The Common Good

Blog Posts By Tim King

Posted by Tim King 27 weeks 2 days ago
Wrath is the only one of the Seven Deadly Sins we attribute to God. And, as pastor Bob, my confirmation teacher in 8th grade would be glad to know I remember, the definition of sin according to the catechism of the Evangelical Covenant Church and similar to most Christian traditions is that sin is “all in thought word or deed that is contrary to the will of God.”This definitional conundrum raises a few questions. Is it wrong to speak of God’s wrath? Wrong to list wrath among the Deadly Sins? Or are there certain things that are only sins if humans do them but are appropriate to the Divine?I would argue that yes, wrath can be sinful, but it is not necessarily so. And that during this Lenten season the challenge is not always to suppress wrath but expressing a wrath that is in fact the appropriate response to injustice we see around us every day. In fact, a misguided attempt to avoid wrath can lead to a sin of omission in the failure to practice the “Cardinal Virtue” of justice.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 6 weeks ago
Another senseless act of violence today was targeted at the Family Research Council. A security guard is now in stable condition at a local hospital after being shot in the arm by a 28-year-old assailant. The suspect is now in custody. Multiple outlets are reporting that the young man specifically intended to attack FRC staff because of their conservative advocacy.  My prayers goes out to the security guard and his family as he recovers. His actions may have saved the lives of many. Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, “The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.”My heart is with the rest of the FRC staff. Their place of work will not feel safe after this. It will undoubtedly be difficult knowing there are those who would do violence against you because of your convictions.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 12 weeks ago
With approval ratings a good 15 points higher than her husband, there are probably some strategists wishing they could run the Michelle Obama re-election campaign right now. While the White House legal counsel looks into the constitutionality of a husband/wife switch, the campaign is trying to put her popularity to work.Last week, the First Lady spoke to the quadrennial General Conference of the African American Methodist Episcopal Church. While the speech was a get-out-the-vote plug, it also shed an interesting light on both her personal faith and the theological tradition of the nation’s oldest independent, predominantly African-American congregations. In reading the First Lady’s speech, I was intrigued to see a strong emphasis on some concepts I often associate with “missional” churches. 
Posted by Tim King 2 years 12 weeks ago
The WSJ is reporting today on the testimony of Robert Diamond, the recently resigned CEO of Barclay’s before the British Parliament:"A day after abruptly resigning amid a mushrooming scandal over interest-rate manipulation, former Barclays PLC chief Robert Diamond on Wednesday was assailed by British lawmakers for the bank's actions, in a preview of the scrutiny likely to lie ahead for other big lenders that are under investigation."What caught my eye in particular, was the WSJ choice of a pull quote from Diamond’s testimony on the front page:"I don’t feel personal culpability. What I do feel is a strong sense of responsibility."In other words, he feels that he is somehow accountable for the wrongdoing in his organization but he also does not deserve blame or consequences for what has been done. To see the tenuous nature of his logic you just need to invert the situation.If Barclays was having a year of record profits would there be any set of possible circumstances in which he would forgo his bonus by saying that while he was responsible for the growth he did not deserve the rewards? If not, why would we buy the argument that while he is ultimately responsible for the company’s wrongdoings he does not deserve the blame and resulting consequences?
Posted by Tim King 2 years 23 weeks ago
For a lot of voters, President Barack Obama’s tenure hasn’t turned out quite as they hoped. On the other side, the presumptive GOP nominee, Gov. Mitt Romney, isn’t the candidate that many voters seem ready to believe in.Traditional political parties are in decline. In December 2011, Gallup reported that 45 percent of the U.S. population identified as politically independent. At the same time, the direction of our two parties is more and more influenced by political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.While there is an unprecedented level of money flowing into elections from wealthy donors, corporations and unions, social media has democratized access to fellow voters. You can spend millions of dollars buying airtime on traditional TV stations—but it is entirely possible to craft a compelling message that will reach millions for a relatively small cost.A politically disillusioned electorate and a huge influx of money for attack ads will be a challenge to our country’s democratic processes. The danger, especially for my generation, is to tune out from political and civic engagement entirely.The opportunity is post-candidate politics.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 23 weeks ago
Melissa Boteach of Half-in-Ten—the campaign to cut poverty in half in 10 years—is using the Katniss defense against the Ryan budget cuts.The world that Suzanne Collins paints in the The Hunger Games is one in which only the strong survive. Those that can’t keep up are cut out, kind of like the Ryan budget.One of the radical things about the ethical agenda that Jesus promoted was the place he offered to the sick, the weak and the weary. He flipped common understanding of who was “deserving” and who was “undeserving” upside down.The Catholic Bishops have now come out with their concerns about the Ryan budget and how it abandons the poor and the hungry. Take a look at Melissa’s chart, what do you think?
Posted by Tim King 2 years 24 weeks ago
I finished up my taxes last night. I didn’t think much of the hour I spent on the phone with my dad making sure I filed correctly. Taxes are always complicated, right?Well, maybe that’s because the folks at Intuit (the publishers of TurboTax) want them to be.Matt Stoller over at Republic Report pointed out that the ReadyReturn program in California sends tax payers a form showing how much they owe in taxes. Then they just sign it and send it back. It costs less for the state to process and it saves tax payers a lot of time.During the 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama promised to implement something similar on the federal level. What happened?Stoller also notes that since 2008, Intuit has spent a good $9 million on lobbying. And according to one of their investor reports, keeping taxes complicated is a top priority:Our consumer tax business also faces significant competition from the public sector, where we face the risk of federal and state taxing authorities developing software or other systems to facilitate tax return preparation and electronic filing at no charge to taxpayers. These or similar programs may be introduced or expanded in the future, which may cause us to lose customers and revenue. For example, during tax season 2010, the federal government introduced a prepaid debit card program to facilitate the refund process. Our consumer and professional tax businesses provide this service as well.  If that doesn’t make you mad, take a look at why you are probably paying $500 more a year for your cell phone then you should be. 
Posted by Tim King 2 years 24 weeks ago
Just a few years ago, Ross Douthat earned the distinction of becoming the youngest regular columnist the New York Times has ever employed. He also has the unique position of being a conservative Christian in the belly of what some Christians might consider the proverbial “beast.”So, how's that going for him?“It’s been wonderful,” he told Michael Cromartie, Vice President at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, during an onstage interview at the Q Conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday evening.The conversation focused on the themes of Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 24 weeks ago
The annual Q conference has begun. In it’s 5th year, the conference has come to Washington, D.C. and brought together about 700 thought, spiritual and cultural Christian leaders.Modeled after the “TED Talks,” the conference gives opportunity to a wide variety of speakers short segments, between 3, 9 and 18 minutes, to express ideas that can—or should be—shaping Christianity and the broader culture.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 25 weeks ago
In an attempt to discredit the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a young conservative activist created a fake Facebook page and website for a non-existent environmental group. Then, posing as someone interested in organizing a union, tried to get a local organizer to give him tips on shaking down politicians. The New York Times reports:At this point, Rhea Byer-Ettinger, an organizer for Manhattan Together, felt her internal baloney detector go on red alert. “Beep, beep, beep,” she said. “I said to him: ‘Well, that’s not how we work. Tell me, why are you asking me about that?’ ”  As a former employee of an IAF affiliate in Chicago, I’m really not sure what this young guy was hoping to find. I’m sure in any large organization you could find someone to secretly record who might say something that could sound unflattering. But, was he really expecting a nationwide crime syndicate that uses collective bargaining as a tool to extort money or favors from politicians?Passionate and sincere disagreement about politics is a good and healthy thing but tactics of this young activist and others like James O’Keefe show something dangerous. It’s the assumption that those who disagree with you politically aren’t just wrong, but evil.On the other end, this means progressive activists should ask themselves if folks like the Koch brothers are “evil” or just some really rich dudes with politics they don’t like. 
Posted by Tim King 2 years 25 weeks ago
It had been more than a week since the doctors had moved me into the ICU, and more than a week since I had tasted anything liquid.My tongue was dry and felt like leather. At night, I would watch the machines around me blink. The IV bags hung next my bed and scattered the light across sterile white walls.I tried not to cry when I could no longer control my bowels. I lay there in my own filth waiting for a nurse to rescue me.I came into the world unable even to clean myself and now it seemed I would leave it in the same state.Finally the nurse arrived to help me.“I’m thirsty,” I told her. “May I have an ice cube?”She said no.“Please? My mouth is so dry. Just an ice cube,” I begged.“No.”Oxygen tubes inserted into my nostrils had rubbed my nose raw. I pulled them out.I felt relief. I watched the numbers drop on the LCD screen. An alarm sounded.I tried to put the tubes back when the nurse ran in.“Mr. King, you need the oxygen,” she chided, skillfully replacing al the tubes and checking all the machines and medicines that flanked my hospital bed — all the things that were keeping me alive.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 27 weeks ago
This morning, Congressman Paul Ryan (R- WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, released a proposal for an FY 2013 budget. Similar to last year, the plan places an undue burden of deficit reduction on low-income people. Effective anti-poverty programs are targeted for cuts while a tax plan that could significantly reduce tax burdens for top income earners.According to analysis from Bread for the World:This FY 2013 budget proposal would have a devastating impact on programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), low-income tax credits, and would make international food aid and poverty-focused foreign assistance vulnerable to cuts that would undermine our national security.The proposed budget would cut SNAP by turning it into a block grant program. This would prevent the program from responding when there is an increase in need. Once the money from the block grant is spent, there cannot be an increase in funds. Currently, SNAP automatically increases with need.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 28 weeks ago
Throughout my salad years, I gave as I could — probably somewhere around the national average. But that was the problem.I gave as I could, but never as I was called to do. By God.I realized that I had been lying to both myself and God. I was never a “poor” college student. I was never a “poor” non-profit worker. I was never a “poor” young professional in D.C.When I was in school, with very little expendable income, I still received a quality education, had consistent access to food, my housing was stable, and I had health insurance. My starting salary after college put me above the national poverty threshold (about $24,000 a year… for a family of four).Then I took a look at the Global Rich List, which calculates your income compared to the global population. I realized I was quickly approaching the 1 percent. That’s right. In global terms, I wasn’t there yet, but I was well on my way to becoming a card-carrying member of the global elite — the dreaded 1 percenters.Yup, all it takes to hit the top 1 percent of global income earners is to make $47,500 a year.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 28 weeks ago
Last Friday, on his weekly show Real Time with Bill Maher, the not-so friendly atheist, Mr. Maher took issue with the Santorum families decision to homeschool their children. Here’s what he said:"But I bring up the old tale of the poisoned apple — no, not "Snow White," that's a fairy tale — because the Adam and Eve story is taken literally by half the country and it's no coincidence that the type of tree which god forbade Adam and Eve eating from was the Tree of Knowledge. Rick Santorum homeschools his children because he does not want them eating that f--king apple. He wants them locked up in the Christian madrassa that is the family living room not out in public where they could be infected by the virus of reason. If you're a kid and the only adults you've ever met are mom and dad, and then they're also the smartest adults you've met, why not keep it that way? Why mess up paradise with a lot knowledge? After all, a mind is a terrible thing to open."Santorum took exception to these comments. For good reason.My parents made the decision to homeschool three out of four of their children at some point during our K-12 years. They invested both time and resources because they believed it was the best thing they could do for our development and education at that time.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 28 weeks ago
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, appeared on Martin Bashir last week to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s words against Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke. Bashir asked: "Mr. Perkins, I’ve found this whole controversy extremely disturbing and it seems almost impossible to find a Republican who unequivocally without conditions condemns what’s been said. Now you are a family man, you’re a committed Christian you play an important role in conservative politics will you for the benefit of our broadcast clearly and categorically denounce what Rush Limbaugh said? " Perkins response: "I disagree that because there is a double standard that somehow defends what was said. I do think there is a double standard but that doesn’t defend attacking an individual. "I think we need to engage in civic -- or civil discussion. I don’t think there’s any room in this process for calling people derogatory names. I think what Rush Limbaugh did by calling this young woman, regardless of her political views, regardless of what she was advocating for, calling her derogatory names. I disagree with her position. I think what she said was off base, what she was advocating for was off base, but I think Rush Limbaugh was wrong in calling her what he did." Good for him. As Bashir pointed out at the beginning of his program, many conservatives are often hesitant to criticize someone like Limbaugh for fear of on air retribution. Speaking out could cause lost support and donations.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 29 weeks ago
Another 16 lives were added to the body count of the war in Afghanistan over the weekend.All of them civilians, nine were children, including one three year old girl.The alleged perpetrator, a U.S. Sergeant, killed many of the victims with a single shot to the head before he piled together eleven of the bodies and set them on fire.There is no way to measure the loss for the families of the victims, no way to understand the harm done to peace process in the country and no way to calculate the additional deaths of Americans, Afghans and others from across the world this will likely cause.There is no way to know the full cost of war.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 29 weeks ago
Thousands cast their ballots in yesterday’s primary election and the results?Things pretty much stayed the same.Romney is still the front runner, Santorum the closest challenger, Paul continues his campaign to influence the GOP agenda and Gingrich is still Gingrich.With the end of the primaries nowhere in sight, Democrats are smiling in remembrance to their own long drawn out fight between the Obama and Clinton campaigns during the 2008 cycles. While the preponderance of advertising and horse race coverage can be tiring, are these drawn out battles a good thing?
Posted by Tim King 2 years 30 weeks ago
The unofficial results are in and it looks like former governor Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary with 41 percent of the vote. Many commentators believe that this win indicates a recovery of momentum for the Romney campaign.There are now unconfirmed reports that building off the popularity of President Obama’s rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Mitt Romney has been working on a cover of Katy Perry’s "Hot n’ Cold" to sing for GOP primary voters.Not to be outdone, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul pull a few tricks from their sleeves too. 
Posted by Tim King 2 years 30 weeks ago
Christianity in America is in danger. As former Senator Rick Santorum recently pointed out, young people are leaving the church in droves.In the mid-1980s, evangelical 20-somethings outnumbered those with no religious affiliation — the so-called “nones” — by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. By 2008, those proportions were almost flipped, with young “nones” outnumbering evangelicals by more than 1.5 to 1.An entire generation, my generation, is leaving the church. What’s the cause? Santorum blames higher education, telling Glenn Beck last week that "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it."The “war on religion” has become a frequent bogeyman among Christian and political leaders. But the reason church leaders have failed to stem the tide of a generation heading for the exit door is that they keep looking for an outside enemy to blame when the biggest problems are inside the church.The years young adults spend in college aren’t causing them to leave their faith; those college years are exposing the problems with the faith they grew up with.The exodus has little to do with liberal college professors, which insurance plans should cover contraception, where mosques are being built, or whether or not the Ten Commandments are hanging in courtrooms, even if many religious leaders act as if these are the greatest Christian “battles” of our lifetime.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 31 weeks ago
Does theology matter when it comes to evaluating political leaders? How does this whole faith and politics thing work?Both Barack Obama and Rick Santorum have strong records on supporting legislation and funding  policies that fight global poverty and pandemic diseases. Both men have talked about how their concern for the poor is motivated by their faith.I feel comfortable with that and I think most people do. It is an example of political figures expressing their personal motivation behind widely held values that aren’t exclusive to a particular religious tradition.There are some religious beliefs, such as a particular stance on infant baptism, understanding of the Trinity, or belief in what occurs when Christians observe the Lord’s Supper that are significant theological claims. But they aren’t good or appropriate benchmarks by which to evaluate political candidates.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 33 weeks ago
I’m not a fan of calling things wars that aren’t really wars. As soon as something is labeled a “war”, whether it be the “culture wars” or now the “war on religion,” we severely limit the ways we can move forward and solutions available to us. EJ Dionne in his column today at the Washington Post puts it this way:  Politicized culture wars are debilitating because they almost always require partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents, and sometimes to deny their very humanity. It’s often not enough to defeat a foe. Satisfaction only comes from an adversary’s humiliation.One other thing about culture wars: One side typically has absolutely no understanding of what the other is trying to say.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 33 weeks ago
This past Sunday, Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the blog Red State wrote a post titled “The Perversion of the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the Sinner Barack H. Obama."First, I hope that Erickson remembers that in the Christian tradition calling someone a “sinner” is a theological statement of fact, not a pejorative. Labeling another Christian as a sinner in a bold and brash headline is, I am sure, very gratifying,  but it hardly sets one up for an argument based in the teachings of Jesus who came not for the healthy but the sick or Paul who labeled himself the “chief of sinners.”So, let me get this out of the way. I, Timothy M. King, am a sinner too.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 34 weeks ago
One in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime and nearly 1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.Mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and partners physically, emotionally and spiritually violated.This is a moral shame not just on the men who committed these crimes but on ALL men.It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. It reads:The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Men in this country live with a legacy of viewing and treating women as less than human. Our past reveals that we have not always recognized the image of God as fully present in our sisters.While not every man has committed a crime of violence against women, all men are responsible to make sure such crimes end. The statistics show that rape and assault are not isolated incidents but rather are a consistent and constant part of our society and culture.It won’t end the crisis, but the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), is an important tool, giving an avenue of response to women who have been victimized.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 34 weeks ago
The primary political conversation that is happening in our country isn’t a dualistic battle between a “free market” system and a “statist/socialist” one. It is determining which mix of institutions and organizations are best equipped to meet societal challenges and achieve collective goals while allowing for individual freedom and human flourishing.There aren’t many people who would argue that we need a new federal bureaucracy to run all of our grocery stores. But, you will find people who have varying views as to the government’s role in ensuring that those in need have basic access to nutrition, or what information the government should mandate that growers, producers, or sellers of food disclose to consumers.Rabbi Spero makes some important scriptural points as to the importance of personal responsibility, human creativity, and freedom, but fails to deal with any passages that might temper or balance his views of capitalism.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 35 weeks ago
The big red barn on my family’s farm was built in the 1880’s.The wood beams (almost nine feet off the ground), were wide enough for my mom, her siblings and a few other kids from nearby homes to run along. One of their favorite games was a modified sort of dodge ball with one person standing on the barn floor taking aim at the others running on the beams.It was not safe. But...it was a lot of fun.As kids ourselves, my brother and I tried to imitate this game in the barn and my mother soon got upset with whichever one of our uncles had told us about it.My brother and I climbed trees much higher than reasonably advisable and spent hours wandering in the woods unsupervised. During the winter we built “jumps” for sledding runs that were dangerous enough that they routinely spilt blood.Minor injuries were a regular part of our play. And, it was fun.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 36 weeks ago
Newt Gingrich now regularly refers to President Obama as the “Food Stamp President.” Why?Since late 2007, caseloads for the program formerly known as Food Stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- SNAP) have risen sharply.These numbers are significant; about 14.2 million more people have started receiving benefits under President Obama. Still, this is just behind the record number of 14.7 million additional recipients added under President George W. Bush.So, what’s the significance? President Obama has had a lot shorter time in office than President Bush did, should we be worried?When I look at the numbers, I’m not concerned about the growth of SNAP under President Obama, I’m surprised at it’s growth under President Bush.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 36 weeks ago
Having critics isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes they serve as a sort of public accountability. Other times, they express questions that others might be asking but haven’t voiced.Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of World Magazine, came out with a quick critique of Sojourners’ press release celebrating the Obama Administration’s decision to reject the current plans for building the Keystone XL pipeline. His post offers an excellent opportunity to address a few things that others might have been wondering as well.His headline? “Sojourners and Keystone: Using the Bible for Political Purposes.”
Posted by Tim King, Jack Palmer 2 years 36 weeks ago
Late Wedesday (1/18), leaders from Christian and other faith communities welcomed the news that the Obama administration has rejected the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.The controversial project, which would have run for 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, through the American Heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, would have been a backward step in the administration’s professed commitment to investing in clean and renewable energy sources.In August 2011, more than 1,200 peaceful protestors were arrested as part of a sustained campaign to demonstrate against the pipeline project. In November 2011, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, along with other Sojourners staffers and 15,000 members of the public, peacefully (and prayerfully) encircled the White House to urge President Obama to stop the project.Sojourners welcomed the Obama’s decision in November to postpone the permitting of the pipeline until an environmental impact report was completed. While this new decision is a clear step forward, TransCanada has the opportunity to reapply for the permit along a different route and leaders have pledged to remain vigilant and watch the issue closely.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 36 weeks ago
The video will be a satirical take on the Sermon on the Mount with various quotes, signs and policy positions of the Tea Party. While I don’t think the creators of the video would argue that this same test be applied to every piece of legislation Congress considers, it is an interesting experiment.How often do we divorce the things we say and do or the beliefs we hold from what we read in the Gospels about the person and teachings of Jesus?This video will drive some conservative Christians nuts for two reasons.First, because there are conservative Christians, such as Chuck Colson, who have spoken out against Ayn Rand and don’t want to be lumped in with her followers.Second, because Rand’s influence is real and it’s not a good thing.Rand’s extreme individualism turns Christian virtue into vice and vice into virtue. Her worldview feeds selfishness and a disregard for our neighbors. I read all 1,046 pages of my paperback copy her Atlas Shrugged and I would like at least 700 pages worth of my time back.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 37 weeks ago
In 1884, Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Parker Romney, fled to Mexico from Utah. Miles Parker Romney was a practicing polygamist and he wanted to protect his family from persecution. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico, his family returned to the United States and took up residence in Michigan.While Romney wouldn’t agree with his ancestor’s practice of polygamy, I am sure he understands his great-grandfather’s desire to do what he thought best for his family. Luckily for Miles Parker Romney, there was a country that allowed his family to settle and try and find a better life.What is unfortunate is that candidate Romney doesn't seem to have that same kind of empathy for families today who are also in difficult positions.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 37 weeks ago
If the GOP primaries were like Old Country Buffet, I’d be happy.Think about it. There wouldn’t be so much money involved and we could pick only the stuff we liked and ignore  the rest.And of course, everyone knows the basic rules of smorgasbord grazing, such as you can’t get decent sushi in the Midwest or proper social conservatives from Massachusetts.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 37 weeks ago
In a recent column for USA Today, Gary Bauer (former GOP presidential candidate and President of a conservative political organization called American Values) makes a big biblical blunder. He addresses the issue of the role of faith in politics and uses Jim Wallis as an example of a Christian with whom he shares religious heritage but not political conviction.Sojourners Editor Jim Wallis and I are both evangelical Christians. But we come to radically different conclusions about government's role in addressing poverty. Wallis thinks Republican tax cuts are unbiblical, and that more government spending and taxes are the main antidote. But nowhere in the Bible are we told that government should take one man's money by force of law and give it to another man. Jesus' admonition was a personal command to share, not a command for Caesar to "spread the wealth around."First, Bauer mischaracterizes Wallis’ position. Sojourners and the entire Circle of Protection have called for a balanced approach to deficit reduction. This means that taxes should be on the table. But, the Circle acknowledges that there does need to be spending reductions and explicitly states that some of those reductions will need to come from entitlements.Now, on to the biblical problem.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 38 weeks ago
Tomorrow, New Hampshire votes. If there is one thing that I can tell you about my home state that might give insight into tomorrow’s voting, it is this:It’s the only state in the country with the “right to revolution” written into it’s constitution. (Check it out, it’s article 10 in the N.H. bill of rights.)The old Yankees of New Hampshire don’t like being told who to vote for. And, they especially don’t want to be told who should get their vote by anyone who works for a cable news company. Remember how Obama was supposed to go on from Iowa to take New Hampshire sealing up the Democratic nomination? If they could throw a wrench into the GOP nomination process, I’m sure New Hampshirites would be proud to do so.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 38 weeks ago
The results of the Iowa Caucus are in. Romney edged it out with 8 votes over Santorum. Ron Paul came in third and then Gingrich, Perry and Bachmann came in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.It’s a stretch, but remember when Bachmann was the candidate to beat? How about Perry? Cain? Gingrich was just a few weeks ago. Ron Paul was at the top of the polls for a moment Iowa.Santorum has now shot up in prominence with his close second finish but some observers are arguing that the only reason why he is up is that he hasn’t been vetted yet. (On Wednesday, "Rick Santorum" was the second-most popular search on Google after "Iowa caucus.")Why all of the ups and downs?
Posted by Tim King 2 years 38 weeks ago
The Iowa Caucus is today and the nation is watching. It’s a lot of attention for a relatively small part of the nation voting. Having grown up in New Hampshire, I know that kind of limelight well.When I was a pretentious 11 year old, I wasn’t able to vote but nonetheless assumed I had the right to meet every candidate who was seeking their party’s nomination. When President Bill Clinton came through the state I remember being particularly annoyed that he just drove by and waved instead of talking with me.I still haven’t let that one go.There are a lot of concerns about the undue influence early voting states wield in the primary process. The fact that I got more face time with candidates as an elementary school pupil than most voters will get in a lifetime is problematic.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 39 weeks ago
“Marley was dead, to begin with.”So begins the classic tale of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is a story that has been told and re-told through various mediums since the novella was published December 19, 1843.I sat down recently to watch the new Disney version of the tale. It features a CGI rendition of Scrooge with the voice of Jim Carrey.After 15 minutes I shut it off.It wasn’t that it was particularly bad. I didn’t give the movie enough of a chance even to figure whether it was worth watching. What I realized is that I wasn’t much interested in hearing the same story again from a secular perspective.A Christmas Carol, I would argue, is not ultimately about Christmas, but conversion.Christmas is the stage and the catalyst through which transformation occurs. It is a leading character to be sure. But, it is the radical change that occurs in Ebenezer Scrooge that most compels me.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
Scrooge repented, promised to “honor Christmas in his heart” all year long and to never forget the lessons of the three spirits.He celebrated Christmas day with his nephew, sent the Cratchit family a prize Christmas turkey and then given Bob Cratchit a raise. He became a second father to Tiny Tim, was known as a good man in the city and was remembered for his ability to keep Christmas well.But, as Dickens pointed out, this didn’t come without some laughter and derision.Some people who knew Scrooge as a misanthrope before, now saw the old, mean man as a fool. The radical conversion Scrooge underwent  caused some to question whether this new Ebenezer was still of sound mind.This is as it should be.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
It is with death that Dickens begins his story and it is with death that Scrooge completes his journey with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.Scrooge hears other businessman saying that they wouldn’t attend the funeral unless there was sure to be lunch served. Men for whom he had great business esteem gave no more thought to his death than they did the weather. There were thieves who stripped the clothes off his dead body and the curtains from around his bed.He begged the Spirit to show him a scene in which some person, any person, was moved to emotion at his death.  The Spirit brought him to the house of a debtor who rejoiced with his wife at the death of Scrooge because now they might have time enough to pay back their loan. When he was shown the Cratchit household there was no mention of Scrooge at all, only mourning for the passing of Tiny Tim.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
When I imagine Jesus telling his disciples, “Let the little children come to me,” I have a vision of the adults moving aside and Tiny Tim with his crutch crawling into the lap of Christ. In the scene where Tiny Tim is introduced, his father tells this story of him:“Somehow, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas-day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”It is this child like faith that moves Scrooge to ask the Ghost of Christmas Present if the boy would live to see another Christmas. The spirit answers that he sees an empty chair at the next Cratchit Christmas. Scrooge begs for the future to be changed and the boy spared.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
The Ghost of Christmas Past showed Scrooge a total of five visions. It is only the last two which are dark. The first three show the seeds of Scrooges own repentance.The first vision shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas past is that of a young Scrooge reading alone, neglected by his peers, just before Christmas. Scrooge, watching his old self, begins to cry.“What’s the matter?” asked the Spirit.“Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should have given him something: that’s all.”
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
The specter of Jacob Marley entered Scrooge’s room. It had been seven years to the day since Marley died.Before he sees them, Scrooge hears the clanking of the heavy chains his old business partner now carries with him.Scrooge asks how it is that Marley became thus fettered.“I wear the chain I forge in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will, and of my own free-will I wore it.”Marley did not realize in life that he was a slave. He assumed that his wealth and the absence of external restraints meant he was free, when in fact his miserly and selfish ways were forging the means of his own bondage.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
Scrooge calls Christmas a “humbug.”When his nephew tries to convince him otherwise, Scrooge responds:“Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”The nephew retorts:“What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”The nephew concludes with this famous line about the holiday:“Therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say God bless it!”
Posted by Tim King 2 years 40 weeks ago
An ebenezer is a reminder. It tells the story of God’s faithfulness and our repentance. It is a marker for transformation and conversion.Dickens, I would assume, did not give Scrooge the first name “Ebenezer” without reason. While the word has fallen out of common use (the hymn “Come Thou Fount” is often sung now with the word “altar” in replace of “ebenezer”) it is still powerful with meaning.“Ebenezer” is the marker that commemorates the moment that everything changed. In difficult times it is the reminder that what was true at the time of the original change, namely God’s faithfulness, is still true today.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 41 weeks ago
There is, once again, a threat of a government shutdown. Congress, once again, can’t get along. Even the most basic decision making has stalled as each party postures for their base. But, it’s almost Christmas and there a better and brighter things to focus on then the latest Rasmussen tracking poll.I’d like to share some Advent reflections from my former professor at North Park University, Scot McKnight. He is in the midst of a series that points to what Advent is supposed to remind Christians of. It’s a simple message with deep meaning: Jesus is King.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 41 weeks ago
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a letter  to Congress on Monday concerning unemployment benefits. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Toledo, Ohio, the letter's signatory, makes the argument that unemployment benefits are a “right to life” or pro-life issue.This is a time of “prolonged and pervasive economic pain.” The letter cites the median length of joblessness as 10 months and that there are 4 job seekers for every 1 job opening. Blaire then quotes from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem Exercens:The obligation to provide unemployment benefits, that is to say, the duty to make suitable grants indispensable for the subsistence of unemployed workers and their families, is a duty springing from the fundamental principle of . . . the right to life and subsistence.If Glenn Beck still had that black board, Pope John Paul II might end up receiving the posthumous honor of having a smiling photo added to it.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 41 weeks ago
They are dangerous. And no, I’m not talking about the five Muslim families in Dearborn Michigan depicted in TLC’s new series All American Muslim.I’m talking about the Florida Family Association(FFA). They are a group with a campaign targeting the show's advertisers and who have successfully gotten Lowe's to remove their commercials.From the FFA website:The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish. ...Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.Yup. That’s their complaint. Having a show that would dare to depict “ordinary” Muslims.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 42 weeks ago
style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:11.25pt;margin-left:0in;line-height:13.5pt;background:white;vertical-align:baseline">The question of moral character and how it plays into public life has tended to be fairly low level conversation in our country. It’s subjects of discussion are usually those who we aren’t planning on voting for. This is why it’s hard to trust what most commentators, religious leaders or politicians are saying right now. Things said in this moment might have more to do with which party or candidate they are planning on voting for than serious thinking about moral character and public life.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 42 weeks ago
Failure to provide equal rights for LGBT people doesn’t just hurt those who are gay or lesbian, it also hurts the nearly 2 million children who now live in LGBT households.Contrary to many stereotypes, children living in LGBT households are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than those living in heterosexual households. Societal prejudice and discriminatory policies both have something to do with it. A recent report sponsored by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress, explains why.
Posted by Tim King 2 years 42 weeks ago
Yes, the Obama administration is going to have differences with some of the Catholic bishops. But that doesn’t mean it’s a war.The Governor should know that if he was elected President he would have some big problems with the bishops as well.Remember when Perry boasted about how many people had been executed in Texas? And how the crowd responded by cheering?
Posted by Tim King 2 years 42 weeks ago
Social justice is redundant.Justice, properly understood in a biblical sense, always has social implications.Personal salvation is redundant in the same way. Salvation, properly understood in a biblical sense, while it may have broader implications, is always personal in nature.Why the modifiers?