Post-Election thoughts and readings…

There’s been a lot said in the blog world over the last few days about the election. Some are rejoicing, some are mourning, some are criticizing and some are honestly processing. Today I feel thankful that most of the people I choose to surround myself with have been thoughtful and compassionate throughout this election and continue to be so now at the close of it.

Last night we spoke briefly at bible study about the election and we started to talk about how “terrible” it can be when Christians so vehemently and even hatefully attack the “other side.” But, as we talked I (we) were reminded that when we talk about others like that then we are no different. I was reminded that some people don’t have the same world view I do, they read scripture differently and they come to different conclusions, and that is ok. The same God works in them. They are loved and cherished deeply. I often fall into feeling superior and criticizing the “stupidity” I see around me, but in doing so I am not showing love, I am not acting as Christ calls me to act. So, forgive me Lord, and change me, help me to love like you love. Help me to be able to really see and understand and have compassion and love for those who are different from me and those who think differently from me. In Jesus name.

Ok, so I know I’ve done a lot of linking lately but here are some posts about the election and its outcome that I thought I’d share:

The Element blog page had some good things to say about this election and people’s responses to it. I especially liked Chad Demiguel’s post entitled, After the fact.  He writes,

“As children of God, our response to the world should always be one of faith, hope and love. Let’s be proactive about praying for this next president, whoever he is. Let’s honor our leader in how we discuss him in conversation with others, especially if we disagree with him. Let’s be the kind of citizens that inspire those who don’t know God toward citizenship in the City of God. If for whatever reason we experience the best or worst four years our country has ever seen, let’s do what Martin Luther prescribes. Let’s plant a tree – meaning, let’s daily create God-inspired aspects of His kingdom. Let’s constantly, lovingly be on the lookout for how we can bestow life to a country that needs it so greatly.”

Sean and CJ Bergemen also shared some revealing and insightful thoughts on the Element blog in their posts, My Heart on 11.05.08 – Part 1 and My Heart as well. CJ writes,

“He is glorified when we take hold of every action and every deed. When we show restraint with our words. When we use our words to build each other up, when we don’t assume that everyone does or should believe everything we believe. I wrestled over my decision up until the last second of voting, and asked God to direct me the entire way… The more I thought and prayed about it, the more compelled I felt to be less sure that any opinion I have truly is the ‘right’ one, the one that honors God the most. I will continue to carry a sense in my heart that I may have made the wrong choice, which will remind me that ultimately Jesus is always the right choice, and praise God He is on the throne, and not me, and not a politician.”

I appreciated this post by Jeremy at A Mending Shift, Hope vs. Fear.

Here is a Prayer for President elect Obama from Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes.

Here’s A Prayer from South Africa for Barack Obama.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

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Politics and Abortion

This post is a guest post written by Mathias Schwender. Mathias and his wife Carrie (who I wrote about here) are good friends of ours and incredible people. The other night we were having dinner with them and the topic of abortion and politics came up and Mathias shared some interesting insight. I knew at the time that there were others in the blogosphere writing about this topic lately so I invited Mathias to be my first guest blogger as part of this impromptu synchroblog.

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I am not a woman. I cannot pretend I have felt, lived through, experienced, suffered or wrestled with the decision of giving or not giving birth to an unwanted baby. Yet I have compassion for women in this situation and the last thing I wish for them is to be persecuted, punished or being outcast. In a way I think it is not fair that women are way more affected by giving birth or not giving birth than men – regardless how involved men are.

We as a society and fellow humans must respect and acknowledge that women that do not want to give birth to their child are already put on a burden that seems too much to carry. We have the obligation to come and support and help and endure with them.

Nevertheless I want to speak out for those humans that share life with me on this earth. I want to speak out for those that do not have a voice. They are my brothers and sisters and therefore I am qualified to speak out for them.

I strongly feel it is not right to give in to what seems so fair: ‘let her not have the child’. I strongly disagree that one (or more) human beings have the right to end someone else’s life. Why does the most vulnerable, innocent person not have a right to live? Why can it be sent to death because the father or mother or the society as a whole decides so? Since when is a human life only valued as such if it is desired? Where else in our society does someone have the ‘right to choose’ over someone else’s life?

Let’s say my grandmother is sick and I have to take care of her and I cannot afford to look after her or I just simply think this is inconvenient for me. Why can’t I just push her down the staircase? If it is about me and my social or economical situation then this should also be ok to do that, no?

No. I cannot just end someone else’s life because it is not my life and I cannot end it. That’s why.

And this is not because I am a Christian or anything else. This is because I want to live in a society that honors life.

We should really stop making this a religious question anything more than caring for the elders, paying our taxes or coming up with a good health care plan.

I like Obama. I think he would be the better president. And I actually would probably vote for him if I carried the right passport. Yet it bothers me that he is inconsistent. With his health care plan he says: we need to protect every American. We need to protect children. We cannot just let the parents make the choice if they want to ensure the children or not. Health insurance must extend to everybody.

I agree with him. I think it is a good plan. But then when it comes to abortion he suddenly says: the mother is able to take the best decision for her baby. She is most qualified to decide.

Why can’t the parents decide if their children get health insurance but apparently can decide if the child will live or die? I don’t get it.

What personally woke me up and made me aware of this was statistics I have lately seen. Only in the US more than 1,2 million babies get aborted every single year. Source: http://www.abort73.com/HTML/II-A-abortion_statistics. ( I think this is one out of three conceived babies)This is just so incredible. As a comparison: on 9/11 we had about 3000 people dying on a single day and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq happened as a consequence. With abortions this amount of people die every single (!) day and nothing really seems to happen as a consequence.

What I would propose to do about it on a governmental level:

1. Start with having a restricted abortion policy. In Germany (where I am from) for example, abortions can only legally be done to the 12th week and a medical or social reason must be given and approved by a doctor.

Source: http://www.pro-leben.de/abtr/abtreibung_daten.php

I think it is totally inacceptable and horrifying that in many western European countries and also the USA you can abort a child an hour before it gets born without giving even a reason. I can see how people argue about early abortions but to kill a fully grown baby just because it didn’t yet come out of the mother’s womb is just incredible.

2. Women that go through unwanted pregnancies must get government and financial help to get through and deliver the baby. Economical reasons should get entirely ruled out.

3. To give the child up for adoption must become much easier. Also bureaucratic hurdles in adopting a child must get a lot more straightforward.

4. Change the laws so abortions with some restricted, defined and very limited exceptions (which have to be monitored in a transparent way by an independent institution) should become illegal. When slavery was legal there were only a few people that thought it was a bad thing. Now it’s illegal and people also think it is a bad thing. But it took a while. We shape the conscious of a society if we ok with our laws certain things. Changing the laws will slowly then also change how people feel about abortions. I know for this we need majorities. Every little step helps. The little I can do I want to do for it.

Mathias Schwender

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Check out these links to hear what others are saying:

Abortion Politics and Christianity

The Moral Minefield

Politics and Abortion: Impromptu Synchroblog

Dr. James Howell on the Divisive Issue of Abortion

The Politics of Abortion: The Moral Minefield

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Politics

So, this is an election year and as such I feel like I should join the band wagon and talk about politics a little (yeah, I know I’m joining late in the game, but better late than never, right?). Frankly, I’ve never liked talking about politics – I felt uncomfortable talking about politics. I think that is mostly because I have for most of my life been incredibly uneducated on the issues. I usually just voted whatever my parents or church or friends said I should vote and believed them…something I’m not really proud to admit, but there it is. I think the reason I really wasn’t educated about politics was that I just didn’t care, any time politics came up (which was incredibly rare in my circle) I felt like there wasn’t really a good option, like I didn’t really agree with any of the sides and like I could see good and bad in both and I just didn’t want to have to pick one. In the past I had a few opinions that I did choose a side on but the side I generally leaned towards wasn’t the same side of a lot of the people around me so I usually kept those opinions to myself. Then I moved out of the country…

Ironically, it took me leaving America to start to get educated and care more about the politics happening in America. I remember one of the first larger dinner parties Bryan and I had at our house here in Prague one of the major topics we all discussed was politics. I felt soo uncomfortable and unsure of myself and my opinions – I came face to face with my lack of education in the area of politics and decided then and there that I wanted to become more educated and figure out where I stand on various issues. And I was lucky, my desire to become more educated lined up perfectly with an election year, a year when politics is a hot topic and there’s lots of opportunity to learn.

Well, that was quite a while ago now… and frankly I still feel frustrated when talking about politics. Bryan and I have had a number of political conversations together lately which have been really helpful and interesting… it’s nice for me to talk with him about politics because I feel like he isn’t going to judge me when I say stuff and even if he disagrees with me he is still understanding. Really I still don’t know where I stand on some things. I do know that at times I can see good things and bad things in both parties. I do know that in general I care more about the issues and topics that the Democrats focus on (social issues) then the issues the Republicans seem to focus on (moral issues). I do know that my husband considers himself an Independent, who likes some things about Libertarianism, and I know that even though I can agree with him on some levels, our political views don’t totally line up.

I guess you could call me a swing voter…and I actually really like that. The whole idea of voting with a party line never made sense to me, really. I mean neither party completely represents my beliefs and ideals. And I think each election is different and each situation is different and I would rather decide each election what party I think is best fit to have office for the situations of that particular time in history.

So, if you are a swing voter like me and find yourself wanting to know more about politics in general and wanting to be more informed this election then I have some suggestions on sites to check out:

The first is On The Issues. This site helps you find out what all of the candidates (including 3rd party candidates) have to say about different issues. All you need to do is click on the picture of the candidate you want to find out more about and it will tell you their stance on each of the major issues. You can also search by issue and it will tell you what different candidates believe about that issue. It’s a great way to find out more about the candidates and to compare and contrast their opinions on the issues.

The second site I thought was interesting is this google site. It has a list of issues and then has quotes about each candidate that relate to those issues. You can stroll through a number of quotes from the candidates on the issue that you select.

I also found this site, FactCheck.org, helpful. They basically go through all the things that the two major candidates (McCain and Obama) say about each other and make corrections telling you what the facts actually are. I especially liked this page which lists all the major untrue accusations that each candidate has made about the other and telling you why they are incorrect.

EDIT: I just found this site, glassbooth.org. It’s a site where you put in the issues that you care most about and answer some questions and then it tells you what candidate lines up with your beliefs/oppinions most. I thought it was really helpful and encourage you to check it out.

And of course I would suggest you watch the debates as well. Bryan and I have watched all of the major debates so far and even though they have been frustrating to watch at times they have also been pretty informative and have helped us get a better picture of each candidate.

I’d be interested to hear what you all think of the candidates and who you’re rooting for if you don’t mind sharing. I know politics is a sort of taboo topic and many people don’t like saying right out what candidate they support , but if you are open to it I would love to hear your opinions. I also know that some people love talking about politics and can get very heated about it, so, please do share, but let’s keep it civil, ok? Remember that each of the candidates are genuine people trying to do what they think is best, and treat them with respect. And remember that the other readers are also genuine people trying to do what they think is best and they also deserve your respect.

Here is Donald Miller’s http://www.donaldmillerwords.com/  prayer from the Democratic National Convention. This is what I’m praying today as I think about the upcoming elections:

“Father God, This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future. We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation. We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy. Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left. Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them. Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions. Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle. Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education. Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony. We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help. Father will you restore our moral standing in the world. A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American. Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world. Help us be an example of humility and strength once again. Lastly, father, unify us. Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common. And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments – but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish. God we know that you are good. Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans. I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice. Let Him be our example. Amen.”

Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

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