When You Don’t Fit In At Church

http://alise-write.com/when-you-dont-fit-in-at-church/

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I should not fit in.

Why not?

According to a number of demographics, I am nothing like a lot of these people. It would be all too easy for me to focus on our differences. There are plenty, and if I’m being perfectly honest, some of them matter to me. I care about things like LGBT equality and access to birth control. I’m pretty iffy about hell. I’m far more likely to reach for John 3:17 as a life verse instead of John 3:16.

And yet this is my home.

Okay, well you’re welcome to continue hanging out with us and wrestle with how to reconcile your opinions with the revealed word of God.

I don’t fit in, but I am loved.

And because I am loved, it is much easier for me to reciprocate that love. I am accepted, so it becomes easier for me to accept. I am honored, so it is my desire to return honor.

Bravo – you have learned how to love the people who voluntarily loved you first despite their prejudices. Baby steps.

And when we love like Jesus tells us to love, fitting in isn’t really a concern, because love makes all kinds of room for everyone.

I understand that many people feel encouraged by statements like this (particularly my liberal Christian friends who linked this all over facebook), but I find statements like this very disheartening, especially when written by a supposed regular congregant. How sad is it that anti-church and anti-Christian messaging has so successfully rendered judgmentalism the default secular assessment of the church?

I don’t so much question the sincerity of the post as much as I do the pretext behind it: that even though she doesn’t fit in with her church’s traditional conservative values, her church loves her anyway because Jesus commanded so.

And I don’t think this blogger has any self-awareness of just how offensive that pretext is.

Judgmentalism isn’t the norm in America’s Christian churches. Showing love to the congregants of many various worldviews, political persuasions, lifestyle choices, and personal vices isn’t uncommon; in fact, it’s typical. There’s nothing remarkable about being treated with compassion and respect by the church. To praise the church for not being as intolerant and bigoted as presumed is to insult the church and its congregants.

Sure, it’s completely okay and even expected for a nonbeliever or a new believer to be anxious about fitting in, but that anxiety naturally goes away with familiarity. But for seasoned Christians who continue to perpetuate their insecurities over their perceived “differences” from their church home, I ask: Why are you unfairly casting your fears onto these good people? Are they not imperfect people just like you who deserve better than your continued prejudice? Did not Christ humble himself to a cross for them too?

To that person, I say: Get over yourself. Drop the act. The church loves you regardless of your differences, not in spite of them. You fit in because Christ has made room for you. Now please make room for the rest of us.

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When You Don’t Fit In At Church

Reply from Senator Cornyn concerning the defunding of ObamaCare

On Tuesday September 24, 2013, I emailed Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to encourage him to support Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in his effort to rally Republicans and prevent Senate Democrats from railroading the House Republican spending resolution to defund ObamaCare. My respectful message, and the Senator’s October 4 reply, are featured below. September 24 was the day of Cruz’s marathon 21-hour speech, which culminated in the current reduction in federal government operations. Including Cruz, 19 Republicans voted that Friday against cloture and against surrendering their right of democracy to the majority. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that Cornyn was not among them.


Senator Cornyn,

As I write this, Senator Cruz is speaking on the Senate floor to advocate in favor of the House spending resolution that funds all government functions except the enforcement of ObamaCare.

I encourage you to please join Senator Cruz in his effort to prevent a cloture vote that would enable the Democrats to insert ObamaCare funding – WITHOUT any meaningful debate – by a simple 51-vote majority. Please stand with you fellow House conservatives to protect the integrity of their bill and honor the liberty of the majority of Americans who reject ObamaCare.

It is thanks to conservative Americans that Republicans gained and retained a majority in the House of Representatives. Conservative Texans have made their voices heard in electing Senator Cruz, and he has served admirably on our behalf. Please join Senator Cruz and conservative Texans and fulfill the duties of your office in protecting our liberties and upholding the Constitution. Thank you Senator Cornyn.


Dear Mr. Pitt:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Continuing Resolution (CR) and defunding of Obamacare.  I know how passionately Texans feel about this issue, and I appreciate the benefit of your comments.  All Americans should be exempt from the onerous and costly provisions of Obamacare and the best way to do this is to repeal and defund the law in its entirety.

Texans continue to share with me real-life examples of how this law is hurting businesses, killing jobs, and burdening individuals with costlier premiums.  All Americans should receive relief from this law, so I was pleased when the House of Representatives chose to listen to the American people and sent the Senate a CR that funded the government and defunded Obamacare.

Because of procedural rules in the Senate, the only way for Senators to vote yes or no on defunding Obamacare was to vote for cloture, thereby allowing a simple majority vote to defund Obamacare.  Only five Senate Democrats were needed to defund Obamacare.  However, Democrats continued to ignore the pleas of the American people and stripped the language that defunded Obamacare.  I joined with all Republicans to vote against the final Senate CR that included funding for Obamacare.

House Republicans continued to send reasonable packages to the Senate that would have funded the government but provided relief for Americans from this law, including bills that would have delayed Obamacare for a year, permanently repealed the Medical Device Tax, delayed Obamacare’s individual mandate, and required that Congressional members and staff live under the same rules as the American people.  Senate Democrats rejected these reasonable compromises.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, the U.S. government funding authority expired, resulting in a government shutdown.  Unfortunately, this shutdown did not prevent the implementation of Obamacare and the health care exchanges opened as scheduled.

At every opportunity to defund or repeal the law, I have voted in favor of doing so, and I will not waver in my opposition to this law.  To read further about my efforts, please visit my website at: http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=senator-cornyn-record-on-obamacare.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
http://www.cornyn.senate.gov

Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.

PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the nature of electronic communication, if you did not receive this e-mail directly from my office, I cannot guarantee that the text has not been altered.  If you have questions about the validity of this message, or would like to respond to this message, please use the web form available at my website, http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact.

Reply from Senator Cornyn concerning the defunding of ObamaCare

Road Wisdom, part 2

Stupid Driving Pet Peeves

Here’s where I vent my frustration from all the stupidity and lack of consideration I observe while driving. I should write a book. Or maybe teach a course. I’ll call it Drivers Re-Education.

SPEEDING:
There are two types of speeders in this world – those who are either impaired or are otherwise not paying full attention, and those who are intentionally speeding. If you are the former, God help us all. The latter always have a plan, which usually involves carefully maneuvering through traffic. If you see me roaring toward you in your rear-view mirror, you’re not doing me any favors by changing lanes.

HORSEPOWER:
Your 75-hp Daewoo is just as capable of driving the speed limit as my V-6.

BRIDGES:
Reducing speed does not help you cross the bridge any faster, nor does it decrease your likelihood of falling off the bridge if you aren’t traveling the correct trajectory.

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BRAKES:
Your vehicle has brakes, and so do others’. People instinctively know how to operate their brakes better than they know any other feature of their vehicle, and they will use the brakes as required to avoid an accident. It’s okay to pull out into traffic – nobody wants to run into you.

BRAKES ON THE FREEWAY:
If you really wanna confuse traffic, use your brakes on the freeway. Nevermind that your vehicle naturally slows down if you release the accelerator or downshift.

INTERSECTIONS:
Intersections are the most dangerous road features. It is to your advantage to proceed through them as quickly as possible. I will be exceedingly annoyed if I get stuck at the next light because you held up the line.

WAITING IN LINE:
If you are at the front of the line, it is your duty to reach the speed limit as quickly as is reasonable, since nobody behind you can until you do. Which begs the question…why would 7 cars line up in the right lane with a completely empty lane next to them? Whatever…I’ll take it.

TURN SIGNALS:
Lane-change indicators (a.k.a. turn signals) are equally as important to operating a motor vehicle as are the accelerator/brake pedal/steering wheel/etc. If I’m changing lanes, you get exactly three flashes of my lane change indicator:
1. I intend to move into your lane in front of you.
2. I am moving into your lane.
3. I forgot to turn my lane change indicator off. (I’m quoting a friend, but I absolutely agree with him.)

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE:
There are only three (3) acceptable reasons for parking your car on the shoulder:
1. At the direction of a police officer
2. Collision causing injury or vehicle inoperability
3. Flat tire or blowout
The following typical excuses are not acceptable reasons for pulling over on the side of the road:
1. Empty gas tank: How many gas stations did you pass AFTER noticing you were low on fuel?
2. Engine trouble: The chances of a properly-maintained vehicle dying while in operation are remote.
3. Fender-bender: Your car still drives – roll that bitch into a parking lot and sort out your issues there.
4. Cluelessness: You should have known where you were going before you decided to operate a vehicle.
5. Disciplining the children: You can do this at a 7-Eleven. Better yet – install a DVD player. Still better – raise your damn kids not to be so damn rotten.

PEDESTRIANS:
It is much easier for pedestrians to yield to cars than it is for cars to yield to pedestrians. Unless directed by a human being or traffic signal, pedestrians never have the right-of-way. Feel free to waste your own time letting grandma cross if you’re the only car in sight, but don’t waste everyone else’s time.

JOGGERS:
Guess what, joggers? You don’t own the crosswalks!  Especially not the one I have to drive over as I’m turning off a major road. You’re only protected if the intersecting traffic has a stop light, stop sign, yield sign, or other sign indicating pedestrian right-of-way. Even an 8-year-old knows to wait for cars to go by before crossing, so don’t cuss at me as I turn in front of you as you run into the middle of the street. Squirrels get killed in such ways.

BICYCLES:
Cyclists – If you want equal road rights, you’d better follow equal road rules! This ain’t the Tour de France – you have to stop at intersections just like the non-human-powered vehicles. If you won’t respect the traffic laws, get up on that sidewalk.

PARKING LOTS:
The time you just spent searching for that perfect parking space was longer than it would’ve taken you to walk your fat ass from the back row!

PARKING:
If you’re parked on the line, I don’t have any problem parking inches from you. I can climb out my sunroof.

DISABILITIES:
You may be handicapped, but your car isn’t. Being a gimp is not a license to drive poorly.

GHETTO ORNAMENTS:
The following cosmetic features scream “Profile me and pull me over, I’m a minority”:
1. After-market “porthole” engine vents
2. Spinners
3. Black-out window tinting
4. Gothic lettering
5. B-column chrome plating
6. Promotional stickers for Hispanic radio stations

COPS:
No rational police officer enjoys stepping out into traffic just to write a ticket – it’s dangerous. Let’s do him a favor and keep him safe by flashing your headlamps to indicate his presence for the opposite direction of traffic.

HONKING:
Don’t get mad at me for honking at you. I did it for a good reason – either you’re extremely hot, or you deserve to know that you violated one of the above common sense driving laws. If I am laying on my horn, it means you present a danger to everyone else on the road because you have violated at least one of the above traffic conventions and courtesies and are failing to take corrective action. I’m just making the world a better place by educating you and telling everyone else to steer clear.

NASCAR:
80 mph down a residential road through the neighborhood golf course is not sustainable. Don’t ask me how I know.

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Road Wisdom, part 2

Road Wisdom

Drivers Re-Education

Here’s where I vent my frustration from all the stupidity and lack of consideration I observe while driving. I should write a book. Or maybe teach a course. I’ll call it Drivers Re-Education.

RIGHT-OF-WAY:
Right-of-way is an obligation, not an option. Right-of-way is the pressure that compels orderly traffic. Failing to respect the right-of-way results in disorder.

YIELDING:
It is legal to enter the intersection while waiting to turn left at an unprotected green light as long as you YIELD the right-of-way to oncoming traffic as directed by the sign mounted on the traffic light. You have not violated any laws if you have already been waiting in the intersection when the light turns red.
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/TN/htm/TN.544.htm#544.007

image[h/t DFW Scanner]

FOUR-WAY STOP SIGNS:
At a four-way stop sign, right-of-way is generally to be yielded to vehicles traveling straight. Don’t confuse this issue when arriving at an intersection simultaneously with another vehicle. If I’m adjacent to or across from you and signaling with my left-turn indicator, I will yield, assuming your intent to proceed straight unless otherwise indicated. Take your right-of-way and proceed before I’m forced to awkwardly steer around your dumb ass.

RIGHT-TURN LANES:
Every right-turn lane is a right-turn only lane. Everyone waiting behind that car stuck at the front of the line thinks that driver is a selfish uncourteous bastard. Except me. I go around that guy on his left side.

PROTECTED RIGHT TURNS:
You are not required to stop or even yield if you have a protected green right-turn arrow.

UNPROTECTED RIGHT TURNS:
Please do not pull past the white line when stopping at an intersection or traffic light if you are in a left lane or middle lane, especially if your vehicle is a large truck or SUV. Doing so blocks the view of anyone in the right lane driving a smaller vehicle, preventing them from making a legal unprotected right turn.

FAST LANES and SLOW LANES:
Not that anybody seems to care, but all freeway lanes are the same speed limit. However, each lane does serve a different purpose:
1. Far-right lane: a.k.a the “slow lane”, this lane is actually reserved for vehicles entering and exiting the freeway. No exceptions.
2. Middle lanes: These lanes are reserved for vehicles planning to exit the freeway within this city or within the next few exits.
3. Far-left lane: a.k.a the “fast lane”, this lane is actually reserved for vehicles not intending to exit the freeway anytime soon.

MERGING:
Freeway traffic generally has more freedom than does the onramp traffic, which doesn’t have a choice but to merge with the freeway traffic. If you are cruising in the “slow lane” near an onramp, you are in the onramp traffic’s way. You deserve whatever road rage you receive. If you are in a dedicated onramp/offramp lane, the dotted white lines on your left indicate that you should make an immediate decision to get on or get off, rather than wait until a quarter-mile later to switch lanes at the last possible moment.

THE GOLDEN RULE OF FREEWAY DRIVING:
Onramps are an extension of the freeway, not the access road. Deciding at the end of the onramp to accelerate to the freeway speed is too late. There’s typically no speed limit posted on the onramp, so get up to the freeway speed before we both get run over!!!

Road Wisdom

Liberty

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it. Freedom then is not what Sir Robert Filmer tells us, Observations, A. 55. a liberty for every one to do what he lists, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws: but freedom of men under government is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man: as freedom of nature is, to be under no other restraint but the law of nature.

– John Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government

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The Liberal First Amendment

The free exercise of religion shall bear no influence on any established governing body; nor shall the freedoms of speech and of the press cause offense, real or perceived, to citizen or special interest group; nor shall certain peaceable assemblies of citizens, as identified by established administrative agencies, enjoy unabridged political rights or privileges; nor shall any governing official be obliged to respect the public’s petitions for redress of grievances.

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NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily | US news | The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order

Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama administration

I’m becoming very irritated with many Republicans and a few respected conservatives regarding this NSA data mining scandal. I’ve heard a range of arguments in support of the NSA’s telecommunications metadata surveillance, such as the following examples:

  • Karl Rove asserts on Fox News that the government has a legitimate right to conduct telecommunications metadata surveillance and that such surveillance is necessary for prosecuting the war on terror.
  • Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) claims that a terrorist attack had been prevented using this practice.
  • Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) dismisses the significance of the media leak because metadata surveillance has been standard operating procedure for years and Congress has been fully aware of it.
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) essentially argues, according to Allahpundit, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you should have no objection.”
  • Even Sean Hannity on his radio show and Charles Krauthammer on Fox News explained that this NSA overreach bothers them particularly because the Obama administration is untrustworthy, given the context of the other ongoing scandals such as the targeting of conservative tax exempt organizations by the IRS and the monitoring of the Associated Press and Fox News’ James Rosen.
  • Dennis Prager contends on his conservative radio show that it’s a non-issue because the perceived security benefits outweigh the perceived liberty costs.

There is no inalienable right to privacy. The Supreme Court recognized this in Smith v. Maryland, which found that no expectation of privacy exists concerning information exchanged voluntarily through a third party communications provider. Essentially, telecommunications metadata is not inherently protected because the communicator exchanges it voluntarily with the communications provider. That metadata may be stored at each party’s discretion based on its non-private nature. The same court case, however, also found that the monitoring of metadata does not constitute a “search” due to the non-private nature of metadata.

The Stored Communications Act of 1986 seems clear that a warrant is necessary in order for the government to seize communications records. The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 broadens this authority by requiring either a warrant or a court order.

The “Pen Register Act” provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 has been interpreted through the PATRIOT Act to require a court order related to an ongoing investigation in order for telecommunications metadata to be monitored by the government. Whether a warrant is necessary is speculative, though this is a moot point because the telecommunications companies complied with the FISA court order (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) compelling them to share their metadata records with the NSA.

All of these arguments miss the point.

Whether the privacy rights of individuals have been violated – or, as the Obama administration contends, how the liberties of citizens should be balanced against national security (which I think is a bogus argument) – is irrelevant. This should be an issue primarily of constitutional, limited government, and this is where conservatives have made missteps.

The Fourth Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It’s important to point out that a warrant is the burden of law enforcement. The focus of the Warrants Clause is neither the “search” nor the “seizure” but rather the warrant itself. The Fourth Amendment is SILENT about which law enforcement actions require a warrant.

The Fifth Amendment reads:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Conservatives should recognize that the coerced sharing of telecommunications metadata constitutes the seizure of private property for public use. Metadata stored by the communications provider, though not constitutionally protected from disclosure based on the reasonable expectation of privacy, certainly is the private property of that communications provider.

This issue does not concern the judicial power of subpoena because the government uses the metadata to monitor potential communication patterns in counter-terrorism strategy under executive branch authority, not to prosecute terrorists under judicial branch authority. The metadata is not being gathered for the purpose of testimony in court.

Because of the absence of just compensation to the communication providers for their coerced cooperation, and especially considering the punitive repercussions of divulging the surveillance practices to the public, the government’s seizure of privately-owned metadata deserves to be subject to warrant, requiring probable cause. The government has not even demonstrated reasonable suspicion to justify monitoring millions of law abiding citizens not involved in a criminal investigation.

Therefore, the vast, non-specific and indiscriminate warrantless seizure by the government of millions of American citizens’ telecommunications metadata constitutes a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

As the Obama administration has tried with both this NSA scandal and the Associated Press scandal, any attempt to frame this issue as calibrating the balance between individual liberty and national security is simply a distraction from the constitutional question. Besides, many Americans philosophically reject the lie that security is inversely related to liberty and are justifiably skeptical of authoritarianism under the guise of “national security.”

But if we are to play the victim game, I sympathize with the communication providers who have been persecuted at cost to their businesses. And given the context of the IRS scandal, what assurance do individual citizens have that the NSA is implementing the proper safeguards to ensure that metadata related to our communications activities is safe from abuse?

It doesn’t matter, Dennis Prager, that no American non-terrorist citizen has reportedly been abused by this practice. What matters is that we are a constitutional republic. That is, we are a nation of laws regarding how to govern as well as how to be governed. A government that exceeds its scope is guilty of breaking the very law that authorized it.

The United States government must honor its contract with the American people, and it must respect the limits placed upon it.

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