Tonight I witnessed blasphemy. I confess, I have never thought much of Bill Maher. In fact, I have developed quite an aversion to his hateful diatribes against religion in general and Christianity in particular. He is not someone I would normally waste five minutes of my time listening to, but while channel surfing between the Olympics and the three main Cable News Networks tonight, I did stop long enough to hear what he was saying on Larry King Live. Picking it up in mid interview it was not surprising to hear him blasting Christians and branding us all as bigoted idiots. When asked by King (another spiritual bankrupt) what he thought of the Saddleback Forum last week and the questions Rick Warren asked the two major presidential candidates regarding evil and how we should deal with it.
"These stupid people believe in this cartoon character (the Devil) who supposedly will be poking people in Hell in the ass with a pitchfork and depriving them of airconditioning."
Maher went on to opine that what bothers him the most about Christianity is the concept of salvation. "To these 'Christies' it's all about salvation. Saving their own asses" He also quoted that great thinker Jesse "The Body" Ventura's comments about "Christians being weak minded people who have to find safety in numbers."
This is America and Mr. Maher most certainly has the right to think as he wishes and to exercise his right to free speech. He also has the right to be wrong. In my humble opinion, Maher should stick to his rather feeble comedy career and leave theology to the theologians. He misses the point altogether. Not that "salvation" isn't important. It certainly is! Fallen man needs a redeemer and Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. I am qualified to debate this with Mr. Maher because I have experienced such redemption through Christ. However to this "Christie" as he calls us, the true emphasis of Christianity is not just salvation - it is about a relationship with the true and living God. Those of us "weak minded" individuals who cling to this God know that it's not about "religion" at all, but rather about a relationship with the Creator through the person of Jesus Christ.
Tonight something interesting happened in my mind. The disgust and disdain I have long felt for Bill Maher began to change. A true pity welled up in my heart for this blasphemous windbag. A realization swept over me that the very God, whose existence Maher denies, wants a relationship with him. That's why He sent Jesus. Will you join me in praying that some way, some how, God might speak peace to the heart of this very vicious man. He's done it before (remember Saul of Tarsus?) He can do it again. Pray for Bill Maher - and Larry King, too, for that matter.
Speaking of the Saddleback Forum, what did you think about it? I am torn between the idea of whether a church is the right forum for this type of event, and the opposite feeling that it provided a wonderful opportunity for the candidates to be questioned on "value" issues that are important to a huge segment of the electorate. We have had analysis, ad infinitum, for the past week on who won, etc. I have no intention of getting into all that. I was struck, however, by the difference in the way the two candidates offered their individual answers to the identical questions posed to them by Pastor Rick Warren. Senator Obama's answers have been characterized as "nuanced and thoughtful" by some, and "mushy gobbledygook" by others. Senator McCain's answers have been called "decisive and direct" by some commentators, and "simplistic" by critics.
For example, when posed a question about whether the candidate believes in the concept of evil, and how we should react to it, Obama's answer was lengthy, making general references to his examples of evil both at home and abroad. He allowed that we should "confront evil, but do it humbly". When asked the same question about the existance of evil, McCain simply answered, "Of course evil exists." When asked how we should react, he gave a two word answer, "Defeat it." I have drawn my personal opinion, but each of us must be the judge when we enter the voting booth on November 4th.
Although I am not a "one issue" voter, I do believe that a candidate's stance on one particular issue is a cornerstone to how he or she will line up on any other issues. Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence that we are "endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Am I wrong, or is the first inalienable right we have been given by God, the Right to Life? I have the strong conviction that unless a candidate - any candidate - supports the Right to Life - especially the rights of the unborn - how can I trust them to be right on the rest of the issues? To me it is a matter of priorities.
When asked by Warren, "When does human life begin?", again Obama answered with an assertion that this is an issue that can be debated by theologians and medical professionals. He stated, I think flippantly, that "The ability to make that decision is above my pay grade." When asked the same question, McCain's answer was five words, "At the moment of conception." One of these men will appoint many Federal Judges and possibly as many as two or three Supreme Court Justices during his term of office. This issue is of tremendous magnitude to those of us who value the Right to Life - to the elderly, the infirm, and by all means, the unborn. McCain has publicly promised that he will appoint Justices "from the mold of Roberts and Alito". Obama's Vice Presidential choice, Senator Joe Biden, vehemently fought and voted against the nomination of both of those Justices. While I have differences with many of the political stances of BOTH McCain and Obama, my decision on November 4th is already settled!
The height of the silly season is now upon us. The Olympic spectacle has ended and the next two weeks bring us the Hollywood style productions known as the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Now don't get me wrong. I am not trivializing the immense gravity of our responsibility to evaluate and elect the next President of the United States. I thank God that we live in the country we do and I love the Constitution and the freedoms and responsibilities it lays out for "We the People". What is demoralizing, however, is how shallow we have allowed our electoral system to become. What we will be treated to for the next fortnight will be the height of propaganda, half truths, and spin.
Candidates from both parties will be presented to us as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Each will tell us of their particular qualifications to serve as leader of the free world, and will spend half of their time, trying to remove their respective feet from their own mouths. It has already begun. After a good week, and closing the gap in many of the opinion polls, McCain took a big step toward looking like a dunce, when he couldn't answer the question as to how many homes he and his wife own. Not good. McCain dug a pretty good hole for himself several months ago as well, when he admitted that he really doesn't know much about economics. Ouch!
Senator Obama has already stretched his credibility several months ago by asking us to believe that he sat in the Trinity Church for 20 years and never heard the hatred and racism spouted by his former pastor and spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. His newly chosen VP running mate is also one who has "opened mouth and inserted foot" on a number of occasions. Remember, Biden is the guy who said that Obama was a "mainstream African American who is bright, articulate and clean...", and then there's that famous quote that "You can't go into a Dunkin' Donuts or a 7-Eleven without an Indian accent." Eeewww.
No sooner had Obama named his choice of Biden as a running mate, did the McCain campaign begin airing a commercial showing Biden standing by an earlier comment that Obama was not ready to be President, and that that position is not one for "on the job training". We've seen them use Hillary Clinton's sound bytes saying that Obama is not qualified for the top job, and it will only be a matter of days until we see her hubby, Bill, in film clips accusing Obama of "playing the race card" and also implying Obama's lack of qualifications for the Presidency.
By the same token, should McCain tap former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney as his running mate, there is plenty of primary footage of Romney's criticism of McCain's qualifications, to serve as fodder for many Obama commercials. As often as the RNC paid ads link Obama with convicted felon, Tony Rezko and 70's radical Weathermen bomber, Bill Ayers, the DNC will counter of footage of McCain as one of the "Keating Seven" and linking him to the policies of the Bush Administration.
Accusation of "flip flops" will abound from both camps, and the beat goes on. Thankfully it's only a little over 70 days until election day. November 4th can't come a bit too soon!