Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Observations

Here’s some Friday observations for February 28, 2014:


  1. As a public service, I would like to offer some unsolicited advice to my fellow Christians on the subject of social media debating. Dogma doesn’t win arguments. Dogma doesn’t persuade. A debate tactic that begins and ends with “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” will not convince anyone of anything accept that you are a terrible debater. What does persuade? Intelligence, humor, sound reasoning, soft words, love and gracefulness. I would also throw in an assumption of good faith to the guy or girl on the other side of the issue. However, even when you employ all of these tools, your chances of “winning” a religious debate on Facebook are slim and none. Keep this is mind as you make your case. First, do no harm to the Gospel by tarnishing it with hatefulness. Second, admit it when you just don’t know or when your opponent makes a good point. Finally, remember this about the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, Ted Williams. Williams used to tell young hitters to stop grinding the bat handle into dust. “Instead, hold the bat in your hands as if it were a fragile bird.” In other words…lighten up.
  2. Speaking of baseball, spring training has begun. The crack of the bats has always been the first sign that February was about to finally be over with. This year, word comes to me through the ingenious power of the internet that the last time that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series; the Ottoman Empire was still intact.
  3. I was reading through Macbeth last night for the 100th time and ran across a fantastic turn of phrase. When Malcolm is describing the execution of the traitorous Thane of Cawdor, he tells of his confession to treason and his deep repentance, then says this…Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it. Brilliant!
  4. Jonah Goldberg makes this observation about homosexuality, “In what amounts to a blinking of the eye in the history of Western Civilization, homosexuality has gone from a diagnosed mental disorder to something to be celebrated…or else.” It’s true. In my lifetime there was a time when I could go, oh I don’t know… ten years at a time without ever hearing about homosexuality. Now, it seems I can’t go ten minutes without hearing or reading about gays or lesbians. With all due respect to Oscar Wilde, homosexuality has morphed from “the love that dare not speak it’s name,” into  the love that won’t shut up! Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Some time ago in New Mexico, a gay couple solicited a photographer to take pictures of their wedding. The photographer refused to accept the business because to do so would have required him to violate the beliefs of his faith that view homosexuality to be a sin, and gay marriage abhorrent. The gay couple sued, charging discrimination. Similar lawsuits have targeted bakers in Oregon for refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay couples on religious grounds. Along comes the Arizona legislature with a remedy to provide legal protection to business owners who choose not to serve customers based upon “sincere” religious conviction. The bill is SB1062, and it has set off a firestorm of debate across the country. What to think?

This issue is so incredibly riddled with land mines, it boggles the imagination. Would a bill designed to protect the Christian businessman from having to violate his deepest religious convictions also protect the Muslim businessman from having to serve a Jew? Suppose the Westboro Baptist crowd were to request that a local baker make them a cake with the words, “God Hates Fags.” If that baker were to refuse, could he be sued successfully? Herein lies the flaw in trying to craft laws to solve problems of the heart.

I am torn by this issue. On the one hand, discrimination isn’t always a bad thing. I do it every day, and I dare say, you do too. I discriminate against McDonalds because I believe their food sucks. Ever since I married my wife 30 years ago, I have discriminated against every other woman I have come in contact with. When choosing the neighborhood I live in, the car I drive and the places I go on vacation, I make a series of discriminating decisions. Each of us, as part of our instinct for survival discriminates. I may choose not to enter a restaurant because of its shabby appearance. Even though the food may be amazing, I make a decision not to eat there, simply because of how it looks on the outside. The fact that I never discover the wonderful food is my problem.

Of course, people are not restaurants. If I as a businessman who serves the public decide to deny service to someone, I better have an extremely good reason, something better than, “I don’t like the way you look.” That is what the equal protection of the law is all about. So, the question then becomes, does deeply held religious conviction qualify as a good enough reason for the law? I guess it ultimately depends on which deeply held convictions you are talking about.

For example, would the baker who denied services to the gay couple also deny services to the twice-divorced heterosexual couple who met through an online dating site while they were both married to someone else? Would a Catholic baker be allowed to deny services to a fellow Catholic who has fallen in love with a Baptist girl and plans on tying the knot in the city park instead of a sanctified church? To further muck up the works, how does the state determine what the word sincere means in this particular law? I have a hard enough time divining sincerity, how on earth will the State be able to determine whether someone is sincere or simply a bigot?

So, once again I find myself totally confused and envious of those who claim that this issue is clear cut. I think about the parable of the Good Samaritan. I don’t recall that he first inquired as to the lifestyle or political beliefs of the man who had been left beaten and robbed at the side of the road. He simply took care of a fellow human being who needed help. Part of me wants to say to that Christian baker, “Dude, demonstrate the love of Jesus to all of your customers and let God sort it all out.”

Maybe my sincere religious convictions aren’t sincere enough.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Baaaaack!

It’s back. The Dunnevant house is on a diet.

I had no say in this matter. The women have decreed it, so here it is. There will be much counting, weighing and measuring of things. There will be prodigious amounts of computer research chasing down the caloric content of everything from raisins to rotisserie chicken. There will be Tervis Tumblers full of water all around the house. New low fat snacks will appear in the pantry. The refrigerator will take on a leaner, healthier appearance, with less pudding and more jello, far less cheese and a lot more carrot sticks.

I am not forced to join in the weight loss campaign, although I could stand to drop a few pounds. And while I will eat the same trimmed down meals that they do, I am free to snack. But I will exercise great discretion in doing so, since there’s nothing worse than wolfing down a giant bowl of ice cream in front of a couple of women chewing on celery sticks.

Here’s hoping that there will much less of us to contend with before long!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Missing Reagan



I miss this guy, everything about him.

I miss his optimism, his dignity, his self confidence, but mostly I miss his wit. Here was a president whose best jokes always seemed to be at his own expense. You can do that when you possess great faith not only in yourself but in your country. I didn’t agree with everything he did as President. In many areas he was a great success, but in others he failed miserably. In this regard he was not unlike all who came before or after him, a mixed bag.

But, who among us in this day and age of humorless political discourse doesn’t long for a President who routinely said things like this:

  1. “If the government were placed in charge of the Sahara desert, there would be a sand shortage within three years.”
  2. “It’s true that hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?”
  3. “I’m not worried about the deficit. It’s big enough to take care of itself.”
  4. When responding to a reporter’s worry that he was known to take long naps in the afternoon, “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency…even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.”
  5. “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. But I have found that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
  6. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
  7. When answering a reporter’s question about whether he was too old to run for President…”Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a President by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that I’ve stop worrying.”
  8. First remarks at the beginning of a press conference, “Before I refuse to answer any of your questions, I have an opening statement.”
  9. “One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay is to let the government run it.”
  10. “I have wondered at time what the Ten Commandments would have looked like had Moses run them through Congress.”
  11. “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
  12. Responding to criticism of his foreign policy by Ed Asner…”What does an actor know about politics?”
Oh yes Mr. President, I surely do miss you.