I overheard two self-professed Christians discussing the damage in New York City caused by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. It's worth noting that at the time of this post, at least 115 people have been killed by this storm, over 10 million people are without power, and more than $20 billion worth of damage has been estimated. This, without a doubt, counts as tragic.
I almost gagged when I heard both of these Christians state in agreement:
It wouldn't bother me if the storm had just taken out New York altogether.
During the second Presidential debate, President Obama was asked a question by a woman voter. The question was this:
In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?
President Obama replied to the question with a reference to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 which removes the statute of limitations on discriminatory pay claims on the basis that a female employee would not necessarily know what her male co-workers are being paid and that it may take longer than 180 days for her to file a claim. The bill was proposed and drafted by Democrats and -- surprise, surprise -- opposed by Republicans. If there were a good response to the voter's question, Barack Obama gave it.
All religions uniformly offer their adherents a common comfort: some form of paradise or chance for a better existence after death. Whether it's reincarnation into a next life or the magical transport of the soul to a spiritual plane, religious people feel that regardless of how much life on Earth may sometimes suck, they'll get a better go of it after they die. Christians all believe in Heaven, although their definitions of Heaven may vary. Here's a run-down of Heaven from my upbringing -- one which many Christian sects have been preaching for millennia and are still preaching today.
- Heaven is the glory of the presence of god.
- Heaven is a place without sin, suffering, or sadness.
- Heaven is eternal.
- Heaven is marked by pearly gates, streets of gold, and individual mansions for all those who end up there.
This all sounds good, right? No suffering for eternity? Sign me up! Well, maybe not so fast. Once you really think about Heaven you begin to realize just how ridiculous it sounds. Let me break it down for you:
I had a conversation with my dad during my last visit and it somehow got onto the subject of social welfare programs. I stated that these programs may not be perfect but they benefit people in need. While I acknowledge that these programs can be abused (like any other system, including religion), you can't justify erasing them and cutting off the people who aren't working the system and genuinely need assistance. Sadly, I recognize that I don't have any recommendations on how to fix the system -- I can only recognize that the system is broken.
My dad's suggestion was to completely shut down social welfare programs and transfer that responsibility to the churches, as it was prior to "The New Deal." He said that the government taking over these programs was all wrong and that the churches should be the ones helping the less fortunate. I agree that churches should be constantly engaged in acts of charity (not crusading and proselytizing) and helping people out. So I have to ask: why aren't they?
An image is being passed around on Facebook by a group called "Our Country Deserves Better PAC." It bills itself as a layman's description of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known bitterly as "Obamacare." It's not. It's a shining example of the division in this country between people who take a second to do some research to understand things and those who operate off of gut reactions and hate anything that comes out of an administration not affiliated with their chosen political ideology. Let's take a look: