Archive for the ‘ politics ’ Category

An Evening Reflection on Turmoil

window_boys

We are making our way in New York City this week. After seeing, walking, exploring, as much as three young boys can handle, we seek quiet in a small Brooklyn apartment. Well, quiet is relative. There were snatches of it this morning, as I read that even though I’d walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I could dare to fear no evil.

This afternoon, though, my boys can’t stop rough housing, hurting each other, and making a game of crushing fallen cereal pieces all over the living room floor. I slam down my Chaim Potok novel, storm in to call my boys hellions and demand they clean up the war zone. Oldest son thinks I need to know that the fallen cereal did make the floor look like a minefield.

Clearly. A reason. To ruin. Someone else’s. Apartment.

I ban the electronic devices, cursing them as “lazy games,” and set the boys to work making dinner. They do well. One chops onions, another tomatoes. They stir the lentils, measure out rice.

And on the cleared minefield, we eat.

dinner_together

lentils

Food is thrown across the floor, eventually. And again, we work toward restoration. (And again, and again. How many things were spilled today.)

But my partner in this marriage comes home and takes the boys out to play, and what do I do with this unexpected time of peace, of genuine quiet? How much longer it lingers than I expected.

park

In my hour, I receive word of war zones half a world away. Of children beheaded. Of the advance of ISIS, and attacks between Israel and Gaza. Prayer has never been so urgent. Mind you, it’s not perfect here in Brooklyn—my lover and I startled awake to gunshots the other night. “Maybe it really wasn’t,” he said sleepily. But we both knew it was. We slept anyway, as though the tragedies of the day don’t touch us clear through.

I wonder how it is that peace is restored after the mines are strewn in our fields, after brother-anger flashes through my little boys’ eyes. I don’t have answers to these things—no tidy packages to pull together why the real consternation of my little day doesn’t keep us up at night. We still circle around dinner together, and we say grace, for that’s what it is.

But there are gaps sometimes, like this one, when the whispers come: how do Iraqi Christian mamas fear no evil?

finally, some political conclusions

“Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead).
Foreword:  I wish I had the time and energy to respond to each of you separately, but again, I can only thank you for the time and thought you put into your responses to my last post.  It all was food for thought.  Some of it angered me; some of it challenged and changed my convictions; all of it was appreciated.  I believe such candid discussions bless and refine our communities.
Thanks to Jill‘s link to Jim Wallis’s article on listing one’s own “faith priorities,” I have made my own list of non-negotiables — issues of faith that I believe should not be compromised in politics.  It’s this list that’s guiding me as I go into the voting booth tomorrow.  I come at most of my faith priorities from an obviously Christian viewpoint, but I have realized that no candidate can fulfill all of the items on my wishlist.  Jesus could, I think, or at least He could change my mind to see where I’ve misread His priorities.  I foolishly maintain that Jesus is the answer for everybody everywhere, and the only reason we can’t figure out how to run a nation with perfection is because we don’t have enough of Him and His philosophy.  (Speaking of Jesus, I really want to read Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s book Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals as soon as possible!)
My Non-Negotiables

1. A pro-life perspective.  On war, abortion, and life-threatening diseases, I will support a presidential candidate who not only protects the life of the unborn without reservation, but also protects the lives of its citizens, even those in the military.  While military troops may be willing to give their life, I believe a President should only risk those lives if absolutely necessary, and furthermore will not abuse his power by choosing to go to war without the proper support of the other branches of government.  Life threatening diseases are of particular concern in third-world countries, and I will support a presidential candidate who makes foreign aid (either through the government or through the American people) a priority.  I also believe that the death penalty should be abolished because I believe in forgiveness and redemption.

2. Care for the weak.  Based on many verses scattered throughout Deuteronomy, the Psalms and verses like Luke 3.11 (“[Jesus] answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”), it’s obvious God cares for the widow, the orphan, and the poor.  He asks me to care for these groups of people regardless of how much they deserve it.  They do not supersede His importance (see Mark 14.7), but especially now that Christ is not with us in flesh, we are called to represent Him to the poor, the widows and orphans, and to all the world.  God cares about those with little strength, and I can support a candidate who respects God’s perspective in this.

3. Freedom.  As a Christian, I find true freedom through Christ, but insofar as the Constitution claims to protect its citizens’ “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (as well as some other freedoms), I will support a candidate who will uphold these rights.  Specific freedoms on my mind (by no means exhaustive) are the freedom of speech (so that I may spread the gospel) and the freedom of homosexuals to marry.  American freedoms should only be limited when they endanger another person’s freedom (as in the needful arrest of a criminal).

4.  Environmental care.  The earth is the Lord’s; we are its stewards.  I will support a candidate who does not promote further tearing down of God’s Creation, but allows it to be sustained and nurtured.

5. Inclusiveness.  This concept mainly deals with immigration.  If our nation is to live by moral, just principles, we should embrace those who wish to join our social experiment.  Deuteronomy 10.18 says, “[God]… shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”  We need a nation that will allow this type of open door philosophy.

6. Cultural regeneration.  Political officials should applaud healthy family values and the necessity of quality education over economics.  I will support a candidate who does this.


Choosing a Candidate
I’ve come to a conclusion whom to vote for, by the way.  Want to know who it is?  Well, my friend Tami sent me a few notes after my original political post, assuring me that a vote cast for a third-party candidate would not be wasted.  She gently introduced me to Chuck Baldwin, a Constitutional party presidential candidate endorsed by my old favorite, Ron Paul.  Baldwin is a little unrefined, his website unpolished, and has held no government office.  He fails to mention poverty or the environment on his site, which bothered (bothers) me.

But he has some interesting things to say about abortion:

“Republicans tout themselves as being “pro-life.” Yet, the GOP controlled both houses of Congress and the White House for six years and did absolutely nothing to overturn Roe or end abortion-on-demand. If the Republicans were really serious about being pro-life they could have already ended legal abortion in America. Obviously the Republican Party and most GOP politicians are not serious about ending abortion, but are, regrettably, simply content to perpetuate the issue to manipulate pro-life voters.

Under my administration, we could end legal abortion in a matter of days, not decades. And if Congress refuses to pass Dr. Paul’s bill, I will use the constitutional power of the Presidency to deny funds to protect abortion clinics. Either way, legalized abortion ends when I take office.”

Having read that, I was wondering: What exactly is the saving grace for the Republican party, if, as Baldwin claims, the pro-life agenda is only a campaign point for them? If McCain will cut my taxes, won’t Baldwin, as a small-government, unbending Constitutionalist, cut them more?

And so my thinking spiraled into a series of what if questions:

  • What if I had more money to give to the world’s poor, or to give to the perpetuation of the gospel message, or to give to the building of a more environmentally just future?  Would my dollar — and the dollars of those who care for social justice — stretch further than if it were in the hands of the government in the form of taxes?
  • What if there were more competition in the health sector?  Would natural health remedies be more common and celebrated?  Would necessary prescription drugs be more fairly priced?
  • What if “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for?   What if “we are the change that we seek?”  If volunteerism and “every man for his neighbor” were philosophies that began to blossom throughout our country, would we need the government to do the jobs of poverty-fighting and carbon-taxing?

And then on the flip side, I wondered:

  • Isn’t Constitutionalism a bit ruthless?  Without the regulation of the government, won’t Americans all the more seek their plastic castles at the lowest price possible?  Won’t they cease to care about how their food is produced, or from whom their oil comes?

But it turns out I believe in the triumph of good over evil (I know, I know, that’s a big, assuming statement!).  I really do believe in grassroots movements to spread messages of love and change.  I believe that by picking trash up in the park, I have done my part in reducing the need for government (and I’ve taught my son something about caring for the gift of nature).  I have hope that our nation’s financial struggles and health crises and embarrassment of an educational system will be recognized through the voices of the passionate.  New remedies can be sought be more easily when freedom is at its height.

So, in the end, Chuck Baldwin will get my vote tomorrow, for a few reasons:

1.  I like the idea of voting for a third-party candidate.  If we look toward the future, hoping for a party that conforms more accurately to our political priorities, one of the best ways to make that happen is to stop voting for the Big Elephant or the Big Donkey, and vote for a human instead.  (Please don’t take offense at my facetiousness!)

2. I believe in the power of average citizens (and especially those powered by Christ) to bring about change.

3. I can vote for Baldwin with the least guilt, given my “faith priorities.”
How Baldwin Meets My Priorities

It is a little difficult to go into depth on how Baldwin specifically fulfills all of these (or even most of them), since many of these “faith priorities” have been placed under my responsibility because his Constitutional ideals.  Protection of life (priority 1) and freedom (priority 3) are two cases over which I have little to no control as a citizen, and Baldwin’s presidential plan takes these into consideration.  As for the others, I will try to create a picture of how most of these priorities can be played out under his presidency.

1. A pro-life perspective.  Baldwin is unapologetically against abortion, protecting the life of the unborn baby.  He also firmly stands against engaging in wars that do not directly endanger the rights of the American people.  He says, “‘Supporting the troops’ means putting their interests and America’s interests first and not in needlessly endangering them by engaging in ‘policeman of the world’ military adventures all over the world.”  I believe this is an important “pro-life” stance to hold.  As for exercising a pro-life stand in regard to life-threatening diseases here and around the world, I believe that Constitutionalism has the potential to make the greatest impact on eradicating HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, starvation, and other life-threatening conditions.  Try this on for size:  Barack Obama pledges to double foreign aid from $25 billion to $50 billion dollars by 2012 — a commendable goal.  But for the 300 million Americans to meet the same financial goal without the government as the go-between, each citizen would have to give only $166 per year.  A pipe dream?  Not if taxes were significantly relieved.  Not if this modest goal were perpetuated by a small group of committed people.

2. Care for the weak.  Again, Baldwin’s plans calls for the citizens to tend to these issues, rather than the government.  So, in a way, I’m voting for myself to get this done.  But with Darrell Castle (the vice-presidential candidate) as the founder of an organization which ministers to homeless gypsy children in Romania, I’m hopeful that care for the weak is a priority that will be supported by a Baldwin presidency.

3. Freedom.  Chuck Baldwin’s Constitutionalism sounds like the best plan I’ve heard to protect an individual’s right to freedom –for protection against slavery, for protection of rights for homosexuals, for choice and competition in education, the right to eat as one desires, etc.  His plan gives no special rights to anyone, but protects each citizen equally.

4. Environmental care.  While I think a carbon tax like Obama proposes could reduce the negative impact Americans have on the environment, it may not teach them to care about nature or understand its role in our lives.  Baldwin doesn’t address the environment specifically, but my hope is that his Constitutionalist message would increase competition for farmers, stop the subsidizing of single-crop farming (read: corn!), and promote organic, sustainable agriculture.

5. Inclusiveness.  On immigration reform, Baldwin is a bit tough on illegals, as my friend Tami warned me.  While I agree that there have to be restrictions and laws in place to protect American citizens, to ship all illegals back to their respective countries (as Baldwin wants to do) would be unnecessary if they are willing to go through the proper procedures.  Baldwin welcomes legal immigrants.  I admit Baldwin comes short of the mark on this priority.

6. Cultural regeneration.  As far as I have seen, Chuck Baldwin supports and models healthy family values.  Baldwin’s plan for education is to eradicate the Department of Education and do away with public schooling.  Can you imagine that?  He argues that the Constitution doesn’t give the government power over education, and that privatizing education would improve its quality.  I would love to be part of this experiment!
Some Final Thoughts

Some of Chuck Baldwin’s ideas seem far-fetched, and I admit, I can’t imagine living the United States he describes.  But if it happens, I want to be a part of it.  To avoid the ruthlessness of having a smaller government, to prevent the public from destroying itself, I believe Constitutionalism calls on the Christian church and other concerned and caring citizens to promote principles of health and life and love to those who are less fortunate.  In fact, I believe that’s the only way Constitutionalism will work.  We cannot look at Constitutionalism as “every man for himself” but as “every man for his neighbor.”  That’s the kind of nation I want to live in.  And that’s what I’m voting for tomorrow.

But (ding!) let me just wake up to reality and admit that Chuck Baldwin will not win tomorrow.  I still refuse to fear either the Republican or Democrat candidate.  I do not agree enough with either of them to give them my vote, but I will give them my prayers and support.  My sister Rachel posted a blog article called “Religion and Politics”, in which she shared the main points from her pastor’s sermon on Sunday.  For a Christian in this election, her thoughtful post was such good news.  To borrow her pastor’s final questions:

  • Where is your hope?
  • Are you going into Tuesday with fear or faith?
  • Most of all, is this fear or faith stoking your desire to go into the world with the gospel?

Finally, after a lot of stressful reading and pondering, I’m happy with my answers to those questions.

mein kampf: a political testimony

I helped keep Barack Obama in his candidacy for U.S. President.  That’s right.  I voted for him in the Texas primary.  To be honest, I liked crazy old Ron Paul, but I knew he had no chance of winning when my time to vote came around.

“So how could you fall so far as to vote for ‘that one’?” my dear Republican readers wonder.

Sometime last year, I realized that Christians can vote for Democrats.  No, seriously, I did.  My highly respected Christ-following sister came out of the political closet and announced she was a registered Democrat.  And then I read God’s Politics by Jim Wallis.  And Wallis poisoned me even further.  I realized that voting on political issues was going to take much more mulling and measuring and masticating (sorry — I needed another m-word) than going with the general trend of the evangelical Christian public.  How should I stand politically as a follower of Christ to promote justice on the earth?  I had heard, you know, that line that says “God’s not a Republican.”  But really, God’s not a Republican.

In the past few months, everything has gotten hot.  I have heard people blast McCain and Palin; I have heard people blast Obama and Biden even harder (maybe thanks to my conservative background and the people with whom I associate?).  Everyone seems to have decided whom they’re voting for, and the other candidate may as well be the devil.

And in the meantime, I flounder.  Not on the issues.  But on the candidates.  Poverty is something God cares about deeply, and so I lean toward Obama, who cares enough to mention poverty among the issues on his website.  But abortion?  How do you even quantify the horror of abortion?  And yet.  And yet. Should the issue of abortion govern all my every political decision?  After all, what impact might our care of the environment have on future generations?  Would taking care of the earth keep millions more people alive in poverty-stricken countries in the coming decades?

I tried to quantify innocent deaths against innocent deaths; I compared the issue of abortion with the war.  (I am not strongly anti-Iraqi-war, since there is way too much confidential information for the average American to decide whether going to war was justified.  I do have my suspicions, though, that the war had more to do with oil than with the danger of dictator Saddam Hussein.)  Just or unjust war, “innocent” Iraqis have died — people just as precious as those aborted babies.  But those babies — there are so many.  So many more than those killed because of the US’s decision to go to war.  So if you’re comparing numbers… isn’t abortion still the greater evil?

Obama says he wants to educate women so there are fewer unwanted pregnancies.  He wants to make adoption a more viable option, too.  I can support that, although I hate, hate, hate his “if all else fails” solution — to murder a baby that God created.

On financial issues, McCain says, “I want to make every American rich!”  Obama says he wants to spread the wealth around — a biblical perspective if you ask me.  I’d like to say that Christians can do the job of lifting the poor from their suffering, independent of taxation fixes.  But the truth is, we’re not doing it.  Well, then, it’ll have to be done for us.

I have been disgusted by McCain’s haughty nature in debates with Obama.  Maybe he calls himself a maverick; I call him rude.  I have been positively influenced by Obama’s thoughtful, measured responses.  Truly.

On the issue of agriculture, I’m with Obama, too.  While McCain wants to enable farmers to compete in the worldwide market, Obama wants to make it easier for local family farms to thrive.  Obama’s focus is crucial in cutting our oil usage and keeping organic, local food at our fingertips.

I am not deeply impacted by the likelihood of Obama raising taxes.  Socialism does not scare me.  (Oh, how many of you must hate my standpoint on this!)  I wish we could have pure freedom in America.  I wish that the generosity of free humans would overflow with such abundance that poverty would be annihilated.  But it’s not being annihilated.  Those that would be generous have not been generous enough, and the poor continue to suffer.

And I think, too, that freedom on earth is just wishful thinking.  If you’re free in Christ, what does a bigger government harm you?  I realize that governments can get so big that God’s people are oppressed, and I believe that grieves God.  But think how the Chinese church has grown under Communism!  I don’t wish that for us as Americans at all, but I don’t think that socialism is the epitome of spiritual warfare.

What I want to vote for, come November, is a candidate that will support God’s values to care for the poor and the disenfranchised and the earth we’re supposed to be stewarding.  I have not forgotten that one of the disenfranchised ones is the tiny baby who doesn’t make it out of his mother’s womb alive.  And I hurt for that child; my gut churns for that child.  It is the one issue that is keeping me on the fence.

I wish I could just write in Ron Paul on my ballot and say my vote doesn’t matter anyway, especially here in Texas.  I could just stay home and watch McCain get Texas’s vote.  But I believe I need to decide.

And so I struggle.  And so I pray.  I pray that when I cast my ballot, I will do it without guilt or regret.

Afterword:

I know you’re both out there — Obama supporters and McCain supporters.  How did you make your choice?  If your few words could convince me to support one candidate above another, what would you tell me?  Please!  I really want to hear from my readers on this one.

“subdivision”

 

Subdivision

a song by Ani DiFranco

 

White people are so scared of black people.
They bulldoze out to the country,
And put up houses on little loop-de-loop streets.
And while America gets its heart cut right out of its chest,
The Berlin Wall still runs down Main Street,
Separating east side from west.
And nothing is stirring, not even a mouse
In the boarded-up stores and the broken-down houses.
So they hang colorful banners off all the street lamps
Just to prove they got no manners,
No mercy, and no sense.

And I’m wondering what it will take
For my city to rise.
First we admit our mistakes,
Then we open our eyes.

The ghosts of old buildings are haunting parking lots
In the city of good neighbors that history forgot.

I remember the first time I saw someone
Lying on the cold street.
I thought, “I can’t just walk past here;
This can’t just be true.”
But I learned by example
To just keep moving my feet.
It’s amazing the things that we all learn to do.

So we’re led by denial like lambs to the slaughter,
Serving empires of style and carbonated sugar water.
And the old farm road’s a four-lane that leads to the mall,
And our dreams are all guillotines waiting to fall.

I’m wondering what it will take
For my country to rise.
First we admit our mistakes,
And then we open our eyes.
Or nature succumbs to one last dumb decision,
And America the beautiful
Is just one big subdivision.

please care

Please do not be nonchalant about the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  Please do not let yourself be ignorant about how it is crushing millions of families, millions of lives.

I just watched the 2004 film Yesterday, a drama in the Zulu language about a woman named Yesterday and her husband, both of whom contract HIV.  It’s heart-wrenching to see the disease take their life away.  Lesions break out on their skin.  They get weaker and weaker, wasting away until death.  Yesterday is determined to stay alive until her daughter, Beauty, goes to school, even in a town where the stigmas toward HIV victims cause her to be isolated in her struggle.

I know it’s just a movie.  But at AidsandAfrica.com, it says that 2.4 million Africans died from the disease in 2007 alone, and I know that for every single one of those people, there is a heartwrenching story of suffering and death.

Yesterday is slow-moving and has subtitles.  But the gripping story puts a face to the numbers.  I look at the numbers, and they overwhelm me.  What can I do against such devastation?  I don’t know.  I know that governments and drug companies and poverty stand in the way of bringing medication and education to those who are sick.  But governments and drug companies are only people.  They are not the strongest force.  When you know about HIV, it feels like sin to just sit back, shake your head, and say, “That’s sure unfortunate.”

I really don’t know what I’m going to do besides learning more, starting with websites like One.org.  Just as I learned more of the suffering in watching Yesterday, I need to learn more about how I can practically help out.  There are many kinds of suffering in the world.  This one… has gone too far.

turning green

I’ve been wondering what it takes to be green.  When I used look at environmentalism from the outside, people who chose to live with an ecological conscience seemed to be on the other side of the fence.  A little weird, a little over the top.  They were green; I was… yellow (or whatever color ungreen is).  But people like Jim Wallis, Barbara Kingsolver, and Michael Pollan have convinced me through their books on politics (Wallis) and food (Kingsolver and Pollan) that to live green is to live with justice.  I am beginning to see waste as a demonstration of rebellion, at least once one understands the impact of her actions.  America’s consumer culture has come so far as to represent slothfulness and greed to me, and it’s hard not to become cynical about it.

So, while the treehuggers used to look like they were on the other side of the fence, I’ve come to realize that turning green is more of a journey than a jump.  Living in a society that is drenched in its own waste makes it very difficult to just flip the switch, if you will, and immediately start living greenly.  It’s hard.  You have to think constantly about what you buy, when to drive, what you throw away.  But I’ve begun the journey, or at least continued on my journey in a significant way.

My recent green choices:

1. Recycling.  This one isn’t new.  I probably started recycling in earnest a year or two ago.  Now that we recycle, we have an average of one medium-sized bag of trash per week.

2. Cloth diapers.  This was a hard one for me.  I tried a cloth diaper once when Isaiah was a newborn.  When I smelled the first urine-saturated diaper, I said, “No way.”  And with that, I switched to disposable.  However, something about getting used to baby stenches and seeing just how many diapers can fill up the trash in a week made me rethink my decision.  I bought Gerber cloth diapers with vinyl pants to hold in the wetness.  They cost about as much as one box of disposable diapers.  They’re a lot of work.  They bring you closer to the earthy, non-sanitary reality of life (especially when you are throwing out into the yard a bucket of Borax-pee-water in which the diapers were soaking, and your bad aim causes the pee-water to shower all over your head).  But they have already rescued scores of disposable diapers from the landfill already, so I can’t begin to imagine the long-term wisdom of this choice.

3. Cloth grocery bags.  For my birthday, I cashed in a Target gift card for two beautiful cloth grocery bags.  I love them.

4. My patio garden.  Local produce not only tastes better than store-bought produce, but it also cuts down hugely on the amount of fossil fuels used to get the food to your house.  I hope to discover some new farmer’s markets this summer, but in the meantime, I’m growing tomatoes, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, jalepeno peppers, yellow onions, green onions, cilantro, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers in containers on my patio!

5. Limiting electricity and water use.  We’ve been doing this for a while, too.  Short showers, limited toilet flushing (I think wastefulness is grosser than pee.), using the short cycle on the dishwasher — these can all help cut down on water use.  I also bought two laundry drying racks, so I don’t have to use my dryer as often.

6. Earth-friendly detergents.  I’ve started making my own laundry and dishwasher detergent.  First of all, it’s dirt cheap compared to store-bought detergents.  And apparently, most detergents are pretty bad on the earth.  (My dishwasher detergent is 100% natural; my laundry detergent is slightly toxic but still much better than store-bought detergents.)

7. Walking.  Isaiah and I are enjoying the Spring weather on our jaunts to the park, the library, and the grocery store.  I’m getting some great exercise, and I get to save my gas for a rainy day.

So, you decide.  Am I officially green now?  I don’t feel like it.  I still see all that could be better if our society planned its future more responsibly, with something besides monetary profit as its motivation.  I have to remind myself of my motivation as well.  I want a more healthy world for my children.  I want to be able to stand before God without guilt over how I stewarded his land.

It’s still hard to do the things I’ve committed to doing.  Yesterday, I returned something at Target in a Target bag.  I bought some more things while I was there, and I took my used bag to the clerk and told him he could put my purchases in it.  “No,” he smiled.  “I’ll give you a new bag.”  Friendly guy, eh?  But, but… I was stuttering my head.  That’s not how I wanted it!  But I didn’t want to cause a stir, so I didn’t say anything.  And my reusable bag ended up in his trash can, and I walked home with not one, but two new bags.  Maybe I’m still a little bit yellow.

getting angry

The whole creation groans. Me. The poor, the widows, the orphans. The trees, the cattle, the chickens, the cornfields (okay, maybe not the cornfields; corn is king).

I’ve been reading about social justice and food. I’ve had this perpetual pressure in my sinus area — tears ready to burst at the injustice in the world. If being an environmentalist means I care about this world and everything in it, yes, I guess I’m an environmentalist.

It started with reading Justice in the Burbs by Will and Lisa Samson. It’s only been a week, and I already feel the wisdom of that book slipping from my memory. But I still remember the assignments I gave myself: to open my heart and arms (and not just my checkbook) to the suffering people of this world. Why? Because it’s right.

There was an interview on our local NPR station today that made me mad. This lady was trying to convince women that it was too risky to forsake their occupations and stay home with their babies. “Because what do you do when divorce or death claims your husband? You’ll have no way to support yourself!” Well, number one, if women kept their vows to their husbands, divorce wouldn’t be in today’s epidemic proportions. As for the widows, followers of God have been commanded to care for them, so wives shouldn’t be left in dire straits even if their husband does die. I could go on and on, but the point is: the system is broken. This is a broken, broken world. Women shouldn’t be made to feel like it’s risky to be a stay-at-home mom.

Let me change gears.

Reading a book about the history of food — The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan — didn’t seem to be something that would call that slow, dull ache back into my throat. But as I read it, I keep asking, “God, what are we doing to your world?” As for our production and consumption of food, we’re so deep in poisonous cow manure (that literally coats the floors of our super beef-producing factories in America’s “heart”land) that we can’t even find a conceivable way out of it.

I’m so angry with the people who tricked our nation into believing that corn-fed beef is something wonderful, when in fact, it sickens creatures God made to eat grass (the cows, not us). But when you have your plate full of that “prime” corn-fed steak, you’re feeding yourself a long, slow death, too. Beef wasn’t meant to be poisonous.

I’m fed up with the industrialization and materialism in America, with the lie that says that you can have it all. I’m angry I don’t know how to practice the attribute called sacrifice. I’m frustrated that I, who grew up proud to say, “I’m a farmer’s daughter,” feel my agricultural background crashing in on me, slicing away my idealism that my daddy farmed perfectly. I’m angry that he probably didn’t have that option, and I’m angry that I don’t have the freedom to do things the best way possible because of how our nation’s politics work.

I’m tired of standing in front of the display of bread and being upset because all the healthy-looking hamburger buns cost twice as much as the bleached-white ones. I want eating “natural” to come naturally. But instead, it requires research, money, and… sacrifice.

I want to open a farm. I want to grow things without poison and sell them for the prices they’re worth. I want to invite people to work there who need love and a job and someone to pull them up (because they haven’t found those bootstraps everybody keeps talking about). I want to know an orphan; I want to know a widow. I want to stop being a glutton for fast food, gasoline, and cheap relationships.

I want to stop being a hypocrite.