December 5, 2008

The Thailand Crisis

Filed under: News,Politics,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 10:03 AM

So today (Father’s Day), the king was too sick to deliver his traditional birthday speech, and a lot of Thais are really worried. Not so much about the speech or the king (though they are), but about the whole crisis in general. This article is a good summary on the whole situation.

What is interesting to me is how democracy just isn’t working here, how it may not be the cure-all we thought. I don’t know the whole truth of the situation, but here’s what it sounds like. Thaksin, the old prime minister, was supposedly corrupt. So a bunch of people protested until he left. Then someone else got voted in, but he was (supposedly) just another front for Thaksin’s corrupt group. So they protested even harder, airlines were closed, people were killed.

Now there’s going to be another election, I guess, but folks are afraid that the same people will just get into power again, because one of the main ways they get into power is by buying the votes of the poor.

And here’s where democracy fails entirely. The protesting party wants to change the voting system so that “a majority of lawmakers would be nominated by professional and social groups instead of being elected [by the people].” It sounds undemocratic, and it is a little, but the problem is that vote buying is real. There are a lot of poor people in this country, each one with a vote, and to them it doesn’t matter who is prime minister. Changes in the government make no difference in their lives, but 100 Baht in their hand makes a huge difference. It means they get to eat for a few weeks.

Like I said, interesting. There’s no easy solution, and I don’t envy Thais the work they will have to do to create a strong, stable country. But to me this whole situation just highlights the fact that politics – even democracy – can’t fix a broken world.

Hm, that was another note I wrote from reading Blue Like Jazz.

America’s rules can’t save mankind. Mankind can’t save itself.

October 27, 2008

A Political Post

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Adam Heine @ 4:21 PM

If you look at the categories on the sidebar, you’ll notice I hardly ever talk about politics here. It’s not because I have nothing to say on the subject. Rather it’s because I have too much to say, and I can never think of a nice way to say it.

So I’ll keep this short. Vote for who you believe is the better man – who you think will lead the country the way you want it to be led – but don’t, DON’T hate your brothers and sisters for believing in the other guy. Stop judging, stop yelling, stop condemning, STOP FIGHTING!

We’re supposed to love each other for Christ’s sake.

July 5, 2006

US Missions

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Adam Heine @ 8:56 PM

Dano reminisces on a little American nationalism he encountered in Hungary a year ago. Here’s the line that caught my interest this time:

People send missionaries to us.

What do we think about this? Honestly I’d like to know what those Americans who think we are God’s gift to the world think of this, but I know I won’t get that here.

Do we think, “That’s a nice gesture, but they should really be spending their resources more wisely”? Or are we upset that they think we need help? How about, “It’s about time; that church across the street could use some missionaries to set them straight”?

I don’t really think any of these responses are appropriate. All of them assume that we’ve got it all figured out. I’m fine; help someone else.

How about something along the lines of: “Thank the Lord for sending you here. What do you have to teach me?”

April 28, 2005

Christian Persecution

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Adam Heine @ 8:41 PM

I’ve seen a couple of recent posts online (here’s an example) about Christian persecution around the world. I’ve posted on this before too. Today I thought I’d present a slightly different perspective.

To be sure, stories of persecution must be spread far and wide, if only so that comfortable Christians can know that our faith, and the struggle against it, is alive and well – if only so we can know that the Bible speaks the truth for today, and not just for Christians under Roman persecution 2,000 years ago.

I recently finished reading a book called The Heavenly Man by a Chinese pastor named Brother Yun. This is an amazing story of the underground church in China over the last thirty or forty years, and one man’s incredible testimony and persecutions.

Now ordinarily the Western response to international Christian persecution is a call for it to stop. It makes sense, after all people are hurting and we should do something about it, right? Brother Yun has a different perspective – a more Biblical one – and considering that he’s gone through more than any of us are ever likely to go through, his words are worth listening to. (more…)

January 26, 2005

Jamie's Sermon is Online

Filed under: Geekery,Politics,Religion — Adam Heine @ 12:17 AM

Update (Wed, 9:42 pm): The Bit Torrent isn’t working, so Ray has a direct link here. But, as Ray said, be kind.

Ray has managed to get Jamie’s last sermon, “Should Christians try to legislate their morality?”, online in mp3 format. You’ll need to download BitTorrent (basically a fancy download manager) first in order to get it. Once you have that, download the torrent file and BitTorrent should take care of the rest.

I highly recommend all of you to listen to this sermon (if you haven’t heard it, of course). Not because I agree with it and want to advertise my opinion via Jamie, but because Jamie handles today’s touchiest topics with both truth and love simultaneously – something I think we all need to get better at (myself most definitely included). Jamie is careful not to cross the line into telling people how to vote, but rather his purpose is to start thoughtful and loving discussions of these issues. Feel free to discuss this stuff here.

Today’s Internet lesson is brought to you by BitTorrent. BT makes downloading large files super-efficient. A normal download requires you to ask another computer for the file. Then that computer sends you the file in pieces called packets, until you say you have the whole thing. For one person this is fine, but when 100 people are downloading the same file, suddenly there are thousands of packets being uploaded from the same computer causing a bottleneck.

The makers of BitTorrent realized that the average user had tons of upload bandwidth that they hardly use. So the BT client uploads part of the file to another user for every packet that it downloads. It uses bandwidth that would have gone unused anyway, causing a great relief on the part of the original server while still ensuring that you get your whole file.

December 29, 2004

More Generous Than Whom?

Filed under: News,Politics,Religion,Thailand — Adam Heine @ 9:30 PM

Sorry for the lack of posts. We’ve had an interesting vacation. Just so you all know, the tsunamis have not affected us nor anyone we know (we’ve gotten a lot of questions about that). Fortunately, none of our relatives in Thailand live in the south. I have no idea if all of this will affect our plans at all – at the moment I doubt it. (Though we did see a headline saying over 30,000 children may have been orphaned by this).

I do find all the talk about the relative generosity of America really interesting. Words like “stingy” and “generous” are relative, so it’s hard to use them. In terms of hard numbers, of course America gives the most – because it has the most. That’s great, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if America wants to compare itself to other countries (e.g. by saying that America is the world’s “most generous nation”), then those numbers don’t really count.

I mean, let’s say Joe has $100 and Bill has $5,000 – Joe gives $1 and Bill gives $3 to some charity. Obviously Bill gave more, which is great for the charity that’s receiving, but for Bill to say he’s more generous than Joe is a little silly. That’s not to minimize what Bill has done. From the charity’s point of view, anything and everything is helpful and it really doesn’t matter where it came from or how much more there is. I’m just talking about the comparison. When we’re talking about who’s more generous than whom, percentage is all that matters.

For the world at large, this is arguable. For the Christian, Jesus answered this for us:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”

The stats I’ve seen suggest the American government is not the most generous government in the world by percentage. That is to say nothing of the American people – I haven’t seen those stats, and I don’t doubt that they are quite generous. This of course begs the question as to where a country’s charity should be coming from: the government, the individuals, or both? I might publicly think about that later, but not right now. Right now, I’ve got some things to fix on this website.

November 2, 2004

America Has Voted!

Filed under: Funny,Geekery,News,Politics — Adam Heine @ 11:06 PM

Hail to the Chief

I, for one, will sleep easier knowing our country is in good hands.

American Politics and Jesus Christ

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Adam Heine @ 7:36 AM

Although I have a wealth of opinions on the topic of Christianity and American Democracy, I have no desire for this to be Yet Another Political Blog (not that there’s anything wrong with them, I just don’t want this to be one). But since it’s election day, I’ll point you to Mark D. Roberts, whose opinions show great wisdom, tact, and love. He calls for a loving Christian response to the outcome of this election – whatever it may be. I agree.

I also highly recommend his recent series on The Church and Politics in America.

UPDATE (11/3, 7:59 PM): Once again, I amazed at just how small of a world we live in. It turns out that Mark Roberts is, in fact, the nephew of Don Williams. I can certainly see the resemblance in the wisdom each of them applies to God’s word. (For those who don’t know, Don Williams is the planting and recently-retired pastor of Coast Vineyard. He was also the man who married Cindy and me.)

September 17, 2004

Stones Cry Out for My Birthday

Filed under: Politics — Adam Heine @ 9:08 PM

The link I’m about to give you is largely unrelated, however some respect and gratitude needs to be given to one Rick Brady who, on his weblog Stones Cry Out, has graciously given me my second birthday present (my first being a laptop from my parents). Rick gave it to me when, perhaps in a moment of prophetic epiphany, he called me the next C.S. Lewis (you’ll have to scroll to the end of the post to see it).

As I said, the post itself is mostly unrelated to things that interest me (but it interested me enough to read it and comment, so I guess I’m just lying to myself). It’s actually on his theory of weblog posting for small and medium-sized bloggers, which normally wouldn’t interest me at all except that the newness of this webblog is still with me, so I read it. And my comment (to which Rick responds) is actually in response to a seemingly unrelated quote within that post about the whole CBS/Dan Rather/Bush memos thing. Which again I don’t care about, but I do care about the Christian reaction to it (hence my comment). You can read it if any of that sounds interesting.

Anyway, Rick, thank you for the birthday present and the link. You have earned my respect (from your response, not from the present) and laughter (from the present, not from your response). I’ll see what I can do about philosophizing with regards to Christian mercy. I’m sure it’ll come up sometime.