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Obama on Honduras: Getting it wrong--again

The Obama administration said Wednesday it has suspended joint military operations with Honduras to protest a coup that forced President Manuel Zelaya into exile. The U.S. withheld stronger action in hopes of negotiating a peaceful return of the country's elected leader.

The administration appeared to be counting on the threat of Honduras having its OAS membership suspended as leverage in getting Zelaya back in power. While the administration joined the OAS in calling for Zelaya's unconditional return, with no limits on his presidential powers, it also seemed open to some form of compromise.

I have been absolutely aghast (though not terribly surprised) at the position the Obama administration has taken on the recent deposition of the president of Honduras--a position that puts Obama squarely in line with dictators Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. News accounts of how this episode in Honduras began are now falling off the radar of the mainstream media. But Reuters provides this bit of background:
World leaders from President Barack Obama to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have told the new rulers of the Central American country to restore Zelaya, a leftist who was toppled by the army on Sunday and sent into exile after a dispute over presidential term limits.

Translation: "a dispute over presidential term limits" means Zelaya was trying to make himself into a dictator, and he was deposed for his attempt to subvert the Honduran Constitution by the military with the support of the Honduran people, the Congress, and the courts. As the Reuters account also states:
Public support for Zelaya, a wealthy businessman, had dropped as low as 30 percent in recent months, with many Hondurans uncomfortable over his tilt to the left in a country with a longtime conservative, pro-Washington position.

Yes, Zelaya had been tilting toward the left--in the direction of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro--and why shouldn't he? Leftist leaders from Latin America are now on the White House "A" List. They're best buds with Obama!

The poor Honduran people who have been faithful allies of the United States for decades haven't gotten the message that there is a new Socialist Sheriff in Washington. "Communism good; capitalism bad."

Now, of course, with Obama signaling that he wants to see Zelaya returned to power, the Organization of American States (OAS) can clearly tell which way the wind is blowing and is making threats against Honduras. Worse still, Chavez may take Obama's signal as an okay to use military intervention to restore Zelaya to power.

So, thanks to the President of the United States, we may witness a war in Central America to insert a Socialist dictator into power and to transfer a nation that was once the US' staunchest ally in the region into the camp of Chavez and Castro. Is anybody paying attention?

Pray for the people of Honduras!