"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rand Paul and Civil Rights

Rand Paul is now the GOP nominee to be the next senator from the state of Kentucky. But since winning his primary on Tuesday night, he has come under heavy criticism for refusing to say whether he would support Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. For those who don't know, that is the title which required the desegregation of private establisments. Basically, it meant white business owners no longer had the right to refuse service to a black person.

Now Rand Paul, on NPR, Rachel Maddow, and in his hometown paper, has vigorously denied any charges of racism. However, every article I've read on this subject has noted that right before saying "but c'mon, how can you not be a racist, or at least harbor sympathy for racists, if you are going to oppose that part of the CVA."

There are some critical distinctions that need to be made here, which most journalists will not make, due to malice or ignorance. First, Paul's position is that what you do with what's private is nobody else's business. As a Christian with Libertarian leanings, this is where the rubber meets the road for me and I sacrifice some political principle because of my faith (not that I am at all complaining). But there are certain things which are done in private which should not be. Is discrimination based on race one of them? Absolutely. But if we are going to regulate people's private business, how can Rachel Maddow, a proud lesbian, beg for laws about gay marriage to be repealed? She certainly cannot do it based on the argument that what people do in private is their own business. The first point is that there are many hypocrites out there who are going to butcher Rand Paul, but are going to turn around on another issue and say, yes, Dr. Paul is correct. The federal government has no right to be interfering in private affairs.

Secondly, is the argument for the role of government. Paul is not a racist, we have to take him at his word. But Paul does not believe that institutional racism should be fought by the government. Truly, all the government can do is cover-up racism. That much is true. Only changed hearts can truly end bigotry. That will not stop people from saying, "well, you might not be a racist, but why won't you do anything to stop it." To which I would say, "you might not sympathize with Saddam Hussein's genocidal activity, but what did you do to stop him." In other words, people who opposed the deposing of Hussein in Iraq (myself included) saw a more limited role for govt. and military in this case. It did not mean in any way that I or anyone else thought he was a swell guy. We just saw a different role for the government.

This issue could hurt Rand Paul considerably in his general election run. But having a different understanding of the role of government, even on a salient issue, does not mean you are a racist or wrong. In fact, Paul's philosophy is very close to main-stream America. It's just that main-stream America is very inconsistent when it comes to this highly charged issue. We'll see how things pan out. I hope he does not lose for holding a consistent philosophy-heaven knows we need principled people in Washington.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2

I went to see the aforementioned movie this evening, and am left with an ambivalent impression. The acting was generally well done and the script was full of witty sarcasm. The special effects were rather stunning and the roles were well cast. Perhaps, my ambivalence is rooted in the fact that I did not see the first one and have never read the comic. In fact, my knowledge of these characters is limited by my own lack of interest. I would never have seen this film had I not tagged along for the purpose of hanging out with my siblings.

However, there is one line that stood out above all the others. Mickey Rourke, in a moment that betrayed the ignorance or insolence of the screenwriters (I actually believe the former in this particular case), uttered the words "If you can make God bleed, people will stop believing in him."

There is little doubt that the line was only intended to mean that people like to believe in what is all-powerful. It makes them feel safe. But if there is a chink in the armor, faith falters.

But unwittingly, the writers actually managed to get Christianity exactly backwards. It isn't only that God the Son bled. But it is precisely because he bled that people do believe in him. Rather, it is precisely becuase he bled that people CAN believe in him. The grace of God is in the blood of Christ, and without that grace first preceeding, we cannot repent of our sins and we will not acknowledge God as Creator and Redeemer. Perhaps, the greatest legacy of this film is that it is a testament to just how convoluted man's portrayal of God can be. After all, this is the problem all us of struggle with to one degree or another: casting God in the likeness of men. As Christians we must remember and remind others, that it is because Jesus Christ showed weakness and humility-being tormented, tortured, and executed-we can have saving faith.