The president’s vacation Reply

By Tom Quiner

The president is under fire for taking a fancy vacation while the rest of America pinches pennies.

I’m not a detractor on this issue. In fact, I support the president’s vacation for two reasons.

First, he has the most difficult job in the world. The pressure must be unbearable at times. He needs some downtime. Even on vacation, though, the president’s time is never entirely his own. He still has daily demands on him that make it difficult to completely unwind.

For the sake of our country, presidents need regular vacations.

Secondly, the president can do less damage while on vacation. Look at the damage President Obama has inflicted on this country when he’s working. Conservatives would be wise to applaud the president’s vacation time and encourage him to take more.


The tyranny of tolerance 2

By Tom Quiner

I bet you’re like me. You have friends, family, acquaintances with same-sex attractions.

You love them regardless.

You want them to be safe.

You want them to be happy.

For many people of faith, there’s more to it, though. They care about their soul. They worry that acting on same-sex impulses threatens their salvation.

You may agree or disagree.

But you can’t take away the legitimate concerns people with this faith belief hold.

Today, though, if you disagree with the idea of gay marriage, you are immediately labeled as being a “homophobe.”

You are publicly decried as being a human being who hates another, simply because you disagree with his/her political position on this issue.

The debate on same-sex attractions began evolving in the 90s. Then, the political call was for tolerance. Americans are very tolerant, very accepting of many things. Sometimes we’re slow to get it, but by and large, this has been a nation of great compassion.

So although Americans did not want the same-sex lifestyle to be woven into the fabric of our nation as a legitimate, alternative lifestyle, they took the stance that what goes on in the bedroom is private.

Fair enough.

Times have changed.

Those who called for tolerance in the 90s had a different agenda. They really wanted acceptance of their lifestyle and  political  power.

They got it, and boy are they intolerant.

Ask Jerry Buell.

This former teacher of the year in Mount Dora, Florida, was temporarily suspended from his teaching duties at Mount Dora High School.

His offense? He made a politically incorrect post on his Facebook page as follows:

“I’m watching the news, eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came on and I almost threw up. And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool of whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?”

He added a second post a few minutes later:

“By the way, if one doesn’t like the most recently posted opinion based on biblical principles and God’s laws, then go ahead and unfriend me. I’ll miss you like I miss my kidney stone from 1994. And I will never accept it because God will never accept it. Romans chapter one.”

Free speech has been replaced by politically-correct speech in this new age of intolerance. Mr. Buell learned the hard way.

Intolerance has spread to the abortion debate.

How many times have you heard someone say, “although I’m personally against abortion, I don’t see how I can impose my will on someone else.”

Let me translate this “tolerant” view:  “although I personally think that the object in the womb is a human being and that it would be infanticide to kill him or her, I don’t see how I can impose my opinion on someone else.”

This “tolerant” approach has led to an intolerance breathtaking in its brazenness.

Catholic doctors and hospitals that refuse to perform abortions are under attack. Pro-borts, with the financial backing of Planned Parenthood, are pulling out the stops to undo conscious-protections for people with ethical concerns about abortion.

Congress refused to omit abortion from Obamacare.

Here in Des Moines, Dr. Alveda King was disinvited from speaking at Roosevelt High School because a couple of parents didn’t like her politically-incorrect pro-life position.

There is no tolerance on the political Left when it comes to these issues.

How do we handle these issues? By making a case with unwavering intelligence, respect, and conviction.

The Catholic Church says it beautifully in its Catechism. They call for people with same-sex attractions to live chastely, and that they:

“… must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in this regard must be avoided.”

Jesus accepted people the way they were. But he called on them to change their lives.

And he called on us to love, or as Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it, to “love ’til it hurts.”

The War on the Family Reply

By Tom Quiner

America will prosper or fall as the family goes.

As I wrap up my vacation this week, I’d like to share this excerpt from a book I’m reading called “Common Sense 101, Lessons from G.K. Chesterton.”  The book is written by Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society.

“When we say “the People”, what do we mean?  It is important to understand that the basic unit of society is the family.  The enemies of democracy are the enemies of the family.  The enemies of democracy use democracy as a catchword, but they emphasize “individual rights”, not “family rights”, and individual rights do nothing but atomize society, isolating each person from one another and then regrouping them according to interests that are usually limited or strange but always secondary and always against the primary interest of the family.  Chesterton says, “Without the family, we are helpless before the state.”

If we elevate individual rights over the family, we end up giving all the power in a society to government and to industry because the individual will be dependent on one or both of those entities and will ironically lose all his independence and liberty, even while affirming his so-called rights.  For democracy to work, the family must be recognized as the primary unit of society and the primary focus of society.  Anything “for the good of society” means for the good of the family – for that unit of husband and wife and children, for their home and their happiness.  If the family is subordinate to any other interest, we do not have a democracy.  This great insight of Chesterton is something that Adam Smith never grasped and Karl Marx openly warred against.”

In this current political cycle, it is vital to evaluate candidates on how favorable their policies will be towards strengthening families.

Blessed are the Poor Reply

By Tom Quiner

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What does it mean to be poor? In the scripture passage above (Matthew 5:3), poor refers to an attitude.

The poor in this context have a humble attitude. They are open to God. They look up to God. And they’re rich, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

There are other meanings to the word “poor.”

What does the typical American think it means to be poor? The Catholic Campaign for Human Development asks that very question in their Poverty Pulse poll. They find that Americans view poverty as characterized by homelessness, hunger, and an inability to meet basic needs.

So how many people live in poverty in the United States?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30 million Americans live in poverty.

Did you know that? That’s one out of seven Americans.

But the government’s meaning of poverty is different than that of the typical American.

Government research into the amenities found in the households of those defined as living in poverty raises eyebrows. This research comes to us from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2005.

They show us that the median “poor” household in the U.S. has an air conditioner, a washer and dryer, ceiling fans, and a cordless phone.

There’s more.

The median poor household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR.

There’s more.

The median poor household had a refrigerator, a stove and oven, a microwave, and a coffee maker.

What are we to make of this?

Scholar James Q. Wilson puts it this way:

 “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”

None of this is meant to diminish the seriousness of poverty, which has ticked upwards during the Obama years.

When poverty statistics are used to foment class warfare, as the Obama administration does on a daily, if not hourly, basis, then it’s worth taking a closer look at the numbers.

The mainstream media isn’t interested in reporting the type of information revealed to us by the U.S. Department of Energy study I just shared with you.

Americans are left with a skewed, politicized perspective on poverty when they hear numbers like 30 million presented by politicians demanding tax increases.

But did you know that in 2009, for example, a half a percent of Americans lost their home and had to live in a homeless shelter for a while?

That’s a lot, and it’s a human tragedy to those who experience such displacement.

But it’s not one out of seven.

This leads us back to the question, what does it mean to be poor?

We had a young man from Gugulethu, South Africa live with us for a year in 1998 as an exchange student. We have adopted him informally as a member of our family.

He is now thirty years of age. As I write this, he is touring Europe singing with the Cape Town Opera Company.

When he’s not singing, work is very difficult to find.

My son visited him a few years ago. His house would best be described as a hut, smaller than a one car garage. It is big enough to fit in a double bed mattress, which sits on the floor, and not much else.

My son spent the night in his abode. He discovered his South Africa brother keeps a machete under the mattress for “security,” which fortunately didn’t have to be used during my son’s visit.

In the morning, he asked my son if the bed bugs bothered him.

We sent over a pair of Nike tennis shoes and Levi jeans for our South African son, which are a big deal in his culture. He wore them in public for everyone in his township to see.

Within a week, his hut was broken into and everything but his mattress was stolen. I mean everything.

Fathers aren’t very present in his culture, so sons don’t have good male role models.  By American standards, our South African son lives in abject poverty.

Does he have hope? I would say that he brims with hope. His faith in God is an inspiration. He is happy. He loves life.

He makes me realize that there are different meanings to being poor.

A person whose life has no purpose, no direction might be considered poor.

A person with no hope might be considered poor.

Poor goes beyond material well-being.

Nonetheless, Americans have a shared value:  to provide a safety net for the materially poor in our communities. Here in Iowa, we have created a network of community action agencies doing wonderful work in helping pull people out of poverty and providing the tools to return them to productive society.

The challenge is knowing where to draw the line.

The politicization of poverty statistics polarizes the debate and harms those truly in need.

Jesus said, “The poor will always be with us.”

Let us carefully consider what it truly means to be poor.