Monday, May 29, 2006

sacrificial defense

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

-John 15:13
In grateful memory of all those brave souls who gave their lives for this country. To all the sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, uncles, and aunts, thank you for your sacrifice. And to the families left behind, you are "our living veterans of wars."

On January 16, 1984, President Ronald Reagan said, "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free. "
Thank you for defending liberty.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

created in His image

While surfing the Worldview Academy blog, I discovered this video from the Discovery Channel, "Baby Cries in Womb."

Psalm 139:13-16
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

"free" healthcare

In his May 1st speech, President Bush said, “To make our health care system work for all Americans, we have to choose between two philosophies: one that trusts government to make the best decisions for the people's health care, or one that trusts the people and their doctor to make the best decisions for their health care.”

Some countries, like Canada, have already adopted socialized subsidized healthcare system. Should the United States provide free healthcare to her citizens? Although some speculate that free healthcare is a basic human right, I believe that such a service would be detrimental to American citizens. A federally controlled program would perform inadequately, acquire excessive power, and result in wasted funds.

Uncle Sam has demonstrated ineptness in many areas such as our education system, where public school quality continues to deteriorate. The Boston Globe quoted Barry McGaw saying, “Given what the United States spends on education, its relatively low student achievement through high school shows its school system is ‘clearly inefficient.’ ”

Lack of healthy competition causes this problem, because without it, the government doesn’t have incentive to offer better care, lower prices, or faster service. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Timothy J. Muris said, “Healthy competition equals healthy consumers. Consumers want high-quality, affordable, accessible health care, and the challenge of providing it requires new strategies.” If all citizens received free healthcare, quality would decline and competitors would disappear. Who can compete with free?

With a socialized healthcare system, control of it would be nationally concentrated. Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Richard E. Ralston, explained the risks of this type of system. Among other problems, surrendering medical care to the government would diminish freedom of choice and result in even more mandatory fees. Choice is imperative to liberty. Without it, freedom is meaningless. The more dependent Americans become, the more liberties they give away.

Walter E. Williams, the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, wrote that in desperation, Canada had outlawed private healthcare insurance in order to sustain the unpopular, socialized government healthcare. If this happened in the US, independent healthcare providers would likely go out of business, leaving Americans with fewer options.

Finally, free healthcare wouldn’t really be free. Just like social security, “free” healthcare would be tax funded. With the national debt now over 8 trillion dollars, Uncle Sam doesn’t need to be spending any more money. Yet that’s just what giving all citizens free healthcare would do. Given governmental inefficiency, the government would undoubtedly charge inefficient prices for healthcare. Not only would it cost taxpayers more money, but without directly paying for healthcare, citizens would likely misuse it.

Those laboring under the delusion of “free healthcare” should open their eyes. It won’t be healthy, it won’t be free, and it won’t be freedom. The more liberties America’s citizens retain the better.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Defining Art

In 2004, Cosimo Cavallaro spread 315 lbs of sliced deli ham on a four poster bed. He called this art. I call this dumb.

Many people join with me in questioning the artfulness of Cavallaro’s work. What then is art? Fred Ross, chairman of the Art Renewal Center, wrote the essay, “Bad Art/Good Art,” saying, “Well, if everything is art, then nothing is art. Any definition that includes everything is not a definition at all.”

I propose a more exclusive definition of art: the skillful, conscious production of aesthetic material which beautifies and explains life.

According to, artistry requires skill: a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation. Much modern artwork, such as Cavallaro’s “ham bed” or Chris Ofili’s “The Virgin Mary” (made of several materials including elephant dung), doesn’t demonstrate skill. Ross describes the modern art philosophy, “Whether you dribble little dollops of colors or drag fat uneven slashes of black...The effect is always the same. MEANINGLESS PRIMITIVISM.” The ability to accurately and vividly portray a landscape now pales in the face of defecatory material smeared over a poorly depicted representation of the Virgin Mary. True art should be valued for the artist’s mastery of the medium.

Good art is beautiful. People buy sculptures, hang photos, and admire paintings because they are lovely. The Artist of this world, God, created a planet so vibrant and visually pleasing that humans endlessly enjoy trying to capture their own representation of it. Whether delighting in a bright yellow daffodil, the way the sun hits the edge of a cloud, or the black-purple colors during a thunderstorm, we appreciate the aesthetic value of the earth. Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” depicts a night sky glowing with stars. Although anyone might observe a starry night, Van Gogh drew attention to potentially unnoticed beauty. Georgia O’Keeffe painted flowers close up, giving care to tiny details like the black centers of two poppies.

Finally, some art doesn’t qualify as beautiful, but can be valued because it seeks to explain life. My art professor believes that good art provides answers. There is value in compositions which portray suffering, because they explain the realities of life. Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting “Pollice Verso” portrays a crowd giving the thumbs down in a gladiator fight. Can you say that this painting is beautiful? Not really, but one can see the work as an explanation of Roman life at the time.

Given the subjective nature of art, its quality will always be debated. However, if artists demonstrate skill in their work and the art beautifies or explains life, there’s a good possibility that the art has value. Just don’t expect me to be impressed if you call a bloody, crumpled up piece of Kleenex art.

Monday, May 08, 2006

grateful for mercy

“ ‘Why,’ she said, ‘we are just the same—I am only a little girl like you. It’s just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me!’ ”
Sara Crewe from A Little Princess (written by Frances Hodgson Burnett), said these words to the scullery maid, Becky.

Her words remind me of how grateful I ought to be. Although my role in this world is certainly no accident, but rather predestined by God, I do count myself blessed. Who knows why God chooses to put certain people in particular places?

The Bible clearly states in Romans 3:10-11, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.”

Nothing in me merits the fact that I’m living comfortably in America with anything I could possibly want. Besides that I know God planned it that way, there’s no particular reason why I was born in America instead of being born in Africa with AIDS. It’s through no merit of my own that I’m still alive and have every reason to expect to stay alive as opposed to being killed in a massacre.

In that vein of thought, the fact that I’m a Christian has nothing to do with anything good in me. Why would God choose me to be a part of his kingdom and allow someone else to go to hell? I’m no better than them. I don’t claim to understand God’s ways, but it’s thoughts like these that cause me to tremble in fear and worship my God because He is so great.

In Exodus 33:19 the Lord says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Job realized the enormity of God’s power in Job 12:9-10, “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”

Who am I to complain about my life when I’m the recipient of divine mercy?

Psalm 18:28-30
“For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

Monday, May 01, 2006

Discrimination is an Essential American Liberty

I’m a victim. All around me, people are constantly discriminating against me. Just because I’m not a Revolutionary War descendant, I can’t get that scholarship award. If I try to walk into Costco, I’m shunned for being cardless. I can’t even sign up for a payment plan with Capital One. Wrong age, wrong family, wrong bank account (as in empty). Help! This isn’t fair. Actually, discrimination isn’t all bad.

Every person uses standards to make decisions. This differentiation is discrimination. In the article, “The Right to Discriminate,” Michael Miller wrote, “In fact, discrimination is essential. You can't live without it. You can't live for a day, let alone a lifetime, without continually choosing one thing and setting aside others, without preferring one thing to another.”

When a person chooses chocolate double chunk over vanilla ice cream, he displays bias. When an employer compares three interviewees and chooses one, he has indicated that one interviewee has more desirable qualities than another. Not only is type of distinction and choice appropriate, but it is necessary to life.

Foundational American liberties include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom to organize and protest. Choice, which is discrimination, is imperative to liberty. Without it, freedom doesn’t mean anything. defines freedom: The capacity to exercise choice; free will.

A couple of weeks ago, parade organizers and John Dunleavy, parade committee chairman of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, refused to allow the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization from participating in their parade. Although the gay rights campaigners boycotted the parade because they thought it unfair, the parade organizers simply used their American freedom to express a choice.

Imagine what a prochoice parade organizer might say if they were forced to allow a prolife group to march in their parade. Private organizations should have the right to exclude whom they wish.

Dictatorships force those under them to conform to their standards. A couple of weeks ago in Afghanistan, Abdul Rahman, a man who converted from Islam to Christianity, was imprisoned and almost killed for becoming a Christian. United States citizens should rejoice that our government doesn’t dictate choice.

Professors at colleges discriminate when they grade one paper higher than another. Costco discriminates when they require membership for entrance. Parade organizers discriminate when they exclude groups contrary to their platform. Even if someone finds a particular choice offensive, the right of private organizations and citizens to hold that position should be protected.

Voltaire put it nicely, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.”

You may also enjoy my other post on this topic: The Right to Discriminate.