Friday, May 30, 2008

The Cruelty of Dictatorships

The world is shocked and horrified that the military junta in Burma will not allow disaster aid to reach its citizens. Yet this is typical of most dictatorships and totalitarian governments. They are paranoid, don’t want “the outside” to see the terrible conditions their rule has produced, and they are in constant fear of a revolt because of those conditions to which the people have been reduced.

If you look at such regimes, past and present, you see how they have not cared one bit about their people, and have frequently inflicted horrendous suffering (North Korea) and even widespread death on the population (Stain, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Mao). Most of the time, such regimes are godless (like communism) or occasionally fanatically religious (like the Taliban), distorting the principles of their religion. The hallmark of such regimes is self-preservation at any cost. A good example of that is Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

One hopeful sign is the actions of the Chinese government after the earthquake. They rushed aid to the affected areas, allowed the foreign media to photograph and report on what happened, and actually seemed to value human life. To me, that is a sign of hope, that China is gradually moving away from the typical communist/totalitarian regime model. That will make life more bearable for the over one billion citizens of mainland China.

Please pray for the people who are still under the harsh rule of totalitarian and otherwise cruel regimes, such as in Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea, to name a few.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Religious Left Leadership

In an earlier post I spoke about the leadership of the religious right, and how it is changing. I expressed my happiness that the new leaders are addressing other pressing issues that face this nation. Now I want to address the leadership on the Left.

The Left spends entirely too much money, energy, and time on promoting its favorite few issues, and many of those issues affect a small number of people. There are huge problems that affect many people that the Left isn’t addressing adequately because it is so engaged in promoting gay marriage and making sure there are no controls on abortion. Unfortunately the Religious Left’s positions on issues are indistinguishable from the secular Left’s. We Christians, I thought, are supposed to not go along with the culture, but to struggle against the immorality and sinful aspects of the culture – to be “salt and light” as Jesus put it.

Think of the other problems facing this country and the world that nobody seems to be adequately addressing: the terrible conditions women face in many countries, the slave trade, kiddie porn, other exploitation of women and children, rampant malaria in Africa (which kills more people than AIDS), the exporting of American jobs overseas, the exploitation of workers in other countries by the use of “Free Trade Zones”, and, of course the severe problems we face in this country, most of which hit the poor the hardest:

·high cost of energy;
·dependence on foreign sources for oil;
·higher costs for food;
·lack of universal health care;
·unfavorable trade balance;
·running a huge deficit in the federal budget;
·a social security system that must be fixed;
·and high levels of air pollution.

When the Left does address an issue, its solutions are usually too extreme to be practicable and acceptable to most of the nation. Moreover, the Left is unwilling to compromise so that there is deadlock – for the Left, it’s all or nothing. Yet these issues must be tackled, and the Religious Left has the clout to make some things happen, even if the result isn’t exactly what they wanted. We have to start somewhere.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Religious Right Leadership

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, McCain’s pastor problems resulted from endorsements from high-profile pastors. I believe pastors and religious leaders have the right and duty to speak out on issues, but I question whether it is appropriate for them to publicly endorse candidates.

In addition, the so-called Religious Right’s leadership is changing in a number of different ways. The “old guard” is either dead (Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy), disgraced (Ted Haggard), senile (Pat Robertson), or losing influence (James Dobson, Gary Bauer). The conservatives are finally waking up to the fact that there are more issues facing this country and the world than just abortion and homosexuality. In the past, the conservatives let the liberals take ownership of most of the other important issues facing the nation, such as conservation, pollution, and various justice issues.

As a result, the conservatives were considered narrow-minded, uncaring, and out of touch. Moreover, because the Left had ownership of these other issues, the proposed solutions took on the flavor of the extremists rather than more moderate (and doable) solutions which require compromise. Because the extremists typically don’t compromise, most of these issues aren’t being adequately addressed.

Now the new “Religious Right” is taking on these other problems as well, which is great. Think about the serious problems this country is facing:
·high cost of energy (which impacts the poor disproportionately);
·dependence on foreign sources for oil (making us vulnerable to the whims of both the marketplace and unstable and hostile regimes);
·higher costs for food (again hits the poor hardest);
·lack of universal health care;
·unfavorable trade balance;
·running a huge deficit in the federal budget (which hits the next generation hardest);
·a social security system that will eventually be in big trouble;
·and high levels of air pollution that might be causing at least some of the climate change.

When you add all those up, abortion and homosexuality seem less important, yet Dr. Dobson a couple of months ago said he wouldn’t vote if the Republican candidate wasn’t pro-life. He has now changed his mind, and said of course he will vote – it’s his right and his duty. Let’s hope the conservative leadership continues to address the critical issues facing this nation, and get away from their narrow agenda.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rev. Hagee’s Comments

There has been another uproar concerning a pastor as a part of this presidential campaign. Having such controversies regarding pastors in presidential campaigns is unprecedented as far as I know. Below are some points with respect to Rev. Hagee:

(1) He made a statement that has been interpreted to say that it was God’s will that the Holocaust took place so that the Jews could return to their ancestral homeland, Israel. If we believe God is sovereign, then it could be said that anything that happens in the world is within God’s will. Good things would be in God’s directive will, and bad things would be in God’s permissive will (meaning God is not happy with it but allows it anyway).

Under this belief, God may permit bad things to happen, but does not cause them. God can and does make good to come out of tragedy. For example, the sovereign God permitted – but did not cause – the horrors of the Holocaust to take place, but then used this tragedy for good. The good was that after a period of over 2,000 years the nation of Israel was re-established as a sovereign country to which the Jewish people could return.

This whole area of theodicy is a difficult one, because some believe that if God is good, then how could he permit such terrible things as the Shoah (Holocaust) to happen, even if some good does eventually come out of it. However, we have to realize that God is not accountable to us, and God’s ways are not our ways.

(2) Hagee has been accused of anti-Catholic statements. I believe it is wrong for one Christian Church or denomination to say bad things about another. First of all, it certainly isn’t a good witness to the unchurched. Second, we are supposed to be one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church. Such disunity is inappropriate and, I believe, grieves Jesus, the true head of the Church (which we often forget). Different churches/denominations can respectfully agree to disagree on certain matters of faith, morals, and practice without being nasty.

Having said that, the Roman Catholic (RC) Church has continued since the Council of Trent in the 1500s to show an arrogance that diminishes the rest of Christianity. The RC Church claims to be the one true Church, with the Eastern Orthodox close (but no cigar) and the Protestants as pretenders. The current Pope, who graciously met with non-RC church leaders during his recent visit to the U.S., nevertheless affirmed the Council of Trent’s position last year. Was it really necessary to do that? So he is reaching out to non-Catholic branches of Christianity on one hand, while putting them down on the other.

(3) Prominent pastors should not be publicly endorsing candidates. It is certainly within their rights as U.S. citizens, but doing so violates, I believe, the spirit of the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. Pastors have the responsibility and the duty to talk about issues, but not not candidates. Obama’s pastor problem is different since no endorsement was involved, but McCain’s pastor problems resulted from endorsements (which McCain actively sought).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wappingers Church Fire

My wife and I were out of town last week, so we were unaware of the fire at the Bethel Missionary Church in the Village of Wappingers Falls. We happened to be driving by there yesterday, and were shocked at what we saw. When we got home, I went into the Poughkeepsie Journal archives online to learn what happened. Let me share a couple of thoughts on this.

Crazy Comments

After reading about the fire in the Journal archives, I read some of the readers’ comments in response to this fire. I was shocked at what I read. Rather than an outpouring of sympathy and prayers, many of the comments were hate-filled, anti-Christian, and/or anti-God. Those comments, while not representing the majority of people (I hope), does show a lunatic fringe exists that truly hates people of God in a vicious way.


As of this writing, the Journal has not published any articles telling whether or not the fire was a result of arson. My guess it that it was set. If that is true, and I hope it isn’t, then I pray that the perpetrator is brought to justice. Given the hard feelings in the village surrounding this church construction, I would guess that the arsonist is a neighbor of the church and probably has a police record.

Test of Faith

Such tragedies are tests of faith. From what I saw in the film clips on the Journal website, I believe that congregation has the faith and endurance to carry on. We read in 1 John 4:4:
Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. NRSV

We also read in Romans 5:3-5:

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. NRSV

My prayers are with the congregation of Bethel Missionary Church of Wappingers Falls. May their cup be filled to overflowing!

Prejudice Against Churches

As I mentioned above, there were hard feelings about this construction project. I’m amazed at how some communities throw all kinds of obstacles in front of church building plans. Below is an article from the e-newsletter CitizenLink dated 5/16/2008:

A federal court ruled recently that San Diego officials demonstrated antagonism and “outright hostility” toward a local church by subjecting it to unfair and burdensome zoning laws.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a lawsuit against the city of San Diego after it denied Grace Church of North County’s application for a 10-year permit, which is required by law. The San Diego Planning Commission then agreed to a five-year permit and told Grace Church not to return for an extension.

“Federal law and the Constitution clearly prohibit government officials from treating religious groups the way Grace Church was treated in this case,” ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey said. “ADF will continue to fund the legal defense of churches being taken advantage of in this way.”
© 2008 Focus on the Family Action, Inc. All rights reserved

In our own neighborhood, the Town of Poughkeepsie made Faith Assembly of God do an archeological study of the site of their proposed new building. After complying with that demand, now the town wants them to do an historical study. I wonder, did the town make any of the construction projects along route 9 do an archeological study and an historical study? I doubt it. More anti-church anti-Christian discrimination. What a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this country.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Rev. Wright (again) and Sharpton too

It’s too bad Sen. Obama’s now-famous pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is making such a fool of himself. I’m thinking especially of his claim that the U.S. government invented AIDS to wipe out African-Americans. Here is a highly educated man repeating such rubbish. For one thing, the first people to get AIDS were white gays, not blacks. Secondly, the AIDS virus has been traced to Africa (ironically), and HIV is a mutant of a similar simian virus.

Moreover, if you want to blame an organization for wanting to wipe out blacks, look no further than the ubiquitous Planned Parenthood. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, was quite open about her desire to limit the growth of the population of “less desirable” groups in our society, especially blacks. Pro-life people, posing as potential donors, have exposed the fact that reducing minority populations is still a goal. These telephone calls have been recorded and well documented. If you don’t believe me, do some research.

Finally, Rev. Wright is a Christian clergyman. What’s at the heart of the Christian faith? Love and forgiveness. However, Wright is peddling hate and unforgiveness. That is totally inappropriate for a Christian preacher. I understand clearly that African-Americans are angry and bitter, but there is no reason to pander to those emotions. While our society is far from perfect when it comes to a lot of things, including race relations, black leaders should be leading their people into a new world of love and forgiveness (difficult as that can sometimes be), not looking back at the bad old days.

Al Sharpton is another example of a poor leader. Although he also is a Christian preacher, he stirs up trouble rather than encouraging forgiveness and moving on. Leaders should look to ways of improving the system, but not by rabble-rousing. Where is the Christian message in anything Sharpton does? Now he has given a further bad example with tax and other problems.

Moses is a good example of a great and godly leader. He looked forward to the vision God gave him, even if his people often looked back to the “good old days” of slavery in Egypt. Black leaders should be the new Moses, leading their people out of the bondage of slavery which still grips them emotionally. It’s hard to move forward when you’re constantly looking into the rear-view mirror.

There will be no new posts to the blog until May 19. See you then!

We All Fall Short (continued)

Below are some key points we should remember when it comes to sin and struggles that the believer faces in this life. I hope these are helpful.

Don’t Lose Our Salvation

One last point about sin in the believer’s life. When a true believer in Christ sins, he or she does not lose his or her salvation. When we put our faith in Christ, all sins – past, present, and future – are forgiven. Once we are on board, we are expected to live according to biblical principles – that is the outworking of our faith. Sometimes we’ll fail, but we haven’t lost our salvation – we’ve just grown distant from God and need to get back into right relationship.

I might add that different denominations have different beliefs concerning losing your salvation. For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that when you commit a “mortal sin” you have lost your salvation until you confess it to a priest and receive absolution as part of the sacrament of Penance. Some Protestants believe that people can become “apostate” and lost their salvation.

My personal view is that people don’t become apostate (although churches can), but that an “apostate” person was never saved to begin with. For example, if a person makes no effort to improve, is not open to the work of the Holy Spirit in his life, and doesn’t care that he is disobeying God’s laws, then I question whether that person had ever really been committed to Christ. We see no fruit of the Spirit in the life of a person who isn’t really saved, only the desires of the sinful nature.

But if you are committed to Christ, you will willingly receive the amazing grace God has to offer, and will have the victory over your sinful inclinations. After discussing the grace lavished on those who have the victory, Paul said in Romans 6:1-4, NRSV:

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we, who died to sin, go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us, who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

I encourage you to be truly committed to Christ, and thereby glorify God in everything you do.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

We All Fall Short

The Apostle John, acknowledging that we all fall short, wrote in 1 John 1:8-10, NRSV:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

There are two major points in this passage that we should understand:

The first point in this passage is: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” This means that we have to understand that we aren’t perfect, that we’re vulnerable, and most importantly, that we need God’s help continuously. The problem with sin is that it breaks fellowship with God, and hinders the work of the Holy Spirit’s in us. We need to be aware of our shortcomings and what drives us to sin, so that we can avoid temptations and not give in to them as readily.

The second point in this passage is: “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Knowing we fall short, God has provided us with a means of getting back into right relationship with him. By confessing, we consciously acknowledge that what we have done is wrong and offensive to God, which forces us to confront the reality of our lives. By confessing our sins, we restore fellowship with God and we allow the Holy Spirit to do his work of improving us.

However, we must confess with the intent of repenting, meaning that we commit to doing better with God’s help. When I was younger I went to confession often because that’s what was expected of a good Catholic boy. However, I had absolutely no intention of changing anything in my life. There was no repentance, just maybe a twinge of shame and remorse. So I wasn’t taking confession seriously, just going through the motions with no intention of letting God work in me. So we should confess, repent, and seek God’s help in making us better persons.

Is Sin OK?

You might be thinking that since the Bible acknowledges we all sin, is occasionally doing the wrong thing all that bad? We know God readily forgives the repentant sinner, and after all, we’re only human. Even the Apostle Paul admitted he couldn’t always do the right thing. Let me answer this by pointing out three things regarding sin.

1. God Hates Sin

First of all, God hates sin. Sin is ugly, it is ungodly, it dishonors God, and it is harmful to us and others While God acknowledges the harsh reality of the existence of sin – even among followers of Jesus – God still hates sin (but he loves us).

2. God Forgives Sin

Second, God forgives sin because he does love us. God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, so justice has been done – and we are the beneficiaries. Because of our faith in Jesus, God forgives us and restores us back into rightful relationship with him. We see an example of that restoration with Peter in today’s Gospel. Peter denied Jesus three times, and Jesus restored Peter back into right relationship with him because he was truly sorry and had repented. God forgives, not because he takes sin lightly, but because we have put our faith and trust in Jesus and are now God’s adopted children.

3. God Helps Us to Do Better

We know God hates sin, yet forgives us our sins because he loves us. The third and last point about sin is that God helps us to do better when we truly want to turn our lives around. God sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to resist temptation and to do God’s will. Thru the Holy Spirit, God gives us his grace to help us in this life, especially to avoid sin. The Holy Spirit won’t force us to turn our lives around, but will work within the willing believer to put us on the right track.

Notice I said “willing believer.” We have to be committed to Jesus, and want to do better. If we’re just going through the motions – like I used to do – then not much is going to happen. There has to be a willingness, and love and reverence for God.

More on our struggles in this life in a future post.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some Final Thoughts on Being a Hard-Liner

My purpose in this series of posts is not to get into a discussion of the Catholic Church’s problems, or the debates going on in Protestant denominations. My purpose is to give you some insight into the debates that are raging both inside and outside the Church in a general sense. When people clamor for changes in the Church’s position regarding clear biblical teachings, we can’t cave in to their demands, no matter how appealing those demands and arguments may sound. Although devout Christians perceive some biblical teachings to be unfair, intolerant, or old-fashioned and in need of revision, we have to accept clear biblical teachings as God’s message to us. If you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, you don’t have much choice but to follow its teachings. Christianity isn’t a pick-and-choose religion, but one that is based on a personal relationship with God, followed by commitment to God’s truth as revealed in the Bible.

Let me end with a quote from the homily by Cardinal Ratzinger, given at a mass just before the conclave convened back in 2005 that elected him pope. This quote from his homily summarizes some of what I have been saying about absolute truth and standing up for your convictions:

“How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking... The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth.

Every day new sects are created, and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning, which tries to draw those into error (see Eph 4:14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain, and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
(from Cardinal Ratzinger’s sermon on April 18, 2005)

Relativism, by the way, is the idea that criteria for judgment depend on varying circumstances, not any absolute truth. Situational ethics is rooted in relativism. Syncretism is the mixing of various religions and philosophies into a sort of do-it-yourself religion.

Let me leave you with a question: how can we become conformed to Jesus Christ, as we are called to do, if we don’t know, believe, and follow his teachings? So what is truth? It’s as close as your Bible. Read it every day so that you can know, love and serve God better.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Being a hard liner in policies and practices

In earlier posts I wrote about being a hardliner in faith and morals. Anybody who has any belief system (and we all do) will generally be a “hard-liner” in that they stand firm in that belief system (unless they are wishy-washy or don’t have a grasp of what they are supposed to believe). Conservative Christians are criticized for standing firm in their beliefs, being called hard-liners, rigid, intolerant, etc. However, in matters of faith and morals I believe that if you buy into a belief system, you should stand firm in it (understanding there are a few areas open to differing interpretations).

With respect to Christianity, its faith, morals, and ethical principles are based on what we believe to be God’s Word, the Bible. As such, it is to be followed and obeyed, since the Bible gives us God’s blueprint for living. Some Church policies and practices have biblical origins, but some don’t. Below is a discussion on policies and practices.

Policies and Practices

Unlike matters of faith and morals, policies and practices are typically of human origin. There may be some sort of biblical basis for a policy or practice, but it is often not based on any clear instruction or command in the Bible. What are some examples of man-made policies and practices of the Church?

Since I started off this series of posts by talking about the pope, let me mention a couple of Catholic policies and practices that are talked about quite a bit.

One well-known Catholic policy is to ordain only men as priests. Before we criticize the Catholic Church for not ordaining women, we have to realize that most Protestant denominations didn’t begin to ordain women until the mid-20th century. Protestants could change their practice regarding the ordination of women because that practice wasn’t based on a clear biblical command (although it can be argued that women shouldn’t be ordained, such an opinion has a very weak biblical basis).

Another Catholic policy is the prohibition of marriage for clergy. The early church did have married clergy, and this ban on marriage evolved over time, culminating in the decision to make mandatory what had been optional. This came about at the Second Lateran Council in the 1100s. By the way, United Methodist (as well as other denominations’) policy is for clergy to exercise “fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness.” This policy is clearly biblically-based, and should never be changed.

A former practice in the Catholic Church was the Latin mass. Vatican II did away with it, and there were quite a few Catholics who were upset by that. Yet there is nothing sacred about Latin. Jesus spoke Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek.

Since a number of Catholic policies and practices are hotly debated, we could ask the question: Will the Catholic Church ever make any changes in these areas? My answer is, “Not likely any time soon.” Why? We have to understand that the Catholic Church is authoritarian and tradition-bound. Therefore, making any change would give the Church a huge credibility problem in all areas, in the area of faith and morals as well as policy and practice. From my observation, the line is blurred in the Catholic Church between faith and morals on the one hand, and policy and practice on the other. If any practice is changed, whether biblically based or not, many Catholics would then ask: “What else were they wrong about?” (not making the distinction we have been talking about) There are people even today who are still angry about the change in the mass from Latin to English, as if Latin were some sort of sacred language.

Therefore, I believe it is important for Christians to distinguish between matters of faith, morals, and ethics coming out of biblical teachings on the one hand, and matters of policy and practice with a weak or no biblical basis on the other hand. I also believe Christians must not conform to the culture, but should be conformed to Christ and live lives consistent with biblical teachings. I will have some final thoughts on being a “hard-liner” in a future post.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Being a Hard-Liner regarding Morals

In earlier posts I spoke about how we as Christians (and adherents of all religions) should stand firm – be “hard-liners” to use the media’s favorite description of the pope. We should stand firm in faith and morals, but be open to change where appropriate in the areas of policy and practice. First, let’s look at morals.


There are good reasons why we should follow God’s commands in matters of morals and ethics (known as the Judeo-Christian ethic). First, God put these behavioral principles in the Bible so that we can truly know right from wrong, and not get ourselves into trouble. These types of teachings consist not only of things we shouldn’t do, but the things we should do: love our neighbor, care for the needy, exercise hospitality to strangers, etc.

Second, God’s morals and ethics are there as a blueprint for an orderly and caring society. We deviate from those principles and we end up with high crime rates, unethical behavior, selfishness, corruption, and lack of caring for the most vulnerable in society. Sound familiar?

And third, they tell us the ways we can glorify God in our daily living.

Unfortunately, our society is trying to abolish many these moral teachings from God by substituting its own, man-made, principles. However, I don’t believe that we can nullify, modify, or disregard biblical teachings regarding morals and ethics just because we might perceive them to be inconvenient, unfair, out of touch with our culture, or hopelessly old-fashioned. Some in our society may feel that they are more enlightened than God in such matters, but Christians should, in my opinion, believe that God’s moral truth is absolute and unchanging. Would you rather be blown about by the ever-changing winds of our culture, or stand on the firm foundation of God’s unchanging truth?

This discussion of morals is important because today people believe more in situational ethics and relativism than in the Ten Commandments. When we abandon God-made morality for man-made morality, we are in trouble.

More on this topic in a future post.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Energy Policy Once More

Off and on I’ve written about energy policy and the lack thereof. I believe that if this country doesn’t develop a good energy policy now, we will be faced with all kinds of problems in the not too distant future. We’ll be looking back at the good old days of $4 a gallon gasoline. What goes for energy policy right now is a patchwork of ineffective policies, plans, and ideas that do little to alleviate the current problem and nothing to keep us from suffering a crisis in the long-term. As with just about any policy, the law of unintended consequences takes effect. In the case of making more ethanol to alleviate our dependence on petroleum, we have caused a serious escalation in the price of basic food items, and have created a food shortage. We hurt the poor so we can gas up our SUVs. To me that is immoral. So much for wise and informed policy.

I’ve promoted nuclear energy as a solution, which I see having the following advantages over what we’re doing now:

(1) Little or no pollution. We can phase out coal burning power plants and only use them only during times of peak demand such as during the hottest summer months.

(2) Power electric cars using cheap and abundant electricity produced with nuclear energy. This will significantly reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil.

I’m not saying this will be easy, but it can be done if we have the will to act. During World War II, we had the will to act and developed the atom bomb in just a few years.

Also during World War II, we had the will to act and developed the most advanced bomber in the world, the B-29, in just a few years.

In the 1950s, we had the will to act and developed rockets capable of launching an artificial satellite into space or delivering a warhead accurately thousands of miles away.

In the 1960s we had the will to act and developed the technology to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely.

Technology has been our god in this country, yet we fail to put our faith in that god when it comes to nuclear energy. Why can’t we as a country have a concerted effort similar to the Manhattan Project when it comes to nuclear energy? Our survival as a first-rate nation depends on it.

I believe it is possible to build safe nuclear power plants. I believe we can solve the nuclear waste issue. I believe we can develop electric cars and batteries that will meet our needs. I believe we can upgrade our power grid to meet future demands. All of these can be done only if we have the will to act, make the investments needed, and do it right. What’s holding us back?

Of course I also believe we should be doing other things as well, both as interim steps as well as long-term practices. I would enact such a large gas-guzzler tax for SUVs and other inefficient vehicles that they would quickly go out of existence. Why do people think they need such a behemoth to go grocery shopping?

I would continue to invest in alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar panels, and other passive sources of energy, using tax credits to users and grants to researchers, as well as other incentives. I would encourage conservation, of course, and actually enforce it to whatever extent you can in a free society. I would open oil fields in Alaska for drilling as a stopgap measure, and build plants that can extract oil from domestic shale and turn domestic coal into oil and natural gas (which should now be profitable with oil at around $120 per barrel). I would eliminate tax breaks that oil companies enjoy and use the found money for research into alternative sources of energy.

Do we as a people have the will to act? Do we have the will to make our politicians accountable to us? Will we continue to vote for the same ineffective politicians who are in the pockets of the big corporations? Notice the three presidential candidates talk mostly about short-term issues, but rarely the large and long-term problems facing this country. I fear for our future.