Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arizona and Birthright Citizenship

Last spring Arizona made national and even international news by enacting S.B. 1070, which mandates police to inquire into the immigration status of people under certain circumstances. That bill received a lot of negative attention nationally and in Mexico, but is credited with resurrecting Jan Brewer’s sagging poll numbers and landing her a second term as Arizona’s governor.

Despite budget woes of historic proportions, this spring the Arizona Legislature has taken its attention from serious issues involving the funding of education and health care for the poor to consider other bills targeting undocumented migrants. Illustratively, two companion bills were drafted to challenge the long-standing interpretation of the fourteenth amendment, which provides so-called “birthright citizenship.”

“Birthright citizenship” is a phrase that refers to the acquisition of U.S. citizenship by virtue of one’s birth, as contrasted to acquisition of citizenship by naturalization after birth. It is important to note that there are actually two different types of birthright citizenship. One can attain birthright citizenship by jus soli or jus sanguinis.

The latter term (jus sanguinis) refers to the bestowing of citizenship by being born to a parent who is American. If a person is born and at least one of his/her parents was an American citizen, then that person is also given U.S. citizenship, regardless of where they are born.

The former term (jus soli) refers to the granting of citizenship to anyone born in the territory of the United States. Even if neither parent is American (i.e., such that jus sanguinis is not possible), a child born in the United States will be a U.S. citizen. If a non-American woman gives birth on U.S. soil while on vacation or while working or studying here temporarily, her child is granted American citizenship. That has historically been the case regardless of the mother’s immigration status.

Though the recent Arizona legislation had been described as attacking “birthright citizenship,” to be clear, the proposed bills would only have challenged the interpretation of the fourteenth amendment granting citizenship via jus soli. The bills were not in any way challenging the practice of jus sanguinis, which is technically another form of birthright citizenship.

It is interesting to understand the approach to citizenship taken in other countries. Most countries emphasize jus sanguinis because racial or ethnic identity is considered to be a critical means of establishing national identity. Indeed, jus soli is relatively uncommon in the world. Currently, less than 20% of the countries in the world grant citizenship under the concept of jus soli. The United States is the largest exception to this rule. Most of the other countries on that list are in North or South America. One’s family can live for generations in some European countries, for example, without ever being granted citizenship.

To me, it makes sense and is a source of pride that the United States is one of the primary examples of jus solis citizenship. With the exception of native Americans, we are a nation of immigrants. We may come from many different places of origin, but once we’re here, we’re supposed to all be on the same footing. The links below contain some news coverage of the recent failed attempt by the Arizona legislature to challenge the long-standing interpretation of the fourteenth amendment:

Deuteronomy 10:18

"He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett (Commonality Despite Differences)

I was inspired not only by the individuals Pastor Barnett described in his book, but by the commonality I saw in our Christian faith. He and his father come from the Assemblies of God, which is a denomination quite different from any church I’ve ever attended. I’m quite confident that Pastor Barnett and I would disagree on a number of theological points. But I was so encouraged that those points are not ones that he focused on in his book. Instead of emphasizing theology that might be divisive, he emphasized the tremendous needs of people and the imperative of trying to meet those needs. He takes seriously the call to be the hands and feet of Christ.

In his ministry, Pastor Barnett works with gang members, felons, people who use drugs, prostitutes, undocumented migrants and a host of other “outcasts.” Many in society look down upon such people. Sadly, many Christ followers mirror that same disapproval and condemnation. I was encouraged that Pastor Barnett did not seem to share that type of attitude. Instead, his writing seemed to evidence over and over again a tremendous compassion for such individuals. He describes heartbreak, not revulsion, when he is on Skid Row and a prostitute propositions him. He tells the story of a young gang member who used drugs, but in whom he saw leadership potential in ministry. In describing the story of Jim Bakker, Pastor Barnett did not go into the gory details, but simply talks in generalities of Mr. Bakker’s fall from grace and incarceration. The focus is not on the sin, but the redemption. I really admired that attitude.

I was also tremendously impressed when Pastor Barnett wrote about evaluating one’s ministry based on God’s metrics, not society’s. With humility he shares that when he moved to Los Angeles, he initially focused on building a great church with masses of people. He realized the futility of that goal when the small congregation he inherited shrunk to zero attendance! Hitting rock bottom in his ministry made him realize that he was focusing on his own goals, not God’s. Pastor Barnett had an epiphany that he needed to serve the many people in Los Angeles who were struggling and suffering. That was his calling, not building a church with huge numbers.

Pastor Barnett also wrote that when celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Dream Center, he sensed that the party the staff threw was not the appropriate way to mark the milestone. He knew that was the world’s way of celebrating—feasting and patting themselves on the back. As a more appropriate way to mark the milestone, Pastor Barnett felt moved to spend time (day and night) on Skid Row. He felt moved to be with the people he was trying to serve to better understand their plight. Those around him feared for his security, but he was undeterred. It was a moving experience once the initial terror wore off. I respect and admire his approach to celebrating. It is an example of radical love and courage to follow Jesus. It is also a reminder to reject the world’s values in favor of God’s. Being a Christ follower is supposed to be a counter cultural endeavor.

I sometimes get very discouraged by the great divisions in the church. And I am depressed at how Christ’s message gets warped to support politics and policies that to me are the antithesis of what Jesus would advocate. I feel hopeless at the attempts of fellow Christians to impose their own view of Christianity on secular society. But my faith in the church is restored to some extent when a Christian like Matthew Barnett, who I is so different in theology and social attitudes, clings so tightly to what I understand to be Jesus’s core teachings—loving and serving all of God’s precious children without judgment no matter what they have done in their lives.

Romans 14:10

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett (Inspirational Stories)

Recently, I took my kids to the library and en route to the children’s section I had a moment to look at the new arrivals. One particularly caught my eye: The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do in This World by Matthew Barnett with George Barna. The title and the summary on the jacket cover intrigued me, so I checked it out that day along with a slew of children’s literature.

The book is an easy read, and less than two hundred pages in length. I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly. I appreciate the premise. I’m middle aged, and people at my stage of life are trying to figure out if we’re spending our lives the right way. And I work with a lot of young people at the beginning of their careers. Many of our relatives are senior citizens, and are at a phase of their lives when they are not sure how much time they have left. We all want to do important things with our time on this planet, but it is hard to figure out what we should be doing. Matthew Barnett’s book focuses on helping the reader discern his/her purpose and calling.

Matthew Barnett is from Phoenix, the son of a mega-church pastor. In his early 20s, Matthew Barnett took over a failing church in Los Angeles. He was a young man with a passion to serve God. But under his leadership the church continued to decline and hit rock bottom. Eventually he turned that apparent failure around to found the Dream Center. I had not heard of that institution before, but from what I gather in reading the book, the Dream Center is a very vibrant Christian ministry. There are worship services, as well as a number of innovative ministries of various types to help bring healing to hurting people.

Throughout the book, Pastor Barnett shares the stories of a number of individuals who’ve gone through difficulties in their lives but been transformed into joy-filled people with a passion to minister and serve others. It was a very inspiring book to read. There was a story of a troubled young man who was suicidal and doing drugs, but ended up spending years of his life passionately serving at the Dream Center as a volunteer to help the homeless. There was an anecdote about a couple who began ministering to hopeless people in a dangerous housing project and their ministry expanded to consume their lives in a positive way. Pastor Barnett also wrote about a young woman who had been a prostitute and had overcome addiction; she became inspired to start a new ministry at the Dream Center, an outreach to pimps.

One of my favorite stories was about the former televangelist, Jim Bakker. I remember being in high school when Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the butt of jokes. Over the years, they have been the source of many negative stereotypes about Christians. When their televangelist empire crumbled and Jim Bakker went to prison, many cheered and others smirked. But Pastor Barnett and his father invited Mr. Bakker to the Dream Center, and he was apparently a transforming experience. Mr. Bakker arrived at the Dream Center a hopeless man who had been broken by his public disgrace and the abuse he endured in prison. He was called without forewarning to speak at a service, and felt appreciated and loved. He shared his experience in prison, and there were plenty of people in the church who had also had that experience. They did not judge him, they could relate to what he had gone through. Mr. Bakker ended up staying several months ministering in a variety of ministries to the homeless and the destitute. That service gave him back his hope and apparently transformed the subsequent part of his life.

After reading The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do in This World, I have a real interest in visiting the Dream Center. The book was also an excellent reminder of the importance of serving others. I recommend it highly regardless of your age or your path in life.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life and Death

This has been a particularly tough week.

Like people around the world, I’ve been grieving for the destruction and loss from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Our family has relatives who are stationed in Okinawa. My sister thoughtfully sent a note immediately after the earthquake and tsunami to let us know they were ok. My kids have been praying in thanksgiving for the safety of their cousins, aunt and uncle. But we’ve also been praying for God’s provision for those who were impacted by the earthquake and tsunami. It is hard to comprehend the scope of the devastation.

And the grief for the destruction and loss from the earthquake and tsunami has now been overtaken somewhat by a pressing fear of potential nuclear catastrophe at the crippled nuclear plant. I worry about a catastrophe impacting the whole region. I worry that it will impact my sister’s family in Okinawa. Heck, even in Arizona some folks have been stocking up on potassium iodide, which apparently can provide the body with some protection against radiation.

Closer to home, I’ve also had several pieces of heartbreaking news this week. A dear friend of our family has been diagnosed with a particularly vile form of cancer. A beloved relative of ours has been in and out of the hospital a lot in the last few weeks; we just got word today that he is back in the hospital. A relative caring for him has now begun to face her own health issues in part due to the stress of being a caregiver. I also learned that a wonderful friend, who has been in a seemingly happy and stable marriage for several decades, is currently going through a divorce and custody battle. And then I learned of the sudden, unexpected death of a lovely young man I knew. I actually was in a situation where I had to break the news to a group of his friends, which was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. The young man had a wife and child, and I’ve been torn up by their loss.

Just before this tough week was the beginning of the season of Lent, which is the forty day period leading up to Easter. Easter is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, his triumph over the grave. It is the high-point in the Christian year. It celebrates the most pivotal event in the earthly life of Jesus. Indeed, Easter is the reason we call him the Christ. Because of the supreme importance of Easter, many Christian denominations prepare for the celebration by observing forty days of sacrifice and prayer.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Like many Christ followers, our family went to church on Ash Wednesday and our pastor smudged our foreheads with dark ashes. When she did that she reminded us that we came from ashes and will return to ashes. It is a reminder of the finite nature of our time on this planet. It is not meant to be depressing. The reminder is supposed to give us a reality check that although we get caught up in the crises of what is going on on Earth, all of that is only a blip on the radar of time. It pales in comparison to the eternal nature of God’s Kingdom.

That reality check has come at a good time for me personally. It doesn’t take away the worry and the pain due to the recent tragedies I’ve mentioned. But it helps put things into perspective. It helps me to remember that although these tragedies seem overwhelming right here and right now, the pain and suffering will not last. As a Christ follower, I am comforted that Jesus has overcome the grave, death has no lasting sting. Death is only a temporary separation.

Many years ago, I heard a pastor give a sermon with the refrain that he could live and face today because of the knowledge that Jesus had died. To a non-Christian that may sound weird, even nonsensical, but it was the same point I have just described. The pastor’s point was that if Jesus had not truly died (and then risen from the grave), then the problems of this world would be too overwhelming to even get out of bed. But the hope and faith we have as Christians (i.e., that this life is not all there is) helps us face and even triumph when painful events occur.

This week I attended a service for the young man who died. I was very proud of his friends and colleagues who worked so hard to put together the service very quickly. They did a great job. It broke my heart to see all the tears, to hear people get so choked up when sharing their memories. Just before I left the service, I ran into a young woman I had not seen in many months. She was very pregnant with her first child. She is due in a matter of weeks and very excited. It was a real blessing to run into her in that context and learn of her impending motherhood. How wonderful at a time like this to know that she is bringing new life into this world to love and nurture. God does heal our wounded hearts.

2 Kings 20:4-6 (The Message)

Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of GOD stopped him: "Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, 'GOD's word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I've listened to your prayer and I've observed your tears. I'm going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of GOD. I've just added fifteen years to your life; I'm saving you from the king of Assyria, and I'm covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David's sake.'"

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Prayer for the People of Japan

Dear Lord,

I’ve been heartbroken by the events in Japan this past week. The most powerful earthquake that country has ever experienced. A devastating tsunami that has wiped away whole communities. The death toll is hard to comprehend.

And now the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been teetering on the verge of catastrophe. People have been evacuated from the region. Others have been told to stay indoors. Foreign governments are evacuating their people out of fears there will be a nuclear meltdown and a massive release of radiation. It is hard to take in the scale and the repercussions of this perfect storm of tragedies.

I’m so overwhelmed with what has happened and what is continuing to happen that I am not sure what to do or what to ask. I am not a rich person. Giving money seems a pointless gesture in the face of the immense need. All I know to do it to lift the people in Japan up in prayer. But, my God, you know better than I what the people in and near Japan need. Nonetheless, I lift them up to you as best I know how.

I ask you to receive into your Kingdom those souls who perished in the earthquake and tsunami. I cannot imagine the terror of their last moments on this planet, but I trust that the glory of your eternal Kingdom makes up for those brief moments of anguish.

Lord, I ask your blessing on the survivors.

I ask you to mend the broken hearts of the many who have lost their loved ones. Especially I ask you to care for the orphaned and the parents who lost their children. The rupture of a parent-child relationship is particularly hard to bear and only you can mend such wounds.

I ask you to bring calm and recovery to the chaos of resource shortages and a disrupted economy. I ask you to guide people back to the business of living and to living productive lives. I thank you for the news stories I have read about the relative calm of the survivors and their attempts already to get to a new normal.

I ask you to bring a safe resolution to the difficulties at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. I thank you for the brave people who have sacrificed much to stay and to work to avert catastrophe. I thank you for their courage and their intellect to work with a dangerous and complex power infrastructure to keep millions of people safe. Please bless their work and make it fruitful.

Lord, I thank you that my relatives stationed in Okinawa were not impacted by the earthquake or the tsunami. I ask your continued protection of them so that they are not harmed by the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. I ask you to give them peace of mind. I know how stressful it is for them to be living so close to where so many are suffering.

Lord, I thank you for the blessings my family, friends and community enjoy in this country. I know you do not provide those blessings so we can just enjoy a comfortable life but you bless us to be a blessing. I know you want us to use our God-given resources to help your hurting people. Please guide me and everyone in my community to know what we should do to help the people of Japan. Please help us discern your will for our lives. Please help us be obedient to that will, and to be instruments of your hope and love.

Thank you for your faithfulness and your love for all your people.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Prayer for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann

Dear Lord,

I thank you for the lives, the intellects and the dedication of my sisters, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. They are both women who love you, and who are passionate about their families and making a difference in our country. Thank you for their strength and tenacity.

Heavenly father, I get concerned about the ugliness in public discourse these days. It frustrates me that people seem to vilify those who have a different perspective, and there seems to be a tendency to take offense quickly and not even try to find common ground. When I read your Word, those things seem to be incompatible. As a result, I particularly don’t understand when my brothers and sisters in Christ do such things. It perplexes me. It overwhelms me. And to be honest, it depresses me and makes me feel somewhat hopeless about the future of our country. That alarms me, Lord, because I love my children and want them to live in a country that rises to challenges instead of falls into pointless bicker.

Lord, please help me to trust in your wisdom with all my heart and to lean not on my own understanding. Help me to remember that I am just one person, full of human limitations, and I do not know all that you know. Help me to remember that you have us in the palm of your hand. Help me trust in your plan for us all.

And Lord, I recognize it is human nature for all of us to take offense and not listen. I recognize it in myself. Help instill in me a patient heart and an open mind. Help me to listen and be enlightened to what my brothers and sisters have to say.

Thank you for your Word, and thank you in particular for James 1:19:
This you know, my beloved brethren, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Help me to integrate that wisdom in my own life.

Lord, I thank you for strong Christian mothers. Help guide all “mama grizzlies” to protect their children from harm and to nurture them to be the people you intend. Help us raise a generation of children who will dedicate their lives to serving you by ministering to your people and saving this beautiful planet that you created for us so that it will nurture and sustain generations of your people to come.

Thank you for your unending love of us. Help each of us to reflect that love as we interact with others so that they will come to know you.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Prayer for Rush Limbaugh

Dear Lord,

I thank you for the life of my brother, Rush Limbaugh. You gave him life out of your deep and abiding love for him as your precious child. I acknowledge that he is as precious in your eyes as I am. Moreover, I recognize that he and I are both as precious as any other child of yours who has ever walked this planet. Thank you for not playing favorites and loving all your children despite our many imperfections. I know you are the loving, overjoyed father of whom Jesus spoke in Luke 15:20. Thank you for your unceasing love and faithfulness.

Heavenly father, I get really concerned about the types of things that I hear Mr. Limbaugh speak publicly. What is expressed seems to come from an uncharitable, selfish attitude, and not an attitude of love for others. I try to not judge that attitude, but I fear for the destructiveness of such spoken words because they seem to find such an enthusiastic audience. But I know that everything is in your hands, and I must trust in your ways. I ask you to increase my faith to keep me from worrying over such things.

I also humbly acknowledge that I myself often exemplify an uncharitable, selfish attitude. I know I should not worry about the splinter in Mr. Limbaugh’s eyes when I have a beam in my own. I ask your continued guidance in helping me to remove the beam from my eye and to cultivate a more loving heart in me. Let me be clay that is easily molded by your hands.

Finally, Lord, I lift up my brother, Mr. Limbaugh to you. I know he is a troubled human being who has struggled with many challenges in life. I thank you for helping him lose weight. I thank you for medical technology that helps him overcome his deafness. I thank you that you have brought love to his life with his recent marriage.

Heavenly father, I ask you to watch over my brother, Mr. Limbaugh. I ask you to help him lead a healthy life and continue to lose weight so that he can live a productive life on this planet for many years to come. I ask you to bless his marriage. May it be a long and happy union. Lord, I also ask you to bless Mr. Limbaugh’s radio program. May it be an instrument of love and understanding so that more of your children will come to know you.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rush Limbaugh’s Comments about Michelle Obama

After I became aware of Governor Palin and Representative Bachmann’s panning of Michelle Obama’s efforts against childhood obesity and in support of breastfeeding, I read about Rush Limbaugh’s comments. The link below contains an article explaining his views.

If Mr. Limbaugh believes that Ms. Obama has been hypocritical, I think that is fair game for commentary. If he thinks her conduct doesn’t live up to what she is preaching, that is one thing. I don’t know that I would agree with him, but Mr. Limbaugh is certainly entitled to his opinion.

I don’t understand that Ms. Obama has advocated that we never ever indulge in foods that aren’t healthy. I’ve heard interviews where she admits a penchant for French fries, but she indicates she is careful to not eat them often or in great quantity. She advocates healthier foods to be the mainstay of one’s diet. Personally, I haven’t seen evidence of hypocrisy, but I’m a busy person and haven’t studied the White House dietary choices in detail. Maybe I’m wrong and Mr. Limbaugh is right on this point.

I think Mr. Limbaugh has a right to point out hypocrisy if he thinks he’s spotted it, but I think it is completely undignified, unhelpful, mean-spirited and hypocritical for Mr. Limbaugh to make snarky comments about Ms. Obama’s qualifications as a swimsuit model. Indeed, Ms. Obama’s emphasis is improving the health of our nation’s children, and I think most people understand that swimsuit models are not necessarily the best role models for healthy living. For a variety of reasons, I don’t want swimsuit models to be role models my children try to emulate. Many other parents feel the same.

But if hypocrisy is Mr. Limbaugh’s concern, then there is of course tremendous irony in Mr. Limbaugh of all people harping on another human being for perceived imperfections in physique. Politely put, Mr. Limbaugh is a heavy set man. He has himself struggled with his weight for a very long time. I don’t know Mr. Limbaugh personally, but for as long as I’ve been aware of him (about twenty years), he is has been pretty overweight. Impressively, he has been successful in losing a good deal of weight in recent years. Nonetheless, I understand this is an on-going effort and he is not yet to his ideal weight.

Because of Mr. Limbaugh’s own serious weight issues, it boggles my mind that he would ever say ugly things about someone else’s physique. I myself am sorely tempted to say something snarky about Mr. Limbaugh’s own qualifications as a swimsuit model. I will refrain from doing so. Snarkiness is compatible with neither Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor nor the Christian value of humility.

Sadly, Mr. Limbaugh has a history of judging women on their appearance. He has famously described feminism as a strategy to “to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” See link below.

Additionally, Mr. Limbaugh famously popularized the delightful term “feminazi.” I understand he has since distanced himself from the term.

In my opinion, such rhetoric is incredibly demeaning and disrespectful of women. Mr. Limbaugh is a media celebrity and in essence an entertainer. Maybe he doesn’t mean any of the things he says. Perhaps he has a great deal of respect for women and just says such things because it makes him richer. I frankly have no idea.

Genesis 1:26-28 (The Message)

God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth."
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God's nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
"Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mike Huckabee Weighs In

(Sorry. I just couldn’t resist the pun in the title of this blog post. For diehard pun-haters, I encourage you to stop rolling your eyes and just try to keep reading. No more puns. I promise.)

As mentioned previously in this blog, I have tended to have more respect for Mike Huckabee than other conservative politicians and media pundits. This may surprise some of my progressive friends who may view the former Arkansas governor as just another GOP politician turned well-paid Fox News pundit. My attitude towards Governor Huckabee may even surprise my more conservative friends and family, who love me though I’m sure they perennially wonder how a nice gal like me could be a registered Democrat.

In part, my attitude towards Governor Huckabee is based on the fact that he is a committed Christian. Certainly there are plenty of other conservative celebrities who also profess to be committed Christians, for whom my enthusiasm is admittedly much more measured. And there are certainly many areas where I disagree with Governor Huckabee. But as I’ve followed his career in the media, I’ve been left with the impression of a good deal of sincerity and integrity.

It is hard for me to put my finger on exactly what has created this impression of Governor Huckabee in me. However, I can offer that it is always deeply, deeply offensive to me when politicians of any ideological persuasion exploit their religious faith for short-term political gain. By contrast, I admire politicians who seem to try to integrate their faith into their secular work in a humble and non-exploitive manner. When I listen to Governor Huckabee in interviews, my sense is that he is sincere about trying to integrate his faith and politics. (In my opinion, Senator Sam Brownback is another person who fits into that category.)

Because of my respect for Governor Huckabee, it caught my eye when I read that he had defended Michelle Obama’s efforts to combat childhood obesity. The links below provide articles on his public comments.

As a general matter, I appreciate Governor Huckabee’s defense of Ms. Obama’s efforts. But his words have particular gravitas because Governor Huckabee was himself once morbidly obese and had serious health problems as a result. He has since lost a tremendous amount of weight and has participated in several marathons. Those are amazing, laudatory accomplishments.

I also appreciate the specific words the governor chose in defending Ms. Obama:

"I still think her approach is the right one. I do not think that she is out there advocating that the government take over our dinner plates. In fact, she has not. She has been criticized unfairly by a lot of my fellow conservatives. I think it is out of a reflex rather than out of a thoughtful expression, and that is one of the things that bug me most about the political environment of the day."

Amen, governor. One thing I have admired about Mike Huckabee (along with a handful of other individuals) is that he does not always mindlessly defend his political party, and he does not demonize those on the other side of the aisle. I appreciate that he will express publicly disagreement with what fellow Republicans say in their political rhetoric.

I also agree with Governor Huckabee’s point that in the current political environment people condemn their political opponents “out of a reflex” instead of “out of a thoughtful expression.” My own observation is that conservatives do that more frequently. Indeed, that is the bread and butter of talk radio and Fox News Channel. And GOP politicians follow suit. But I certainly agree that those on the left often do the same thing. In my perspective, they do it in reaction to try to keep up with the conservatives. But that is still no excuse.

Regardless of who began it, this approach of criticizing political opponents “out of a reflex” is so deeply damaging to our nation. Reflexive criticism means you aren’t really listening to the other side, and you are not trying to find common ground. That probably works fine in a dictatorship or in a fascist state. But in a country that operates on democratic principles and that is facing huge problems in need of solutions, that dysfunctionality has no place.

Ezekiel 16:42 (Young's Literal Translation)

And I have caused My fury against thee to rest, And My jealousy hath turned aside from thee, And I have been quiet, and I am not angry any more.